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Daily Noon Briefing Highlights: Niger - Syria - Yemen

28 Sep 2020


Credit: UNICEF/Islamane

Daily Noon Briefing Highlights – 28 September 2020

Niger: Floods update and response

Torrential rainfall in Niger since June has affected nearly 550,000 people, killed 69 people, and destroyed more than 43,000 houses, according to government data. In addition, more than 16,000 hectares of cropland have been swamped by floods and more than 19,000 ruminants have been killed, exacerbating the vulnerability of the already fragile population due to the loss of livelihoods.

The UN, along with humanitarian partners and in support of government response efforts, continues to provide coordinated multisectoral assistance to the people affected.

The priority needs are food, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, education and protection services, but additional funding is required to continue providing timely aid to the affected population.

In addition to response to floods, the UN and humanitarian partners have reached more than half a million people with food assistance across the country, 290,000 people with water, sanitation and hygiene, more than 60,000 people with protection services, 112,000 with health services, and more than 157,000 with shelter and non-food items in September alone.


Syria: COVID-19 update and response

The UN remains concerned about the spread of COVID-19 cases across Syria, considering that the low level of testing and tracing masks the real scope of the pandemic.

To date, the Syrian Ministry of Health has confirmed 4,072 cases, including 192 deaths. In the north-east, the number of confirmed cases continues to rise, with the last report two days ago identifying 1,464 cases confirmed, including 63 deaths. Some 825 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases have also now been reported in north-west Syria, including six deaths.

Despite efforts to increase testing capacity, the level of testing remains extremely limited. There have been around 34,000 tests conducted in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Latakia governorates, more than 9,000 tests conducted in north-west Syria, and around 3,100 tests conducted in north-east Syria (as of 11 September).

As noted by the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, in his latest Security Council briefing, it would only be possible to get a clearer picture of the situation once testing has been stepped up. He recalled that the source of nearly 90 per cent of confirmed cases could not be traced to a known source, suggesting widespread community transmission.

Infection rates among health workers are also concerning throughout the country, including in north-west Syria, where some one third of all confirmed cases are health workers. The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to lead efforts to support increased distribution of personal protective equipment where needed to ensure the protection of health-care workers, as well as training on their use.

WHO is leading UN preparedness and mitigation measures across Syria, including in the north-west and in the north-east.


Yemen: COVID-19 update and response

To date, 2,034 cases of COVID-19 are confirmed in Yemen, including 588 deaths. The fatality rate is alarmingly high, at nearly 29 per cent — that’s six times the global average.

While the number of cases reported continues to show a decline, indicators suggest that the virus is still spreading, and the number of confirmed cases and deaths fall below actual numbers due to lack of testing facilities, official reporting, and people seeking treatment.

Despite severe gaps in funding, the UN and humanitarian partners are scaling up the COVID-19 response. More than 14,000 metric tons of medical equipment, testing kits and medicine have been transported into the country, with 2,250 more in the pipeline.

However, the suspension of operations at Sana’a international airport on 9 September has delayed the arrival of 207 metric tons of COVID-19 response equipment and humanitarian personnel, including COVID-19 specialists. Negotiations are in progress with authorities to ensure opening of the airport.

The UN and partners are also expanding hospital capacity in key population centres. This includes establishing 21 new intensive care units in COVID-19-designated hospitals, adding to 38 existing units; deploying two high-capacity mobile field hospitals with nearly 100 beds; and providing allowances to front-line health-care workers.

Aid agencies are also working to ensure the 4,300 non-COVID health facilities continue to provide health-care services to prevent deaths from deadly diseases including cholera, diphtheria, dengue and malaria.

To date, the Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen is only 38 per cent funded (US$ 1.28 billion received of $3.38 billion) – the lowest level ever so late in the year. Urgent funding is needed for life-saving programmes across Yemen.