This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Malnutrition sweeping Asia-Pacific region
Four UN agencies said on Wednesday that three million undernourished people a month across the Asia-Pacific region, be must be lifted out of hunger, until the end of 2030, if the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be reached.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO), are calling for urgent action to put nutrition at the heart of social protection programmes throughout the region.
A new joint report highlighted that an estimated 77 million children under-five were stunted last year, and 32.5 million suffered from wasting.
The latest figures make for grim reading on top of rising numbers of children and adults who are overweight or obese across the region.
While social protection can potentially help to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, the report notes the need for more research into how they are impacting the poor - especially women and children - people with disabilities, and indigenous people.
The UN agencies hope these findings will inform dialogues in member countries to improve food security and nutrition across Asia and the Pacific.
Palestinian aid plan for those in ‘greatest need’
Moving to Palestine, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and UN Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick, launched on Wednesday a Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for 2020.
Calling for $348 million, Mr. McGoldrick explained that the plan “prioritizes aid to those in greatest need”.
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator painted a picture of years of occupation, including an ongoing blockade of Gaza, which has left one-in-two Palestinians in the territory in need of protection and assistance.
About 76 per cent of the requested funds target the Gaza enclave.
Multi-sector efforts will be made to deal with on-going emergencies, including rights protection and providing access to basic services for the most vulnerable.
While working towards political solutions to reduce humanitarian need, Mr. McGoldrick spelled out that it’s “critical the international community strongly supports the plan”.
Egypt: UN experts fight for Coptic Christian rights defender
And finally to Egypt, where Independent UN human rights experts called on Wednesday to end the arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of human rights defender Ramy Kamel Saied Sali.
Mr. Ramy Kamel, who had documented attacks on Coptic Christian churches, was arrested, questioned and allegedly tortured on two occasions last month.
Currently in pre-trial detention in Cairo, he is charged with being part of a terrorist organization and using social media to spread “false news threatening public order”.
However, neither he nor his lawyers have seen any documentation relating to the charges.
Both arrests coincided with the rights activist’s application for a Swiss visa to speak at a UN Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva on 28 and 29 November.
Mr. Ramy Kamel has worked with UN rights bodies in the past regarding the forced displacement of Coptic Christians.
Since September, more than 3,000 people have been arbitrarily arrested in nationwide crackdowns, including academics, lawyers, media representatives and prominent opposition leaders.
The independent experts asserted that “no person should face intimidation, harassment or reprisals of any sort” for participating in or contributing to the work of the UN and its human rights mechanisms.
The experts have been in contact with the Government of Egypt seeking clarification on the case.
Liz Scaffidi, UN News.