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Daily Noon Briefing Highlights: Afghanistan - Lebanon - Syria

15 Jun 2021

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The Deputy Special Coordinator, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Lebanon, Najat Rochdi, on a visit earlier this month with the Sanabel Nour Association, an NGO that provides educational opportunities and humanitarian, protection and medical support to more than 12,000 vulnerable people in Lebanon. © UN Lebanon

Daily Noon Briefing Highlights – 15 June 2021

Afghanistan

The UN expresses its deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the health workers who lost their lives today while carrying out life-saving work in Nangarhar Province. The UN also wishes those injured a swift recovery.

Five health workers were killed and four others injured in five separate attacks in Nangarhar Province while conducting a polio vaccination campaign. In March, three health workers also lost their lives during the national polio vaccination campaign in Nangarhar Province.

These attacks come just a week after 11 staff working for the Halo Trust NGO were killed in an incident in Baghlan Province that left 15 other staff injured.

The UN is appalled by the brutality of these killings. Such senseless violence must stop immediately, and those responsible investigated and brought to justice.

Following today’s attacks, the national polio vaccination campaign which began yesterday has been suspended in the eastern region of Afghanistan, depriving millions of children of protection against the disease.

The UN strongly condemns all attacks against health workers anywhere. The delivery of health care is impartial, and any attack against health workers and those who work to defend them is an attack on those whose lives they are trying to protect.

The UN strongly urges parties to the conflict to protect civilians, aid workers and civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, in compliance with international humanitarian law.

 

Lebanon

The Deputy Special Coordinator, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Najat Rochdi, yesterday briefed Member States in Geneva on the deepening crisis in the country.

She said that Lebanon is facing one of the worst financial and economic crises in modern history. Acute malnutrition rates among children under age 5 have increased over the past two years. And more than 1 million Lebanese need assistance to meet their basic needs, including food.

The public health system is also stretched by the effects of both the economic crisis and COVID-19, with people increasingly unable to access and afford health care. 

Ms. Rochdi called on the international community to help meet the critical emerging needs of the Lebanese people and foreign migrant workers. 

She said the UN is working to mitigate the effects of the crisis, including through humanitarian response until an inclusive social protection system is in place.

Ms. Rochdi called for support for a rapid transition towards recovery under the Reform, Recovery and Reconstruction Framework, a joint European Union, UN and World Bank early recovery plan following the Beirut Port explosion.

 

Syria

The UN is very concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation of 13.4 million people throughout the country following a decade of conflict, as well as an economic crisis and COVID-19.

The situation is particularly dire in north-west Syria, where more than 90 per cent of the 3.4 million people in need are facing extreme or catastrophic need, particularly the 2.7 million internally displaced people along the border with Turkey.

The only way the UN can access these millions of people is through the UN Security Council-authorized cross-border operation. The Bab al-Hawa crossing is the UN’s remaining entry point for delivering assistance to north-west Syria.

The assistance the UN delivers through the cross-border operation, including critical food, and livelihoods, nutrition and health assistance, reaches on average 2.4 million Syrians each month, with around 1,000 aid trucks crossing the border each month. 

Cross-border assistance comprises roughly half of all humanitarian assistance to north-west Syria.

The first batch of just over 53,000 COVAX vaccines for north-west Syria were transported through the cross-border operation in April, with vaccination ongoing since 1 May. Other health items continue to cross the border to support hospitals and primary health centres in the region.

Bab al-Hawa is the last lifeline, preventing a humanitarian catastrophe for millions of people in north-west Syria. Despite ongoing efforts to deliver a small number of trucks cross-line from Damascus, there remains no alternative to deliver aid at this scale and scope.

As the Secretary-General has stressed, a large-scale cross-border response for an additional 12 months is essential to save lives. There is no alternative. The Security Council’s current authorization for the UN cross-border operation expires on 10 July.