This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Vital Idlib aid deliveries resume after ‘heavy bombing’, say UN humanitarians
Urgently-needed aid deliveries have started again to embattled civilians in north-west Syria after a day-long break in distributions caused by escalating hostilities, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.
The stoppage on Tuesday came after what agency spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs called the “heavy bombardment” of Idlib, the last opposition-held enclave in Syria which is home to nearly three million civilians.
“Heavy bombardment in the city of Atareb over the past couple of days spurred significant population displacement. So far, airstrikes and armed clashes in north-west Syria have displaced over 800,000 people since December 2019. Their situation is really dramatic. You can imagine with those freezing temperatures, the situation for families, for those mothers who try to feed their children, and the children have to walk and be on the move all the time.”
Between 1-10 February, the UN Human Rights Office reported that at least 85 civilians were killed in Idlib, where Syrian Government forces launched a ground offensive after the dissolution of ceasefire agreement between Turkey and the Russian Federation last month.
Horn of Africa to Yemen is world’s busiest sea route for migrants – IOM
To the Horn of Africa now, where it’s believed that 11,500 people board boats every month to reach Yemen, making it the busiest maritime migration route on earth.
The data from UN migration agency IOM shows that the Red Sea crossing was busier in 2019 than the Mediterranean sea route used to get to Europe, for the second year in a row.
The dangers for those who embark on the journey have been well documented.
IOM spokesperson Paul Dillon said that that more than nine in 10 of those travelling to Yemen are from rural Ethiopian regions, and almost all want to go to Saudi Arabia:
“Not only has migration on the Eastern Rout e not been reduced by five years of conflict in Yemen, migrants appear undeterred by the Gulf’s strict immigration policies for undocumented migrants.
A quote here from a young man: “To get to Yemen, they crammed about 280 of us onto one boat…There was no oxygen, and some people committed suicide by throwing themselves into the sea.”
Once the migrants arrive in Yemen, where “most” are unaware of the fighting, others face being held hostage for ransom by people smugglers.
Drop in Ebola infections encouraging but fragile says WHO
And finally to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where declining numbers of Ebola virus infections are “encouraging”, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
In a regular update on the situation in the east of the country, the UN health agency said that the past three weeks have seen 12 confirmed cases and three deaths in North Kivu Province’s Beni and Mabalako health zones.
That’s far lower than the up to 100 cases identified every week in the middle of last year.
There has also been a continued reduction in the number of places infected, the WHO said, with
six weeks having passed since Katwa health zone reported infections.
To date, the outbreak has claimed 2,253 lives since it began in August 2018.
WHO maintained that these improvements are “fragile” and should not be interpreted as an indication that response efforts can be reduced.
Earlier this week international health experts met in Geneva where they agreed that the Ebola epidemic still constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.