This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Afghan people 'hunger' for peace
A two-day international conference on Afghanistan began on Tuesday in the Swiss city of Geneva where the UN, Afghan Government and numerous foreign ministers are meeting to show solidarity with the war-torn country’s people and to help strengthen efforts to promote development, peace and security.
Speaking to journalists, Toby Lanzer, the Deputy Special Representative for the UN Mission (UNAMA) there, pointed out that 2019 would mark the 40th anniversary, or “four decades of instability in Afghanistan.”
He stressed that as the vast majority of the country had grown up knowing conflict and nothing else, “there is a tremendous hunger for peace”, which the UN was doing its best to support.
Moreover, one of the worst droughts in living memory has put current humanitarian needs there at emergency levels for millions of people.
Around 3.6 million Afghans live with chronic food insecurity Mr. Lanzer said and the country was “one step away from famine.”
World Food Programme warns of reduced Hudaydah port operations
Also in Geneva, the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Hervé Verhoosel flagged that high levels of insecurity in the Yemen city of Hudaydah had cut operations at the key port by nearly half.
More than 70 per cent of food and medicine reaches the country through the crucial port, and shipping companies are wary of the uptick in fighting there he said.
He said that if the situation continues or further deteriorates, “it will have a drastic impact on food availability and prices in the markets and make it increasingly difficult for Yemeni families to cover their basic needs.”
Noting that disruptions to operations would also hamper humanitarian efforts to prevent famine, he called on all warring parties to protect the port.
UNICEF funding shortfall leave children in the cold of winter
Plunging temperatures in the Middle East and North Africa pose a further threat to children, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday, as it faces a $33 million shortfall for lifesaving winter supplies and cash assistance.
With cold and rainy weather sweeping across the region, nearly one million children affected by crises risk illness, school absences or even death.
UNICEF’s Regional Director for the region, Geert Cappelaere said that “staying warm has simply become unaffordable” while years of conflict, displacement and unemployment have “reduced families’ financial resources to almost nothing.”
He explained that with little nutritious food and healthcare, children have grown weak, leaving them vulnerable to hypothermia and respiratory diseases.
“Without help to protect them from the freezing weather, these children are likely to face dire consequences,” Mr. Cappelaere spelled out.