This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Nearly $4 billion needed to protect 41 million children from conflict and disaster
Tens of millions of children living through conflict, disaster and other emergencies in dozens of countries urgently need protection, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday, in an appeal for $3.9 billion to support humanitarian work around the world.
Speaking in Geneva, the agency’s Director of Emergency Operations, Manuel Fontaine, warned that the long-held notion that children should be protected above all others is being undermined:
“There’s never been as much conflict in the world in the past 30 years as this year, so it is obviously a particular threat...It is the behaviour of parties to conflict that actually creates this kind of situation. Should they give us more access, should they give us more ways to protect children and should they themselves respect the sanctity of the protection of children, things would actually go a lot better.”
Fifty-nine countries will benefit from UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children 2019 appeal, as the agency pursues its goal of providing 41 million children with safe water, food, education, health and protection.
Syria is still the number one concern, with 2.5 million of the country’s youth living as refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
This is followed by Yemen, where nearly 400,000 children “will suffer from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition” in 2019 UNICEF warned.
The condition is three times worse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where at least 1.4 million youngsters will require lifesaving treatment this year.
700 people detained in one day of Venezuela demonstrations, dozens children
More than 850 people have been detained in Venezuela amid anti-government protests and clashes with security forces that have claimed at least 40 lives, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Tuesday.
Speaking in Geneva, spokesperson Rupert Colville said that nearly 700 people were taken into custody on Wednesday alone:
“There were at least, we now believe, 696 people detained on that day alone throughout the country as a whole. Lawyers are still receiving information which they are verifying. This is the highest number of detentions recorded in a single day since at least 20 years.”
According to OHCHR, the detainees included 77 children, some as young as 12 years old.
The development comes amid an ongoing economic crisis in the South American country that has seen three million people leave Venezuela in recent years.
On 23 January, Juan Guaidó, leader of the Venezuelan opposition, declared himself interim president – a claim rejected by the incumbent, Nicolas Maduro.
The United States has imposed unilateral sanctions, blocking Government access to oil revenues.
Palestine refugees more vulnerable now than in year 2000, warns UN agency chief
And finally, “alarming and expanding” problems affecting Palestine refugees risk further destabilizing the Middle East, the head of UNRWA – the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – said on Tuesday.
In an appeal for $1.2 billion to fund vital services and life-saving aid for 5.4 million Palestine refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl explained that people’s basic needs had worsened considerably since the turn of the century.
“We provide food assistance to a million people in Gaza, which is half of the Gaza population. UNRWA provides that food assistance every three months. That is a figure the world should be shocked about, because in the year 2000, we used to provide food assistance to 80,000. So, we’ve moved from 80,000 people on our food assistance list to one million. Why? Because the whole dynamic of the conflict and the blockade has wiped out entire sectors of the Gaza economy.”
Mr Krahenbuhl praised the generosity of Member States in supporting the agency’s work, following the withdrawal of funding by the United States, historically its biggest donor by far for decades.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.