This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Western Niger attack forces 1,100 people to flee, warns refugee agency
An attack by an armed gang on vulnerable refugees and host communities in western Niger, has left 1,100 people “on the run”, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday, the latest violence in the troubled Liptako Gourma region.
An unidentified armed group is believed responsible for killing three people and wounded others on Sunday.
Here’s UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic: “Over 50 men on motorbikes had swarmed into Intikane, this is in Tahoua region in Western Niger - some 72 kilometres from the Malian border – they targeted and killed two Malian refugee leaders and a local host community leader. The site is the host to some 20,000 refugees and an additional 15,000 displaced Nigerian nationals.”
Before leaving the scene, the attackers torched food supplies, downed mobile phone towers and the main water station and pipes, it is believed to prevent anyone from returning.
According to UNHCR, around 1,100 people have arrived outside the town of Telemces, some 27 kilometres away from the site of the attack. They urgently need water, food and other assistance.
Across the region - in Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad – more than three million people have been displaced, amid a spike in extremist violence.
Western European COVID infections see steady decline: WHO
Europe is seeing a “steady” decline in COVID-19 infections, although this trend has not happened in Russia and parts of Eastern Europe, the UN health agency said on Tuesday.
According to latest WHO data, Russia has identified more than 400,000 cases of infection with nearly 5,000 deaths.
The development comes as Chinese authorities have finished testing nearly 10 million people for infection in Wuhan - where the coronavirus emerged - finding only 300 asymptomatic cases.
Dr Margaret Harris, spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that it was too early to draw conclusions about how virulent the disease still is.
“A big study like that gives you a little piece of the puzzle, gives you a little bit of information, but it may be related to a setting, there’s much more work needs to be done around the world.”
Earlier this year, a WHO-led international mission to China and Wuhan suggested that while asymptomatic transmission might play a part in spreading the disease, it did not appear to be the main “driver” of the outbreak.
To date, China has reported 83,022 infections and 4,645 deaths, according to WHO.
Globally, the UN agency has reported more than six million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including nearly 374,000 deaths.
Address ‘appalling impact’ of COVID-19 on minorities, UN rights chief urges
Finally to the UN’s human rights chief, who’s called for urgent action to address “the appalling impact” of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minorities, including people of African descent.
In a statement on Tuesday, Michelle Bachelet said that the disease is exposing alarming inequalities in some countries.
These disparities were similar to those fuelling protests in many cities across the United States, Ms Bachelet noted.
She added that the disease’s impact on racial and ethnic minorities was much discussed, “but what is less clear is how much is being done to address it”.
By way of example, Ms Bachelet explained that in Brazil’s São Paulo state, people of colour were 62 per cent more likely to die from COVID-19 than their white counterparts.
Higher mortality rates have also been reported in France’s Seine Saint-Denis department outside Paris, which is home to many minorities.
Urging countries to act, the High Commissioner for Human Rights recommended that countries should prioritise health monitoring and testing, increase access to healthcare and provide targeted information for at-risk communities.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.