This is the News in Brief from the United Nations
Rohingya suffering must be acted on urgently, says UN’s Guterres
Three years since violent persecution likened to ethnic cleansing forced several hundred thousand ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh,
UN chief António Guterres has called for “greater urgency” to resolving their “immediate…suffering” and the long-term refugee crisis.
In a statement marking the start of the forced displacement of Rohingya and other communities from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, Mr. Guterres called for the root causes of the bloodshed to be addressed.
The UN Secretary-General also renewed his call for the creation of conditions that would allow “the safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of all refugees”.
“The ultimate responsibility rests with Myanmar authorities”, Mr. Guterres said in his statement, as they had committed to implementing the recommendations of an advisory panel on resolving problems in Rakhine state, produced in collaboration with the Kofi Annan Foundation.
The crisis began in August 2017, following attacks on 30 police outposts.
“Clearance operations” by the Myanmar military – or Tatmadaw - against suspected insurgents among the mainly Muslim ethnic Rohingya were likened to a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” by former UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
Last September, the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar set up by the Human Rights Council warned that the 600,000 Rohingya remaining inside Myanmar face systematic persecution and live under the threat of genocide.
Polio eradication a cause for global celebration, UN health agency
Wild poliovirus has been eradicated in Africa, a massive achievement which the whole world should celebrate, the UN health agency has said.
The news was announced by the independent Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) for Polio Eradication late on Tuesday, with no cases of the virus reported on the continent for four years.
It comes after an exhaustive and decades-long process of documentation and analysis of polio surveillance, immunization and laboratory capacity of the region’s 47 Member States, with field verification visits to each country.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the development was “historic”:
“Today we come together to rejoice over an historic public health success: the certification of wild poliovirus eradication in the African region. I congratulate the people and governments of Africa for their leadership and determination. Your success is the success of the world.”
Tedros highlighted the “power of partnership” between countries, vaccine manufacturers and providers, religious leaders and communities that had made it possible to rid the African Region of the wild poliovirus.
Since 1996, almost nine billion polio vaccines have been delivered in Africa, according to the WHO, with up to 1.8 million cases of wild polio averted and up to 180,000 lives saved.
The last case of wild poliovirus in the region was detected in 2016 in Nigeria; it was declared free of the preventable disease in June.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, called the development “a momentous milestone” for the continent.
She also paid a special tribute to the frontline health workers and vaccinators, some of whom lost their lives attempting to extend polio vaccine coverage.
Dr. Moeti also warned that inoculation levels needed to remain high, to prevent the very rare chance of the vaccine-derived polio disease from resurfacing in communities with low levels of immunization.
Afghanistan’s warring parties should do whatever it takes to avoid COVID-induced poverty
Finally, to Afghanistan, where the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to push seven in 10 people into poverty.
Issuing the warning, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) urged warring factions to do “whatever it takes” to defuse conflict.
They should also transparently redirect resources to invest in people, according to a new report by UNDP.
The assessment comes amid ongoing COVID-19 infections, with official figures indicating around 38,000 cases and 1,400 deaths.
More than one third of confirmed new coronavirus infections were among doctors and health-care staff, and the UN agency added that an influx of people returning from Iran and Pakistan has worsened the viral spread.
Given all this, the pandemic could easily strain the country’s meagre health system, UNDP says, pointing out that around 15 per cent of Afghanistan’s 37 million people lack access to hospitals near their homes or shelters.
Ahead of a major donor conference in November, the agency is supporting Afghanistan’s national COVID-19 response, prevention, and mitigation activities, and helping to put in place longer-term development interventions.
With international partners, UNDP is also working to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and other health supplies and has established 15 fixed health centres, along with 11 mobile health teams and two home follow-up teams.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.