Media  – The Secretary-General is gravely concerned by the serious escalations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, including the latest escalation in Gaza, which add to the heightened tensions and violence in occupied East Jerusalem.
He is deeply saddened to learn of the increasingly large numbers of casualties, including children, from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, and of Israeli fatalities from rockets launched from Gaza.
The Secretary-General’s thoughts are with the families of the victims.
Israeli security forces must exercise maximum restraint and calibrate their use of force. The indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars towards Israeli population centres is unacceptable.
This spiraling escalation must cease immediately.
The United Nations is working with all relevant parties to de-escalate the situation urgently.

The Secretary-General is deeply saddened by the reported deaths of nine people, including seven children, in a shooting today outside a school in the city of Kazan in the Russian Federation. He strongly condemns this act of senseless violence and expresses his deepest condolences to the victims’ families, as well as the Government and people of the Russian Federation. He wishes those injured a speedy and full recovery.

Later today, the Secretary-General will travel to Moscow at the invitation of the Russian Government. There, he will meet Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other senior government officials.
On Thursday, Mr. Guterres will receive an honorific doctorate from Moscow State Institute of International Relations. While there, he will also meet with young participants of the Moscow model UN.

In a statement on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Secretary-General strongly condemned yesterday’s attack against a temporary position of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). The attack by suspected members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) took place in Beni territory, North Kivu, and resulted in the killing of one peacekeeper from Malawi.
The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the family of the deceased peacekeeper, as well as to the Government and the people of Malawi.
He also recalls that attacks against UN peacekeepers may constitute a war crime and calls on the Congolese authorities to investigate this incident and swiftly bring those responsible to justice.
The Secretary-General reaffirms that the United Nations, through his Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, will continue to support the Congolese Government and people in their efforts to bring about peace and stability in the east of the country.

The Secretary-General condemns the attack on a mosque that took place on 9 May, in Katsina State, where gunmen reportedly abducted 40 worshippers during a Ramadan overnight prayer. He notes the efforts made to rescue some 30 worshippers and calls for the release of the remaining ones. He recalls the sanctity of all places of worship and urges swift efforts to hold the perpetrators to account.
The Secretary-General also condemns the attacks on police checkpoints and police stations in Rivers and Imo States in Nigeria on 8 and 9 May, which led to the death of 7 police officers. He conveys his deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased officers and to the Government and calls on the authorities to bring those responsible to justice.

This morning, the Secretary-General spoke with President Iván Duque of Colombia. President Duque, in his phone conversation with the Secretary-General, reaffirmed the Colombian government’s support for the full implementation of the Peace process, as well as his commitment for a national dialogue.
The Secretary-General reiterated the United Nations full support for the peace process.

Earlier today, the Secretary-General spoke at a meeting with the former members of the Every Woman Every Child High-Level Steering Group and the Independent Accountability Panel.
He said that after a decade of implementation, Every Woman Every Child has proven to be a highly impactful global health initiative, mobilizing investments of more than $180 billion by governments and other partners.
In the past decade, more than 1 billion children were vaccinated. Since the year 2000, maternal deaths declined by 35 per cent, and deaths of children under 5 years of age reached an all-time recorded low.
However, the Secretary-General said that the pandemic has shown the fragility of these advances, disrupting access to essential health services including childhood immunization, family planning and psychosocial support.
The Secretary-General said that this has reinforced the urgent need to prioritize country level implementation to ensure we keep the spotlight on these issues and leave no one behind.

This morning, at the Security Council, there was an open virtual meeting on the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq. Briefing Council members was Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the Secretary-General’s head of mission and Special Representative in Iraq. She noted that we are now five months away from all-important national elections, scheduled to take place on 10 October.
The Special Representative added that these elections were a central demand of the protest movement; and yet, many of its members continue to be persecuted with rampant impunity. She pointed out that the assassination of prominent activist Ihab Jawad Al-Wazni just two days ago, by unidentified gunmen in front of his house in Karbala, is yet just another tragic example of this impunity.
She added that while Iraqi leaders call for stability as a prerequisite for progress, violent attacks against both civilian and military targets continue with troubling regularity, and these are but a few examples of the daily struggle in Iraq.

In the Seychelles, the UN team there is ramping up its support to authorities to respond to the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. The country has reported its largest number of new cases per capita in the past few weeks.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has increased its support to authorities to detect, investigate, quarantine, isolate and report cases. WHO’s technical experts are currently working with national laboratories to boost infection prevention.
The UN team has helped to train more than 500 people working in health facilities, tourism sites, ports of entry and others on case management. We have also provided personal protective equipment, laboratory supplies and other equipment.
WHO continues to support the national vaccination campaign by providing coordination assistance, training and is monitoring immunizations.
The Resident Coordinator, Christine Umutoni, says the UN is dedicated to tackling the wider impacts of the pandemic in the Seychelles.

Mauritius received its second batch of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from COVAX over the weekend. The Resident Coordinator for Mauritius and Seychelles, Christine Umutoni, reiterated the UN’s commitment to addressing the multiple impacts of the pandemic.
The UN team has been supporting vaccination efforts, including helping with the purchase of vaccines. We are also working on a green recovery from the pandemic, as well as on continuing to advocate for those affected most by COVID-19 including women, people living with HIV, and migrants as well as refugees.
Also, several Caribbean countries have been receiving COVAX vaccines.
More than 33,000 doses landed in Barbados today, while Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; and Guyana received shipments yesterday.
We helped with this at the global, regional and country levels, and we are supporting national vaccine campaigns that are targeting priority groups first.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) today warned that with each day that passes, more lives are at stake as hunger tightens its grip in southern Madagascar. According to these agencies, around 1.14 million people in the south of the country are facing high levels of acute food insecurity.
FAO and WFP said that the worst drought in four decades, which has been building over three consecutive years, has wiped out harvests and hampered people’s access to food. This comes on top of years of deforestation and resulting erosion — now compounded by climate change — which have devastated the environment. Unprecedented sandstorms have transformed large swathes of arable land into wasteland.
The Government and FAO have supported the livelihoods of around 20,000 farming families.  For its part, the WFP is also bringing in supplies, but access to the worst affected areas is being hampered by poor infrastructure and weak road networks. COVID-19 restrictions have halted all flights into the island nation meaning critical humanitarian cargo is limited to access by boat and lead times for turning donations into humanitarian aid has increased sharply.

Niger has now paid its regular budget dues. One hundred countries have now paid their budget dues in full.

The guests at the Noon Briefing spoke to reporters on the World Economic Situation and Prospects Mid-year Update. They were both from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA): Hamid Rashid, the Lead Author, and Helena Afonso, an Economics Affairs Officer.

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