This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
COVID-19: Europe is the new virus hotspot, says WHO
Europe has become the new epicentre of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization, WHO, said on Friday.
The UN agency’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in Geneva that there were now more cases and deaths in Europe from the virus than in the rest of the world, with the exception of China.
Since the outbreak surfaced in central China in December, more than 132,000 cases have been confirmed in 123 countries, according to latest WHO data, and 5,000 people have died.
Italy is the European country currently suffering the most, with more than 15,000 infections and more than 1,000 fatalities.
As Syrian conflict enters 10th year, ‘brutal truth’ is there is little protection for families
A fragile ceasefire agreed in northwest Syria is still holding, but UN humanitarians have warned of dire conditions for hundreds of thousands of people displaced by conflict, which is now in its tenth year.
A week ago, Turkey and Russia agreed to a ceasefire in the Idlib de-escalation area, the last opposition-held zone of Syria, plus a security corridor and joint patrols.
Speaking in Geneva, Jens Laerke from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the “the brutal truth” is, there is “very little protection” for people in Syria’s northwest.
Both Idlib and Aleppo governorates are home to millions of families displaced from previous conflict zones – often many times, he explained:
“The overall level of violence has come down, and the airstrikes have reportedly come to a halt. Displacement from areas close to the frontlines have slowed down. But that does not make Idlib a safe place to be. Instances of shelling continue to be reported from areas along the frontlines, and the risk of death and injury from explosive hazards, such as unexploded ordnance has increased over the past months, due to artillery and aerial bombardments.”
Nearly a million people have been displaced since December after Government of Syria forces stepped up efforts to take control of the last remaining opposition areas in northwest Idlib and northern Aleppo governorates.
Central Mozambique a year ago are facing devastating hardship
One year after Cyclone Idai devastated much of central Mozambique, more than half a million people have had their rations cut completely because of limited funding.
Here’s World Food Programme spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs:
“Last month in February, WFP was forced to halve rations for food for the people working on recovery projects. This is for around approximately 000 people working on those recovery projects, repairs, rebuilding of public buildings in the Sofala province, which has been most hit and damaged by the storm. This month, in March, we had to stop; to halt, completely the rations. This is why we are concerned with the funding situation, because we cannot help those small farmers who have lost their crops, and who cannot plant any more, so they need this food for work and food and assistance to survive.”
In the weeks after the strongest storm to ever hit the country, WFP’s emergency assistance helped to kick-start the recovery for 1.8 million people.
Now the agency says it needs $91 million urgently to implement rehabilitation programmes for the Idai victims.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.