This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Guterres calls for calm in Ethiopia after musician’s killing sparks deadly protests
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for calm in Ethiopia, after the killing of popular musician and rights activist Hachalu Hundessa, which sparked widespread protests.
In his appeal, Mr. Guterres urged all those concerned by Mr Hundessa’s murder in Addis Ababa on Monday “to refrain from any action likely to fuel tension”, his spokesperson said.
Echoing those concerns, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, cited reports of roadblocks in Mr Hundessa’s native Oromia, along with gunfire and bomb blasts in the Ethiopian capital.
The UN rights office also warned about the increasingly ethnic nature of the protests and the country-wide internet shutdowns, making it difficult to verify reports about the number of people killed.
It also noted that the suspects arrested for Mr Hundessa’s murder should be part of a prompt and transparent investigation into his death.
UN rights office expresses alarm at Hong Kong arrests under new security law
To Hong Kong now, where the UN human rights office, OHCHR, has expressed alarm at the arrest of demonstrators, following China’s adoption of a national security law for the Special Administrative Region.
Spokesperson Rupert Colville told journalists in Geneva on Friday that the UN Office was continuing to analyze the new law after it came into force on Wednesday, regarding its compliance with international human rights obligations:
“I think several hundred people have been arrested since protests began on Wednesday, I think the last I heard, we understood 10 of those people have been charged under the new law, but I don’t have more details at this point on the nature of the charges at this point and so on. But colleagues are very much actively counting, trying to get those kinds of details and we’ll see what kind of concerns we have about individual cases.”
Mr. Colville pointed to “vague and overly broad” definitions of some offences in the new law, which he said may lead to its arbitrary interpretation and enforcement.
Price spike alert in West and Central Africa as WFP warns of massive food insecurity
Finally, the number of people going hungry in West and Central Africa could reach more than 57 million by the end of the year – a spike of more than 20 million linked to COVID-19 movement restrictions.
In its warning, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said that many of those affected are the urban poor, who live hand-to-mouth.
Spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs said that the coronavirus has hit communities at the worst time, at the peak of the lean season, when hunger and malnutrition are most severe.
“Price increases of between 15-20 per cent were observed in April in the Central African Republic, Chad and Nigeria. In Liberia, the price of fresh cassava, which is
the main staple, spiked by 60 per cent – five times higher than in the past five years.”
The UN agency said that border closures and the suspension of weekly and open-air markets across the region linked to the coronavirus have prevented farmers from selling their produce, leading to food scarcity and increased prices.
Some 23 million of the region’s food insecure live in Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, while other affected countries include Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali and Senegal.
To continue its West and Central African operations over the next six months, WFP requires $770 million, Ms Byrs said.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.