This is the News in Brief from the United Nations
UN Chief calls for an end to Female Genital Mutilation
Severe pain, shock and infections, are just some of the consequences of female genital mutilation, or FGM, which affects nearly all girls and women in Somalia, Guinea and Djibouti, where the practice continues.
UN Chief António Guterres has marked this year’s Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, by calling for increased, concerted and global action to end it, and fully uphold the human rights of all women.
The World Health Organization estimates that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation, with three million more at risk every year. Growing migration has meant that more girls are at risk in Europe, Australia and North America.
The UN’s position on the practice is that it constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls, and reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes.
Nearly two-thirds of children at risk of ‘vicious cycle of poverty’
More than six out of ten children around the world are at risk of falling into poverty due to a lack of social protection, the UN said on Wednesday, in a report that warns the situation could worsen amid continuing economic uncertainty.
The study, released by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), shows that the situation is worst for children in Africa, where just 16 per cent have access to a welfare safety net.
Speaking in Geneva at the launch of the report, Isabel Ortiz, Director of the Social Protection Fund at ILO, urged governments planning to cut welfare due to austerity measures to think again, arguing that this may have a long-term impact on children:
It’s very important to recognise the human right to social security for all children. If we consider the total number of children from zero to 14 years old, this represents 25 percent of the world population, however, only 1.1 per cent of GDP is allocated to social protection for children. So there is a huge under-investment gap that needs to be covered.
The report maintains that universal health coverage is not a “privilege” of wealthy states, and cites the policies of countries including Argentina, Brazil and South Africa, which have achieved, or are on their way to, universal social protection.
Largest ever UN humanitarian convoy reaches remote Syrian settlement
The UN’s largest ever humanitarian convoy has reached the remote Syrian settlement of Rukban, which lies on the border with Jordan.
More than 40’000 displaced people are living in a desperate situation that has worsened due to harsh winter conditions. At least eight young children have reportedly died in Rukban in recent weeks.
The convoy of 188 trucks, a joint effort by the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, is delivering food, health and nutritional supplies, as well as hygiene materials, education items and children’s recreational kits. The vast majority of vulnerable people at the site are women and children.
Conor Lennon, UN News.