Author Archives: Mohammed Al-Zuhairi

Despite drop in under-five mortality rate, 7,000 newborns die every day – UN report

A nine-day-old baby boy is cradled by his mother (partially visible) in Bambaya Village in Fiama Chiefdom, Kono District, Sierra Leone. Photo: UNICEF/Phelps

19 October 2017

More must be done to stop babies from dying the day they are born, United Nations agencies said in a new report issued Thursday, which argued that life-saving know-how and technologies must be made readily available – particularly in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa – where they are most needed.

Although the number of children dying before age five is at a new low – 5.6 million in 2016 compared with nearly 9.9 million in 2000 – the proportion of newborn deaths during that period has jumped from 41 to 46 per cent – or 7,000 babies.

This is according to the Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2017, released today by the Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME) – comprised of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank and the Population Division in the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs.

“The lives of 50 million children under-five have been saved since 2000, a testament to the serious commitment by governments and development partners to tackle preventable child deaths,” said Stefan Swartling Peterson, the UN Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) Chief of Health, in a joint press statement.

But without a greater effort to stop babies from dying the day they are born, or days after their birth, this progress will remain incomplete. “We have the knowledge and technologies that are required – we just need to take them where they are most needed,” he added.

Current trends suggest that between 2017 and 2030, 30 million newborns will die within first 28 days of life. As such, the agencies stress that measures must be taken to achieve universal health coverage and ensure that more newborns survive and thrive, including by serving marginalized families.

Universal health coverage and improving quality and availability of services

“To prevent illness, families require financial power, their voices to be heard and access to quality care,” says Dr. Flavia Bustreo, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health. “Improving quality of services and timely care during and after childbirth must be prioritized.”

Tim Evans, Senior Director of Health Nutrition and Population at the World Bank Group said that it is unconscionable that in 2017, pregnancy and child birth are still life-threatening conditions for women.

“The best measure of success for universal health coverage is that every mother should not only be able to access health care easily, but that it should be quality, affordable care that will ensure a healthy and productive life for her children and family. We are committed to scaling up our financing to support country demand in this area, including through innovative mechanisms like the Global Financing Facility,” he added, referring to the principle financing arm of the UN-backed Every Woman Every Child initiative.

Despite progress, large disparities in child survival still exist across regions and countries – especially in Southern Asia sub-Saharan Africa.

“This new report highlights the remarkable progress since 2000 in reducing mortality among children under age five,” said UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin.

Yet many deaths at these ages are easily preventable through simple, cost-effective interventions administered before, during and immediately after birth. “Reducing inequities and reaching the most vulnerable newborns, children and mothers are essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target on ending preventable childhood deaths and for ensuring that no one will be left behind.”

Not a new school year! Endless violence shutters schools, teachers unpaid for a year, threatening education for 4.5 million children in Yemen

Statement by Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa

AMMAN, 18 October 2017

“More than two and a half years of renewed conflict in Yemen have once again put the education of 4.5 million children on the line, adding to the long list of bitter hardships that children have endured. Three quarters of teachers have not received their salaries in nearly a year, and the violence has forced one in ten schools across the country to close.

“As of July 2017, 1,600 schools have been partially or totally destroyed, and 170 have been used for military purposes or as shelter for displaced families. An estimated 2 million children are out of school.

“The beginning of the school year was postponed several times from its usual September start and textbooks and other school materials are in severely short supply.

“The salary crisis has pushed teachers to extreme measures just to survive. Hassan Ghaleb, a teacher for the past 20 years and the sole breadwinner for his family of four, was evicted from his home with his children. He had to sell what was left of his furniture just to feed them and treat his sick sister. ‘How can I reach school if I have no money for transport? How can I teach if I myself am in need?’ he asks.

“More than 166,000 teachers from across Yemen ask the very same question, every day.

“For those children who can attend school, malnutrition and the trauma of displacement and violence have seriously affected their ability to learn.

“Without the learning and protective environment that school provides, even more boys and girls in Yemen will be vulnerable to recruitment into the fighting or early marriage – with irreparable consequences on their young lives.

“Ongoing humanitarian efforts are only a drop in the ocean of suffering that Yemen has become. It is time that those fighting put the wellbeing of children above all else. UNICEF calls on all parties across Yemen to protect schools, refrain from using schools for military purposes and work together to find an urgent solution to the salary crisis so that children can learn.

“As UNICEF works closely with partners to keep the education system from collapsing, we urge donors to step up and enable the payment of incentives to education personnel, health workers and other civil servants who deliver vital services for children.

“The children of Yemen have suffered in ways that no human being should have to bear. Education is their only way to secure a better future and to help put Yemen on the path to peace.”

Notes to editors

UNICEF has supported 1.4 million children across Yemen through the rehabilitation of schools and provision of school materials. Nearly half a million children have benefitted from psycho-social support to cope with the traumas they have been through and provide a sense of routine and normalcy when school is not an option.

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit
Follow UNICEF on Twitter , Facebook and YouTube

For more information contact:
Rajat Madhok, UNICEF Yemen,, +967 712 223 001
Bismarck Swangin, UNICEF Yemen,, +967 712 223 161
Tamara Kummer, UNICEF MENA Regional Office, ; +962 797 588 550

العنف المستمر في اليمن وعدم حصول المعلمين على رواتبهم لأكثر من عام يهددان فرص التعليم ل 4.5 مليون طفل

يمر أحد حراس المدرسة عبر مدرسة في العاصمة اليمنية صنعاء التي تضررت بشدة أثناء غارة جوية على المبنى المجاور لها.(الأرشيف) الصورة: UNICEF/Mahmoud


قال خيرت كابيليري، المدير الإقليمي لليونيسيف لمنطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا، إن أكثر من عامين ونصف العام من الصراع المستمر في اليمن قد وضع مرة أخرى تعليم 4.5 مليون طفل على المحك، إضافة إلى قائمة طويلة من المصاعب المريرة التي يتحملها الأطفال.

وأوضح في بيان أصدره اليوم الأربعاء أن ثلاثة أرباع المعلمين لم يتلقوا رواتبهم منذ ما يقرب من عام، وأن العنف قد أدى إلى إغلاق مدرسة من بين كل عشر مدارس في جميع أنحاء البلاد.

ووفقا لتقارير اليونيسف، واعتبارا من يوليو 2017، دمرت 1600 مدرسة جزئيا أو كليا، واستخدمت 170 مدرسة لأغراض عسكرية أو كمأوى للعائلات النازحة. وهناك ما يقدر بمليوني طفل خارج المدرسة.

وقال كابيليري إن “أزمة رواتب المعلمين دفعت بالعديد منهم إلى اتخاذ تدابير متطرفة لمجرد البقاء على قيد الحياة”، مشيرا إلى قصة المدرس حسن غالب، المعيل الوحيد لعائلته المكونة من أربعة أفراد، والذي طرد من منزله مع أطفاله. كان على حسن أن يبيع ما تبقى من أثاث بيته لإطعام عائلته ومعالجة شقيقته المريضة. حسن قال لليونيسف: “كيف يمكنني الوصول إلى المدرسة إذا لم يكن لدي مال لأتنقل من مكان إلى آخر؟ كيف يمكنني أن أُعلّم إذا كنت أنا بحاجة إلى مساعدة؟ “ 

كابيليري أضاف أن “أكثر من 166،000 مدرس من مختلف أنحاء اليمن يطرحون نفس أسئلة حسن، كل يوم”، مشيرا إلى أثر الصراع على ارتفاع معدل سوء التغذية والزواج المبكر بين الأطفال.

وقال “إن الجهود الإنسانية الجارية ليست سوى نقطة في محيط معاناة أبناء اليمن”، داعيا أولئك الذين يقاتلون إلى وضع رفاه الأطفال فوق كل اعتبار.

هذا وتدعو اليونيسف جميع الأطراف في جميع أنحاء اليمن إلى حماية المدارس والامتناع عن استخدام المدارس للأغراض العسكرية والعمل معا لإيجاد حل عاجل لأزمة الرواتب حتى يتمكن الأطفال من التعلم.

Yemen: UNICEF warns conflict shutters one in 10 schools; teachers unpaid for a year

A school guard walks through a school in Yemen’s capital Sana’a that was heavily damaged during an air strike on the building next to it. (File) Photo: UNICEF/Mahmoud

18 October 2017

The conflict in Yemen – now into its third year – continues to take a toll on millions of children, with their education now under threat, adding to an already long list of bitter hardships including malnutrition, displacement and violence, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned.

“As of July 2017, 1,600 schools have been partially or totally destroyed, and 170 have been used for military purposes or as shelter for displaced families,” said Geert Cappelaere, the UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, in a statement today.

The violence has forced one in ten schools across the country to close, and textbooks and other school materials are in severely short supply, he added, noting that the beginning of the school year has been postponed several times from its usual September start.

Adding to the crisis is the fact that three-quarters of the teachers in Yemen have not been paid in nearly a year, compelling them to resort to extreme measures to survive.

One such case is that of Hassan Ghaleb, a teacher for the past 20 years and the sole breadwinner for his family of four, who was evicted from his home with his children.

He had to sell what was left of his furniture just to feed them and treat his sick sister.

“How can [they] teach if [they themselves are] in need?” questioned UNICEF, noting that over 166,000 teachers across the war-torn country are in a similar situation.

Lack of education and the protective environment provided by a school is not only robbing the children of some semblance of a normal childhood, it is also leaving them vulnerable to recruitment into fighting or early marriage.

“Ongoing humanitarian efforts are only a drop in the ocean of suffering that Yemen has become,” underscored Mr. Cappelaere, urging the parties to the conflict to protect schools, refrain from using schools for military purposes and work together to find an urgent solution to the salary crisis so that children can learn.

He also called on donors to step up their assistance and enable the payment of incentives to education personnel, health workers and other civil servants who deliver vital services for children.

“The children of Yemen have suffered in ways that no human being should have to bear. Education is their only way to secure a better future and to help put Yemen on the path to peace,” he said.

FAO programme in Yemen restocks animals and provides training benefitting thousands of IDPs

13 October 2017

Caught in Yemen’s two-year conflict are tens of thousands of families forced to migrate to other parts of the country only to be able to support themselves and their families until they can return home one day. Displaced and uprooted from their livelihood and familiar surroundings, the internally displaced persons (IDPs), often face severe social and economic transformation under conditions worsened by unemployment, food insecurity, and malnutrition.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Yemen is engaged in a number of projects across conflict-lines that, directly or indirectly, benefit many thousands of IDPs through a wide variety of assistance, ranging from food assistance to distribution of live animals.

The theme of the 2017 World Food Day is “Changing the future of migration: Investing in food security and rural development”.

One such FAO program in Yemen is the three-year Emergency Livestock Restocking implemented in Taiz and Hajjah governorates, along the Red Sea in the south and the north of the country, respectively, benefitting many of the IDPs.

Beneficiaries receive two goats or sheep in the first round with the third to follow three months later, conditional on the successful upkeep of the two, along with relevant vaccinations. They also benefit from 32 training sessions to cover topics on improved breeding, feeding and disease prevention and treatment practices, to ensure that the sheep or goat herds are given the opportunity to express their maximum potential.

Nabila Al-Hakim, 39, and Hamoud Ali, 45, are two IDPs whose stories are testimonial to FAO’s contributions in Yemen. Al-Hakim fled with her four kids from Taiz city to Damna Khadeer village a year ago due to the conflict. Her husband, who used to work in car maintenance, passed away three years ago.

“The situation is unbearable. We have been displaced for a year due to the conflict and we have no source of income. We are depending on aids. The situation is getting worse day by day,” she said. Al-Hakim has to pay 20,000 YER (55.5 USD) per month for the new house rent. “My husband’s pension stopped almost a year ago. If I had enough money, I would buy wheat to feed my children,” she added. The two sheep she received from FAO in April might just be the immediate help she needs. Once her sheep give birth and grow for 4-5 months, she can sell the new sheep for 55 USD – the amount she needs to pay rent.

‘’We are waiting impatiently for the new sheep to be born. I will sell them, which might mitigate the situation of displacement. I hope my kids will lead a secure and easy life. I do not know how long I will live. I keep thinking about my four kids and do my best to be strong for their sake,” she said. Further north in the governorate of Hajjah, Ali, who lives with his wife and 10 kids in a two-room house, is equally eager to end life as an IDP.

“Nobody can feel what it means to be a displaced a person just those who have lived away and were forced to leave their houses searching for safety. I lost my job because my employer couldn’t afford to pay salaries and, eventually, he shut down his store,” he said. Like Al-Hakim, FAO has provided Ali with live animals and the necessary training to equip him to rear them properly and benefit from them, leading to his improved livelihood.

Students learn about refugee law in Yemen’s war zone

A group of law students takes part in a mock court hearing known as a “moot” in which they will arbitrate two refugee cases.

المبعوث الدولي لليمن يعمل على وضع مقترح شامل للعودة إلى طاولة المفاوضات

أرشيف: إسماعيل ولد الشيخ أحمد المبعوث الدولي الخاص لليمن. UN Photo/Manuel Elias


قال إسماعيل ولد الشيخ أحمد المبعوث الخاص للأمين العام إلى اليمن إن أطراف النزاع ماضية في صراع عسكري “عقيم” يعيق طريق السلام في الوقت الذي يعاني فيه الشعب من كارثة إنسانية صنعها الإنسان.

وفي كلمته في الجلسة التي عقدها مجلس الأمن الدولي بشأن الأوضاع في اليمن، قال ولد الشيخ أحمد:

“استمرت الاشتباكات وتبادل النيران الثقيلة على جميع المحاور الرئيسية، بما في ذلك محافظات تعز ومأرب والجوف والبيضاء وحجة وصعدة، والمناطق الحدودية السعودية اليمنية. يعكس الارتفاع الحاد الأخير في عدد الإصابات في صفوف المدنيين مرة جديدة استمرار الأطراف في التغاضي عن الخسائر في أرواح المدنيين والتزاماتها بموجب القانون الإنساني الدولي. وقد تسببت غارة جوية على ضاحية سكنية في صنعاء في 25 آب / أغسطس بمقتل 14 شخصاً، وإصابة 16 آخرين، بالإضافة الى أضرار لحقت بالبنية التحتية المدنية.”

وتحدث المبعوث الدولي عن مدينة تعز وتعرض المناطق السكنية فيها للقصف من مناطق واقعة تحت سيطرة قوات الحوثيين والقوات الموالية للرئيس السابق علي عبد الله صالح.

وأشار إلى القرار الذي اتخذه مجلس حقوق الإنسان مؤخرا، بشأن دعم اللجنة الوطنية لحقوق الإنسان وتشكيل فريق من الخبراء للتحقق من الانتهاكات والإساءة لحقوق الإنسان والقانون الدولي. وقال إن القرار علامة دامغة على التزام المجتمع الدولي المتزايد تجاه اليمن، وخطوة إلى الأمام نحو المساءلة والحد من الانتهاكات في المستقبل.

وأضاف إسماعيل ولد الشيخ أحمد أن النزاع يخلف وضعاً مأساويا في كل جانب من جوانب الحياة اليومية. وقال إن الاقتصاد آخذ في التقلص، ولا يزال استخدام عائدات الدولة المتضائلة لتمويل الحرب يقوض دفع الرواتب التي يعتمد عليها ملايين اليمنيين. 

حاليا، لا يستطيع نحو 17 مليون شخص الحصول على ما يكفي من الطعام، ويواجه أكثر من ثلث مقاطعات البلاد خطر المجاعة الحادة. وقد أدى تدمير البنية التحتية وانهيار الخدمات العامة إلى تفشي مرض الكوليرا بشكل هو الأسوأ في تاريخ العالم، والذي أدى إلى مقتل أكثر من 2100 شخص وما زال يصيب الآلاف كل أسبوع. ستعيش أجيال وأجيال من الشعب اليمني تبعات هذا النزاع بما في ذلك، الدمار الواسع وسوء التغذية وغياب التعليم والتدهور الاقتصادي.”

وأكد المبعوث الدولي عدم وجود رابح في ساحة المعركة في اليمن، وأن الخاسر الأكبر هو الشعب اليمني الذي يدفع أبهظ ثمن للحرب، ويزداد فقرا فيما يغتني الزعماء ويرفضون الحلول كيلا يخسروا قدرتهم على التحكم والسيطرة.

“على الأطراف أن تقرر الالتزام بوقف الأعمال العدائية والمضي في مناقشات بشأن اتفاق سلام شامل، كما عليها أن تجد أرضية مشتركة للتخفيف من آثار النزاع والجوع والمرض، وزيادة الثقة بينها. إن التوصل إلى اتفاق لتيسير وصول المساعدات الإنسانية والسلع التجارية الى الحديدة ومنها إلى كافة المناطق اليمنية، وفتح مطار صنعاء الدولي وضمان دفع الرواتب بشكل ثابت، هو الخطوة الأساسية للتخفيف من تأزم الوضع الإنساني الا أن هذه الخطوات لن تكون بديلة عن الحل الكامل والشامل الذي نريد التوصل اليه وستكون جزءا من خطة سلام أكثر شمولية.”

واستنادا إلى ذلك واللقاءات التي أجراها المبعوث الدولي مع مسؤولين يمنيين ودوليين على هامش اجتماعات الجمعية العامة في نيويورك واتصالاته مع الأطراف، يعمل ولد الشيخ أحمد على وضع مقترح شامل يتضمن مبادرات إنسانية لإعادة بناء الثقة وخطوات لعودة الأطراف إلى طاولة المفاوضات.

وقال إنه سيبحث تفاصيل هذا المقترح مع الحكومة اليمنية وكذلك مع تحالف الحوثيين والمؤتمر الشعبي العام “اللذين تعهدا باللقاء والتباحث بالحيثيات”، معربا عن أمله في أن يقترن التعهد بالأفعال وأن يضاعفا التزامهما بالعمل بهدف التوصل الى حل سياسي سلمي.

وفي ختام كلمته قال المبعوث الدولي إن “أخطر ما في الحرب هو أن نعتاد عليها”. وشدد على ضرورة العمل، وبأسرع وقت، على وقف نزف الدماء والدمار.

وأكد أن الأمم المتحدة تسخر كل قدراتها السياسية واللوجيستية والإدارية والاستشارية لمساعدة اليمن. ولكنه قال إن قرار إحلال السلام لا يمكن أن يتخذ إلا من قبل أطراف النزاع.

وجدد التأكيد على أن المسار الوحيد القابل للتطبيق لمستقبل اليمن هو التسوية التفاوضية. وطلب إسماعيل ولد الشيخ أحمد من مجلس الأمن الدولي استخدام كل نفوذه السياسي والاقتصادي للضغط على الأطراف للالتزام بمسار السلام.

وشدد على ضرورة أن تخرج الأطراف من خنادقها وتضع حدا للخطاب العدائي، وأن تتعاون من أجل اليمن بدلا من أن تتصارع فيما بينها.

Leaders ‘not interested’ in finding solution to Yemen crisis, UN envoy tells Security Council

In the Harat Al-Masna’a slum in Sana’a, Yemen, a man walks with his three-year-old daughter which sits next to a former textile factory and hosts 231 families of former factory workers. Photo: Giles Clarke for UNOCHA

10 October 2017

Parties to the conflict in Yemen are eroding the path to peace while the country’s people suffer amid a man-made humanitarian catastrophe, said today a senior United Nations official, urging Security Council member countries to use their political and economic powers to pressure warring sides to commit to a path of peace.

“In Yemen, there are no winners on the battlefield. The losers are the Yemeni people who suffer by this war,” stated Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Yemen, briefing the Security Council.

“The people [of Yemen] are getting poorer while influential leaders get richer. They are not interested in finding solutions, as they will lose their power and control in a settlement,” he warned.

Noting that an agreement on securing humanitarian access remains essential, it cannot replace a solution which is a part of a larger comprehensive peace deal, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed explained that he has had meetings with both Yemeni and international officials and that he is discussing a proposal that includes humanitarian initiatives to rebuild trust as well as bringing the parties back to the negotiations table.

“We hope this commitment will translate into action and deepen their engagement with me on the basis of these initiatives in order to reach a peaceful political solution,” he said, noting that the UN will continue to utilize all its political, logistical, administrative, and advisory facilities to support the country but only the warring parties could bring peace.

“They are accountable for a failure. I reiterate that the only viable path for the future of Yemen is a negotiated settlement,” he added.

Also briefing the Security Council today, John Ging, the Director of Operations at the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the relief plan for the country continues is still short of funds.

The $2.3 billion Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan to reach 12 million people in need of humanitarian support and protection this year has received only 55 per cent of the resources needed.

“Despite the complexity of the response, this year, humanitarians have already reached seven million people with direct assistance. We therefore encourage [UN] Member States to directly support our efforts and to do more through the response plan,” said the UN relief official.

In his briefing, Mr. Ging also called for an urgent resumption commercial flights at Sana’a airport as well as imports into the country.

“Any significant decline in imports due to bureaucratic delays risks making the threat of famine a reality,” he warned.

The conflict in the country, now into its third year, has rendered 17 million Yemenis food insecure and over a third of the country’s district in severe danger of famine.

Furthermore, destruction of infrastructure and breakdown of public services, especially water and sanitation systems, has resulted in a devastating cholera outbreak, which has already killed more than 2,100 individuals and continues to infect thousands each week.

Japan Boosts WFP Food And Nutrition Programmes In Cholera-Ridden Yemen

4 October 2017 – SANA’A

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a US$1 million contribution from the Government of Japan to provide much-needed food and nutrition assistance in Yemen over the coming months. With these funds, WFP will be able to assist more than 130,000 people, including some 47,000 nursing mothers and pregnant women in areas hardest hit by cholera.

The people of Yemen are reeling from more than two-plus years of conflict that has given rise to the world’s single worst hunger crisis. In Yemen, more than 17 million people – two in three people – do not know where their next meal is coming from.

“The support from Japan comes at a crucial time for the people of Yemen who are facing unimaginable suffering,” says WFP Yemen Representative and Country Director Stephen Anderson. “Our latest assessments indicate that hunger is highest in the areas worst-impacted by cholera. Those are precisely the areas that we are targeting with our nutrition feeding programmes.”

Since April, cholera has taken more than 2,000 lives, with more than 750,000 suspected cases. Those most at risk are malnourished children who have weakened immune systems.

“We’re very concerned about the dire situation in Yemen and are determined to continue our efforts to alleviate the people’s suffering,” said Charge d’Affairs of Embassy of Japan to Yemen Yoji Hattori.

The Government of Japan has been one of WFP’s most consistent and reliable partners in Yemen. Earlier this year, Japan made contributions to WFP in Yemen totalling US$18 million.

Despite conflict and access constraints affecting its ability to deliver life-saving support, WFP reached a record seven million people with food and nutrition assistance in August. However, due to lack of timely and adequate funding, only half of these people received full rations, while the remainder received only 60 percent of a full food ration.

WFP efforts to avert famine in the country is less than 50 percent funded until the end of 2017. For the coming six months through March 2018, WFP is facing a funding shortfall of US$350 million. Unless more funding is forthcoming, there is a very real risk that more people could sink deeper into hunger and become more vulnerable to illness and death.

WFP also aims to provide nutrition support to 2.9 million children and pregnant and nursing mother through therapeutic food products designed to prevent and treat malnutrition. Meanwhile, WFP is scaling up its logistics and information technology support for UN and other humanitarian organizations responding to the cholera outbreak in Yemen.

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WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.

Follow us on Twitter @WFP_MENA

For more information please contact (email address:
Mohamed Megahed, WFP/Amman, Tel. +962 791295749
Abeer Etefa, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +2010 66634352
Reem Nada, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +2010 66634522
David Orr, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 65133179, Mob. +39 340 2366831 7600521
Bettina Luescher, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41 22 917 8564, Mob. + 41-79-842-8057
Steve Taravella, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-556-6909, Mob. +1-202-770-5993

Sustainable cities key to implement SDGs, says head of UN regional development arm

Aerial view of Lima, the capital of Peru. Photo: World Bank/Franz Mahr

4 October 2017

Noting the high speed of urbanization in Latin America and the Caribbean, the United Nations development arm in the region underlined the need to keep a close watch on the provision of services, equipment, mobility, housing and urban land to make sure they can match pace with the demand.

Speaking at the opening of the Cities Conference, Alicia Bárcena, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) underscored that despite significant progress in reducing poverty, high degrees of socioeconomic residential segregation continues to persist in metropolises and large and small cities and towns.

“Socioeconomic segregation deepens inequity and contributes to social fragmentation and the high levels of violence that characterize many cities in [the region],” she said.

According to estimates, by 2030 – the timeframe to realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – there could be more than 92 million additional people living in cities in Latin America and the Caribbean. The region is already the most urbanized developing region in the world.

Therefore, added Ms. Bárcena, it is necessary to guarantee the right to the city as a basic requirement for achieving sustainable development.

Concluding this Friday, the Cities Conference focuses on the regional implementation of the New Urban Agenda – the outcome of the Habitat III conference – to build inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities.

Also at the inaugural session of the Conference, the head of ECLAC presented the Regional Action Plan for implementing the Habitat III outcome, proposing actions the countries of the region can take to ensure sustainable development of their cities and human settlements.

The Regional Action Plan is centred on six action areas, which include national urban policies; urban legal frameworks; urban and territorial planning and design; financing urbanization; local implementation; and monitoring, reporting and revision mechanisms.

The Cities Conference has been organized by ECLAC, the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the General Assembly of Ministers and High-level Authorities of the Housing and Urban Development Sector in Latin America and the Caribbean (known by its Spanish acronym, MINURVI) in Santiago, Chile.