Global perspective Human stories

News in Brief 5 March 2020

News in Brief 5 March 2020

Tributes pour in for former UN chief Javier Pérez de Cuéllar  

Countless tributes for Javier Pérez de Cuéllar have been made by former colleagues, family and friends, after the death of the former UN Secretary-General was announced overnight. 

Mr. Pérez de Cuéllar, who was from Peru, was 100.. 

In a statement, current UN chief António Guterres said that he was profoundly saddened to hear the news. 

Mr. Guterres described the former UN chief as “an accomplished statesman, a committed diplomat and a personal inspiration who left a profound impact on the United Nations and our world”. 

Echoing that message, Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said on Twitter that she had been inspired by the mild-mannered diplomat and his “massive achievements”. 
These included intense negotiations between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the disputed sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, shortly after taking up his position as UN Secretary-General in 1982.  

Taking a break from the peace talks, Mr. Perez de Cuéllar produced a now famous phrase when he said of them: “The patient is in intensive care but still alive.” 

Despite health issues, Mr. Perez de Cuéllar  agreed to serve for a second term as UN chief.  

In his acceptance speech, he referenced the financial crisis that the UN was going through, saying that “to decline in such circumstances would have been tantamount to abandoning a moral duty toward the United Nations”.   

290 million students out of school amid COVID-19 measures 

School closures in 13 countries linked to the COVID-19 virus have disrupted the education of more than 290 million students – an unprecedented number, UNESCO said on Thursday. 

Disadvantaged children are the worst-hit by the emergency measures, according to UN agency Director-General Audrey Azoulay, who noted that a further nine countries have announced school closures on a smaller scale. 

Ms. Azoulay said that her organization is working with countries to ensure continuity of learning for all. 

It is helping to implement large-scale distance learning programmes and plans to convene an emergency meeting of education ministers next week. 

Lower food prices linked to Coronavirus concerns 

Staying with COVID-19, world food prices fell slightly in February, partly because of concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, the Food and Agriculture Organization FAO said on Thursday. 

According to the UN body, food commodity prices dropped by one per cent price last month - the first downward shift in four months. 

This was driven by a sharp fall in the export price of vegetable oils whose index saw a more than 10 per cent reduction from January. 

In other food sectors, cereals saw price falls of just under one per cent, meat was down two per cent, but dairy products rose by more than four points amid reduced output in Australia. 

By contrast, milk powder prices suffered owing to slowing demand in China, the world’s largest milk powder importer. 

40 years after AIDS began, young women and girls ‘still most at risk from HIV’  

And finally, a lack of access to basic rights and services for young women and girls continues to leave them more exposed to HIV-AIDS than men, UN health experts said on Thursday. 

The warning, which was issued by UNAIDS, comes 40 years after the start of the epidemic and 25 years after Governments agreed via the Beijing Declaration to promote gender equality. 

Despite progress in scaling up HIV treatment, the UN agency said that AIDS is still the leading cause of death for women aged between 15 and 49. 

Six thousand women aged between 15 and 24 are infected with HIV every week, it said. 

Highlighting the challenges that remain, the UN agency said that in sub-Saharan Africa - the region most affected by HIV - seven out of 10 young women do not have comprehensive knowledge about HIV.  

In contrast, countries that have invested in scaling up effective HIV prevention programmes have shown impressive results.  

These include Lesotho, which saw HIV infections among women and girls fall by 41 per between 2010 and 2018. 

Daniel Johnson, UN News. 


 - Tributes pour in for former UN chief Javier Pérez de Cuéllar

 - 290 million students out of school amid COVID-19 measures 

 - Lower food prices linked to coronavirus concerns 

 - Young women and girls ‘still most at risk from HIV’



Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News.
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Photo Credit
UN Photo/Yutaka Nagata