This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Women and girls deserve more protection in emergencies, UN rights council hears
The collective impact of climate change, COVID-19 and conflict, mean that more than 200 million people will likely need humanitarian assistance by 2022, the UN’s deputy rights chief said on Monday.
Nada Al-Nashif, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the UN Human Rights Council that the situation is especially worrying for women and girls.
They face additional hardships from the pandemic, Ms. Al-Nashif warned, particularly those caught up in conflict.
“Experience demonstrates that insecurity and displacement fuel increases in sexual and gender-based violence, as well as other crimes and human rights violations such as child, early and forced marriages or denial of access to sexual and reproductive health services…. The adoption of specific laws and policies, as well as addressing the root causes of the lack of accountability for women and girls are most important to provide adequate safeguards to protect them in humanitarian settings.”
In addition to ensuring criminal prosecution for abusers, the deputy rights chief urged Member States to address systemic discrimination which was linked to sexual and gender-based violence.
Highlighting recent human rights Council investigations into Myanmar, Venezuela and South Sudan, Ms Al-Nashif noted that all countries shared systemic discrimination against women and girls, which enabled violations to persist.
Alarming global food security outlook reveals even more going hungry
Across the world, nutritious food is becoming increasingly expensive and millions more people are going hungry, a major new UN report has revealed.
According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, almost 690 million people went without sufficient food in 2019, up 10 million from 2018.
And in a warning that the Sustainable Development Goal of achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 is in doubt, the global report forecasts that the COVID-19 crisis “could tip over 130 million more people into chronic hunger” by the end of this year.
Here’s Maximo Torero, Assistant Director General and Chief Economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization:
“One of the biggest challenges we must overcome is the high cost of unaffordability of healthy diets; and it is unacceptable what we are observing today of over 3 billion people who can’t even afford the cheapest healthy diet. We need to improve the way we produce, that means not only increasing productivity but also increasing the efficiency of the use of the resources.”
In the last five years, the ranks of the “chronically undernourished” have risen by nearly 60 million, as countries around the world continue to struggle with multiple forms of malnutrition.
Although absolute numbers of hungry people have been rising since 2014, the overall percentage has changed little, at just under nine in every 100 people on the planet.
Asia is home to the greatest number of undernourished, at 381 million people.
Africa is second with 250 million, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (48 million in total).
Freedom of expression has worsened during pandemic, says independent rights expert
To the issue of freedom of expression, which has worsened under COVID-19, a senior rights expert said on Monday.
In his final report to the Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteur David Kaye said that people “have died because governments lied and hid information”.
Many countries around the world have also “detained reporters, failed to level with people about the nature of the threat, and criminalized individuals under the guise of ‘spreading false information’”, his study insisted.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the current Council session, the rights expert highlighted the World Health Organization’s advice that Governments should be honest with people, listen to their fears and correct their misunderstandings.
This approach was crucial during the current global health emergency when the science was evolving so quickly on how best to combat the coronavirus, Mr Kaye said.
But many governments have not done this, he maintained, and instead pushed back on people’s internet freedoms and introduced hate speech laws that are “often used against journalists, human rights defenders and people in opposition and dissent”.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.