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News in Brief 9 June 2020

News in Brief 9 June 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

UN food agency ramps up aid to lockdown-hit Nigerians

Help is needed urgently for millions in Nigeria who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including conflict-hit communities “on life-support” in the northeast, UN humanitarians said on Tuesday.

More than $182 million is needed to sustain lifesaving aid to Africa’s most populous country over the next six months, said Elisabeth Byrs from the World Food Programme (WFP).

Here she is, talking about Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states; they’ve been plagued by a decade-long extremist insurgency that has spilled over across the Lake Chad region.

“We are concerned by conflict-affected communities…who already face extreme hunger and who are especially vulnerable. They are on life-support and need assistance to survive. That’s why WFP is distributing now two months’ worth of food and nutrition assistance in IDP camps and among vulnerable communities to ensure that people have enough food while they are on full or partial lockdown.”

Nationally, there are fears that more than 3.8 million people mainly in the informal sector, could lose their jobs after a steep drop in oil prices linked to COVID-19 restrictions.

This number could rise to 13 million if movement restrictions continue for a longer period, WFP believes.

Together with the Nigerian government, the agency is helping the urban poor who depend on a daily wage to feed themselves and their families.

Three million of the most vulnerable individuals will receive help in Abuja, Kano and Lagos – cities where the agency has not been present until now.

WFP has also adjusted its school meals programmes so that children can take home food while they can’t attend lessons.

The programme – which is led by Nigeria’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs - aims to reach nine million children in three million homes across the country’s 36 states, where school closures have affected some 39 million youngsters.

DR Congo’s displaced face deadly consequences of chronic underfunding: UNHCR

“Massive” funding gaps are threatening hundreds of thousands of displaced people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has warned, amid surging violence and the spread of COVID-19.

As of 7 June, the country has recorded 4,105 confirmed cases of infection.

UNHCR said that its activities to assist and protect refugees and the displaced are only 20 per cent funded, of the $168 million required.

This gap has seriously undermined the agency’s response to bring aid to victims of the country’s multiple humanitarian emergencies, leaving many without food, water, shelter, health and hygiene.

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of people displaced in eastern and northern DRC in recent months, the country also hosts over half a million refugees, mainly from Rwanda, Burundi, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Last week, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet expressed shock at the soaring number of civilian victims in three eastern provinces – Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu.

Armed groups committed massacres and other atrocities in resource-rich regions, she said, while defence and security forces have also been responsible for grave human rights violations in these provinces and elsewhere in the country.

DPR Korea: humanitarian concerns growing, says UN expert

To the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) finally, where an independent UN rights expert has raised concerns that the pandemic has made matters much worse for families already suffering widespread food shortages.

In an urgent appeal to the Security Council to reconsider sanctions, UN Special Rapporteur, Tomás Ojea Quintana, said it should do so, “in light of the impact (of the coronavirus) on the livelihoods of people and the Government’s capacity to respond”.

He also called on the Government of the DPRK “to expedite the lifting of restrictions on movement for humanitarian actors”.

An increasing number of families “eat only twice a day, or eat only corn, and some are starving”, the Special Rapporteur said in a statement.

The border closure between the DPRK and China since 21 January 2020 has exacerbated the food crisis, Mr Quintana added, devastating cross-border trade.

There have also been reports of an increase of homeless people in large cities –including street children – while medicine prices have reportedly skyrocketed.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • UN food agency ramps up aid to lockdown-hit Nigerians

  • DR Congo’s displaced face deadly consequences of chronic underfunding: UNHCR

  • DPR Korea: humanitarian concerns growing, says UN expert

Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
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Unsplash/Gideon Oladimeji