This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Now COVID-19 disruption casts cloud over weather alerts
In a new COVID-19 development, UN weather experts said on Wednesday that the pandemic risks disrupting key forecasting services, including early warning alerts around the world.
Both the quantity and quality of weather observations and forecasts, as well as atmospheric and climate monitoring are at stake, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva.
Here’s Lars Peter Riishojgaard, Director of WMO’s Earth System Branch:
“We are concerned about the impact as I said on the ability of our Members to deliver their basic weather and climate services…And you may think, why would we care about this, we have bigger things to worry about right now…But even in this situation, there could be situations where all of a sudden you could be critically reliant on weather forecasting if a hurricane, tornado or some other adverse weather situation breaks out.”
Many parts of the global weather monitoring system are automated, such as satellites and many observation points on land.
But other monitoring points have already seen a “dramatic” impact over the last few weeks.
This includes readings from airplanes, thanks to plummeting levels of air traffic, particularly in Europe.
There has also been a “significant decrease” in data from developing countries, where many observations are still taken manually, WMO said.
In a statement, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas urged Governments to support their national early warning and weather observing capacities despite the COVID-19 crisis.
Migrants stranded by COVID-19 lockdown in Niger
To Niger now, where the UN is helping more than 2,300 migrants across the country who’ve been left stranded by a COVID-19 lockdown.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said that it’s worried about the significant number of men, women and children still arriving in Niger despite the emergency measures.
As of Tuesday, 34 people have tested positive for new coronavirus in Niger three have died.
To prevent virus transmission, the authorities have implemented border closures, curfews and travel bans, along with two weeks of quarantine for new arrivals.
IOM is providing assistance by hosting migrants in six transit centres, and three temporary transit sites. Those arriving at the border with Algeria are quarantined, and two transit houses in Niamey have opened in response to the sudden increase of migrants affected by the border closures.
At Assamaka, at Niger’s border with Algeria, the agency is helping several hundred migrants as they finalize their 14-day quarantine period.
They come from 15 different countries of origin, mainly from Niger (391), Mali (140) and Guinea Conakry (101) and include many vulnerable children, pregnant women and injured individuals.
Displaced people affected by coronavirus have rights too, says rights expert
States should step-up their measures immediately to protect the 40 million internally displaced people worldwide from the COVID-19 threat, a UN-appointed independent expert said on Wednesday.
In her appeal, UN Special Rapporteur Cecilia Jimenez-Damary pointed out that internally displaced persons were at heightened risk of exposure to the virus.
They often had limited access to healthcare, water, sanitation, food and adequate housing, she said.
“They are among the most vulnerable people and should not be forgotten by national authorities in their responses to the pandemic,” she said, while calling for Governments ensure that all internally displaced persons should be informed about disease prevention and treatment.
Those who require medical treatment for COVID-19 must have access to appropriate health care in a timely manner “and without discrimination”, she said.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.