UN will continue call for 30-day Syria ceasefire “until we are red in the face”: Special Envoy
The UN will continue to demand the implementation of a Security Council resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire across Syria, “until we are red in the face”, said the Special Envoy for the war-torn country on Thursday.
Staffan de Mistura said that the priority needed to be to stop the suffering of the 400,000 civilians trapped in eastern Ghouta, deliver life-saving aid, and evacuate hundreds from the enclave in need of urgent medical care.
Failure to halt the killing and shelling would result in a situation similar to the siege of Aleppo last year, said the envoy, when hundreds died and the eastern part of the city was reduced to rubble.
“The UN here has not and will not give up in asking for the full implementation of (resolution) 2401. And we will continue asking until we are red in the face, blue in the face, for both sides — I say both sides because there has been on both sides shelling — to stop shelling each other’s areas and for convoys to be allowed to get to eastern Ghouta in particular. We are not frustrated, we are determined because this otherwise becomes the copycat of Aleppo.”
Mr. De Mistura, who is heading up stalled UN-led peace talks in Geneva to try and resolve the Syria conflict, said that details would be released “in the next few days” of a new initiative.
Iodine deficiency puts nearly 19 million newborns at “annual risk”: UNICEF
Around 19 million babies born each year are at risk of permanent brain damage due to a lack of the element iodine in their earliest years of life, according to a new UN report published on Thursday.
That’s around 14 per cent of all annual births, with more than a quarter of all cases occurring in South Asia.
The report compiled jointly by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), says that introducing more iodized salt into the diets of pregnant mothers and newborns would protect early brain development.
“The nutrients a child receives in the earliest years influence their brain development for life,” said UNICEF Senior Nutrition Adviser Roland Kupka.
The report outlines urgent steps to reduce the risk, including integrating iodized salt into national nutrition plans, establishing better surveillance to identify most at-risk populations, and strengthening regulations to make sure iodized salt is available.
Deep concern over “intensification” of armed conflict in southern Libya: OCHA
The intensification of fighting around the Libyan town of Sebha which has left at least six civilians dead, is deeply concerning, said the UN humanitarian affairs office (OCHA) on Thursday.
Hostilities began in early February, and the southern town’s main hospital has been hit by crossfire “multiple times” over this period, said OCHA.
Around 600 people have been forced to flee their homes to other neighbourhoods within the ethnically mixed Sebha district but most are having to barricade themselves indoors.
Libya has been wracked by factional and intercommunal fighting for years now, with nearly 200,000 internally displaced.
More details from UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.
“Humanitarian health providers are supporting medical facilities in the area to cope with incoming casualties. The Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Maria do Valle Ribeiro, has called on all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, and to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.”