This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
UN chief pays tribute to Pope Francis for defence of “most vulnerable”
At the Vatican on Friday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres paid tribute to Pope Fran cis for his “clear moral voice” in defence of “the most vulnerable.
Welcoming the pontiff’s calls for the protection of refugees and migrants, the UN chief also thanked him for his appeals on everything from confronting poverty and inequality, disarmament, religious tolerance and the “climate emergency”:
“These messages coincide with the core values of the United Nations Charter – namely to reaffirm the dignity and worth of the human person. To promote love of people and care for our planet. To uphold our common humanity and protect our common home. Our world needs that more than ever.”
Following the global climate summit in Madrid - widely credited with failing to push for sufficiently tough measures on reducing global emissions – Mr. Guterres called on all countries around the globe to commit to carbon neutrality by 2050.
This is “in line with what the scientific community tells us is necessary to rescue the planet”, he insisted.
Lesotho: tens of thousands ‘one step away from famine’ as drought impacts harvests
Devastating drought in Lesotho has left more than half a million people facing severe food shortages and tens of thousands “one step away from famine”, UN humanitarians said on Friday, in an appeal for funds.
The $34 million flash appeal will support more than 260,000 people “with lifesaving interventions” until April next year, Jens Laerke from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told journalists in Geneva.
“Most of the food insecure people are in rural areas and we estimate that at the peak of the lean season, which runs from January to March, some 71,000 people will face emergency conditions in rural districts. That is IPC phase 4 – one step away from famine,” the spokesperson added.
Ten districts in the small landlocked southern African nation are already “severely food insecure”, with rural smallholders worst-hit.
And with forecasts indicating that Lesotho will receive below-average rainfall this season, communities now face three back-to-back failed harvests.
Increasingly, women and girls have headed to urban areas in search of work, where they are trading sex for money or food, OCHA warned.
One worry linked to this migration is that Lesotho has the second highest HIV prevalence rate in the world, at more than one in four people.
The UN appeal aims to counter this, with awareness-raising sessions about the risks of irregular migration, gender-based violence, violence against children, child marriage, trafficking in persons and how to report abuse.
Targeted killings of rights activists in Iraq continue with complete impunity
Finally, targeted killings against human rights activists in Iraq amid ongoing protests there, have been condemned by the UN human rights office, OHCHR.
Since the beginni ng of anti-graft demonstrations in October, at least 423 people have died and more than 8,700 have been injured.
Spokesperson Rupert Colville said that in the past 10 days alone, the UN office had received reports of at least six separate incidents in Baghdad, Missan, Karbala and Diwaniya that left three people dead and six injured.
“Currently, we have insufficient information to determine who the perpetrators of these latest attacks are, but witnesses and local people we have spoken to say they believe groups whom they describe as ‘militias’ are responsible. We are not aware of any progress made by the Iraqi authorities in tracking those responsible for these attacks and arresting them.”
The killings of civil society activists are happening against a backdrop of disappearances of high-profile protesters in Baghdad, with both the Iraqi security forces and so-called “militias” being most likely responsible, Mr. Colville explained.
Daniel Johnson, UN News