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News in Brief 4 August 2020

News in Brief 4 August 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Breastfeeding link to COVID-19 is negligible, says World Health Organization

The risk of COVID-19 infection from breastfeeding is negligible and has never been documented, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday, in a call for greater support for the practice.

The appeal, during World Breastfeeding Week, comes as WHO warned that not using mother’s milk is linked to 820,000 child deaths a year, at a cost to the global economy of $300 billion.

Exclusive breastfeeding for six months has many benefits for the infant and mother which far outweigh any risk from the new coronavirus pandemic, according to the UN health agency.

But WHO’s Dr. Laurence Grummer-Strawn told journalists in Geneva that the pandemic had weakened essential breastfeeding support that’s usually provided to families with newborns:

“The interruption of services has been tremendous around the world providing the kind of support mothers normally would get with breastfeeding. Oftentimes, the health services that would provide maternal child health have been devoted to take care of the COVID response; sometimes families do not feel comfortable in going into the health services, because they’re afraid that they might get COVID and so they don’t come for the routine kinds of support.”

Dr. Grummer-Strawn said that several breastmilk tests had revealed very few samples containing particles of the virus, but that these were not infectious.

Child Labour Convention achieves universal ratification - ILO

An international convention against child labour has achieved universal ratification - for the very first time.

The UN International Labour Organization (ILO) announced the news on Tuesday, following ratification of Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour by the Kingdom of Tonga. 

The Convention is the most rapidly ratified one in the history of the Organization, since its adoption 21 years ago by ILO Member States.

Welcoming the development, ILO head Guy Ryder said that it reflected “a global commitment” to protecting children.

The ILO estimates that there are 152 million children in child labour, with 73 million in hazardous work. Seventy per cent of all child labour takes place in agriculture and is mostly related to poverty and parents’ difficulties finding decent work.

The Convention calls for the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including slavery, forced labour and trafficking.  

It also prohibits the use of children in armed conflict, prostitution, pornography and illicit activities such as drug trafficking, and in hazardous work. 

UN chief censures ‘heinous attacks’ in Lake Chad Basin

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has condemned “heinous attacks” against vulnerable civilians in the Lake Chad Basin and called for justice for the victims.

The assaults happened in Chad’s Lac province and the Far North region of Cameroon last Friday and Sunday, a spokesperson for Mr. Guterres said, with women, children and displaced people killed or abducted.

According to news reports, Boko Haram extremists were likely responsible.

In a separate statement, UN refugee agency UNHCR said that Sunday’s target was 800 internally displaced people staying near the village of Nguetchewe.

At least 18 people died and 11 were injured when assailants threw an explosive device, thought to be a grenade, into the makeshift camp, while people were sleeping.

Some 1,500 people, including terrified residents of the hosting village, have fled to the nearby town of Mozogo for safety, UNHCR said.

The UN agency has sent an emergency mission to assess the situation and evaluate the protection and health needs of those affected.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • COVID link to breastfeeding, negligible
  • Child Labour Convention is ratified
  • UN censures 'heinous attacks' in Lake Chad basin
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Daniel Johnson, UN News, Geneva
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Breastfeeding protects infants from disease