This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
‘Toxic lockdown culture’ of repressive measures affects most vulnerable
Disturbing details have emerged from dozens of countries that a “toxic lockdown culture” against the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted drastically on society’s most vulnerable, the UN human rights Office (OHCHR) said on Monday. The development follows UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s call last week for States not to use the COVID crisis as a pretext for repressive measures, in which he urged Governments to recognize that the threat was the “virus, not people”.
In a video press conference, Georgette Gagnon, Director of Field Operations, described how many countries had adopted a “heavy-handed” and “highly militarised” security response to the virus, including South Africa.
Rubber bullets, tear gas, water guns and whips have been used to enforce social distancing in shopping lines…and outside their homes.”
The OHCHR official went on to describe how the Philippines’ “highly militarised response” to the pandemic, had led to the arrest of 120,000 people for violating a curfew.
More than 26,800 people had also been detained in Sri Lanka and there were fears of excessive use of force in El Salvador, Ms. Gagnon said, while Jordanian authorities were believed to have arrested 800 people a day for breaking the lockdown restrictions.
Yemen needs cooperation between parties more than ever, says UN negotiator
The needs of Yemen’s people should be put first, ahead of actions that risk escalating the already dire situation inside the war-shattered country, UN negotiator Martin Griffiths said on Monday.
Responding to a declaration of self-rule by the main separatist group in the south of the country, Mr Griffiths highlighted the fact that the city of Aden and other areas have yet to recover from recent disastrous flooding. They are also facing the risk of COVID-19, he said.
Until now, the Southern Transitional Council has been a member of the Saudi-led international coalition that has been fighting mainly Houthi forces to the north for the last five years.
In a statement Mr. Griffiths called for greater support for a Saudi-led initiative known as the Riyadh Agreement which seeks to deliver improved public services and security to people in the south.
The agreement also provides for the participation of the southern council in consultations on the final political solution to end the conflict in Yemen and “serving the interests of Yemenis nationwide”, Mr. Griffiths noted.
Immunization week focuses on 20 million children who lack lifesaving vaccines
Finally, as World Immunization Week gets under way, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that the lives of millions of children “hang in the balance”.
According to the agency, 13 million children received no vaccines at all last year.
In a call to Governments to do more to protect youngsters, UNICEF has said that the disruption to basic healthcare services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic threatens an upsurge in measles, diphtheria and polio.
The agency is sending critical vaccine supplies to immunize children, where possible, in areas with outbreaks and to replenish their routine supplies.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UNICEF is supporting the Government with vaccine supplies and protective equipment to continue immunization in North Kivu province, where over 3,000 cases of measles have been reported since January 1.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.