Refugee Resettlements Suspended, COVID-19 Response & other topics – Daily Briefing (18 March 2020)

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Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

– COVID-19: UN Response
– Refugee Resettlements Suspended
– Mali
– Sudan
– Education
– Unicef
– Yemen
– Libya
– Mozambique
– Senior Personnel Appointment

The Secretary-General is in the office today with a reduced staff. He is spending most of the day making calls to leaders of UN entities, staff and missions around the world to check in on them and to see how they are doing.
Following is an update on the UN system response to the pandemic:
In Peru, in addition to immediate health needs, UN entities are working with the Government to minimize the social and economic impacts of the outbreak.
The Pan-American Health Organization and the World Health Organization (WHO) have been working permanently with the Ministry of Health on public health system preparedness and community awareness.
Meanwhile, the International Labour Organization has also been working with other ministries to protect people’s rights.
Turning to Venezuela situation, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are working with Government counterparts to support migrants and refugees, who are coming from Venezuela to access social programmes that may be limited. And UNFPA is also working on reproductive health services in that regard.
Meanwhile, in Uzbekistan, preparedness is in full speed with the UN team’s collaboration with government counterparts. UN staff have been trained for emergency communications with the Ministry of Health and various other government agencies. The training included monitoring of public opinion, countering false information and working with communities. This complements a UN-backed campaign with the Government on COVID-19 in Uzbek and Russian.
The UN Refugee Agency and the UN Migration Agency – IOM- today announced that they are temporarily suspending resettlement departures for refugees.
This decision is the result of the measures countries are taking to reduce entry into their territories due to COVID-19.  This means that travel arrangements for resettling refugees are currently subject to severe disruptions. Some countries have also placed a hold on resettlement activities given their public health situation, which impacts their capacity to receive newly resettled refugees.
The two agencies said that they are also concerned that international travel could increase the exposure of refugees to the virus.
The 2 agencies are appealing to States, and working in close coordination with them, to ensure that movements can continue for the most critical emergency cases wherever possible.
The suspensions will begin to take effect within the next few days. Both agencies look forward to resuming full resettlement travel as soon as prudence and logistics permit.

Full Highlights: