This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Massive humanitarian response plan mobilized to aid ‘ultra-vulnerable’ in COVID-19 fight
The UN launched a $2 billion global humanitarian response plan on Wednesday to fund the world’s poorest countries’ fight against the coronavirus threat.
“We must come to the aid of the ultra-vulnerable, the millions upon millions of people who are least able to protect themselves”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, calling for concerted global action.
The fund will focus on South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, as well as boost efforts to stop the virus from circling back around the globe later in the year.
UN agencies will be in the lead, along with NGOs and partners to deliver testing equipment, provide sanitation facilities, drive communication and awareness campaigns and create airbridges for humanitarian workers.
Protect health and safety of prisoners, urges UN rights chief
The UN human rights chief on Wednesday called on governments to take urgent action to protect the health and safety of prisoners, and others who are being held in closed facilities across the world, during the global coronavirus pandemic.
High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, said that as COVID-19 begins to take root in prisons, jails and immigration detention centres, as well as residential care homes and hospitals, it’s putting some of the world’s most vulnerable at risk.
“In many countries, detention facilities are overcrowded, in some cases dangerously so”, she said, noting that prisoners are often held in unhygienic conditions and health services are inadequate or even non-existent.
“Physical distancing and self-isolation in such conditions are practically impossible,” she added, warning governments that the consequences of neglecting them are “potentially catastrophic”.
“It is vital that governments should address the situation of detained people in their crisis planning to protect detainees, staff, visitors and of course wider society,” she added.
Immediate ceasefire needed in Yemen, urges UN chief
Echoing his appeal to all warring parties across the globe for a ceasefire in the light of the existential battle against COVID-19, the UN chief called on Wednesday for an immediate ceasefire across Yemen, still the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
In a statement, António Guterres said Government forces and their allies, together with Houthi rebels, needed to focus on reaching a negotiated political settlement and do everything possible to counter a major outbreak of the disease.
More than five years of conflict have devastated the lives of tens of millions of Yemenis, said the UN chief, and current fighting in Al Jawf and Ma’rib threatens to further deepen human suffering.
Mr. Guterres called on the parties to work with his Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, to achieve a nation-wide de-escalation; progress on economic and humanitarian measures that will alleviate suffering and build confidence; and the resumption of an inclusive, Yemeni-led political process.
Matt Wells, UN News.