This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Bachelet urges Israel to halt West Bank annexation plans, warns of ‘shockwaves’
Top UN rights official Michelle Bachelet has issued a strong appeal to the Government of Israel not to proceed with plans to annex a swathe of occupied Palestinian territory.
Such a move would be illegal and would have a disastrous impact on human rights of Palestinians and across the region, she said in a statement on Monday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made annexation a major pledge during recent campaigning.
The proposal would see Israeli sovereignty extended to roughly 30 per cent of the West Bank, covering most of the Jordan Valley.
It would also formalise hundreds of illegal Israeli settlements which “will almost certainly expand”, Ms. Bachelet said, increasing friction between the two communities.
The comments by the High Commissioner for Human Rights echo the call by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to Israel to abandon its annexation plans.
“Whether it is 30 per cent of the West Bank, or five per cent. I urge Israel to listen to its own former senior officials and generals, as well as to the multitude of voices around the world, warning it not to proceed along this dangerous path,” Ms. Bachelet said.
The “shockwaves of annexation will last for decades,” she added.
Syrians need international solidarity, warn COVID crisis
The heads of the UN’s humanitarian, development, and refugee agencies have called for solidarity with countries hosting record levels of Syrian refugees fleeing more than nine years of civil war.
The appeal comes on the eve of a major pledging conference in Brussels to help conflict-weary Syrian and host communities, who now face an unprecedented hunger crisis.
COVID-19 has made this worse, causing “spiralling impoverishment”, and unemployment in neighbouring countries.
Inside Syria, more than 11 million people need aid and protection.
While hostilities have decreased overall, there are tensions and flare-ups of violence in the northwest, northeast and the south, including the resurgence of ISIL-affiliated extremist groups.
Outside Syria’s borders, the conflict has created the largest refugee crisis in the world: 6.6 million refugees. More than 5.5 million live in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.
In a statement, UN emergency relief chief Mark Lowcock said that “a whole generation of children has known nothing but hardship, destruction and deprivation”.
Nearly 2.5 million children are out of school while “the economy is crumbling, millions remain displaced, and more and more people are going hungry”, he added.
Food insecurity affecting previously safe communities, insists WFP chief
Tens of millions more people are likely to go hungry this year because of the COVID-19 crisis, the UN World Food Programme, WFP, said on Monday, as it announced plans for a massive boost to its global aid operation so it can reach them.
In an alert, WFP head David Beasley said that new estimates show that 270 million people face food insecurity “before the year’s end”.
This is an 82 per cent increase from before the pandemic took hold, he said, adding that the coronavirus was affecting regions of the world that had “previously escaped” severe food insecurity.
Latin American countries are experiencing the worst effects of the health crisis, with an almost three-fold rise in the number of people requiring food assistance.
This includes urban communities in low and middle-income countries, which the WFP warns “are being dragged into destitution” by job losses and a sharp drop in remittances.
Hunger spikes are also happening in West and Central Africa, which has seen a 135 per cent jump in the number of food insecure people, as well as in Southern Africa, where there has been a 90 per cent rise.
To tackle this rising tide of hunger, WFP intends to ramp up the number of people it assists to 138 million - from a record 97 million last year.
To do this, sustained funding is required urgently, Mr. Beasley said, in an appeal for $4.9 billion over the next six months to help 83 countries.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.