This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Ebola response back on track, despite UN alarm over uptick in DR Congo violence
Increasing violence in Ebola-affected areas of north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) threatens the safety of tens of thousands of people there, UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said on Friday.
People in the city of Beni – where more than 20 people were killed last Saturday – have been left “angry” and “in shock”, spokesperson Babar Baloch told journalists in Geneva.
“While these groups have previously been active around Beni, it is the first time that fighting has reached the city itself.”
In a more positive development, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that staff had resumed critical Ebola contact-tracing work in the city of Beni on Wednesday, after a two-day suspension of activities that followed the deadly attack at the weekend.
According to WHO, 101 people have died in the latest Ebola outbreak – DRC’s tenth in the last 40 years – and there have been 154 reported cases – 123 confirmed and 31 probable.
It is estimated that more than a million people have been displaced in North Kivu, according to UNHCR, including half a million this year alone.
In Ituri province to the north, violence at the start of the year displaced some 350,000 people. Many have become victims of a new series of attacks, the UN agency said.
South Sudan alert as record numbers face 'catastrophic' food insecurity
“Relentless conflict” in South Sudan has left more than 6 million people facing crisis levels of hunger, three UN agencies have said, amid ongoing efforts to deliver aid to the war-weary country.
The warning follows the release of a report indicating that it is only large-scale humanitarian assistance being provided in many areas of the country that has prevented even more devastating hunger during the current lean season.
Here’s Hervé Verhoosel from the World Food Programme (WFP), on the IPC data, shorthand for Integrated Food Security Phase Classification.
“In fact, the phase at this lean season, is the highest level since the beginning of the IPC reports. And since we have IPC reports in 2008 – I believe, I will check in a minute – at this lean season it was never as high as it is today.”
Violence in the country dates back to 2013; it has left South Sudan facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, according to the World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
This is despite the signing of a peace agreement earlier this month, and insecurity continues to be an obstacle to aid access.
Deadly repercussions of lack of NGO boats in Mediterranean – IOM, UNHCR
And finally to the Mediterranean Sea, where UN humanitarians have warned that a shortage of volunteer rescue vessels is putting migrants’ and refugees’ lives at risk.
The development follows increasingly strict controls on where the boats can disembark in Europe.
Here’s Babar Baloch from the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, again:
“It could be a reality that lives will be lost, and also, without clear disembarkation points, even it’s difficult for other passing-by ships under international maritime law, all passing-by ships have to save lives, but also if there’s no clarity in terms of where they can disembark these passengers, it’s very difficult for them as well.”
According to UN Migration Agency, IOM, just over 81,000 individuals have entered Europe by sea so far in 2018; last year, by the same point, the figure was 65 per cent higher.
But for those making the crossing, it’s become more dangerous.
More than 1,700 people have died attempting to cross to Europe from North Africa this year.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.