This is the news in brief from the United Nations.
Venezuela’s anti-Government protests spark UN chief’s concern
Continued reports poured in on Thursday of casualties during demonstrations over Venezuela’s on-going economic and political crisis, prompting Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ concern and call for a “transparent and independent investigation”.
The country is being engulfed by unrest, as opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president on Wednesday, in a bid to force out Nicolás Maduro.
Mr. Guterres urged all actors to lower tensions and pursue every effort to prevent violence and avoid any escalation.
He also stressed that all relevant actors urgently commit to “inclusive and credible political dialogue” to address the country’s protracted crisis – with full respect for the rule of law and human rights.
An educated world spells progress, as UN marks new International Day
“Education transforms lives”, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his message for the first-ever International Day of Education, to be commemorated annually on 24 January.
By marking the day, UN Member States recognized the importance of working towards inclusive, quality education at all levels, so everyone has access to lifelong learning opportunities that allow them to participate in society and contribute to sustainable development.
The Secretary-General spelled out that “education is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals”, lauding its power to reduce inequalities, improve health, achieve gender equality and protect the planet’s resources.
And yet, at least 262 million children, adolescents and youth are out of school, most of them girls.
Calling it “a violation of their human right to education” Mr. Guterres said that the world cannot afford a generation without the skills to compete in the 21st century economy, “nor can we afford to leave behind half of humanity”.
Mitigate extreme weather risks, urges new disaster risk report
Meanwhile, the UN Office for Disaster risk Reduction reported on Thursday that 60 million people were affected by extreme weather in 2018.
While earthquakes and tsunamis accounted for the majority of the 10,000-plus lives lost in disasters last year, extreme weather events accounted for most of the 61.7 million people affected by natural hazards, according to an analysis of events recorded by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED).
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Mami Mizutori, underscored that “no part of the globe was spared from the impact of extreme weather events last year”, underlining that “if we want to reduce disaster losses, then we must improve how we manage disaster risk”.
“Time is running out for limiting global warming to 1.5˚C or 2˚C” she stressed, highlighting the need to be active about climate change adaptation, by reducing disaster risk in cities, better using land to avoid new risks, safeguarding protective eco-systems and taking active measures to reduce exposure to rising sea levels.
Liz Scaffidi, UN News.