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Daily Noon Briefing Highlights: Nagorno-Karabakh - Syria - Yemen

05 Oct 2020


Working with two other volunteers, Eutur Nafra (left) demonstrates how to wash your hands properly to mitigate the risk of COVID-19. She is one of a number of women working to raise community awareness on COVID-19 at the Abnaa Mhin IDP camp in northern Idleb Governorate in Syira. April 2020. Credit: OCHA

Daily Noon Briefing Highlights – 5 October 2020


The UN remains deeply concerned about the ongoing hostilities along the line of contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and urges an immediate end to the fighting.

The hostilities reportedly continue to cause the loss of civilian lives and injuries, as well as damage to civilian property and infrastructure.

From the beginning of the latest round of hostilities [27 September] to today [5 October], more than 40 civilians have reportedly been killed and over 200 others have been wounded on both sides.

Hundreds of houses have been seriously damaged.

The UN calls on all sides to respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law, in particular by ensuring the protection of the civilian population and by preventing damage to essential civilian infrastructure.

The UN Country Teams in both Yerevan and Baku stand ready to respond to humanitarian needs as they emerge. Neither government has requested international assistance.


Syria: COVID-19 update

To date, the Syrian Ministry of Health has confirmed 4,366 cases of COVID-19 in Syria, including 205 deaths.

This is in addition to the 1,839 cases and 69 deaths reported in the north-east and 1,190 cases and 14 deaths in the north-west.

While the official number of cases of COVID-19 remains relatively low, all factors point to widespread community transmission.

In addition, given the limited testing across the country and challenges in contact tracing, it is likely that the actual number of cases far exceeds official figures.

The World Health Organization is leading UN preparedness and mitigation measures across Syria.

UN and humanitarian partners are providing life-saving assistance to people in need across the country, with appropriate measures in place to reduce the risk of transmission.
fragile health system, including severe shortages of qualified health personnel, underscores the need for sustained humanitarian support to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.


Yemen: Update on SAFER oil tanker

The UN remains extremely concerned about the SAFER oil tanker off the coast of Hudaydah in Yemen, which is at risk of spilling 1.1 million barrels of oil into the Red Sea.

A major spill would create a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe. Independent modelling shows that nearly all the oil would wash up on Yemen’s west coast, devastating coastal communities and closing Hudaydah port for up to six months. Taking Hudaydah port offline would almost certainly intensify Yemen’s risk of famine, as Yemen imports nearly all its food – much of it through Hudaydah.

The UN remains eager to assist on this issue. For months, we have been proposing to send an expert mission to the SAFER to conduct a comprehensive technical assessment and complete any feasible initial repairs that would minimize the risk of a spill. The assessment would then provide evidence for longer-term options to address the SAFER issue safely and sustainably.

Over the past several weeks, UN experts have had several rounds of constructive technical discussions with representatives of the Houthi de-facto authorities who control the area. These discussions have sought to agree on technical specifications for the proposed mission.

Based on these recent discussions, the UN has submitted a comprehensive mission proposal to the de-facto authorities, and we are optimistic this will be quickly approved. International donors have also committed to cover costs associated with the mission.

The UN needs formal approval of the mission from the de-facto authorities in order to begin procuring specialized equipment and making other arrangements. Based on current market availability of required equipment, we would need up to seven weeks from receipt of approvals until mission staff could arrive at the site with necessary equipment. The sooner the approvals come through, the sooner this work can get started.