This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
UN chief calls for global ceasefire to take on common enemy - COVID-19
Combatants around the world should lay down their weapons to take on a common enemy, the COVID-19 coronavirus.
That’s the message issued on Monday by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who called for a global ceasefire in all corners of the world…and for everyone to focus together on the “true fight of our lives”.
Such a move is crucial, Mr. Guterres said, to help facilitate deliveries of life-saving aid, open possibilities for diplomacy and bring hope to places that are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.
The virus does not care about nationality, ethnicity, or other differences between people; it just “attacks all, relentlessly”, including during wartime, the UN Secretary-General insisted.
After emerging in central China in December, the virus has now been reported in more than 180 countries.
There have been nearly 300,000 cases worldwide, and more than 12,700 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Rights expert raises alarm over migrant ‘pushbacks’ at Turkey-Greece border
The Greek authorities should take immediate action to end violence against migrants and asylum seekers at its border with Turkey, an independent UN-appointed rights expert said on Monday.
In recent weeks, many refugees in Turkey have attempted to cross into Greece, after Turkey announced late last month, that it would no longer stop attempts to do so.
In a statement, Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, expressed alarm at the alleged involvement of Greek security officers and unidentified armed men in refusing entry to asylum seekers and migrants.
This is in violation of international laws banning collective expulsions and non-refoulement, he said, before insisting that individual needs assessments were a cornerstone of human rights and refugee protection.
The rights expert pointed out that forcing people to turn back meant them “inevitably” risking death, torture, ill-treatment and persecution.
In a statement he said that migrants who had managed to cross the border were allegedly intercepted by Greek border guards, detained, stripped, confiscated of belongings and pushed back to Turkey.
This alleged excessive use of force seems to have led to deaths and injuries, including the death of a Syrian asylum seeker, the Special Rapporteur said.
Measuring water ‘more essential than ever to tackle climate, boost development’
Finally, to the UN weather agency, WMO, which says there’s an urgent need to boost water forecasting, monitoring and management of supplies, to tackle drought, pollution and climate change.
The appeal from the WMO – in unison with UN Water – echoes the call by UN chief António Guterres who said on Monday that “every drop counts”.
Improved forecasting, monitoring and management of water supplies are needed to tackle the problem of too much, too little or too polluted water, Mr. Guterres said; while better hydrological monitoring and forecasting are vital to underpin effective water management, and flood and drought early warning services.
WMO and UN Water also warned that the issue of clean water needs to be taken more seriously than ever, since more than two billion people do not have access to safe water services.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.