Solidarity with Africa & other topics – Daily Briefing (20 May 2020)

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Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Highlights:
– Policy Brief/Africa
– Africa Dialogue
– Human Rights Chief/ Africa
– Economic and Social Council
– Global Human Development
– COVID-19/Child Malnutrition
– Security Council/Middle East
– South Sudan
– Cyclone Amphan/Bangladesh
– COVID-19/Kenya
– COVID-19/Armenia
– World Bee Day
– International Day For Biological Diversity
– Noon Briefing Guest Tomorrow

POLICY BRIEF/AFRICA
In a new policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on the African continent, the Secretary-General highlights the continent’s swift response to the pandemic, but also calls for global solidarity with Africans now and to recover better.  
In a video message recorded for the launch, the Secretary-General said that most African countries have moved rapidly to deepen regional coordination, deploy health workers, and enforce quarantines, lockdowns and border closures.
They are also drawing on the experience of HIV/AIDS and Ebola to debunk rumours and overcome mistrust of government, security forces and health workers. But, despite these efforts, the pandemic threatens progress achieved on the continent and will aggravate long-standing inequalities.
The Secretary-General called for international action to strengthen Africa’s health systems, maintain food supplies, avoid a financial crisis, support education, protect jobs, keep households and businesses afloat, as well as cushion the continent against lost income and export earnings.
The Secretary-General also emphasized that African countries should have quick, equal and affordable access to any eventual vaccine and treatment.  These must be considered global public goods, he said. He added that ending the pandemic in Africa is essential for ending it across the world. 
AFRICA DIALOGUE
This morning, during the opening session of the Africa Dialogues series, the Secretary-General reiterated the solidarity of the United Nations with African countries as they tackle the new coronavirus.  
He welcomed African support for his call for a global ceasefire, but also warned that the pandemic is affecting capacity to support peace and security efforts across the continent.
My message to the international community, he said, is that failure to respond quickly and adequately could jeopardize progress towards Silencing the Guns by 2020 and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as well as Africa’s “Agenda 2063”.
He said that the empowerment of African youth and repeated that women should play a central role in all peace processes, just as they needed to be central to every aspect of the COVID-19 response.
These are still early days for the pandemic in Africa, and disruption could escalate quickly, he concluded, as he renewed his appeal for global solidarity with all African countries.
HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF/ AFRICA
In a joint statement following the publication of the Secretary-General’s Policy Brief on Africa, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), Solomon Dersso, called for urgent measures to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
Bachelet and Dersso said that while measures to restrict movement and increase social distancing were essential in the fight against the virus, they were having a dramatic impact on populations, especially those who rely on informal daily work for their survival.
They both also underlined the importance of preserving freedom of association, of opinion and expression as well as access to information during this time. The human rights chiefs joined the Secretary-General’s call for equitable access for COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.  

Full Highlights: https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/noon-briefing-highlight?date%5Bvalue%5D%5Bdate%5D=20%20May%202020

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