This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Millionth COVID death is an ‘agonizing milestone’ says UN’s Guterres
The news that COVID-19 has now claimed one million lives is an “agonizing milestone” UN chief António Guterres has said.
Marking the toll, the UN Secretary-General said that it was a “mind-numbing figure”, but that the world must never lose sight of each and every individual life.
The victims “were fathers and mothers, wives and husbands, brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues,” he said in a statement, which pointed to the tragedy felt by so many families, unable to say goodbye to their loved-ones “without holding a hand, or extending a gentle kiss”.
Although there was no end in sight to the pandemic nor the upheaval it has brought to our lives, Mr. Guterres urged people and nations to act in solidarity to overcome the disease.
Warning against the dangers of misinformation, Mr. Guterres insisted that “responsible leadership matters”, as does science and cooperation, in the “relentless hunt for a vaccine…that must be available and affordable to all”.
In a related story, the head of the UN health agency Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that despite the massive scale of death and suffering from COVID-19, there are “glimmers of hope”.
Nine months after the virus was first identified, some of the best scientists in the world have worked together to combat it, Tedros said.
They have developed tests to diagnose cases, identified treatments including corticosteroids which reduce mortality and produced vaccine candidates that are now in final phase three trials, the World Health Organization chief insisted.
And with further breakthroughs yet to come, the WHO Director-General urged people to remember that the virus “can be effectively contained” with tried and tested public health measures.
Highlighting countries that had been successful in containing the coronavirus, Tedros praised their “all-of-government, all-of-society response”.
These included Uruguay – where sustainable investment in public health had created a robust and resilient health system – and Pakistan, where health workers trained in polio surveillance have been redeployed to tackle COVID via contact tracing and care.
Flooding leaves South Sudan facing threat of ‘catastrophic’ levels of hunger
Finally, torrential rains and flooding across South Sudan have created the threat of “catastrophic” levels of hunger and left hundreds of thousands homeless, UN humanitarians said on Tuesday.
About 700,000 people are in crisis after flood waters swept across the country, submerging villages, land and livestock, according to a World Food Programme (WFP) alert.
Matthew Hollingworth, WFP Country Director in South Sudan, described the flooding as likely the worst in 60 years.
He explained that this year’s rains had begun before last year’s flood waters had receded fully.
Homes and clinics have been submerged across Jonglei and Unity State, communities are stranded and animals now “lie dead in the fields”.
“There is a very significant flood, which is covering vast areas of the country. More than 46 counties of the country are under water, submerging entire villages, homes, farmsteads, killing livestock and putting an end to livelihoods.”
Daniel Johnson, UN News.