This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
UNICEF: funding shortfall affecting critical water, sanitation services in Yemen
Children in the heart of the world’s worst humanitarian disaster need help more than ever, the UN children’s fund, UNICEF, said on Friday in an appeal for funding to provide basic care across Yemen.
More than eight million people in the war-torn country, nearly half of them youngsters, directly depend on the agency for water, sanitation and hygiene, amid ongoing conflict, cholera outbreaks and the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, UNICEF reported that its $479 million appeal for Yemen is less than 40 per cent funded.
Unless it receives $30 million by the end of the month, health and sanitation operations for four million people will have to be shut down.
Without funding, UNICEF “will not be able to provide fuel to operate water pumping stations…de-sludge sewage or maintain crumbling water and sanitation infrastructure”, said spokesperson Marixie Mercado.
Child labour gains since 2000 ‘could be wiped out by COVID’, UN warns
Huge gains made towards ending child labour over the last 20 years, risk being reversed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN said on Friday. The alert, announced by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF, accompanied the agencies’ appeal for governments to continue investing
in social safety net measures that have helped reduce the number of youngsters working, by 94 million, since the turn of the century.
Existing global estimates indicate that 152 million children are working today, but the figure is due to be updated next year, once the wider impact of coronavirus lockdown precautions become clearer.
Here’s ILO researcher Michaelle De Kock on how countries like Ethiopia have supported measures during the COVID crisis to help vulnerable youngsters:
“Children were working far from home, so when there was the lockdown, children were on the road, alone, coming back with no way to go back home, and the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth sent social workers from the ministry in these centres to protect the children…to help them to find their families out of the child labour situation. So that’s an example of a situation this could have led to catastrophe if the children had been left on the road.”
Of particular concern is growing evidence that child labour has risen in line with school closures linked to the pandemic, with more than one billion youngsters in some 130 countries impacted to date.
Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, said that child labour was “a coping mechanism for many families” in times of crisis.
She said that after the COVID emergency, children and their families must be given the tools they need to weather similar storms in future: quality education, social protection services and better economic opportunities.
UNAIDS chief adds voice to call for COVID-19 vaccine to be a ‘global public good’
Finally, countries that do not have the means to adequately protect themselves from the coronavirus should nonetheless be able to benefit from the latest scientific advances, including vaccines.
That’s the message from Winnie Byanyima, the head of UNAIDS, who said on Friday that this was especially important as the pandemic continues its surge into Latin America and Africa.
Speaking to journalists via videoconference, the UNAIDS Executive Director added her voice to the recent call from more than 150 former heads of state and Nobel laureates to ensure that any new COVID cure is free for everyone.
She also said that the agency was monitoring potential profiteering by health sector manufacturers, to prevent gains against HIV/AIDS from being lost.
“We want to be sure that manufacturers do not switch from producing commodities for prevention and treatment for HIV in order to manufacture for the coronavirus. It cannot be one pandemic against another, it has to be both. And this is easy to see happening, you may see that a test kit costs 10 times more than a condom in terms of profits.”
Daniel Johnson, UN News.