News in Brief 02 October 2017 (PM)

2 October 2017

Government of Myanmar allows UN officials to visit Rakhine state

In what was described by the UN as a “positive step,” senior officials were finally given access to Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state on Monday.

Authorities in Myanmar cancelled a planned visit by the UN to the region last week.

Around 507,000 mainly Rohingya Muslim refugees have now fled for their lives over the border into Bangladesh since 25 August, creating what the Secretary-General described last week as a “humanitarian and human rights nightmare.”

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched a US$76 million international appeal on Monday to help around 720,000 children, both those displaced from their homes in Myanmar, and those in host communities.

The UN Resident Coordinator was joined by senior officials from the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on the fact-finding visit to Rakhine state.

UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq has more details.

“Our colleagues in Myanmar believe it could help in our efforts to explore how the UN could cooperate with the Myanmar authorities to alleviate the dire situation in northern Rakhine…Building on this visit, the UN looks forward to strengthening trust and cooperation with all communities and the Myanmar Government. This will be critical in addressing the root causes and setting a sustainable path towards peace and prosperity of all people in Rakhine state, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or citizenship status.”

Scores of civilians killed or injured by on-going fighting in Syria

Scores of civilians continue to be killed and injured by fighting and airstrikes across Syria, said the UN on Monday.

Humanitarian staff said they were “deeply alarmed” by reports of fresh attacks in Raqqa, where ISIL extremists still control pockets of the city; eastern Ghouta and Idlib.

Syria’s in its seventh year of brutal civil war that’s left hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced.

Here’s Farhan Haq again.

“Three explosions in Damascus city today reportedly caused the death of ten people and injured 15 more. We remind all parties of their obligation to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including facilitating access to those in need in a regular, sustained and impartial manner, in line with International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law.”

New digital era must leave no one behind: UNCTAD

The digital economy is impacting every aspect of production and world trade, but it may be contributing to the widening gap between rich and poor.

That's the mixed picture emerging from the Information Economy Report 2017: Digitalization, Trade and Development, published on Monday by the UN trade and development body, UNCTAD.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), e-commerce and other digital tools, have empowered small businesses to become more competitive in global markets.

The report also points out that digitalization is growing faster in developing countries.

Here’s Mukhisa Kituyi, UNCTAD Secretary-General.

“The good news of this expansion also carries certain risks and challenges…so we have to contend with the expanding gap—the widening inequalities between countries and between populations—within the same countries,”

The report says effective policies and partnerships are necessary to make sure everyone gains equally across the globe, and it’s not just a system of “winner-takes-all.”

UNCTAD further urges countries to adjust their education and training plans to meet the skills needed in the digital era.

Plague outbreak in Madagascar infects more than 100: WHO

An outbreak of life-threatening pneumonic plague has infected more than 100 people across the island of Madagascar, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Monday.

WHO said that plague had spread to the capital and several port towns over the past few weeks, with government officials confirming that one person from the Seychelles died last week.

The man, a visiting basketball coach, died in Antananarivo on Wednesday while attending a sports event.

Health authorities are tracing people with whom he came into contact in recent days and who may have been exposed to the illness.

WHO is now “rapidly scaling up” its response to the bacterial outbreak on the large island off the east African coast, which was first detected in late August.

At least 114 have been infected, and 21 have died.

Pneumonic plague infects the lungs, and if left untreated with antibiotics, is nearly always fatal.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 3’51”


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