This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Millions of people in crises will need UN humanitarian aid in midst of COVID-19 pandemic
More than 100 million people rely on life-saving support from the United Nations and it is “crucial” that this help continues as COVID-19 spreads, UN humanitarians said on Tuesday.
Spokesperson Jens Laerke from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that the organisation was working with UN Member States and the private sector to seek funding for equipment to fight COVID-19 in vulnerable countries:
UN agencies are already assessing where and how operations on the ground are being disrupted to identify solutions as quickly as possible.
Fifteen million dollars from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund has been released for to fund virus containment measures in vulnerable countries. And financing has also been provided to scale up virus preparedness in Afghanistan, Sudan and Jordan.
Globally, there are well over 167,000 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and more than 6,600 people have died.
New locust swarms add to South Sudan food hardship
To east Africa now, where a wave of desert locusts is forming new swarms in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, and threatening the main crop harvest in May and June.
The warning from the World Food Programme, WFP, follows an upsurge in locust colonies that started in 2019 -- the worst in 25 years for Ethiopia and Somalia, and in 70 years for Kenya.
Swarms have also spread to Eritrea, Tanzania and Uganda and WFP is especially worried for South Sudan.
The UN agency is trying to reach five million people in need there this year but is $208 million short of the resources needed to mount an effective response.
According to WFP, more than half of South Sudan’s 12 million people will face severe food insecurity at the height of the annual hunger season from May to July.
And as many as 20,000 people – particularly in worst-hit counties of Duk and Akobo in Jonglei state – face catastrophic food shortages between now and April.
UN chief condemns attacks on peacekeepers in Central African Republic, urges probe
An attack on UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic which killed one blue helmet has been condemned by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
In a statement, the Secretary-General said that anti-Balaka members had targeted local officials last Sunday in Grimari, Ouaka Prefecture.
When peacekeepers intervened, one Burundi blue helmet lost his life.
In another incident on the same day, a peacekeeper from Pakistan was injured when suspected ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka elements attacked a patrol in Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture.
After expressing his deepest condolences to the victims’ family, Mr. Guterres said that such attacks may constitute a war crime.
He called on the Central African Republic authorities to spare no effort in identifying the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.