This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
COVID-19 response could stutter to a halt, warn aid chiefs in appeal for $350 million
The heads of major UN humanitarian agencies have launched an urgent appeal to support global aid hubs that are needed to help those most at risk from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The request, for $350 million, will enable a rapid scale-up of supplies and workers, amid cancelled flights and disrupted supply routes, that have been hit disproportionately hard by the virus.
A key objective of the appeal is to provide support for transport aid hubs run by the World Food Programme around the world.
It will also allow the agency to charter vessels and provide aircraft for cargo, health workers and other essential staff.
And it will also cover medical evacuation services for front-line workers and infrastructure and construction of treatment centres.
Without these facilities that are used by the humanitarian community “the global response could stutter to a halt”, the UN agency heads warned.
More than half a billion dollars has been found since UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged donors to support a $2 billion Global Humanitarian Response Plan on 25 March.
Displaced, stateless women and girls face must get essential help, says UNCHR
Now to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, which on Monday urged Governments to do more for survivors of gender-based violence, linked to COVID-19 restrictions.
The appeal, from Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, highlights how refugee, displaced and stateless women and girls “are among those most at-risk” from abusers.
Confinement policies, lockdowns and quarantines adopted across the world have led to restricted movement, reduced community interaction, the closure of services and worsening economic conditions, Ms. Triggs said.
These measures are “significantly exacerbating the risks of intimate partner violence”, the UNHCR official warned.
Here’s UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo: “To save lives and prevent violence, we need to make sure that national responses to coronavirus, take into account these higher risks to refugee women and girls, and that critical services to prevent and respond to gender-based violence remain open and that they are designated as essential and accessible to those who are forced to flee their homes and are particularly vulnerable.”
To continue to provide help, the agency has put its network of trained protection staff on “high alert” and adapted its programmes for women and girls who are victims of violence.
It is also distributing emergency cash assistance to support survivors and women-at-risk.
WHO launches safe Ramadan guidelines during COVID-19
Finally, as hundreds of millions of Muslim believers begin the holy month of Ramadan, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued key guidelines about how religious events should be conducted, to avoid transmission of the virus.
Ramadan is marked by social and religious gatherings where Muslim families and friends break their fast together, after sunset or before dawn.
Many Muslims also increase their attendance at mosques during the month and congregate for longer prayers.
WHO’s top piece of advice is for people to practise physical distancing “by strictly maintaining a distance of at least one metre” (or three feet) between people at all times.
It also highlights the value of eating plenty of fresh and unprocessed foods every day and drinking plenty of water.
Events should be held outdoors if possible, the agency suggests; otherwise, organizers should ensure that indoor venues have adequate ventilation.
To avoid physical contact, greetings such as waving, nodding, or placing your hand over your heart are recommended.
Governments – in coordination with religious leaders – are also urged to stop large gathering in places associated with Ramadan activities, such as entertainment venues, markets, and shops.
The WHO says that national health authorities should be considered the primary source of information on all COVID-19 measures in the context of Ramadan.
For more information, just visit the WHO website.
Daniel Johnson, UN News