This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Severe food insecurity alert for 45 million people across Southern Africa
Forty-five million people in southern Africa are expected to face severe food insecurity in the next six months as the worst drought in decades continues to bite, the World Food Programme has warned.
In an attempt to boost aid efforts and international awareness ahead of the lean season, WFP said that the 16-nation region has seen normal rainfall in just one of the last five growing seasons.
On top of that, back-to-back cyclones and flooding have destroyed harvests and left communities even more vulnerable.
Nine countries are of particular concern: Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, Eswatini and Lesotho.
The agency’s Margaret Malu, who’s the acting Regional Director for Southern Africa, has called for help to meet the “emergency food and nutrition needs” of millions of people.
She also wants investment to help people withstand “ever more frequent and severe droughts, floods and storms”.
In addition to providing help to 11 million people by the middle of next year, UN agencies also plan to help farmers boost production by managing soil and water resources better in the face of climate change, as well as leading livestock vaccination campaigns.
According to the International Panel on Climate Change, Southern Africa’s temperatures are rising at twice the global average.
Rights experts call for release of Palestinian hunger striker
A Palestinian hunger-striker who was held in solitary confinement in Israel for more than a month, should be released immediately, UN-appointed independent rights experts said on Thursday.
In a statement, the six experts said that Heba Al-Labadi was arrested by Israeli soldiers in Jenin, in the West Bank, in late August.
She then faced 30 days of interrogation for up to 20 hours a day, they say, before being sentenced to five months’ detention, without being told the charges or evidence against her.
Following sentencing, Ms. Al-Labadi launched a hunger strike, which is in its sixth week. She was she was transferred to hospital last Sunday, suffering from several medical conditions.
In an appeal to the Israeli authorities to free her, the rights experts highlighted that while administrative detention is not prohibited under international law, its widespread use in Israel was “incompatible” with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
New WHO report targets leading causes of urban deaths
Cities are home to more than half of the people on earth, 40 million of whom die every year from heart disease, cancer, diabetes and lung disease.
Now, in a bid to tackle these preventable diseases – and take on another urban killer, road accidents - the UN health agency has come up with a 10-point blueprint for safe cities.
It’s been inspired by successful policies already in place around the world, from smoke-free measures in Bogor, Indonesia to road safety initiatives in Ghana’s Accra.
A “walkable streets” plan in New York city is also highlighted by the World Health Organization, which says that it reduced elderly pedestrian fatalities by 16 per cent.
The report was supported by WHO Global Ambassador and former long-term New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
It highlights how cities in the developing world are where 85 per cent of all non-communicable disease deaths happen, and where almost all fatal road traffic accidents occur.
WHO researchers say that the economic benefits for low and middle-income countries could be at least $350 billion.
Under the UN-led 2030 Agenda, more than 190 countries have committed to reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by a third in the next decade and to halving road traffic deaths and injuries by 2020.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.