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News in Brief 17 September 2020

News in Brief 17 September 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Hurricane Sally: ‘Historic, catastrophic flooding’ in southern US states

Although hurricane Sally has been downgraded to a tropical depression as it moves northeastwards across the US states of Alabama and Georgia, communities can still expect to suffer from “historic and catastrophic flooding”.

Citing authorities there, the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned that a “significant flood threat” would likely spread inland on Friday.

Along the central Gulf Coast, most river flooding “will crest” by the weekend, but rivers will remain elevated well into next week, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Sally has already produced up to 18 inches (or 457 millimetres) of rain. 

Additional cloudbursts are forecast, bringing as much as 12 inches more rainfall (or 304 millimetres) on the US Gulf Coast, where Sally made landfall on Wednesday.

To date, hundreds of thousands of people were left without electricity and at least one person has been killed, according to reports. 

Images from Pensacola city in Florida showed trees down, boats thrown about and streets flooded, with the water some 5.5 feet (1.6 metres) above sea level. 

Rights violations continue in Burundi under new Government: UN report

To Burundi now, where UN-appointed investigators have issued fresh warnings about ongoing rights violations and impunity, since the death of former President Pierre Nkurunziza.

In a new report requested by the Human Rights Council, the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi said that there had been “little” in the way of “positive changes”, since President Evariste Ndayishimiye assumed office” in June.

Commission of Inquiry member Francoise Hampson described evidence of serious human rights violations during this year’s elections, including summary executions, torture and sexual violence.

“In recent weeks there have continued to be killings, there have continued to be arbitrary detentions and there have continued to be disappearances.

So it’s slightly surprising that it is continuing as it was even though elections have finished. And that is a matter of very grave concern.”

In a virtual press conference, Commission of Inquiry chairperson Doudou Diene warned that policy shifts, appointments, and public statements by the new Government showed “more cause for concern and warning, than promise”.

This was because key positions in the new Government included individuals who had been identified as having committed previous rights violations.

In addition, the majority of new appointments were from the military, Mr Diene added, while there continued to be no way to bring violators to account inside the country.

The report will be presented to the Human Rights Council next Wednesday.

Historic UN Summit brings leaders together in first virtual General Assembly

Finally, on the 75th anniversary of the UN and with the COVID-19 pandemic still unfolding, the Organization has for the first time brought world leaders together for the start of an unprecedented and mostly-virtual General Assembly, to push for action and solutions to the global crisis. 

The high-level event follows a warning from Secretary-General António Guterres that the outbreak remains “out of control” – and that once a safe vaccine is created, it should be available to everyone as a “global good”.

According to the World Health Organization, nearly one million people have died from the virus, with the Americas worst affected.

The customary General Debate beginning on Tuesday 22 September is an opportunity to watch and listen to what dozens of Heads of State have to say about the coronavirus and other challenges their countries face.

But other events will also highlight action and solutions that are needed to secure healthy, peaceful and prosperous lives for all.

This includes an opportunity for Member States to recommit to meaningful international cooperation at an event on Monday.

A pledge is needed, the UN believes, to bring about a global ceasefire, tackle climate change and transition to a zero-carbon economy, among other urgent challenges.

To follow the events as they are broadcast live, go to

Daniel Johnson, UN News

  • Hurricane Sally: ‘Historic, catastrophic flooding’ in southern US states

  • Rights violations continue in Burundi under new Government: UN report

  • Historic UN Summit brings leaders together in first virtual General Assembly

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Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
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