Role of Religious Leaders & other topics – Daily Briefing (12 May 2020)

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

– Afghanistan
– COVID-19: Telecommuting at UNHQ
– Role of Religious Leaders
– Iraq
– UN Environment Programme
– UN Women
– Yemen
– Venezuela
– Ukraine
– Moldova
– Mozambique
– South Sudan
– Malawi
– Cyprus
– Mali
– International Nurses Day

The UN country team expressed its shock and revulsion at today’s attacks at a Kabul maternity hospital as well as a funeral in Nangarhar. 
The UN Mission there said that the attacks caused significant civilian casualties. The UN in Afghanistan calls for those responsible to face justice and offers condolences to victims and families. 
The Secretary-General obviously joins this condemnation but we expect a more formal statement from him later today.  
Also today, the Humanitarian Coordinator in the country, Toby Lanzer, said that he is outraged by the attack on the Sad Bistar Hospital in Kabul. Mr. Lanzer said that it beggars belief that such a heinous act could be committed when Afghanistan is being ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Mr. Lanzer emphasized that civilians receiving care in hospitals, health workers, medical infrastructure and aid workers are protected under International Humanitarian Law; violations must be investigated and those behind the attacks brought to justice.

The Secretary-General wrote to UN staff yesterday evening, noting how he has been inspired by how our work has been able to continue uninterrupted for the past two months. This, he said, has enabled the UN not only to stay open, but also to play an active global role in helping people cope with the emergency. He informed staff that, after consulting with senior management and our medical services, he is extending the current telecommuting arrangements at the Headquarters complex through June 30th 2020.  These arrangements will continue to be reviewed. The Secretary-General said that a plan is also being finalized for a gradual and phased return to the building whenever it is considered safe for us to do so. The staff’s health and safety are the priorities guiding this process. 

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