This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
South Sudanese facing famine in all but name, warns UN food agency
Record numbers in South Sudan – some seven million people – face acute food shortages, while more than 20,000 are close to famine, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.
The warning follows years of violent unrest and vicious rights abuses linked to mass displacement and disease outbreaks.
Here’s WFP spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel:
“It is famine-like, if you want, but you cannot call it famine, because you can only call that famine if you have a certain number of criteria. We are not at that number, that level, of people, to use the word famine. We cannot use the word famine, but they live in conditions that are equivalent to a famine if there was many more of them.”
According to WFP, Jonglei, Lakes and Unity states are particularly at risk.
It plans to scale up aid to 5.1 million people by December and for the first time in many years has delivered 173,000 tonnes of food in some 60 areas ahead of the rainy season – that’s 66,000 tonnes more than at the same point in 2018.
Amid Sudan protest uncertainty, Darfur is still in crisis: OCHA
To Sudan now, where amid ongoing uncertainty about events in Khartoum linked to reported attacks on protesters, UN humanitarians have warned that people in the troubled Darfur region remain in crisis.
In 2003, a civil war led to the deaths of tens if not hundreds of thousands of Darfuris and the displacement of nearly two million people.
Speaking in Geneva, Jens Laerke from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that deadly violence in central Darfur and flooding in the north, have hampered operations in the vast western region, as had the disruption of internet services and phone networks.
He confirmed that a team from the UN-AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur known as UNAMID had visited Deleij in central Darfur, following reports of clashes.
“While this is going on in the capital Khartoum, there is of course still a humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region which is impacted by what is happening…There was tribal fighting going on, UNAMID went there to investigate what has happened, and they said yesterday that UNAMID verified that 17 people had been killed, 15 others injured, and more than 100 houses burned.”
As UN agencies respond to ongoing needs in Darfur, Mr. Laerke said that the organization’s $1.2 billion appeal for Sudan was only 22 per cent funded.
His comments came as the World Health Organization reported that the official Sudanese announcement that 61 people have died in protests in Khartoum, from 3 to 11 June is likely to be an underestimation.
5G technology jeopardizes forecasting and early warning alerts, say UN weather experts
And finally to the UN weather and climate agency, WMO, which has warned that the latest phone technology jeopardizes early warning services which protect people from natural disasters such as tropical cyclones.
In a resolution expressing “serious concern at the continuing threat to several radio-frequency bands” of 5G, the World Meteorological Organization’s executive Congress insisted that forecasting and alert services operated by countries had led to a big reduction in the loss of life in recent decades.
Here’s WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis:
“We use these radio frequencies in the meteorological community…there’s concern that because of growing competition from new technology we’re going to be squeezed out of these frequencies.”
Weather alerts are linked to radio sensors that feed information into forecasting systems to provide more accurate predictions with longer warning times.
Experts are concerned that failing to manage unwanted emissions from new telecommunication technologies “would have a significant impact” on current weather-forecasting practices. Consequently, they say, it might reverse many of the gains in our warning services for natural hazards.
Daniel Johnson, UN News