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Hello, this is Paula. Six decades after being created to defend developing countries on trade and development, Unctad has announced a rebrand after its chief, Rebeca Grynspan, showed the UN body can do more than provide technical assistance and data analysis.

A year after hostilities began in Sudan, the crisis has generated Africa’s largest displacement, yet humanitarians fear it has lost global attention. And at the World Health Organization, health emergencies director, Mike Ryan, has further consolidated his position within the agency’s top echelons.

photo journaliste

Paula Dupraz-Dobias


On our radar

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Rebeca Gryspan, secretary general of UN Trade and Development and Amalia Navarro, communications chief at the organisation addressing journalists at the United Nations in Geneva, 9 April 2024. (Geneva Solutions/Paula Dupraz-Dobias)

UN agency rebrands amid budgetary strains and political ambitions. Sixty years after the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development was established to defend developing nations' role in global trade, Rebeca Grynspan, the organisation’s secretary general, said that the time has come for its image to be refreshed. The Costa Rican, who is among leading contenders according to a recent survey of who should lead the UN, told journalists Tuesday the rebrand “represents a stronger and renewed organisation”. The campaign comes amid a general liquidity crunch at the UN.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Straight from the Palais

Bringing you the latest from UN press briefings in Geneva.

One year of war. Since civil war broke out in Sudan on 15 April, the country has become the world’s largest displacement crisis, with 8.6 million displaced by the violence, including 1.7m to neighbouring Chad, Egypt, Uganda, Central African Republic and others. Tens of thousands have been reportedly killed and famine is looming over while the upcoming rainy season threatens to bring disease outbreaks.

💸Cash needed. Yet, humanitarians fear it is on its way to becoming a forgotten crisis. Funding for the UN’s humanitarian appeal for Sudan stands at a minuscule 5.8 per cent. Marking the conflict’s on year anniversary on Monday, France, Germany and the European Union will co-host in Paris a pledging conference to raise much-needed funds to address Sudan’s humanitarian needs. UN Refugee Agency chief Filippo Grandi is expected to make an appearance.

Spill over. Its neighbour and former territory, South Sudan, has been struggling to cope with the spill over effects. It has received around 635,000 refugees – the equivalent of five per cent of its population –, many of whom are returning years after having fled civil war to a country they don’t recognise and doesn’t recognise them.

“South Sudan is the poorest country in the world so you can imagine the pressure that is put on this country,” Marie-Helene Verney, the UN Refugee Agency’s representative in South Sudan, told reporters, adding that the UN was working with the government to integrate the returned refugees.

🛢️Oil tap closed. Refugees are not the only challenge South Sudan faces. The government has been struggling to pay salaries to civil servants as oil exports, which make up 95 per cent of the state’s revenue and go through Sudanese territory, have been disrupted for the past month by the fighting. Food prices have also skyrocketed.

ON HOLD. Israel’s promises from last week that it would open new aid routes following US pressure have yet to materialise, according to UN humanitarian relief spokesperson Jens Laerke, who said the Erez crossing connecting northern Gaza and Israel remained closed as of Monday night.

🤔Contradicting figures. Israel has said that it has allowed more aid to enter into Gaza but its numbers clash with UN estimations. Laerke explained Israel counts the trucks it screens to enter into Gaza but not the ones that actually make it to the warehouses let alone to their final destination.

Here's what else is happening

International Geneva moves

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Dr Mike Ryan, executive director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme, speaks during a virtual media briefing on global health issues on 11 May 2023 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. (WHO/Christopher Black)

⚕️Mike Ryan named WHO's new deputy director-general. Ryan will take on the job alongside his current role as executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies programme, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced to staff in an internal email sent on 4 April.

Ryan has worked for 25 years in conflict-hit countries and has led responses to contain disease outbreaks, including the WHO’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. He joined the agency in 1996 and left in 2011 before returning under Tedros’s leadership in 2017.

The move, first reported by Devex, will see the epidemiologist take over from Zsuzsanna Jakab, who was asked to delay retirement in 2022 and remain in her dual role, including as head of the Western Pacific regional office amid a leadership scandal at the branch.

Devex (EN)

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