This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Key COP26 climate summit postponed to ‘safeguard lives’
With no end in sight to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the UN climate change talks which were due to take place in Scotland later in the year, have been postponed until October 2021.
The decision was announced by the advisory group to the COP26 talks, overseen by the UN climate change body, the UNFCCC.
“The need to suppress the virus and safeguard lives is our foremost priority”, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said in a statement on Wednesday, speaking on behalf of Secretary-General António Guterres.
But the UN chief made it clear efforts must continue towards taking more action to combat global warming, and keep temperature rises to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, “especially as countries take measures to recover from this crisis.”
He said the COVID-19 crisis “reinforces the importance of science and evidence informing government policies and decision-making”.
Spike in hunger across Africa’s central Sahel as COVID-19 looms
The humanitarian crisis in Africa’s central Sahel region, is spiralling out of control, with more than 5 million people facing severe food insecurity across the region.
That’s according to a new joint food security assessment released on Thursday by food security partners including the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP).
The dramatic spike in the number of hungry people comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading into fragile countries in a region home to the weakest health systems anywhere in the world.
Burkina Faso - which has seen the largest number of officially-reported coronavirus deaths anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa – is where the number of food insecure is expected to more than triple to 2.1 million people as the lean season sets-in in June.
Chris Nikoi, WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa, described it as a “crisis layered on top of a crisis, noting that people are simply living on the brink – we must step up now to save lives – we are the only hope for millions”, he added.
Address challenges facing migrant workers in India: UN rights chief
Pervasive challenges remain for hundreds-of-thousands of migrant workers in India who were caught unawares there by the sudden lockdown in response to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, said the UN human rights office, OHCHR, on Thursday.
High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said she was distressed by the plight of the informal migrant workers affected, many of whom were forced to leave the cities where they worked, unable to pay for rent or food.
“The lockdown in India represents a massive logistical and implementation challenge given the population size and its density and we all hope the spread of the virus can be checked”, said Ms. Bachelet.
She added it was important “to ensure that measures in response to COVID-19 are neither applied in a discriminatory manner nor exacerbate existing inequalities and vulnerabilities.”
Some already impoverished workers have died making the long journey home, said the human rights chief.
She welcomed the Supreme Court of India’s order on Tuesday for states to ensure that migrants are provided enough food, water, beds and supplies as well as psychosocial counselling in shelters that should be run by volunteers instead of security forces.
The order, and its implementation, will go a long way to ensuring their safety, after being “suddenly uprooted by the lockdown, placing them in very precarious situations”, Ms. Bachelet said.
Matt Wells, UN News.