This is the news in brief from the United Nations.
Yemen famine may be worst in recent history of world
The famine looming over Yemen may be the worst the world has witnessed in recent history, the UN Population Fund, or UNFPA, said on Thursday.
Luay Shabaneh, UNFPA’s Director for the Arab region, flagged that with the deteriorating humanitarian situation, an estimated two million malnourished pregnant and lactating women are at risk of death.
He said that “lack of food, displacement, poor nutrition, disease outbreaks and eroding healthcare have heavily affected the health and well-being” of well over a million women who are pregnant or with newborns.
This had caused numerous cases of premature or underweight babies, cases of “severe postpartum bleeding”, and “extremely life-threatening” conditions for many women in labour.
As nearly half of Yemen’s health facilities no longer function, including those providing reproductive health services to diagnose and treat these women, UNFPA’s support to 184 health facilities offering those services may have to end, unless more funding is secured.
‘Stand-off’ between Somalia’s federal, state authorities threaten to ‘paralyze’ progress – UN envoy
Ongoing tensions between Somalia’s Federal Government and the country’s state authorities took centre stage this week as the United Nations top envoy for the country visited South West State.
Nicholas Haysom, UN Special Representative for Somalia, called for collaboration in solving the continuous strain between the two sides, warning that “the stand-off between the Federal Member States and the Federal Government may well paralyze our efforts to help Somalia get back on its feet.”
And here is Mr. Haysom:
“We’re asking all of the relevant role players to get together to find a solution and to make the necessary compromises and work collaborately rather than against each other.”
At a joint press conference on Wednesday alongside the state President and a senior official from the African Union Commission, Mr. Haysom said “We’re exploring ways of bringing them together in the hope that Somalis can face down their problems together rather than going separately.”
Mr. Haysom also flagged the need for “credible and acceptable” presidential elections next month.
Celebrating South Sudan’s ‘Dawn of peace’
Also in Africa, Wednesday was a day of elation as thousands of citizens gathered in the South Sudan capital of Juba to celebrate the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict, signed in September between the President and his former deputy.
David Shearer, Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), remarked: “To see parties that have previously been divided by violence coming together here in Juba, in a public sign of unity, sends a strong signal to the citizens of this country that you are genuinely committed to end the suffering and building durable peace.”
In a gesture of reconciliation, Mr. Kiir declared the imminent freedom of former opposition leader Riek Machar’s spokesperson and his adviser, who had been detained since late 2016 on charges of treason.
After a several false starts to the protracted peace process, some question whether the September deal will hold. The UNMISS head’s answer was that trust must be “the key ingredient” going forward.
“The big challenge ahead is to build trust and confidence between the parties – and between the parties and the people,” Mr. Shearer said, adding that to do so is the responsibility of “all of us here today; officials, civil society, religious leaders and the international community.”
Mr. Shearer paid tribute to heads of the East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development, known as IGAD, and neighbouring Sudan and Uganda for their role in securing the peace agreement.
Liz Scaffidi, UN News.