Author Archives: Julia Dean

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?” More

Tonga: The UN stands ready to provide support after volcano eruption and tsunami

Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his deep concern after reports of a tsunami and ash affecting Tonga following the eruption of an undersea volcano near the Pacific nation.

The UN chief also aired his concern about the tsunami warnings that have been issued in other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United States.

“The United Nations offices in the Pacific are closely monitoring the situation and are on standby to provide support if requested. The Secretary-General is grateful to countries that have already offered their support”, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said in a statement published on Saturday.

According to the Tonga Geological Services, a massive underwater volcano erupted just before sundown on Friday with plumes reaching more than 12 miles above sea level. A cloud of ash and steam reached about 150 miles across, an event captured by satellite images that have been shared by various meteorological agencies.

There has not been an immediate report of injuries or on the extend of the damage due to the nation’s current lack of connectivity.

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WHO recommends two new drugs to treat patients with COVID-19  

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended on Thursday two new drugs to treat patients with COVID-19, one for patients with critical diseaseand one for non-severe cases.

The first drug, baricitinib, is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor- a class of drugs used to treat autoimmune conditions, blood and bone marrow cancers, and rheumatoid arthritis.

According to the WHO Guideline Development Group, it is “strongly recommended” for patients with severe or critical disease in combination with corticosteroids. More

Omicron fuels record weekly COVID-19 cases, but deaths ‘stable’

Briefing reporters in Geneva, the UN health agency chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the “huge spike” is being driven by the Omicron variant, which is rapidly replacing Delta in almost all countries.

Despite the number of cases, the weekly reported deaths have “remained stable” since October last year, Tedros added, at an average of 48,000. The number of patients being hospitalised is also increasing in most countries, but it is not at the level seen in previous waves.

He told reporters this is possibly due to the reduced severity of Omicron, and widespread immunity from vaccination or previous infection. More

UN Secretary-General New Year’s Message

The world welcomes 2022 with our hopes for the future being tested. By deepening poverty and worsening inequality. By an unequal distribution of COVID vaccines. By climate commitments that fall short. And by ongoing conflict, division, and misinformation.

These are not just policy tests. These are moral and real-life tests. And they are tests that humanity can pass — if we commit to making 2022 a year of recovery for everyone. Recovery from the pandemic — with a bold plan to vaccinate every person, everywhere. Recovery for our economies — with wealthier countries supporting the developing world with financing, investment and debt relief.

Recovery from mistrust and division — with a new emphasis on science, facts and reason. Recovery from conflicts — with a renewed spirit of dialogue, compromise and reconciliation. And recovery for our planet — with climate commitments that match the scale and urgency of the crisis. Moments of great difficulty are also moments of great opportunity. To come together in solidarity. To unite behind solutions that can benefit all people. And to move forward — together — with hope in what our human family can accomplish. Together, let’s make recovery our resolution for 2022. For people, planet and prosperity. I wish you all a happy and peaceful New Year.

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Note to Correspondents – on Afghanistan

The Secretary-General is following with deep concern the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan. He urges the Taliban and all other parties to exercise utmost restraint in order to protect lives and ensure that humanitarian needs can be addressed.

Conflict is forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. There continue to be reports of serious human rights abuses and violations in the communities most affected by the fighting. The Secretary-General is particularly concerned about the future of women and girls, whose hard-won rights must be protected. All abuses must stop. He calls on the Taliban and all other parties to ensure that international humanitarian law and the rights and freedoms of all people are respected and protected.

The need for assistance is surging while the operating environment becomes more restricted due to the escalation of the conflict. The Secretary-General calls on all parties to ensure that humanitarian actors have unimpeded access to deliver timely and life-saving services and assistance.

The United Nations remains determined to contribute to a peaceful settlement, promote the human rights of all Afghans, notably women and girls, and provide life-saving humanitarian assistance and critical support to civilians in need.

On Monday, the Secretary-General will address the Security Council’s open meeting on Afghanistan.

IPCC Report: ‘Code red’ For Human Driven Global Heating, Warns UN Chief

Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Scientists are also observing changes across the whole of Earth’s climate system; in the atmosphere, in the oceans, ice floes, and on land.

Many of these changes are unprecedented, and some of the shifts are in motion now, while some – such as continued sea level rise – are already ‘irreversible’ for centuries to millennia, ahead, the report warns.

But there is still time to limit climate change, IPCC experts say. Strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases, could quickly make air quality better, and in 20 to 30 years global temperatures could stabilise. More

Photo: A 16-year-old child swims in the flooded area of Aberao village in Kiribati. The Pacific island is one of the countries worst affected by sea-level rise.

Secretary-General’s Statement On The IPCC Working Group 1 Report On The Physical Science Basis Of The Sixth Assessment

Today’s IPCC Working Group 1 Report is a code red for humanity.  The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable:  greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible.

The internationally agreed threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius is perilously close.

We are at imminent risk of hitting 1.5 degrees in the near term. The only way to prevent exceeding this threshold is by urgently stepping up our efforts, and pursuing the most ambitious path.

We must act decisively now to keep 1.5 alive.

We are already at 1.2 degrees and rising. Warming has accelerated in recent decades. Every fraction of a degree counts.  Greenhouse gas concentrations are at record levels. Extreme weather and climate disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity. That is why this year’s United Nations climate conference in Glasgow is so important.

The viability of our societies depends on leaders from government, business        and civil society uniting behind policies, actions and investments that will limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.  We owe this to the entire human family, especially the poorest and most vulnerable communities and nations that are the hardest hit despite being least responsible for today’s climate emergency.

The solutions are clear.  Inclusive and green economies, prosperity, cleaner air and better health are possible for all if we respond to this crisis with solidarity and courage.  All nations, especially the G20 and other major emitters, need to join the net zero emissions coalition and reinforce their commitments with credible, concrete and enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions and policies before COP26 in Glasgow.

We need immediate action on energy. Without deep carbon pollution cuts now, the 1.5-degree goal will fall quickly out of reach. This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.  There must be no new coal plants built after 2021.  OECD countries must phase out existing coal by 2030, with all others following suit by 2040.  Countries should also end all new fossil fuel exploration and production, and shift fossil    fuel subsidies into renewable energy.  By 2030, solar and wind capacity should quadruple and renewable energy investments should triple to maintain a net zero trajectory by mid-century.

Climate impacts will undoubtedly worsen.  There is a clear moral and economic imperative to protect the lives and livelihoods of those on the front lines of the climate crisis.  Adaptation and resilience finance must cease being the neglected half of the climate equation.  Only 21 per cent of climate support is directed towards adaptation.  I again call on donors and the multilateral development   banks to allocate at least 50 per cent of all public climate finance to protecting people, especially women and vulnerable groups.  COVID-19 recovery spending must be aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.  And the decade-old promise to mobilize $100 billion annually to support mitigation and adaptation in developing countries must be met.

The climate crisis poses enormous financial risk to investment managers, asset owners, and businesses.  These risks should be measured, disclosed and mitigated.  I am asking corporate leaders to support a minimum international carbon price and align their portfolios with the Paris Agreement.  The public and private sector must work together to ensure a just and rapid transformation to a net zero global economy.

If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe.  But, as today’s report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses. I count on government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success.

09 August 2021