IraqThis is the News in Brief from the United Nations
UNICEF reports three-fold rise in attacks on children this decade
Conflicts around the world are lasting longer and claiming more young lives, the head of the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said on Monday, as the agency reported that over this ‘deadly decade’, there have been a three-fold rise in verified attacks on children since 2010 – an average of 45 violations a day.
“Attacks on children continue unabated as warring parties flout one of the most basic rules of war: the protection of children,” said Executive Director Henrietta Fore, noting that the number of countries experiencing conflicts is the highest it has been since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.
With dozens of violent armed conflicts killing and maiming children, the UNICEF chief pointed out that for every act of violence against children that creates headlines, “there are many more that go unreported.”
As 2019 draws to a close with “no letup in the attacks and violence against children in sight,” UNICEF is calling on all warring parties to immediately end violations against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure.
The UN Children’s Fund is also calling on States with influence over parties to conflict to use that influence to protect children.
Millions desperately hungry in Zimbabwe; UN food relief agency calls for international support
Turning to Africa, millions of Zimbabweans who are being pushed into hunger by prolonged drought and economic crisis face an increasingly desperate situation, warned the United Nations World Food Programme, WFP, calling for adequate funding to support a major relief operation.
With nearly half the population, or some eight million people food insecure, WFP plans to assist up to 4.1 million people. But, in the first half of 2020 alone, needs more than $200 million for the emergency response.
“As things stand, we will run out of food by end of February, coinciding with the peak of the hunger season – when needs are at their highest,” said Niels Balzer, WFP’s Deputy Country Director in Zimbabwe.
Once an African breadbasket, years of drought have slashed food production and forced WFP in August to launch an emergency lean season assistance programme to meet the rising requirements – months earlier than anticipated.
“Firm pledges are urgently needed as it can take up to three months for funding commitments to become food on people’s tables,” according to Mr. Balzer.
Food shortages have become even more pronounced, with maize available only in half of the countrywide markets monitored by WFP.
UNESCO chief condemns murder of journalist in Iraq
Also, on Monday, the head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, called on the Iraqi authorities to investigate the death of a journalist who was shot dead during a demonstration in the capital on 6 December.
“I condemn the use of live ammunition during the demonstration in Baghdad that led to the death of photographer Ahmed Muhana al-Lami alongside some 15 other people,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.
The news photographer was covering a demonstration in a public square when he was hit by a gunshot that killed him shortly afterwards in the hospital.
Mr. al-Lami, a freelance journalist, had recently published pictures on social media of the weeks-long demonstrations in the Iraqi capital of Bagdhad.
And from 2015 to 2017, he had covered military operations that led to the reclaiming of the territory held by ISIL terrorists.
Ms. Azoulay also called on the Iraqi authorities “to investigate this brutal attack on civilians and ensure that those responsible are brought to trial.”
Back in November, UN Secretary-General António Guterres had issued a statement expressing his deep concern regarding reports of the use of live ammunition against demonstrators in Iraq and reiterated his call that Iraqi authorities “exercise maximum restraint” and protect the lives of demonstrators.
The first anti-Government protests began at the beginning of October with demands for better public services, more job opportunities and an end to alleged large-scale corruption.
Liz Scaffidi, UN News