Sunday, September 05, 2021

The International Day of Charity 5th September - Global Solidarity to Eradicate Poverty

PHOTO: ©Sadek Ahmed

From the website of the United Nations:

Global Solidarity to Eradicate Poverty

Charity, like the notions of volunteerism and philanthropy, provides real social bonding and contributes to the creation of inclusive and more resilient societies. 

Charity can alleviate the worst effects of humanitarian crises, supplement public services in health care, education, housing and child protection. It assists the advancement of culture, science, sports, and the protection of cultural and natural heritage. It also promotes the rights of the marginalised and underprivileged and spreads the message of humanity in conflict situations.

In the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development adopted in September 2015, the United Nations recognises that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. 

The Agenda also calls for a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focused in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable. It also acknowledges the role of the diverse private sector, ranging from micro-enterprises to cooperatives to multinationals, and that of civil society organizations and philanthropic organizations in the implementation of the new Agenda.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set forth in the Agenda can be grouped into six critical areas: people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership. They have the potential to transform our lives and our planet by providing the framework needed for philanthropic institutions to enable all people to contribute to the betterment of our world.


The International Day of Charity was established with the objective of sensitising and mobilising people, NGOs, and stakeholders all around the world to to help others through volunteer and philanthropic activities.

The date of 5 September was chosen in order to commemorate the anniversary of the passing away of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 "for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace."

Mother Teresa, the renowned nun and missionary, was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910. In 1928 she went to India, where she devoted herself to helping the destitute. In 1948 she became an Indian citizen and founded the order of Missionaries of Charity in Kolkota (Calcutta) in 1950, which became noted for its work among the poor and the dying in that city.

For over 45 years she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion, first in India and then in other countries, including hospices and homes for the poorest and homeless. Mother Teresa’s work has been recognized and acclaimed throughout the world and she has received a number of awards and distinctions, including the Nobel Peace Prize. Mother Teresa died on September 5th 1997, at 87 years of age.

In recognition of the role of charity in alleviating humanitarian crises and human suffering within and among nations, as well as of the efforts of charitable organisations and individuals, including the work of Mother Teresa, the General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution A/RES/67/105 designated the 5th of September, the anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa, as the International Day of Charity.


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Wednesday, September 01, 2021

UN is committed to staying in Afghanistan

Here is a full copy of a transcript of yesterday’s noon press briefing by the UN chief’s Spokesman, Mr Stéphane Dujarric, published at the website of the United Nations (UN), confirming that the UN is committed to staying in Afghanistan where, according to the UN's chief, Mr António Guterres, "a humanitarian catastrophe looms".  Note that the UN has been in Afghanistan for over 60 years and will remain in Afghanistan, standing shoulder to shoulder with the people of Afghanistan. At least 45 per cent of the Afghan population is below the age of 15.  Also, yesterday (31st Aug) was the first International Day for People of African Descent.


Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.


Just a quick humanitarian update.  Our humanitarian colleagues in Afghanistan tell us that that, today, while the armies have left, the UN is committed to staying in the country.  Operations to supply medical and humanitarian goods, as well as to support in other materials are continuing, but more resources are needed.  Our colleagues have already delivered humanitarian aid to 8 million people since the start of the year.  The current funding appeal for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is $1.3 billion, is only 39 per cent funded up to now, and we may have new appeals coming up.


In a joint statement, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba and the Special Representative on Violence against Children, Najat Maalla M’jid, today called on the Taliban and other parties in Afghanistan to respect the dignity and human rights of all Afghans, including boys and girls.  They noted that at least 45 per cent of the Afghan population is below the age of 15, and that the international community must not abandon the children of that country.  The two UN officials strongly condemn the horrific and deadly attack against Kabul airport in which children have reportedly been killed and maimed.  They are particularly concerned about the rights of girls, including sexual and gender-based violence, as well as their right to education.  Ms. Gamba and Ms. Maalla M’jid said that the children of Afghanistan have suffered enough.  They stressed that protecting the rights of all Afghans, including the rights of children is the only sustainable solution to peace.

**International Day for People of African Descent

Today is the first International Day of People of African Descent.  In his message, the Secretary-General said that this day is a celebration of the enormous contributions of people of African descent to every field of human endeavour.  He added it is also a long‑overdue recognition of the profound injustices and systematic discrimination that people of African descent have endured for centuries, and continue to confront today.  Twenty years after the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the Secretary-General said we are experiencing unprecedented momentum towards ending the global scourge of racism.  We must not squander this opportunity.  This international day is an urgent call for action for everyone, everywhere, to commit to rooting out the evil of racism.  The full message is online.

**Guest Tomorrow

Tomorrow, you will be glad to know that we will be joined by the UN’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov who will brief you from Kabul, on the current situation in the country.  We will start off the briefing with him.  And then, you will have the pleasure to question Florencia, who will be sitting in for me tomorrow.  And at 2 p.m., there will be a briefing in this room by Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Ireland, who will lead the Security Council during the nicest month in New York, that is September, and also the busiest at the United Nations.  On that note, Edie.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Thank you very much, Steph.  A couple of questions on Afghanistan.  On this first day of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, what is the Secretary‑General's message to the Taliban?  And could you give us some specific details of what the UN is actually doing today on the ground?

Spokesman:  Well, I spoke a short while ago with one of our colleagues in Kabul.  She had mentioned that we're continuing to support humanitarian operations in most parts of the country.  There was an Assessment Mission, I think, that went out today in Kabul.  We are concerned with the internally displaced situation and, obviously, the disruption of our pipeline of humanitarian goods.  I don't think you were here yesterday, but you must have seen we there was a plane from WHO [World Health Organization] which landed in Mazar.  The UNHAS World Food Service Programme has also been able to resume, though not in Kabul.  So, for us, the day after is just another day in Kabul.  We've been present in Afghanistan for over 60 years, and we are remaining and standing shoulder to shoulder with the Afghan people.  The Secretary‑General's message to the Taliban, I think, is something he's said before, which is what he would like to see and he hopes the international community would like to see is the formation of an inclusive government, full respect for human rights, for Afghanistan's human rights obligations, especially when it comes to women, and to ensure that the hard‑won gains of especially the last two decades do not evaporate and ensuring that Afghanistan is not used as a base for terrorism.  Yes?

Question:  Thanks, Stéphane.  Following up on Afghanistan, is the UN talking to the Taliban about using the airport to get supplies into Kabul?  Any discussions started there?  And any feedback or readout of the Secretary‑General's meeting with Security Council members yesterday afternoon?  Can you tell us what they discussed?

Spokesman:  Yes.  So, the SG had quite a lengthy meeting with the representatives of the five permanent members of the Security Council.  He met with them at the residence.  I mean, he told me that the atmosphere was pleasant and constructive.  This is part of his ongoing efforts of good offices to try to get unity within the Security Council, to also get a convergence of the different approaches of the international community on the situation in Afghanistan.  The meeting yesterday was part of the intensive diplomatic contacts he's had since the beginning of this phase of the crisis.

Question:  [Inaudible]?

Spokesman:  The airport, I'm not aware of any direct discussions that we're having with the Taliban on the airport.  I know it's something that ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization], obviously, our colleagues in Montreal, are following closely through their regional office.  We've been able to use other airports in Afghanistan.  Obviously, as soon as it meets safety standards that are recognised by the international community, we would like to see the airport.  Obviously, a critical part of that are really the people who operate the planes and who insure the planes, feel that there is a level of service, of security that the aircrafts can go in and out of Kabul airport.  Yep, and then we'll go to Alan.

Question:  I'm Yuki Sugimoto from NHK, and my question is, will UN support… such as providing documents and airplanes for Afghan people who want to escape from their country, or will UN respect Taliban's decision on requesting Afghan people to stay?

Spokesman:  I think it's very important that people in any country have the right to choose whether they want to stay or whether they want to leave.  Our concern is about a massive flow of people trying to leave Afghanistan who are fleeing persecution, who may be fleeing violence.  And it is important that, in the immediate phase, the neighbouring countries open up their doors.  We do not want to see any refoulement, to use a refugee law term.  People who are refugees who are seeking safety have a right to be granted protection.  But, it's also, I think, important to note that the global responsibility towards Afghan refugees is not limited to those countries which happen to be bordering Afghanistan.  It will need a global show of solidarity.  Mr. Bulkaty.

Question:  Thank you.  I appreciate it, Stéphane.  Yesterday, the US command announced finally that the troops of the country have withdrawn from Afghanistan.  Any assessment from your part on this milestone?  How do you assess the mission that the US and the allies were conducting during all these 20 years?

Spokesman:  Look, I will leave the historical analyses to historians and analysts.  I think, for us, others may have left for whatever reasons.  The UN is remaining in Afghanistan, has been in Afghanistan for over 60 years, will remain in Afghanistan, standing shoulder to shoulder with the people of Afghanistan.  I think it is very important moving forward that the gains that we have seen in human rights in Afghanistan, especially over the last 20 years, especially when it comes to women, to girls, to their access to education, to medical care, to the jobs market, not be lost.  Okay.  Let's go to the screen.  Okay.  I don't see or hear anybody on the screen.  I see Philippe.  Welcome back.  But, otherwise, I will not be here tomorrow.  Florencia will be answering your questions.  And as I mentioned, we'll have Ramiz brief you from Kabul at the top, and that's part of our continuing efforts to get some voices from the field as opposed to here.  Cheers.



For information media. Not an official record.


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UN chief on Afghanistan: "A humanitarian catastrophe looms"

Here is a full copy of a statement issued yesterday (31 Aug) by the head of the United Nations, Mr António Guterres, in a Press Release published at the website of the UN, calling for help on a looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Note that:  almost half of the population of Afghanistan - 18 million people - need humanitarian assistance to survive.  One in three Afghans do not know where their next meal will come from.  More than half of all children under five are expected to become acutely malnourished in the next year.  People are losing access to basic goods and services every day.  A humanitarian catastrophe looms.






Secretary-General Calls on Governments to Provide Timely, Flexible Funding for Afghanistan’s People in ‘Darkest Hour of Need’ as Humanitarian Crisis Looms

The following statement by Secretary-General António Guterres was issued today:

On the day Afghanistan enters a new phase, I want to express my grave concern at the deepening humanitarian and economic crisis in the country and the threat of basic services collapsing completely.

Today, almost half of the population of Afghanistan — 18 million people — need humanitarian assistance to survive.  One in three Afghans do not know where their next meal will come from.  More than half of all children under five are expected to become acutely malnourished in the next year.  People are losing access to basic goods and services every day.  A humanitarian catastrophe looms.

Now more than ever, Afghan children, women and men need the support and solidarity of the international community.  The humanitarian system’s commitment to stay and deliver will not waver.  Already this year, we have delivered aid to 8 million people.  In the last fortnight, we delivered food to 80,000 people and relief packages to thousands of displaced families. Yesterday, we airlifted 12.5 metric tons of medical supplies into the country.

Amid a severe drought and with harsh winter conditions on the horizon, extra food, shelter and health supplies must be urgently fast-tracked into the country.  I call on all parties to facilitate safe and unimpeded humanitarian access for life-saving and life-sustaining supplies, as well as for all humanitarian workers — men and women.

Next week, we will release details of the most immediate humanitarian needs and funding requirements over the next four months in a flash appeal for Afghanistan.  Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths is coordinating the entire United Nations system in the preparation of the appeal.

I urge all Member States to dig deep for the people of Afghanistan in their darkest hour of need.  I urge them to provide timely, flexible and comprehensive funding.  I urge them to help ensure humanitarian workers have the funding, access, and legal safeguards they need to stay and deliver.


For information media. Not an official record.


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