Around the world: Daily updates from UN country teams - December 2022
Our UN teams are on the ground in 162 countries and territories, coordinating joint programmes and tackling a range of multi-faceted priorities and key initiatives on a daily basis — from climate action and food security to gender equality and safety of civilians. UN Resident Coordinators and their teams utilize innovative approaches to problem-solving to better serve communities. Below are some highlights of their work this month.
Thursday, 22 December
Afghanistan: Support to women
We have updates from our UN team in Afghanistan, led by Resident Coordinator Ramiz Alakbarov, which has continuously supported women since the Taliban takeover a year and a half ago. In 2022, the World Food Programme (WFP) supported nearly 12 million women and girls through activities to prevent and treat malnutrition. Over 1.7 million were pregnant and lactating women. WFP also offered school feeding for 400,000 girls. Under the Spotlight Initiative, backed by the European Union and the UN, several entities, including UN Women, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) the UN Development Programme (UNDP) the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) provided essential services to 30,000 women in safe spaces designed for women and girls. The initiative also enabled an emergency hotline that helped almost 117,000 women, girls, and youth, while nearly 27,000 women received reproductive health services in three priority provinces. For its part, the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) provided basic general literacy programmes to 25,000 youth and adults, half of them girls and women. Also in 2022, UNICEF reached 300,000 children - half of them girls - through 20,000 community-based classes. And 90,000 women and girls have accessed nearly 100 UNICEF-supported safe spaces for girls and women across 16 provinces where they receive psychosocial support and referrals to other basic services.
South Africa: Measles
Turning to South Africa, our UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Nelson Muffuh, is working with authorities to respond to the recent measles outbreak. As of this Tuesday, there were 245 confirmed cases, almost 75 per cent of them children under the age of nine. The UN’s response is coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), alongside national and local authorities. Through funding from the Governments of Germany and Japan, UNICEF is supporting the procurement of cold chain equipment which will benefit approximately 2,000 health facilities. Training is scheduled to kick off early in 2023. The UN is calling for additional national and provincial government funding to be allocated to the measles response. The official measles coverage is currently covering 75-85 per cent of the target groups, a figure that needs to rise to 95 per cent to stop transmission. WHO teams in each of the affected provinces are engaging in outbreak investigations, developing provincial plans, and providing training on measles vaccination and outbreak preparedness.
Wednesday, 21 December
Colombia: 'Total Peace' initiative
Our UN team in Colombia tells us they have just received over US$17 million in support for the multi-donor fund that backs Colombia’s “Total Peace” initiative. We thank the Governments of Norway, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom for their contribution, alongside other contributing partners, enabling the Fund’s implementation plan for next year. This amount adds to existing resources, securing 76 percent of the Fund’s 2023 investment needs [$55 million]. Agreed upon between the Government of Colombia, donors, and the UN team, the Fund will keep supporting victims and the transitional justice scheme, as well as rural development, reintegration of former combatants, and security measures for communities. In 2023 the Fund will also boost support for the renewed peace dialogues between the Government and the National Liberation Army (ELN, in its Spanish acronym). Under the leadership of our UN Resident Coordinator Mireia Villar Forner, the fund is financing 40 joint initiatives implemented by 16 UN entities on the ground, promoting partnerships with over 600 local organizations. During the past six years, the Fund has invested US$181 million to support the creation of the Transitional Justice System, with the participation of nearly 97,000 victims. The Fund also helped boost political participation for 7,500 women and increased the economic reintegration of over 8.800 former combatants, 30 percent of them women. Also, over 7,300 families now have access to water solutions and over 1.900 productive projects are in place as alternatives to illicit crops. Our team is also grateful for the increased private sector investments which bolster socioeconomic opportunities for the rural poor.
Afghanistan: Taliban de facto authorities close universities to female students
Also, our UN team in Afghanistan, alongside the humanitarian community shared today the outrage of millions of Afghans and the international community over the decision by the Taliban de facto authorities to close universities to female students across the country until further notice. Our team on the ground calls on the de facto authorities to immediately revoke the decision. The full statement is on the UN Afghanistan website in English, Dari and Pashto.
Friday, 16 December
Afghanistan: Efforts to support women and girls
The UN team in Afghanistan, led by Resident Coordinator Ramiz Alakbarov, is sharing a new update on their efforts to support women and girls this year. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is promoting women's participation and decision-making at the community committee level by engaging nearly 2,000 women in community resilience and local recovery planning and training approximately 64,000 women on fundamental human rights, prevention of harmful traditions, social cohesion and conflict mediation, climate, disaster risk management and resilience. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has delivered basic general literacy programmes to 25,000 youth and adults, half of whom are girls and women. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reached 300,000 children, half of them girls, through 20,000 community-based classes. 90,000 women and girls have accessed about 100 UNICEF-supported safe spaces for girls and women in 16 provinces. Women and girls received psychosocial support and referrals to other essential services. In October, as part of the winter response, UNICEF provided multi-purpose cash assistance to more than 3,000 households, including pregnant and lactating women, to access antenatal care, institutional delivery and postnatal care in Ashtarlay district, Daikundi province.
Myanmar: Number of people living in poverty doubles
A note from Myanmar, where our colleagues at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) tell us that the number of people living in poverty has doubled due to the effects of the pandemic and the military takeover – to nearly half of the population, or up to 25 million people. This significant reversal in development gains confirms the research UNDP published earlier in 2022 and 2021.While the conditions on the ground remain extremely challenging, UNDP has directly reached one million of the most vulnerable people with support to meet critical basic needs since February 2021. As part of the overall UN response to the deepening crisis, UNDP assistance is anchored in human development principles, and its implementation is impartial, independent and delivered directly to communities in need. The aid included support to Internally displaced people, non-food items, water infrastructure, provision of seeds and fertilizer; grants for micro and small enterprises, particularly those headed by women; and supporting access to markets. UNDP announced it is mobilizing resources to scale up its operations to directly reach up to seven million people over the next two years.
Thursday, 15 December
Afghanistan: Supporting Afghan women
We have an update from our UN team in Afghanistan, led by Resident Coordinator Ramiz Alakbarov, as they continue supporting Afghan women since the Taliban takeover a year and a half ago. The International Labour Organization (ILO) created and sustained nearly 1700 jobs for women and trained almost 470 women on entrepreneurship and decent work practices, including the prevention of child labour, throughout this year. Also during this period, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) provided reproductive, maternal health and psychosocial support services to three million women and girls through 540 facilities across more than 170 districts in Afghanistan. UNFPA, working with other partners, also kept midwifery services running in nearly 20 facilities in seven provinces, with almost 60 new family health centres being built in the North and South. For its part, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) supported almost 800,000 women to access primary health services, distributing COVID-19 kits and deploying mobile health services. UNDP also boosted livelihoods for 170,000 women with temporary employment opportunities, with an additional 34,000 women-led medium and small and medium enterprises. For their part, UN Women reached 20,000 women with essential services, including cash-for-work, psychosocial support, and learning opportunities, also funding over 300 women-led organizations.
Wednesday, 14 December
Sri Lanka: Multi-sector response to the economic crisis
Our team in Sri Lanka, led by Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, continues to mount a multi-sector response to the island’s worst economic crisis since independence. The revised Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan (HNP) aims to provide lifesaving assistance to 3.4 million people and has so far raised US$3.2 million, or 62 percent of its US$149.7 million funding target. This figure does not include an additional US$40 million pledged for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to provide support for agricultural livelihoods, and a further US$35.6 million in funding for other UN agencies and humanitarian partners involved in the crisis response.
Through the HNP and other appeals, UN agencies are mitigating acute food insecurity exacerbated by poor harvests and food inflation that peaked at 95 percent over the year to September 2022. In recent weeks, the UN and its partners have been able to scale-up assistance due largely to the faster arrival of humanitarian commodities such as rice, fertilizer and medicines. The emergency response retains a focus on supporting local livelihoods, boosted by the recent arrival of 9,300 metric tons of urea fertilizer at Colombo port as part of support from USAID through FAO intended to improve yields of staple rice crops. An additional 36,000 metric tons of Triple Super Phosphate is expected in January for use in the next cropping season.
Thursday, 8 December
Sudan: Life-saving humanitarian aid in Central Darfur
Our UN team in Sudan, led by Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Khardiata Lo N'Diaye, is supporting local peace and development initiatives while providing life-saving humanitarian aid in Central Darfur. Central Darfur is facing high levels of violence, insecurity, and displacement. With the support of the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are training 180 young people to promote peace in their communities and access civic spaces from which they have been excluded. For their part, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are collecting data to better inform effective programming for higher impact. Through the US$20 million Darfur programme, the UN Children's Fund, UNDP, and UNHCR have implemented initiatives to strengthen the rule of law and provide essential services. The UN team helped set up a dozen community reconciliation committees to resolve conflicts with an 89 per cent success rate, provided 56,600 people with access to water, and enabled 5,657 people to obtain civil registration documents to access essential services and register land.
Wednesday, 7 December
Myanmar: Supporting crisis-affected and displaced people
We have an update from our UN team in Myanmar as they tackle the development and humanitarian challenges on the ground, working to meet the critical needs of the approximately 3.9 million crisis-affected and displaced people. More than 1.1 million people remain displaced by conflict and insecurity since the military takeover in February 2021. The Humanitarian Response Plan for 2022 remains severely underfunded, with only 28% of requirements received as of December 5, leaving a gap of $593 million as the year ends. The resulting gaps will have serious implications for needs in 2023. The humanitarian community welcomes the recently announced informal ceasefire agreement between the Arakan Army and the Myanmar Armed Forces. However, concerns are growing that ongoing armed clashes, tight security, access restrictions, and threats against aid workers are putting lives at risk and hampering humanitarian operations in other parts of the country. Humanitarians reiterate the UN Secretary-General's call on the parties to the conflict to end the fighting and ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access to people in need. Aid workers are deeply concerned about the potential impacts of the recently passed NGO registration law on the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance by partners. Also, the inflation in commodity prices, including food and fuel, is exacerbating the socio-economic stress of communities, forcing them to cut back on food consumption, or sell off assets, or worse, marry early or drop out of school.
Tuesday, 6 December
Côte d’Ivoire: Supporting refugees
In Côte d’Ivoire, our UN team led by Resident Coordinator Philippe Poinsot continues its support to authorities in the northern region, improving communities’ well-being and livelihoods. Since 31 May 2022, the country has registered around 4,000 refugees fleeing from neighboring Burkina Faso, including 2,200 children, currently living in host communities of the country’s northern region. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is working closely with partners to support host communities. This includes the distribution of 30 tons of rice and over 1,200 relief kits including tarpaulins, blankets, solar lamps, cooking sets, jerrycans, mosquito nets, soap, and mats, and training 32 personnel on border monitoring in the last six months. For their part, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are working closely with partners to establish local committees to boost social and security issues. Our team also provided a solar-powered mini-drinking water supply system, reaching 1,500 people, which has benefited schools, health centers, and security posts. Also, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is training young people and giving them access to financing to boost the agricultural sector. This initiative is expected to create 1,500 jobs in northern Côte d’Ivoire alone. Eight entities in our UN team are also working on a joint programme of over US$50 million for two years, focusing on education, health, water and sanitation, and support for economic opportunities.
Interested in more? Check out previous daily updates from UN teams 'around the world':