This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Positive steps towards peace in Yemen, as Hudaydah ceasefire declared
The announcement of a ceasefire between Yemen’s warring parties in and around the key port of Hudaydah, was hailed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday as a deal which would improve the lives of millions of people.
Speaking on the last day of UN-led talks in Sweden to decide the future of the war-torn country, where its people are in the grip of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, Mr. Guterres told those present that they had “the future of Yemen” in their hands.
Mr. Guterres also pointed out other breakthroughs in the first talks between Government and opposition Houthi representatives in two-and-a-half years.
“You have also reached a mutual understanding to ease the situation in Taizz. And I believe this wi ll lead to the opening of humanitarian corridors and the facilitation of demining.
Before coming here, you had already agreed on a prisoners’ exchange. Now, you have agreed on a timeline and details for implementing the exchange, allowing thousands - I repeat, thousands - of Yemenis to be reunited with their families.
And finally, very important step for the peace process, you have agreed to engage in the discussions on a Negotiating Framework in the next meeting. This is a critical element for the future political settlement to end the conflict.”
Better care can rescue 30 million babies from death
The UN children’s fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed in a report launched on Thursday that nearly 30 million babies are born too soon, too small or become so sick that they require specialized care to survive beyond the first month of life.
“When it comes to babies and their mothers, the right care at the right time in the right place can make all the difference,” said Omar Abdi, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, noting that millions die every year because they do not receive it.
The report, “Survive and Thrive: Transforming care for every small and sick newborn,” finds that babies with complications from being born premature, or suffering brain injury during childbirth, severe bacterial infection or jaundice, risk death and disability.
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s Deputy Director General for Programmes, praised universal health care to ensure that everyone, including newborns, has access to the health services they need, regardless of their ability to pay.
“Progress on newborn healthcare is a win-win situation,” she said. “It saves lives and is critical for early child development thus impacting on families, society, and future generations.”
Climate in Poland hostile for human rights defenders
While global leaders meet in Katowice, Poland at the COP24 conference to save the planet from the deadly effects of climate change, UN human rights experts voiced concern on Thursday over reports that Polish authorities have been harassing, arbitrarily detaining and questioning human rights defenders, due to take part.
Moreover, they said that some accredited participants had been denied entry to the country or prevented from travelling to Katowice.
“We are dismayed at the actions taken by the authorities to prevent free and unfettered public participation in these critical multilateral discussions,” the experts said.
Previously, they had raised concerns with the Polish authorities over a new safety and security law drafted for the conference that they believed could hamper civil society involvement.
The experts said: “We reiterate our call to the Polish Government to immediately ensure full and effective participation and access to COP24 to all civil society representatives”.
They said that all human rights defenders should be allowed “to gather and exercise their rights to freedom of expression and opinion, association and peaceful assembly.”
Liz Scaffidi, UN News.