This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Afghan civilians must be spared bloodshed, UN mission urges warring parties (UNAMA)
Two days before Afghans go to the polls to vote for their next President, the head of the UN mission there has made a strong appeal for the protection of civilians from harm.
Citing this month’s indiscriminate suicide and truck bomb attacks by the Taliban and airstrikes coordinated by the US military, Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, called the violence “appalling”.
In previous elections, the level of civilian casualties in 2014 was surpassed in 2018, when there were more than 226 deaths and over 780 injuries.
The comments by Mr. Yamamoto, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), follow several deadly incidents in September, including a Taliban suicide attack in Parwan at an election rally where 30 people were killed and more than 50 injured.
In two other incidents in recent days, Mr. Yamamoto said there were “multiple credible reports” that US-led airstrikes in Nangarhar and Helmand killed high numbers of civilians.
According to UNAMA, more than 3,800 civilian casualties were recorded in the first half of 2019.
UN child protection panel issues blueprint to tackle online sex offenders
On Thursday, a UN panel announced the launch of guidelines to protect children from sexual abuse online, which it says is growing at an alarming rate.
Drawn up by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Guidelines focus on new threats from digital technologies, such as the internet and social media.
Committee expert Velina Todorova warned that sex offenders are finding new ways to abuse children as internet access expands at unprecedented levels.
This has made it possible for abusers to share encrypted information and use the secretive darknet to commit or facilitate offences, she told UN News:
“This is no longer a case of an occasional hidden offender living at the bottom of the street. It is now a case of a multitude of offenders on the other side of the world who can reach directly inside our homes in order to corrupt and destroy our children’s lives. This is a battle we can simply not afford to lose.”
The guidelines are designed to assist the 176 States that have ratified the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, with practical solutions based on good practices and challenges that States have encountered.
They cover the prevention and prohibition of the sale of children and their sexual exploitation for prostitution and in pornography, with additional measures to prevent impunity of perpetrators and measures to support child victims.
While a majority of victims are girls, the committee cited research showing that a “significant proportion” of children depicted in online material are boys.
Critical WHO supplies arrive in Sudan to manage cholera outbreak
And finally, in Sudan, 36 tonnes of cholera treatment medicines and supplies have arrived, as the UN responds to an outbreak in Blue Nile and Sinnar States.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), eight sufferers have died from the water-borne disease, whose symptoms include fever and watery diarrhoea.
Cholera is particularly dangerous for young children and the elderly if it is not treated early according to WHO, which has warned about open defecation, a lack of clean water outside the capital, Khartoum, and the country’s dilapidated health sector.
Latest information from the Sudanese authorities points to around 200 reported cholera cases.
In coordination with the Sudanese health authorities, the UN agency has sent staff to monitor and control spread of the disease.
They’ve also been tasked with maintaining clean water, sanitation and nutrition and raising awareness among at-risk communities.
Daniel Johnson, UN News