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Japan and WHO donate essential equipment to South Sudan’s National Blood Transfusion Services

The Government of Japan and the World Health Organization (WHO) delivered three all-terrain vehicles for the three regional Blood Transfusion Centres in Juba, Wau and Malakal, at the end of their USD 2 million project for boosting blood donation.  The three vehicles are a shot in the arm for the Regional Blood Transfusion Centres to collect more contributions through mobile blood donation drives. This will improve access to the much needed lifesaving blood supplies to health facilities including those in conflict affected areas in order to reduce morbidity and mortality.

On this occasion, Japan and WHO also revealed the additional USD 0.9 million plan to have the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre in Juba fully equipped and operational by next year. Implementing the International Health Regulations of 2005, the PHEOC is key to galvanizing South Sudan’s epidemic preparedness and response. Scaling up of the blood transfusion services will sustain with this fund.

The vehicles were handed over by the Ambassador of Japan to South Sudan, H.E. Kiya Masahiko, to the National Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Riek Gai Kok, in the presence of WHO Country Representative Dr. Abdulmumini Usman.

Kiya Masahiko, the Japanese Ambassador, explains the rationale for Japan’s continued interest in uplifting health profiles of South Sudanese: “As the emergency situation continues in South Sudan, the least we can offer is the reassurance that the life of their loved ones can be saved. The PHEOC and Blood Transfusion Services that were non-operational before our intervention symbolize the people’s right to receive better health services.”

Since 2015, the Government of Japan, through WHO, has allocated USD 4.6 million to support overall humanitarian response including the blood transfusion safety, provision of  lifesaving emergency medicines and supplies, strengthening disease surveillance and outbreak response as well as training of community health workers on communicable disease control.  In mid-2016, the Government of Japan donated the first batch of medical equipment to the National Blood Transfusion Services, including an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) equipment, a rapid diagnostic device for screening against transmissible infections and an automated blood grouping machine, thereby improving on quality and safety of blood supplies. Solar-powered blood cold chain equipment has also been delivered, obviating the chronic challenges of power supply.

“WHO appreciates the sustained contribution to the well-being of the people of South Sudan by the Government of Japan, especially the most vulnerable,” said Dr. Usman. “In the midst of famine and dwindling funds, the dire situation of South Sudanese mothers and children is at risk of going unnoticed. South Sudan remains one of the most protracted crises in the world with 5.8 million people targeted for humanitarian assistance. This contribution is therefore very crucial as it will make a big difference to alleviate avoidable human suffering and loss of life,” added Dr Usman.

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IOM provides health, shelter aid in volatile areas of South Sudan

IOM is providing emergency health care and shelter assistance to South Sudanese forced to flee their homes due to violence in volatile areas of the country, including Unity and Central Equatoria.

IOM, in coordination with Mercy Corps, is conducting an emergency shelter and non-food item (NFI) kit distribution from 22 February – 3 March for over 9,400 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nyal, Unity. The kits will include blankets, nylon and rubber rope, plastic sheeting, a kanga (cloth) and a large carrying bag.

Nyal, in Unity’s Panyijiar county, has been hosting IDPs from surrounding counties since a military offensive in the area in early 2015. The resurgence of conflict in July 2016 prompted additional displacement in central and southern Unity, with many IDPs either fleeing north toward the Bentiu Protection of Civilians (PoC) site or toward Nyal, which has remained relatively stable.

IDPs in Nyal are living in very difficult circumstances, having fled with little-to-no belongings. They are largely relying on support from local host communities, where already limited resources are rapidly becoming exhausted.

Panyijiar is located in one of the most food insecure areas of South Sudan. The county is classified as facing emergency level food insecurity, meaning that without humanitarian assistance, some families could be facing famine conditions today.

IOM is currently collaborating with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to biometrically register the population in Nyal to inform humanitarian response planning and distributions for the area. The exercise is expected to be complete by April.

In Central Equatoria, which continues to experience episodes of fighting, an IOM rapid response team completed a five-week mission on 23 February to provide emergency health care to over 30,000 IDPs sheltering in volatile Kajo Keji County, west of Kajo Keji town, at IDP sites in Ajio, Kerwa and Logo. IDPs in the area fled fighting in nearby counties, and the majority of reported multiple displacements.

“Families ran from their homes with next to nothing, leaving behind their farms and livelihoods,” explained IOM Health Rapid Response Team Coordinator Derebe Kintamo. “Within three weeks of displacement, our clinics began seeing increasing numbers of cases of malnutrition among children under five. We coordinated with a nearby medical centre to ensure cases of acute malnutrition received prompt treatment.”

The team conducted over 7,700 health consultations, providing general health care, vaccinations against common diseases, nutrition screening and maternal health care.

On completion of the mission, IOM handed over responsibility for the three clinics to the American Refugee Committee and the County Health Department.

In South Sudan, one in every four people has been forced from his or her home due to the crisis that broke out in December 2013. IOM emergency aid operations aim to reach vulnerable populations both in displacement sites and remote areas, many affected by multiple waves of conflict and displacement. In 2017, relief agencies are trying to reach 5.8 million of 7.5 million people currently in need of humanitarian assistance.

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WHO secures oral cholera vaccines to slow down the spread of cholera in hard to reach areas of South Sudan

In an effort to rapidly contain the resurgence of cholera in South Sudan, WHO has secured oral cholera vaccine to vaccinate the communities in Leer Town and other areas. The 20 February integrated food security phase classification (IPC) identified Leer and Mayendit. With Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates that exceed 30% in the two locations. Co-morbidity with cholera will result in rapid spread and high fatality rates.

Since October 2016, Leer town and Mayendit North have been affected by cholera outbreaks with limited humanitarian access.

“Insecurity coupled with sub-optimal access to safe water and sanitation infrastructure allowed the bacteria to spread to 12 counties in 9 states across the country” says Dr Wamala Joseph Francis, WHO Epidemiologist. The complementary oral cholera vaccine vaccination campaigns should interrupt all the residual transmission in high-risk populations and hotspot areas in the immediate term thus allowing time for government and partners to improve access to safe water and sanitation.

Health and WASH cluster partners prioritized nine high-risk populations for emergency complementary oral cholera vaccination. A multi-year plan for complementary oral cholera vaccination alongside improving access to safe water, sanitation, social mobilization, case management, and surveillance will be validated and launched on 9 March 2017.

Cholera is a potentially fatal water-borne disease transmitted through contaminated water and/or food. It causes watery diarrhea and vomiting that can rapidly lead to death through severe dehydration.

To slow the current surge in cholera cases, WHO and partners have secured the initial batch of 68 967 doses of oral cholera vaccine for Leer, Padeah, and Thonyor in Leer county.  MedAir, an emergency operational health cluster partner will coordinate the deployment of the vaccine alongside WFP’s food distribution headcount on 27 February 2017.

“Delivering this safe, affordable and effective oral cholera vaccine in South Sudan is vital to help tackle the rise in cholera cases, said Dr Abdulmumini Usman, WHO Representative to South Sudan. While access to clean water and sanitation systems is the ultimate solution to stopping the spread of cholera, we must utilize all tools available to help prevent continued needless deaths,” said Dr Usman.

Since 2014, South Sudan has conducted oral cholera vaccine campaigns on an annual basis, vaccinating over 600 000 people with vaccines sourced from the International Coordinating Group (ICG) emergency stockpile.

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WHO and ECHO deliver essential medicines and supplies to communities affected by the cholera outbreak in South Sudan

The world Health Organization (WHO) with support from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) have delivered essential medicines and supplies to the communities affected by the cholera outbreak in the Islands of Jonglei and Greater Lakes.

The shipment included full Diarrhoeal Disease Kits (DDKs) sufficient to treat 2 800 cases, oral rehydration solution (ORS) modules and cholera investigation kits in addition to the cholera preparedness and response guidelines. The supplies were deployed along with rapid response teams that are currently working alongside local teams to control the raging outbreaks.

Without access to safe drinking water, food and shelter the affected areas lack even the most basic resources to combat the disease.

“The Islands affected by the cholera outbreak in Jonglei have been hard to reach for over 6 months, leaving people in desperate need of food, water, sanitation, health services and medicines”, said Dr Allan Mpairwe, WHO Health Security and Emergency Officer. Living conditions are very difficult and people’s day-to-day lives are characterized by lack of basic social services including basic and lifesaving medicines, medical supplies and laboratory reagents in the health facilities, Dr Mpairwe added.

With the supplies now in place, six-man rapid response teams (one Medical Officer, two Clinical Officers, one Nurse, one Public Health Officer and Epidemiologist) have been deployed to augment the local response in Bor South, Awriel and Yirol East Counties. The current response entails offering essential medical care to the displaced and to host communities affected by cholera as a first step towards improving the humanitarian situation in the area.   However, with the inaccessibility and instability in the area great concern remains that the humanitarian situation may further deteriorate, and that humanitarian access – and thus response capacity – may be further threatened.

“Supplies were provided thanks to funding from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO)” said Dr Abdulmumini Usman, WHO Representative to South Sudan. “The humanitarian supplies provide vitally needed aid to the most affected population by the conflict”, Dr Usman said.

ECHO and other partners, has been supporting the emergency response through provision of Interagency Emergency Health Kits (IEHK), trauma kits, Diarrhoeal Disease Kits (DDKs) and outbreak investigation kits to ensure humanitarian supplies are delivered and distributed to affected communities as efficiently as possible.

Considering the ongoing response and the increasing health and nutrition needs, WHO is committed to ensuring that all South Sudanese continue to have access to health services, including those in the hardest to access areas through the provision of emergency lifesaving medicines which currently are urgently needed.

IOM relocates 6,000 IDPs to ease overcrowding in Wau

IOM is improving living conditions for internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the crowded Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Wau, South Sudan. Hosting more than 30,000 IDPs, the Wau PoC site adjacent to the UN peacekeeping base is the most congested displacement camp in the country.

Camp management conducted a relocation exercise from 26 January to 20 February, helping more than 6,000 IDPs move from the most congested areas into over 800 units in 176 communal shelters constructed by IOM teams. Households continue to access common services within the site, such as clinics managed by IOM, International Medical Corps and Médecins Sans Frontières.

Beginning in late 2016, IOM, as camp manager, began developing an extension area to ease congestion and enable families to move away from shelters that were either close to latrines or teetering near drainage ditches. Teams cleared and levelled 40,000m2 of land adjacent to the existing site, installed drainage and water points and constructed roads and pedestrian crossings, in order to facilitate the move.

The day after Rosa, a young mother of six, relocated to a new shelter, she said: “We are so much happier here in this shelter. I can cook outside and there is fresh air because we are not right next to the latrines. My children even have space to play.” Due to ongoing fears of insecurity, Rosa says she intends to stay in the PoC site until the crisis ends.

“The extension is also improving conditions for those who remain in the old areas of the site,” explains Kevin Merkelz, IOM Camp Management Officer for the Wau site. “We were able to open up wide avenues to improve safety and make space for dozens of badly needed showers and latrines. This also allowed us to empty six classrooms that had been occupied since the start of the crisis so that they could be used once again for educating the children displaced by the conflict.”

The PoC site was an empty plot of land before fighting broke out in Wau, a relatively calm area before a rapid escalation of insecurity in late June 2016. The site swelled quickly as displaced families rushed to safety.

Today, over 45,900 people are sheltered in the PoC site and other displacement centres, like churches, across Wau town. Thousands more have been affected by the crisis in areas south of Wau, but relief agencies have faced extreme difficulty accessing these populations since early July.

Resources have been further stretched as IOM and other aid agencies respond to an influx of more than 5,000 newly displaced people, who have arrived at collective centres in Wau town since early February due to insecurity in Jur River County. IOM teams are distributing relief items and coordinating to provide access to clean water and other services.

Over 7.5 million people in South Sudan today are in dire need of humanitarian assistance due to a devastating crisis that has displaced over 3 million people since 2013. The scale of humanitarian needs is unprecedented, with UN agencies announcing on 20 February that an estimated 100,000 people are facing famine conditions due to war and a failing economy. As IOM continues to provide aid to the most vulnerable, it remains extremely concerned by the ongoing violence in the country and deepening impact on civilians caught in the crisis.

For further information, please contact Ashley McLaughlin at IOM South Sudan, Tel: +211 922 405 716, Email: amclaughlin@iom.int.

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South Sudan marks sixth anniversary of UNESCO World Radio Day

Photo: Peter Louis

South Sudan radio stations and media stake holders, joined the rest of the world to mark the World Radio Day (WRD) on 13th February 2017. The main event took place at Midan Rainbow football grounds in Juba with a live broadcasting decentralised to different stations through Eye Radio and South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC).  The highlight of the event was audience engagement policies – to ensure that all voices are heard in line with this year’s theme “Radio is you”.

A newly established national network, Community Media Network in South Sudan (COMNet-SS) that spearheaded the organisation of the celebrations was also launched during the event. COMNETSS mission is to strengthen community media in South Sudan by sharing best practices and allows collaboration across the network. The network with the current membership of 12 community radio stations strives to support community radios to come up with a model of good governance, accountability and greater community participation in the community broadcasting sector.

Undersecretary at the Ministry of Information, Communication Technologies and Postal Services, Honourable Justine Aler De Mayen who was the keynote speaker said in South Sudan “Radio is Justice, Radio is Freedom and Radio is Equality.”

Hon De Mayen thanked all radio stations in South Sudan for their commitment and for the role they played during the referendum and dissemination of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).  “Radio played a very important role in saving lives of many South Sudanese during the past conflicts, it continues to contribute to the development of the country through peace building and reconciliation messages as well as through broadcasting health and education programmes, ” said Hon.  De Mayen.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Sardar Umar Alam, UNESCO Representative to South Sudan, said radio stations should strive to have the conditions that create great programming. “In addition to entertainment and information – radio stations in South Sudan carry messages of hope and save lives. Radio is uniquely positioned to bring communities together and foster dialogue for a change, as well as to further enhance creative ways to promote freedom of expression, strengthening of social fabric and support to counter hate speech,” said Mr.  Alam.

He highlighted that the radio is a force for human rights and dignity and a powerful enabler of solutions to challenges faced by South Sudan society such as conflict, illiteracy and health related issues. He further said media, especially radio which is the most accessible and affordable medium of information in South Sudan should play an important role in the upcoming national dialogue by ensuring that all voices are heard.

Through funding from the Swedish Development Cooperation, European Union and UNDP, UNESCO will continue to provide different platforms such as listeners clubs and forums that are aimed at uniting communities around common issues with the power to hear themselves on airwaves and to have others listen to them.

The Chairperson of Association of Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), Mr. Alfred Taban called on radio stations to always tell the truth, balance their stories and be accurate with the information. Mr Taban stressed that “Radio stations have a big role to play to allow real democracy to take root in South Sudan, it can only be done through dialogues and collecting views of the citizens.”

Mr. Taban also urged on the government to allow journalists to balance their stories, to stop arbitrary arrests of journalists and to allow voices of all citizens to be heard.

During the celebration, Ms.  Naval Alfred a resident of Juba expressed gratitude about the role Radio has played in her life, “I have been listening to Radio since 1969, and benefited so much from what I heard from radio, I have learnt many health issues, I also get to know the issues happening in my community and country,” stated Ms.  Naval.

Radio stations in all the states of South Sudan also celebrated the day in various ways including outside broadcasting and hosting different radio stakeholders to participate in their programs.

Please see below links for reflections of WRD 2017 celebrations in South Sudan.

https://unmiss.unmissions.org/experts-world-radio-day-make-better-use-radio-tool-peace-and-unity

http://www.voanews.com/a/3721767.html

http://www.usglc.org/2017/02/13/how-a-partnership-in-south-sudan-is-making-a-difference-one-radio-station-at-a-time/

 https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/%E2%80%98radio-you%E2%80%99-importance-radio-south-sudan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ldw6VR3zz8

http://www.wfuv.org/content/world-radio-day-reflections-south-sudan

http://www.catholicradionetwork.org/?q=node/23048

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UNESCO and UNDP train journalists on conflict sensitive reporting

Last week UNESCO trained 51 radio journalists from around the country on conflict-sensitive reporting. Participants agreed that, used in a sensible manner, media has a vital role to play in deescalating conflict and building peace.

The three-day-long training, which took place at the Juba Regency Hotel, was conducted as part of the Communicating with Communities project being implemented in South Sudan by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

At the event, Mr. Henric Rasbrant, a representative of the Embassy of Sweden, the country which funds the Communicating with Communities project, emphasized the strong link between press freedom and democracy.

“Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are the cornerstones of democracy”, Mr. Rasbrant remarked.

Ms. Mwatile Ndinoshiho, a UNESCO communication specialist, echoed that belief. She pledged her organization’s support and commitment to improving the capacity and knowledge of South Sudanese media practitioners, to advocate for the safety of journalists and to provide platforms for all voices to be heard.

“Freedom of expression, including press freedom, is very critical in peacebuilding and reconciliation”, she said.

The journalists trained belong to the Radio for Peace Network (RaPNET). Josephine Achiro, an official of the radio correspondents’ network, urged participants to always keep their communities in mind.

“The community should be part of the radio content you produce and radio should address the needs of your communities”, Ms. Achiro noted.

The conflict-sensitive reporting training included guidelines for reporting on conflicts and peacebuilding, the importance of gender sensitivity and the security aspects of being a journalist in unsafe areas.

Those in attendance very much approved of the training.

“I am a fresh graduate, but now I know more about how to report on conflicts. For example, I know that in a conflict a reporter should not only focus on the parties involved but also on solutions  being proposed to address the differences”, said Viola Elias, who works as a reporter for Eye Radio in Juba.

Moses Okwera Daniel, reporting for Voice of Freedom in Magwi, Imatong State, also learned a thing or two.

“It was my first time to attend a training like this one.  Now I know how to plan and conduct interviews. I have also learnt that journalists working in a conflict situation should always take safety precautions in the course of their work.”

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WHO strengthening the capacity of laboratory personnel to intensify cholera and meningitis surveillance in South Sudan

Public health laboratories are a critical component of communicable disease detection, prevention, and control. However, access to reliable laboratory testing remains limited in in sub-Saharan African countries including South Sudan.

For efficient and improved quality of laboratory service delivery, WHO South Sudan supported the Ministry of Health to harmonize and strengthen the capacity of the laboratory personnel on basic and advanced laboratory diagnostic techniques from 16 to 20 January 2017.

The objective was to enhance systems for routine laboratory operations at all levels in order to guide decision-making processes by clinicians, public health specialists, and health policy makers for the attainment and maintenance of International Health Regulations (IHR) core capacities in South Sudan.

In an effective and efficient health system, laboratory service plays a critical role, however, this is not the case in many African countries including South Sudan, says Dr. Abdulmumini Usman, the World Health Organization Representative to South Sudan. “The need for building laboratory diagnostic capacity is crucial for improved laboratory support to surveillance and treatment of communicable diseases”, he added. We appreciate the support from our partners especially the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) that provide funding support in this area.

Full story: Here

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Einstein scholarships bring hope to refugee students in South Sudan

South Sudan is well known for the armed conflict that has wreaked havoc on millions of its citizens. It is less known for the 260,000 exiles from wars in neighbouring countries to whom it provides refuge. The DAFI scholarship has brought new hopes to young people among the refugee population, giving them hope, helping to relieve painful memories of war, and paying for the education they would otherwise be denied.

Apaikindi, Nasira and Daud are first-year students at St Mary’s College, among South Sudan’s first ever DAFI students. Currently there are 14, a number that is expected to increase over the next four years. 12 are from Sudan and two from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). DAFI is the German acronym for the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative Fund scholarship. The was fund launched in 1992 and enables refugees to study at universities in their host countries. DAFI is funded by the German government.

DAFI is the German acronym for the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative Fund scholarship, launched in 1992, that enables refugees to study at universities in their host countries.

Berepayo Apaikindi Bernadette was separated from her parents in 2013 when she fled violence in her native Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). She ended up in Makpandu refugee settlement in Western Equatoria state. “During the peak of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) horrendous attack in town, my parents encouraged me to flee to South Sudan,” she says. “There was a risk I could be abducted. I chose to flee to a place where it was safer. I was also able to me continue my studies.”

23-year-old Apaikindi listens attentively to lectures on her first day of class at St Mary’s College. She has just started her diploma course in Education. She hopes to specialise in teaching, following in the footsteps of her uncle. When she was 15, the family lived near a primary school in Dungu. “I admired his work and walked alongside him every morning to school,” she recalls. She is grateful that there is a Faculty of Education at St Mary College.

“I fled to a place where it was safer. I was able to continue my studies.”

Apaikindi’s parents still live in Dungu in the northeast of DRC. She communicates with them via mobile phone, although these days contacts are interrupted frequently because of the conflict in South Sudan. “Last year, networks were turned off sporadically due lack of fuel in Yambio,” she says. “I am glad the DAFI scholarship brought me to Juba. It is easier to communicate with my parents back in DRC.”

Full story: Here

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Humanitarian Coordinator deeply concerned by bureaucratic impediments and access constraints

The Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan is deeply concerned by a recent series of bureaucratic impediments and access constraints that have negatively impacted humanitarian organizations’ ability to assist people in need.

“Humanitarian organizations in South Sudan are striving every day to save lives and alleviate suffering across this country,” said Mr. Eugene Owusu, Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan. “Yet, they continue to face obstacles and challenges which hamper their efforts. This must stop.”

Some 91 humanitarian access incidents were recorded from 1 to 28 November. Of these, 70 per cent (64) involved violence against humanitarian personnel/assets, while 20 per cent (18) involved interference in humanitarian action, including interference in administrative matters (4), illegal or arbitrary taxation (4) and expulsion of staff (2). Also in November, aid workers were denied access to areas outside of Yei town in Central Equatoria and Wau town in Western Bahr El Ghazal, where tens of thousands of people are in need of assistance and protection.

“I am appreciative of the steps taken by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to tackle the impediments we face on a daily basis, including through His Excellency the President’s establishment of the Humanitarian High-Level Oversight Committee,” said Mr. Owusu. “However, these recent events are a major concern and it is vital that we see the commitments made in high-level fora fully translate into real, tangible and immediate improvements in the operating environment for aid workers on the frontlines of humanitarian action.”

Humanitarian needs in South Sudan continue to rise as a result of conflict and economic decline. Nearly three million people have now been displaced since fighting first broke out in December 2013, including 1.9 million who are internally displaced and more than 1.1 million who have fled to neighbouring countries as refugees. To date in 2016, humanitarian organizations in South Sudan have reached more than 4.1 million people with assistance and protection across the country, including in some of the most remote areas.

“I am tremendously proud of the aid workers across this country who are working tirelessly day-in and day-out to help people in need,” said Mr. Owusu. “I call on all parties to allow free, safe and unhindered humanitarian access so that our colleagues can reach and assist people whose lives have been torn apart by this crisis. Regardless of where they are in the country, civilians in need have a right to receive help.”

For further information, please contact:
Frank Nyakairu,nyakairu@un.org/+211 922 4060 12
Guiomar Pau Sole, pausole@un.org/ +211 920100411