Global perspective Human stories

News in Brief 20 March 2020

News in Brief 20 March 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

UN aid teams work round the clock to ensure humanitarian support to millions  

Humanitarian actors are gearing up to find solutions for vulnerable communities hardest-hit by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including millions of children missing out on meals now that their schools have closed, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.  

Because of the pandemic, up to 300 million primary schoolchildren are vulnerable, WFP spokesperson Elisabeth Byers said in Geneva.   

“Nearly 30 countries where WFP implements school feeding programmes have so far reported partial or countrywide closure of school. This means that nearly nine million children are no longer receiving WFP school meals, and that number is set to rise in coming days and weeks.”     

Ms. Byrs said that for many children, school was the only place where they received a square meal. To ensure that they continue to receive assistance, WFP plans to deliver rations for the whole family.   

UN aid teams race to assess emergency needs, ensure supplies continue  

Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, has said that it is working round the clock to ensure that aid supplies continue to reach those in need.  

Some 100 million people require support globally in war zones or other emergency settings.  

Many live in cramped conditions and with limited or no access to proper sanitation or basic health services, OCHA’s Jens Laerke said:  

“The world needs to continue support for the most vulnerable, including through UN-coordinated humanitarian and refugee response plans. To stop COVID-19 anywhere, it must be stopped everywhere. If we do not break transmissions worldwide, the virus could cycle back to countries who thought they were safe.”  

Ahead of the likely launch of a COVID-19 global humanitarian response plan next week, Mr Laerke said that the way aid is distributed may have to change to prevent the spread of infection.  

This will likely include banning relief distribution points, where many people gather for food or other assistance, and finding alternatives.  

Airlift flies relief to Sudanese refugees in Chad  

Finally, to Chad, where the UN refugee agency UNHCR has airlifted 93.5 tonnes of emergency aid for Sudanese refugees in Chad, it has announced.   

Clashes in El Geneina in Sudan’s West Darfur State since last December have forced more than 16,000 people to flee violence and cross into neighbouring Chad.   

Spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said that the refugees who are mostly women and children “are staying in open or makeshift shelters, with little protection from the elements.”   

He added refugees are being relocated further away from the borders for their safety and that shelter, food, water and basic health care were urgently needed.  

The UNHCR-chartered jet landed in the Chadian capital N'Djamena on Thursday evening with thousands of essentials, including blankets, jerrycans, mosquito nets, solar lamps, as well as one ambulance.   

Daniel Johnson, UN News. 

  • UN aid teams work round the clock to ensure humanitarian support to millions  

  • UN aid teams race to assess emergency needs, ensure supplies continue  

  • Airlift flies relief to Sudanese refugees in Chad  


Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Audio Duration
Photo Credit
© UNHCR/Aristophane Ngargoune