This is the News in Brief from the United Nations
Sharp increase in Yemen deaths from cholera and diarrhoea
Two years on from the world’s largest outbreak of acute watery diarrhoea and cholera, which affected more than a million people in 2017, Yemen is seeing a sharp increase in new reported cases, and deaths associated with the diseases.
The UN Children’s Fund, (UNICEF), and the World Health Organization (WHO) are warning that over 100,000 cases were reported between the beginning of the year and mid-March, and that nearly a third of those affected are children under-five.
The two UN agencies are worried that the number of suspected cholera cases is likely to increase given the early arrival of the rainy season; the collapse of basic services such as life-saving water systems; and the poor status of sewage disposal systems.
In a statement released on Wednesday, UNICEF and WHO said that they are doing everything possible to avoid a repeat of the 2017 outbreak, but intense fighting, access restrictions and bureaucracy are hampering their efforts to fight the diseases effectively.
Eight years on, Syria humanitarian crisis is ‘far from over’
Staying in the Middle East, eight years ago this month, the Syria conflict began, leading to a humanitarian crisis that is far from over.
On Wednesday, Ramesh Rajasingham, a senior official from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), briefed the Security Council on behalf of the UN’s humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock.
11.7 million people in Syria, he said, require humanitarian assistance and protection, and more than 5.6 million Syrians are living as refugees across the region. Although fighting in the country has diminished, a growing number of civilians have been killed or injured in recent weeks.
Mr. Rajasingham told the Council that the situation in the city of Idlib, and the surrounding areas in the north-west of Syria, is of grave concern, with an alarming spike in civilian casualties
Last month alone, 90 people were killed, of whom nearly half were children. At least 86,000 people have also reportedly been displaced by this latest upsurge of violence. Health facilities, including a hospital in Saraqeb city, which had been deconflicted with the parties through established procedures, and schools, are reported to have been hit. Humanitarian operations and organizations continue to respond to needs in Idlib and to prepare for the possibility of further deterioration. But, as we have stated previously, a full-scale military onslaught in the area would overwhelm humanitarian response capacities.
‘Race against time’ to protect thousands of women and girls affected by Cyclone Idai
There is an urgent need to protect tens of thousands of women in Mozambique who bore the brunt of Cyclone Idai, the UN said on Wednesday.
In a statement, Andrea Wojnar, representative of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Mozambique, said that the agency fears it’s a “race against time” to provide the estimated 75,000 vulnerable women and adolescent girls with life-saving sexual and reproductive health services.
She added that over 45,000 births are expected in the next six months, and 7,000 of those could involve life-threatening complications.
Women and girls also face a rising risk of exploitation and sexual violence, and UNFPA is working to establish safe spaces for them, where information, psychosocial support and referrals to medical and legal services will be available.
Conor Lennon, UN News.