This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
COVID-19 scapegoating triggers fresh displacement in Yemen
The COVID-19 crisis has prompted fresh displacement in war-torn Yemen and forced many of those on the move to sell what little they have to survive, UN humanitarians said on Tuesday.
From the end of March to 18 July, more than 10,000 people interviewed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that “fear of infection” was a main reason for leaving virus hotspots.
Spokesperson Paul Dillon told journalists in Geneva that some were travelling from Aden and Lahj to areas within the same governorates less affected by the outbreak; others were going to districts in Abyan, despite active fighting elsewhere in the governorate.
“A woman named Salam in Aden told our staff about people selling their mattresses, blankets and children’s clothing in order to meet their basic needs. Displaced women who used to work as maids are forced to beg in the streets because potential employers are afraid they’re carrying the virus.”
“False information” about the virus has contributed to the displacement, Mr. Dillon said, adding that there have been “very clear examples of xenophobia and xenophobic attacks being directed at displaced people”.
Although the official number of COVID-19 infections in Yemen remains low, the disease is believed to be present across the country now.
Hospitals have been turning away suspected cases “and news reports have shown large numbers of graves being dug”, Mr. Dillon said.
Rights experts call on Ethiopia to allow peaceful protests
Ethiopians must be allowed to demonstrate peacefully, UN-appointed independent rights experts have said, in a new appeal for a probe into the deaths of protesters linked to the killing of Hachalu Hundessa, a popular Oromo singer and activist.
The development follows official reports that 166 people were killed in protests across the country, after Mr Hundessa’s death on 29 June.
Unofficial figures put the death toll much higher, the four UN Special Rapporteurs said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
They described as “deeply disturbing” police reports that some 2,000 people were arrested, including opposition leaders, adding that it was essential that the authorities “determine exactly what happened” in a week of unrest in Oromia region and in the capital, Addis Ababa.
The UN experts also welcomed the partial restoration of broadband and wireless internet access in Ethiopia on 15 July.
The internet blackout had made it “extremely difficult” to verify the number of people killed and injured during the protests, they said, adding that it had not been possible to determine the exact circumstances surrounding the violence either.
Deforestation slowing since 1990 but still major concern: FAO
Finally, forest loss is continuing globally but it is also slowing down, even if not nearly enough, UN experts said on Tuesday.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the world has lost some 178 million hectares of forest since 1990, an area about the size of Libya.
Deforestation is worst in Africa, the current hotspot, followed by South America; FAO’s new Global Forest Resources Assessment shows.
Covering the last three decades, from 1990 to 2020 and representing the most comprehensive study of its kind, FAO’s online tool indicates that of the world’s 4.08 billion hectares of forests, 420 million hectares have been lost to uses including farming.
On a more positive note, more than 700 million hectares are in protected areas and globally, around a fifth of forests have sustainable management plans in place, said Anssi Pekkarinen, FAO Senior Forestry Officer.
Millions of people around the world depend on forests for their food security and livelihoods, but it is also crucially important to protect forests by conserving natural resources, as they harbour most of the Earth's biodiversity on land and mitigate the effects of climate change, FAO said.
It noted that forests contain 60,000 different tree species, 80 per cent of all amphibians, 75 per cent of bird species, and 68 per cent of the Earth's mammals.
To take a look at FAO’s online platform, which contains detailed regional and global analyses for 236 countries and territories, just go to agency’s home page.