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COVID-19 linked to expected glut of stolen art for sale online, warns UN cultural agency

If you were offered the chance to buy a stunning African artefact, apparently with the blessing of the UN, what would you do?

For many people, it’s not obvious that the Organization never endorses or validates in any way, the sale of cultural treasures from any country.

In a warning to art lovers, the UN agency responsible for protecting endangered cultural heritage, UNESCO, has also said that increased pillaging of endangered World Heritage Sites during COVID-19 lockdowns, will likely result in a glut of stolen artefacts appearing online.

The development follows news of a new and sophisticated fraud ring that has been conning victims by using fake UNESCO permits.

In an interview with UN News’s Daniel Johnson, Ernesto Ottone Ramírez, Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO, explains how to avoid being taken in by this lucrative scam. 

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7'34"

News in Brief 2 July 2020

  • Protect ordinary Afghans ahead of peace talks, urges UN Mission chief
  • ‘Transfats’ from processed foods may increase risk of developing ovarian cancer: UN scientists
  • UN’s top rights official urges Nicaragua to release political prisoners
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3'41"

News in Brief 1 July 2020

  • Activist, 14, tells UN Human Rights Council to protect environment 
  • Human rights haven’t improved in Eritrea, says independent expert
  • UNESCO urges caution over fraudulent African artefacts sold in its name
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4'10"

News in Brief 30 June 2020

  • Hard times forecast for global job recovery in 2020, warns UN labour agency chief
  • UN’s Bachelet urges Philippines’ President not to sign new anti-terror law
  • End harmful practices against women and girls, says UN Population Fund
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4'18"

‘God forbid’ COVID-19 reaches Syria’s camps, warns WHO medic

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Syria are in the low hundreds, but it is only a matter of time before the disease reaches those sheltering in camps in the war-torn country.

That’s according to Dr Akjemal Magtymova, the World Health Organization’srepresentative in Syria, who has just visited a camp in the northeast that is hosting tens of thousands of youngsters caught up in the more than nine-year conflict.

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News in Brief 29 June 2020

  • Bachelet urges Israel to halt West Bank annexation plans, warns of ‘shockwaves’
  • Syrians need international solidarity, warn COVID crisis
  • Food insecurity affecting previously safe communities, insists WFP chief
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3'41"

News in Brief 26 June 2020

  • Syrians face ‘unprecedented’ hunger amid impending COVID crisis
  • 580 civilians killed so far this year in central Mali – OHCHR
  • After ‘megaflash’ lightning strikes, dust plumes hit historic proportions
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PODCAST: Rural girls bear brunt of COVID-19 pandemic

As the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, in developing countries it’s rural girls who are proving to be the most vulnerable to abuse during economic collapse and lockdown.

That’s the view of a young woman activist from Uganda, Zahara, who in this special edition of our Lid is On podcast, hosted by the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA, joins the agency’s chief Natalia Kanem, plus leading child rights NGO, Plan International’s AB Albrectsen, in conversation to talk about the challenges facing women and girls during this unprecedented health crisis.

Music credit: Heart Chakra, by Ketsa

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News in Brief 25 June 2020

  • DR Congo celebrates end of deadly Ebola outbreak in east
  • Guterres urges Israel to reconsider annexation of West Bank
  • Digital tools being used to track people as never before, warns UN rights chief
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COVID-19: Excluding people with disabilities leaves them without information that could save their lives

The importance of being informed about the coronavirus – from how to recognize the symptoms, to what to do to manage day-to-day life – is essential for all, and not to include people with disabilities is to leave them “without information that could save their lives”. That’s according to Rosemary Kayess, vice-chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, who has spoken candidly to UN News from home in Australia, about her own fears and the intense challenges that people with disabilities are living with, during the pandemic. 

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