This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Personal message from UN chief applauds health professionals putting lives on line
An impassioned personal message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres has been released thanking medical professionals everywhere for their courage during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Timed to coincide with World Health Day on Tuesday 7 April, Mr Guterres explains how “we are more deeply grateful than ever” to all those working “round the clock” and “putting yourselves at risk”, to fight the pandemic.
Latest figures from the World Health Organization indicate well over 1.2 million cases of new coronavirus infection worldwide and 68,000 deaths.
From nurses and midwives to technicians, paramedics, pharmacists and doctors, the UN chief also thanks drivers, cleaners, administrators “and many others who work, day and night to keep us safe”.
“In these traumatic times, I say to all healthcare workers: we stand with you and we count on you. You make us proud; you inspire us. We are indebted to you. Thank you for the difference you are making, every day and everywhere.”
Nurses’ vulnerabilities made worse in fight against COVID-19
Staying with health professionals, new UN research has highlighted how nurses on the frontline fighting COVID-19 may be compromised by a lack of protective equipment and new coronavirus tests, overwork and global staff shortages. In the first report of its kind into nursing and midwifery in 191 countries, the World Health Organization and other senior representatives of the profession also expressed concern at the violence or intimidation health workers face, and the need for special protective measures.
Here’s Giorgio Cometto, from WHO’s Health Workforce Department:
“We’re witnessing an unprecedented global market failure in the provision of personal protective equipment…We have seen unprecedented levels of overwork by nurses, particularly those specialised in intensive care units, those in management or those most directly involved in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, oftentimes without adequate time for rest and recuperation, without support and assistance with limited considerations for their mental health and wellbeing.”
Levels of COVID-19 transmission among health workers have also rung alarm bells, with data indicating a nine per cent infection rate in Italy two weeks ago, a 14 per cent rate in Spain and more than 100 deaths among health professionals from the new coronavirus.
‘Say no to hate speech and xenophobia’, urges UN chief marking 26 years since genocide in Rwanda
And finally, it’s been 26 years since more than one million people were systematically killed in Rwanda over the span of 100 days – an atrocity that the UN chief has said “we must never again” allow to happen.
In a statement on the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the global community to “say no to hate speech and xenophobia, and reject the forces of polarization, nationalism and protectionism”.
While the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the UN’s usual commemorative event from taking place in New York, Mr. Guterres urged a renewed commitment to identify the early warning signs of mass killings and collectively protect all those affected by conflict.
Echoing that message, UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande said that it was “our collective responsibility” to recommit to protecting civilians the world over.
In memory of the victims, Mr. Mohammad-Bande urged everyone to “counter hatred in all its manifestations”; he also saluted the courageous survivors and those who tried to prevent the murders.
He also said that Rwanda is now known for its peace and prosperity and added that “even brighter days” lay ahead for the country’s people.
In Geneva, the Director-General of the UN Office there, Tatiana Valovaya, pointed out that “the memories of this tragedy are very much alive”.
Rwanda had learned from the massacre against the mostly Tutsi communities - but also Hutus and others who opposed the massacre – Ms. Valovaya said, before condemning hate speech for eroding shared values and setting back the cause of peace, stability, and the fulfilment of human rights for all.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.