Category: COVID-19 (Page 1 of 4)

UN chief: “Restore trust and inspire hope” to UN General Assembly.

With humanity on the edge of an abyss, and moving in the wrong direction, the world must wake up“, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his keynote address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

Antonio Guterres called for greater action in areas such as climate policy, gender equality and closing the gap between rich and poor.

“This is our time.

A moment for transformation. 

An era to re-ignite multilateralism. 

An age of possibilities,” the UN Secretary-General told world leaders and ambassadors.      

“Let us restore trust. 

Let us inspire hope.

And let us start right now.”

Amid “the greatest cascade of crises in our lifetimes”, which include the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate emergency, and upheaval in places such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Yemen.

Mr. Guterres singled out one disturbing image as indicative of the present moment, citing “the picture we have seen from some parts of the world of COVID-19 vaccines…in the garbage.

Expired and unused”.

“On the one hand, we see the vaccines developed in record time, a victory of science and human ingenuity.

On the other hand, we see that triumph undone by the tragedy of a lack of political will, selfishness and mistrust.”

For the UN Secretary-General, the fact that most wealthier countries are vaccinated, while more than 90 per cent of Africans are still awaiting their first dose, was “a moral indictment of the state of our world” and “an obscenity”, according UN News.

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UNGA 76th session started, President calls on member states to embrace hope.

The United Nations General Assembly on opened its 76th session on Tuesday, with the UNGA president Abdulla Shahid and the UN chief Antionio Guterres imploring member states to embrace hope.

The COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be the most challenging period the world has seen since the Second World War, said the UN Secretary-General on Tuesday, as the 75th session of the General Assembly gave way to the new, deepening inequalities, decimating economies and plunging millions into extreme poverty

Passing on the gavel to the new UN General Assembly president, António Guterres saluted his predecessor: “Throughout this difficult and historic moment, we have all been fortunate to rely on the leadership of His Excellency, President Volkan Bozkir”. 

The UN chief credited the outgoing Turkish diplomat and politician for prioritizing a sustainable recovery, rooted in the 2030 Agenda, and supporting countries and communities as they rebuild systems shattered by the pandemic. 

83 heads of state expected to attend 76th session of UN General Assembly.

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The new President of the United Nations General Assembly Abdulla Shahid highlights hope.

The incoming President Abdulla Shahid of the UN General Assembly says that hope is desperately needed for those billions around the world struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, devastation, and strife.

The General Assembly is the only body which has the 193 countries represented and this body, when it speaks unanimously, when it decides on a matter, that is the international conscience,” Abulla Shahid said, ahead of the 76th General Assembly session, which starts on 14 September.  

He added that on issues such as climate change and equitable access to vaccines, he would “never give up hope that humanity will rise to the occasion.”  

Mr. Shahid also spoke about the importance of these issues and his overall presidency for his home country of the Maldives, which he serves as foreign minister, an island nation with a population of around 530,000 people

He will now represent a United Nations body that speaks on behalf of nearly 7.9 billion people

In an interview to UN News he quoted: “Investing in multilateralism is what we should do now. 

COVID-19 has once again shown us now that multilateralism is the only way forward.

The best investment in multilateralism is investing in young people“.

The World Government Movement wishes  Abdulla Shahid the best with his duty as 76th President of the UN General Assembly.

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United Nations: “COVID-19 deals and delays unacceptable”.

While 80 per cent of citizens in high and upper-middle income nations have had a dose of COVID-19 vaccine, that figure stands at just 20 per cent for those living below the top tiers, according to a joint statement issued by the United Nations and partner agencies, responsible for the multilateral COVAX initiative to provide equal access for all

It’s a year since the innovative scheme was born, in a bid to guarantee timely access to everyone, regardless of their income, status or location, to life-saving jabs, as the pandemic gripped the world. 

“Yet, the global picture of access to COVID-19 vaccines is unacceptable”, said the statement released on Wednesday. 

“In the critical months during which COVAX was created, signed on participants, pooled demand, and raised enough money to make advance purchases of vaccines, much of the early global supply had already been bought by wealthy nations.” 

In a news briefing in Geneva, World Health Organization chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reminded journalists of his call, a month ago, for a global moratorium on booster doses, at least until the end of September, in order to prioritise the vaccination of the most at-risk people around the world who are yet to receive their first dose. 

“There has been little change in the global situation since then, so today I am calling for an extension of the moratorium until at least the end of the year, to enable every country to vaccinate at least 40 percent of its population,” he explained.   

For Tedros, the world’s largest producers, consumers and donors of vaccines in the world’s 20 leading economies hold the key to vaccine equity and ending the pandemic

Now is the time for true leadership, not empty promises,” he said.   

The WHO wants to support every country’s efforts to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of their populations by the end of this month, at least 40 per cent by the end of this year and 70 per cent of the global population by the middle of next year, according UN News

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United Nations report: human activity the cause of disasters around the world.

Disasters such as cyclones, floods, and droughts are more connected than we might think, and human activity is the common thread, a UN report released on Wednesday reveals.

The study from the United Nations University, the academic and research arm of the UN, looks at 10 different disasters that occurred in 2020 and 2021, and finds that, even though they occurred in very different locations and do not initially appear to have much in common, they are, in fact, interconnected.

A consequence of human influence

The study builds on the ground-breaking Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment released on 9 August, and based on improved data on historic heating, which showed that human influence has warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years.

António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General described the IPCC assessment as a “code red for humanity”.

Over the 2020-2021 period covered by the UN University, several record-breaking disasters took place, including the COVID-19 pandemic, a cold wave which crippled the US state of Texas, wildfires which destroyed almost 5 million acres of Amazon rainforest, and 9 heavy storms in Viet Nam, in the span of only 7 weeks.

The new report identifies three root causes that affected most of the events in the analysis: human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, insufficient disaster risk management, and undervaluing environmental costs and benefits in decision-making.

The first of these, human induced greenhouse gas emissions, is identified as one of the reasons why Texas experienced freezing temperatures, but these emissions also contribute to the formation of super cyclones such as Cyclone Amphan, on the other side of the world.

The report also shows how the record rate of deforestation in the Amazon is linked to the high global demand for meat: this demand has led to an increase in the need for soy, which is used as animal feed for poultry.

As a result, tracts of forest are being cut down.

“What we can learn from this report is that disasters we see happening around the world are much more interconnected than we may realize, and they are also connected to individual behaviour”, says one of the report’s authors, UNU scientist Jack O’Connor.

“Our actions have consequences, for all of us”, according UN News.

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World Health Organization to G20 Health Ministers: “meet COVID-19 pledges”.

The head of the World Health Organization told the G20 Health Ministers in Rome on Sunday “that despite hopes that by now the pandemic would be under control the opposite is true”.

Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pointed out that “many countries continue to face steep increases in cases and deaths”, despite that more than five billion vaccines have been administered globally.

“But almost 75 per cent of those doses have been administered in just 10 countries”, he explained.

He added that at 2 per centAfrica has the lowest vaccination coverage, this is unacceptable”.

The World Health Organizations global targets are to support every country to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of its population by the end of the month, at least 40 per cent by the end of the year, and 70 per cent by the middle of next year

We can still reach these targets, but only with the commitment and support of G20 countries”, Tedros stated

As the largest producers, consumers and donors of COVID-19 vaccines, he upheld that they hold the key to achieving vaccine equity and ending the pandemic.

“We can never allow a pandemic on this scale to happen again.

 And we can never allow an injustice like this to happen again”, spelled out the WHO chief, according UN News.

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World Health Organization: “rich countries should donate at least 1 billion vaccine doses”.

Rich countries must share their supplies of COVID-19 vaccines quickly, in line with recommendations made earlier this year by an independent panel appointed by the World Health Organization, the former co-chairs said on Tuesday.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia, and Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, expressed deep concern over the slow pace of vaccine redistribution from high-income to low-income countries.

The two former leaders served as co-chairs of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR), launched by WHO in July 2020.

A critical step

The Independent Panel report recommended that high-income countries ensure that at least one billion doses of vaccines available to them were redistributed to 92 low and middle-income countries by 1 September, and a further one billion doses by mid-2022”, they declared.  

“Ensuring that all those around the world most vulnerable to the impact of the virus, including healthcare workers, older people and those with significant comorbidities, can be vaccinated quickly is a critical step towards curbing the pandemic“, according UN News.

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UN chief calls for action to end enforced disappearances on International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has urged countries to fulfill their obligations to prevent and prosecute cases of enforced disappearance on International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

The UN chief made the appeal in his message to mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, honouring victims of this serious human rights violation, observed on Monday.

Together, we can and we must end all enforced disappearances,” he said. 

A global problem

Enforced disappearance refers to the arrest, detention or abduction of persons by agents of the state, or those acting with state authorization or support, whose whereabouts are unknown.

Once largely the product of military dictatorships, it has become a global problem, according to the United Nations, with hundreds of thousands of people “disappeared” in more than 80 countries.

Impunity remains widespread.

While strictly prohibited under international human rights law, Mr. Guterres said enforced disappearance continues to be used across the world as a method of repression, terror, and stifling dissent.

“Paradoxically, it is sometimes used under the pretext of countering crime or terrorism.

Lawyers, witnesses, political opposition, and human rights defenders are particularly at risk,” he added, accoring UN News.

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United Nations: Tokyo Paralympics lead towards a more inclusive society.

Innovators are joining Paralympians to discuss how sport can help to build a more inclusive society in a series of online discussions organized by the United Nations to coincide with the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, which continues until 5 September.

After losing her right leg in a car accident as a Japanese high school student, Kaede Maegawa was grateful when her friends offered her support.

Yet, she sometimes felt that she wouldn’t be capable of doing anything on her own.

In order to regain her confidence, she asked her friends and teachers to let her try do things on her own.

This started her on the road to becoming an elite athlete, and a competitor at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

Ms. Maegawa shares her story during SDG Zone at Tokyo panel discussion, in which three inspirational Paralympians talk about the power of sport to expand horizons, and what the Paralympic values – courage, determination inspiration, and equality, mean to them.

Ms. Maegawa, who competes in the long jump, is joined by renowned Sierra Leonean table-tennis para-athlete George Wyndham, and Miki Matheson, three-times Paralympic gold medalist in ice sledge speed racing.

Innovations featured in the Paralympics can eventually help all disabled people, explains Ken Endo, CEO of the technology company Xiborg, in a conversation highlighting technology, design, and initiatives that are making sport more accessible and enjoyable for all.

Mr. Endo leads a project to make a running-specific prosthesis called “blade” available for all, not only for athletes, and is working to break down various barriers, especially in developing countries, exploring how locally available materials can be used to develop blades and increase the number of people using prostheses.

The panel also features Lucy Meyer, Spokesperson for the Special Olympics-UNICEF USA Partnership, for young people with disabilities, and a five-times gold medal swimmer in the Special Olympics.

Ms. Meyer, who also has cerebral palsy, says that doctors told her parents that she wouldn’t be able to sit up or swallow but “we are so happy to report that the doctors were very wrong!”

She is very active in Special Olympics programme which enables children with and without disabilities to compete together in team sports.

“It’s important to me that everyone accepts and includes everyone, but especially people with disabilities, because we are no different.”

The last session of the SDG Zone at Tokyo looks at what sport can bring to the next generation, and how it can help societies to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and improve, according UN News.

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WHO chief: ‘coming months critical for future pandemic preparedness’.

The next three months will be a critical period for stepping up global collective action against future pandemics, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, pointing to three major meetings on the international agenda

Although the COVID-19 caseload stabilized last week, after nearly two months of increases, the level remains high, said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, speaking during his regular press briefing from Geneva. 

Cases have surpassed 4.5 million globally, with 68,000 deaths

“Some regions and countries continue to see steep increases in cases and deaths, while others are declining,” he reported.

As long as this virus is circulating anywhere, it’s a threat everywhere”. 

Preparing for future pandemics 

WHO is progressing on plans to strengthen global defense against future epidemics and pandemics, Tedros said. 

He pointed out that with the UN General Assembly in September, followed by the G20 Summit in October, and a special session of WHO’s governing body set for November, the next three months represent “a critical period for shaping the future of pandemic preparedness and response”, according UN News.

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