This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
UN chief’s ‘concern’ at US sanctions of top international court prosecutor
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has noted “with concern” sanctions by the United States against the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Following Mr. Guterres’s statement on Wednesday, the ICC condemned the US move.
The court said that the measures were another attempt “to interfere” with the Court's independence and work to address grave crimes of concern to the international community, as mandated under the ICC Rome Statute.
The ICC has faced criticism from the United States since it was founded in 2004.
Along with Russia and China, the US is one of a dozen countries that has not recognized its jurisdiction.
The development follows the Hague-based court’s inquiry into whether US forces committed alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the ICC of "illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction", before announcing the sanctions against Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and another senior official, Phakiso Mochochoko.
The initiative is in line with a US executive order issued in June by President Donald Trump involving “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Associated with the ICC”.
WHO issues guidance on steroid use to treat serious COVID infection
The UN health agency has issued global guidance for the use of readily available and cheap steroid medication to treat people dangerously ill with COVID-19.
Based on data from several trials involving thousands of participants, a World Health Organization (WHO)-convened panel of international experts said with “moderate certainty” that corticosteroids “probably reduce” mortality in critically and severely ill patients by up to 87 fewer deaths per 1,000 patients.
In addition, the panel said that the synthetic steroids – such as dexamethasone, methylprednisolone and hydrocortisone - likely reduce the need to ventilate patients.
They also said with “low certainty” that giving people such steroids who were not severely infected with the new coronavirus “may increase the risk of death”; hence the recommendation to medics not to use steroid therapy in cases of non-severe COVID-19 infection.
Corticosteroids are listed in the WHO model list of essential medicines; they are readily available globally at a low cost.
On the use of the anti-viral drug remdesivir, the UN agency said that its beneficial effect “remains uncertain”, despite recent evidence suggesting that it may help to speed up recovery from severe cases of infection.
Globally, more than 25.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported to WHO, including more than 852,000 deaths.
Girl refugees at risk of abuse as COVID puts school out of reach
Protection concerns are growing for the millions of refugee children who cannot afford to return to school because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
Girls are particularly at risk, the UN refugee agency UNHCR warned, as they are likely to be exposed to greater exploitation than boys, if they are not in class.
Sajjad Malik, UNHCR’s Director of Resilience and Solutions, said that all around the world, parents have been forced to put their children to work instead of going to school, because they can’t pay for lessons.
“This is not about closing schools…they are being devastated because parents are not able to earn income, they are not able to have enough even to send children to schools, to buy uniforms, afford fees, not even able to buy mobile data and devices on top of food and shelter. We are getting heartbreaking stories from around the world where parents in urban areas are not able to even make their basic needs. The High Commissioner was recently in Lebanon, he came back and told us these heart-wrenching stories that children have been pulled out of schools because their parents cannot afford to keep them in schools and these children now have to earn income with their parents.”
Attacks on schools are also increasing, the UN agency warned in a new report on global education.
More positively, UNHCR found that an important threshold had been passed in higher education, with three per cent of refugees going to university, up from just one per cent.
This meant that thousands more vulnerable youngsters were now benefiting from tertiary education, the UN agency said.
It highlighted the support from the German government and the private sector for Delphi scholarships, which ensure that refugees can attend universities all over the world.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.