Author Archives: cigisurrao

‘No free ride’ for COVID, it’s here ‘for the foreseeable future’: Tedros

The world must accept that COVID-19 is with us “for the foreseeable future”, even if it is possible to end the acute phase of the pandemic this year, UN health agency chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Monday.

Speaking in Geneva, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros noted that on average last week, 100 cases were reported every three seconds, and somebody lost their life to the coronavirus every 12 seconds.

It is still “dangerous to assume that Omicron will be the last variant, or that we are in the endgame” of the pandemic, he said.

“On the contrary, globally, the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge,” Tedros insisted, exactly two years and a day since he declared the deadly virus a public health emergency of international concern. More

UN chief calls for Olympic Truce to build ‘culture of peace’ through sport

Secretary-General António Guterres is urging the world to “build a culture of peace” through the power of sport, calling for nations to observe the Olympic Truce, endorsed last week through a resolution of the UN General Assembly.  

Amidst spreading conflict and rising tensions, he reminded that the appeal calls on all parties to observe a ceasefire throughout the course of the upcoming winter games.

Mr. Guterres said that the Olympic Truce represents “a chance to overcome differences and find paths towards lasting peace”.

As the world strives to end the COVID-19 pandemic, he urged everyone to “unite for a safer, more prosperous and sustainable future for all”.

During a recent press conference, he lauded the game Games as being “an extremely important manifestation in today’s world of the possibility of unity”, mutual respect, and cooperation between different cultures, religions and ethnicities. More

‘Global learning crisis’ continues says Guterres; millions still hit

Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, school closures continue to disrupt the lives of over 31 million students, exacerbating what the United Nations’ Secretary General called “a global learning crisis.”

“Unless we take action, the share of children leaving school in developing countries who are unable to read could increase from 53 to 70 per cent”, António Guterres warned in a video message marking the International Day of Education, on Monday.

The UN chief remembered the “chaos” that COVID-19 caused in education worldwide, noting that, at the pandemic’s peak, some 1.6 billion school and college students had their studies interrupted. More

UN coordinator in Tonga: ‘Resources on the ground are not enough’

As news coverage of the eruption and tsunami that hit Tonga starts to fade away, the United Nations Coordination Specialist in the country has a message to the outside world: Tonga’s people are going to need sustained support responding to a disaster of this scale. 

“The resources that we have in the ground are not enough”, Sione Hufanga explained, in an interview on Saturday morning local time, with UN News. “We ought to always look at the situation and ask, have we done enough, for this very small country, isolated in the Pacific islands?”

For the UN specialist, the complete magnitude of the problems is still unknown. He points to damages to the agricultural sector or the marine resources as examples. More

Comment by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Papua New Guinea’s repeal of the death penalty

GENEVA (21 January 2022) – I warmly welcome the vote by Parliament in Papua New Guinea on 20 January to repeal the death penalty.

There have been no executions in Papua New Guinea since 1954 and the death penalty was abolished in 1970. However, it was reinstated in 1991 and people continued to be sentenced to death. This makes Parliament’s decision all the more important, reinforcing the rule of law and strengthening public confidence that those found guilty after trials following due process and in line with human rights standards will receive fair, proportionate and consistent punishment.

Papua New Guinea joins a global trend away from use of the death penalty. Some 170 out of 193 UN Member States have either abolished the death penalty or do not practise it. I hope Papua New Guinea’s example will encourage those remaining States that retain the death penalty to take similarly progressive and courageous steps to abolish it, including by ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


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UN chief calls for action to put out ‘5-alarm global fire’

At a time when “the only certainty is more uncertainty”, countries must unite to forge a new, more hopeful and equal path, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the General Assembly on Friday, laying out his priorities for 2022.

“We face a five-alarm global fire that requires the full mobilization of all countries,” he said, referring to the raging COVID-19 pandemic, a morally bankrupt global financial system, the climate crisis, lawlessness in cyberspace, and diminished peace and security.

He stressed that countries “must go into emergency mode”, and now is the time to act as the response will determine global outcomes for decades ahead.  More

80 per cent of Tonga population impacted by eruption and tsunami

Some 12,000 households have been affected by the volcanic eruption and tsunami that hit the islands of Tonga over the weekend, according to estimates by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). 

In total, about 84,000 people, more than 80 per cent of the population of the South Pacific Kingdom, have been affected by the disaster.

Besides the three fatalities reported earlier in the week, no further deaths have been confirmed.

In an update released on Thursday, OCHA confirms that the whole economically vital agricultural sector, including crops, livestock and fisheries, have suffered substantially.

After being closed for several days due to ash on the runway, the debris at Fua’amotu International Airport has reportedly been cleared thanks to the tireless efforts of Tongan authorities, and it is now operational. More

Young people must have ‘a seat at the table’ in peace efforts: Guterres

Although young people have been at the forefront of efforts to build and sustain peace, opportunities for them to make a meaningful contribution remain insufficient, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday. 

Addressing the opening of the High-Level Global Conference on Youth-Inclusive Peace Processes, taking place online, he urged the international community to step up support.

He said numerous young peacebuilders, especially young women, report that their participation is not welcomed by the public or those in positions of power.

“We need to ensure that young people have a seat at the table – forging inclusive solutions that combine peace and security, sustainable development and human rights,” he said.

Last year, the Peacebuilding Fund provided nearly $26 million to projects implemented with civil society partners working in the areas of youth, peace and security. More

Statement on the tenth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic

The tenth meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic took place on Thursday 13 January 2022 from 12:00 to 17:00 Geneva time (CEST).

The Secretariat presented on the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic and a vision for how to optimize the 2022 response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Committee praised South Africa for their rapid identification, and transparent and rapid sharing of information on the Omicron VOC.

The Director-General determined that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to constitute a PHEIC. He accepted the advice of the Committee and issued the Committee’s advice to States Parties as Temporary Recommendations under the IHR.

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2021 joins top 7 warmest years on record: WMO

Last year joined the list of the seven warmest years on record, the UN weather agency said on Wednesday, and was also the seventh consecutive year when the global temperature has been more than 1°C above pre-industrial levels; edging closer to the limit laid out under the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Although average global temperatures were temporarily cooled by the 2020-2022 La Niña events, 2021 was still one of the seven warmest years on record, according to six leading international datasets consolidated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Global warming and other long-term climate change trends are expected to continue as a result of record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the agency said. More