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Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, 7 June 2021 - Syria, Sri Lanka, COVID-19 — Namibia

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Turning to Syria, I can tell you we remain very concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation for 13.4 million people in need throughout the country.

Some of the most vulnerable Syrians are those who are in the north-west of the country, where there are now 3.4 million people in need. More than 90 per cent of those [people] are assessed by the UN to be in extreme or catastrophic need, particularly the 2.7 million internally displaced men, women and children. Most of the displaced are living in over 1,000 camps and informal settlements on the Syrian-Turkish border.

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

The assistance that is being sent by the UN team from Turkey cross-border into the north-west of Syria is reaching [2.4] million Syrians on a monthly basis — with around 1,000 trucks of aid crossing the border each month. A total of 979 trucks crossed in May alone.

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

This is why the Secretary-General has said a large-scale cross-border response for an additional 12 months remains essential to save lives.

Sri Lanka

Turning to Sri Lanka, a quick update: our humanitarian colleagues are telling us that the latest information received from the country indicates that more than 271,000 people have been impacted and more than 26,000 displaced due to flash floods and landslides in the south-western parts of Sri Lanka.

While no formal request for international assistance has been made, the World Food Programme (WFP) in Sri Lanka has provided personal protective equipment and health safety equipment for national first responders.

The impacts of the south-west monsoon come at a time when Sri Lanka, with the support from UN agencies, are working to mitigate the environmental impact of a sinking cargo ship that occurred on 20 May off the west coast, near Colombo.

COVID-19 — Namibia

A couple of COVID-19 notes: From Namibia, the UN team there says the country is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

At the end of last week, there were nearly 720 new cases, the highest number of confirmed cases reported in a 24-hour period since the outbreak began.

Among those reported cases were students and teachers. Authorities are shutting down schools for a short period to contain the spread.

In hospitals, intensive care units are at full capacity, and we are delivering oxygen concentrators. The UN team is also supporting the national vaccine roll-out.

We are also working to debunk myths surrounding COVID-19 by promoting science-backed facts around the vaccine and highlighting the importance of vaccination.