This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Climate pledges ‘in jeopardy’ amid global temperature rise forecasts
UN weather experts have warned that there’s a greater chance now that the Earth’s average temperature will exceed the key threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in at least one of the next five years.
The development highlights the pressure faced by the international community to stop this from happening, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
In its latest annual update, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that between now and 2024, there is a 20 per cent chance that average global temperatures will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius for at least one year.
That likelihood “is increasing with time”, it noted, citing data from partner weather centres indicating that over the next five years, almost all regions will probably be warmer than in the recent past – while the Arctic will likely warm by more than twice the global average this year.
Other findings from the UN agency’s annual update indicate that high-latitude regions and the Sahel are likely to be wetter than the recent past, whereas northern and eastern parts of South America could well be drier.
This year could also be marked by sea-level pressure anomalies suggesting that the northern, North Atlantic region, could have stronger westerly winds leading to more storms in western Europe, the WMO said.
Refugees in Africa ‘more vulnerable than ever’ amid COVID supply chain and funding disruption
Millions of refugees across Africa face even greater food insecurity because of aid disruption and rising food prices linked to the COVID-19 crisis, UN humanitarians warned on Thursday. The alert from the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) coincides with ongoing conflict and natural disasters on the continent, along with severe underfunding for their work.
In Bidibidi refugee settlement in Uganda, WFP cut food rations by 30 per cent, owing to cash shortfalls.
More than 3.2 million refugees across East Africa are already receiving reduced rations for the same reason, including in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan and Tanzania.
Funding shortfalls either threaten or have led to food cuts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.
Without urgent action, levels of acute malnutrition, stunting and anaemia are expected to rise, the agencies said. They also urged Governments to ensure that refugees and displaced populations were included in social safety nets and COVID-19 response plans to ensure they can access food and emergency cash assistance.
Drone strikes ‘in self-defence’ risk destabilising world security: UN expert
The growing use of weaponised drones risks destabilising global peace and security and creating a “drone power club” among nations, a senior UN-appointed independent rights expert said on Thursday. At the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, said that more than 100 countries have military drones and more than a third are thought to possess the largest and deadliest autonomous weapons.
States used them on the grounds of self-defence “defined in a very elastic fashion” against purported terrorists, she told journalists later, risking a situation where “there will be no red lines really”.
“As more Government and non-State actors acquire armed drones and use them for targeted killing, there is a clear danger that war will come to be seen as normal rather than the opposite of peace,” Ms. Callamard said. “War is at risk of being normalized as a necessary companion to peace, and not its opposite.”
Ms Callamard cited the drone strike killing in Iraq of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on 3 January for which the United States claimed responsibility and which she insisted was a violation of the UN Charter.
Until recently, only non-State actors had carried out such targeted killings, she said, noting that their benefits were as “illusory” as the “myth of a surgical strike”.
Asked about the latest developments in the trial in Turkey into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist assassinated in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in 2018, the independent expert described the proceedings as “an important step”.
His killing had been “violent and extreme”, she said, adding that she hoped the trial might increase the chances of accountability via an international probe.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.