This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
World facing food emergency, says UN chief in call for States to protect vulnerable
A “global food emergency” threatens hundreds of millions of people if countries fail to take swift action to protect supply chains, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said.
Addressing Member States on Tuesday, Mr Guterres unveiled measures that nations could take to safeguard everyone’s access to food and adequate nutrition now, and in the future:
“Our food systems are failing, and the Covid-19 pandemic is making things worse. Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults. We need to act now to avoid the worst impacts of our efforts to control the pandemic.”
Today, more than 820 million people go hungry and 144 million children under five are stunted.
Bad as these numbers are, this year, some 49 million more people may fall into extreme poverty owing to the COVID-19 crisis, the UN chief said.
Detailing how countries could avoid food insecurity, Mr. Guterres urged them to designate food and nutrition services as essential, and put in place better protection for those who work in the sector.
Critical humanitarian food must continue to be provided, along with livelihood and nutrition assistance to vulnerable groups, he said.
Second, Mr Guterres called on countries to safeguard access to safe, nutritious foods, particularly for young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, older people and other at-risk groups.
The UN chief’s third recommendation was to invest in greener, more nutritious and more sustainable food production systems.
COVID-19 spotlights need for States to combat unfulfilled rights for all people, says UN-appointed expert
The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted that States should do more than just social distancing to prevent transmission of the coronavirus, a UN-appointed independent expert said on Wednesday.
The call from Dainius Pūras, a UN Special Rapporteur appointed by the Human Rights Council, accompanied his warning that physical distancing and other measures will be “inadequate” if countries do not put in place other crucial safeguards.
These include offering people adequate housing, safe drinking water and sanitation, as well as food, social security safety nets and protection from violence.
“Looking at the broader social response will not only make COVID-19 measures fairer, but also more efficient, effective and transparent”, Mr Pūras said in a statement. He noted that according to international human rights law on the right to health, States were bound to protect all affected communities with equitable responses, community-led action and interventions that respect people’s rights.
Zimbabwe: rights experts demand end to abductions and torture
To Zimbabwe finally, where rights experts have condemned the kidnap and sexual assault of three women activists, including one Member of Parliament.
The UN-appointed independent experts say that the incident is part of a pattern of disappearances and torture that appears aimed at suppressing protests and dissent.
The three women – MP Joanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova – were reportedly stopped at a checkpoint in Harare last month as they made their way to a protest by the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change.
Almost 48 hours after they disappeared, the three women were dumped in a marketplace. They were treated in hospital for their injuries and later charged with violating COVID-19 regulations at public gatherings.
The rights experts who include Nils Melzer, the Special Rapporteur on torture, expressed alarm about the incident and raised concerns that it was not an isolated case.
In 2019 alone, 49 cases of abductions and torture were reported in Zimbabwe, he said in a statement, and there had been no investigations leading to justice for the victims.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.