This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
International cooperation leads to a winning world, says UN chief
Last year, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued “a red alert” on several dangers confronting the world – dangers that still persist today.
“These are anxious times for many, and our world is undergoing a stress test,” the UN chief said in his message prior to the New Year.
He reiterated that climate change “is running faster than we are,” and that deepening geo-political divisions are making conflicts more difficult to resolve.
But, there are also reasons for hope, he said, notably in Yemen where breakthrough talks have recently created an opportunity for peace, and the agreement signed in September between Ethiopia and Eritrea that has eased long-running tensions and brought improved prospects to an entire region as cause for optimism.
"When international cooperation works, the world wins. In 2019, the United Nations will continue to bring people together to build bridges and create space for solutions.
We will keep up the pressure. And we will never give up. As we begin this New Year, let’s resolve to confront threats, defend human dignity and build a better future – together."
‘Stealing’ food from hungry Yemenis ‘must stop immediately’
After uncovering evidence that humanitarian food supplies are being diverted in Yemen’s Houthi-controlled capital, Sana’a, along with other parts of the country, on Monday the UN World Food Programme, WFP, demanded an immediate end to the practice.
The UN emergency food agency’s chief, David Beasley, said: “This conduct amounts to the stealing of food from the mouths of hungry people.”
Prompted by an increasing number of reports that humanitarian food was on sale in the capital, WFP conducted a survey to discover the misappropriation of those supplies.
It unearthed fraud by at least one local partner organization affiliated with the de facto Ministry of Education in Sana’a handling and distributing WFP food assistance.
“At a time when children are dying in Yemen because they haven’t enough food to eat, that is an outrage. This criminal behaviour must stop immediately,” Mr. Beasley stressed.”
Afghanistan’s new presidential elections set for July 2019
Turning to Afghanistan, the UN mission there, called UNAMA, noted on Monday, the announcement by the Afghan electoral authorities that presidential elections would be postponed from April until July 2019.
With the understanding that the new date followed broad consultations with a range of political actors, civil society organizations and the Government itself, the UN welcomed the clarity in the electoral calendar, encouraged the Independent Election Commission or IEC to publish and regularly update it throughout the process.
The UN asserted that a detailed calendar for the July 2019 election would provide key information to the electorate, the candidates and those involved in the poll.
UNAMA acknowledged the IEC’s assessment that additional time is needed to learn from the 2018 parliamentary elections and adequately prepare.
According to news reports, the last presidential election, in 2014, was mired in controversy and widespread allegations of fraud that officials wish to avoid in 2019.
The UN maintained that the presidential election is critical to the future of Afghanistan; that its mismanagement would be unacceptable; and that everyone had a responsibility for a credible, legitimate electoral process.
Liz Scaffidi, UN News.