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News in Brief 22 June 2020

News in Brief 22 June 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Yemen escalation is misguided as people continue to suffer, says UN negotiator

The latest military escalation in Yemen has been condemned strongly by UN negotiator Martin Griffiths, who has described the quest for territorial gain as “misguided”.

Mr. Griffiths said in a statement overnight that he was particularly concerned by renewed hostilities in the central and resource-rich governorate of Ma’rib, and Al Jawf, that borders Saudi Arabia to the north.

The clashes “can only bring more violence and suffering to Yemen”, he warned, amid more than five years of heavy fighting between the Government of Yemen, backed by a Saudi coalition, against mainly Houthi opposition forces.

To date, the war is believed to have claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions, in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

UN-facilitated negotiations are ongoing, led by Mr. Griffiths.

Their objectives are agreement on a nationwide ceasefire, humanitarian and economic measures to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people and a commitment to resume the political process that will bring an end the conflict once and for all.

Countries urged to act over potential HIV drug shortages in two months

Stocks of medication for HIV patients in low and middle-income countries could run out in the next two months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNAIDS said on Monday.

In a call to countries and manufacturers to take pre-emptive action now, the agency said that both the production of antiretroviral drugs and their distribution are threatened by higher costs linked to lockdowns and transport disruption from border closures.

Millions of people could be at risk if they go without treatment, while others face an increased chance of contracting HIV, the agency cautioned.

Here’s UNAIDS spokesperson Sophie Barton-Knott:

“It is vital that countries urgently make plans now to mitigate the possibility and impacts of higher costs and reduced availability of antiretroviral medicines. We I call on countries and buyers of HIV medicines to act swiftly in order to ensure that everyone who is currently on treatment continues to be on it, saving lives and stopping new HIV infections.”

UNAIDS cited data indicating that a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy in sub-Saharan Africa alone could lead to 500 000 additional AIDS-related deaths.

It said that a 10 to 25 per cent increase in overheads could make the final cost of exported antiretroviral medicines from India – which is the major global producer - between $100 and $225 million a year more expensive than before.

COVID-19 has hit small and medium-sized enterprises worst, says UN trade agency

From big pharma companies to small and medium-sized businesses now – or SMEs, as they’re also known - and news that one in five said they may shut down for good “within three months”.

While two in three micro and small firms said that the coronavirus crisis had strongly affected their business operations, only four in 10 larger companies said the same. The findings from the International Trade Centre (ITC) are important because smaller companies form the bulk of the global economy.

They are also seen as a key driver of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – 17 pledges to fight everything from poverty to inequality, agreed by the international community in 2015.

While most countries experienced some form of COVID-19 shutdown, ITC found that it was lockdowns in China, the European Union and the United States that had the greatest trade impact on small and medium-sized firms.

That’s because these three economies account for more than 60 per cent of global imports and exports. Taken together, these manufacturing hubs are expected to take a $126 billion hit in lost profits this year.

This disruption is also having a knock-on effect on developing countries, and ITC has estimated that African exporters are set to lose more than $2.4 billion in exports this year as a result of factory shutdowns in China, the US and the EU.

The bulk of this loss – more than 70 per cent – is caused by the temporary disruption of the supply-chain linkages with the EU, the UN body said.

Companies in the services sector are the firms hardest hit by COVID-19, especially those providing accommodation and food services.

According to the ITC, 93 countries have applied temporary export measures related to the virus, including export bans or restrictions on medical products, but also food.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • Yemen escalation is misguided as people continue to suffer, says UN negotiator

  • Countries urged to act over potential HIV drug shortages in two months

  • COVID-19 has hit small and medium-sized enterprises worst, says UN trade agency

Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Photo Credit
WFP/Mohammed Awadh