This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Nearly $1 billion pledged towards ending COVID-19
The UN has welcomed nearly $1 billion in recent pledges to bolster access to lifesaving tests, treatments and vaccines to end COVID-19.
The development follows an appeal by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to all nations to provide further urgently needed funds to produce a coronavirus vaccine that is available to everyone, everywhere.
The global initiative carrying out this task is called the ACT-Accelerator; it was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) alongside international partners.
Since launching in April, ACT has secured $3 billion so far, but it needs another further $35 billion – including an “immediate infusion” of $15 billion – Mr. Guterres said at a high-level event to mobilize support for the initiative.
In a statement, the UN and partners described the investment as “a monumental show of solidarity” from governments, private sector, civil society and international organizations.
Stranded migrants need safe and dignified return, says UN independent rights panel
Governments should immediately address the inhumane conditions in detention faced by migrant workers who are also being blamed for spreading the coronavirus, a UN panel of independent rights experts said on Thursday.
Citing reports of ill-treatment and torture “every single day in detention camps”, the UN Committee on Migrant Workers raised the alarm over facilities in Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and in North African countries, including Libya.
"Migrants, mostly from African and South Asian countries, are regularly scapegoated for the spread of the coronavirus”, the panel said in a statement.
It also highlighted allegations that inmates do not receive medical treatment and that “some are even left to die".
The panel further described as “shocking”, video footage published last month showing thousands of African migrant workers locked in cramped and unhygienic camps in Saudi Arabia, with raw sewage spilling across the floor.
As the devastating health and economic effects of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continue, the rights committee explained that migrant workers were more at risk than ever.
They “have no access to clean water, sanity and health care (and are) far more vulnerable than local residents", the Committee said, in a call for the international community to take action.
The independent experts also called on authorities to ensure that those being held can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to their home countries.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee stressed: "It is more important than ever that human rights violations perpetrated against migrants must immediately stop."
Colombian child rights defender wins UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award
An educator who has spent more than 20 years rescuing sexually exploited and trafficked children in Colombia has been awarded the UN refugee agency’s (UNHCR) highest honour: the Nansen Refugee Award.
Mayerlín Vergara Pérez, is the Caribbean Regional Coordinator for the non-profit Renacer Foundation.
To date, it has helped more than 22,000 child and adolescent survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, and survivors of other types of sexual and gender-based violence.
Ms. Perez’s work involves combing the streets of remote communities in north-east Colombia where human traffickers and smugglers operate.
In a statement she explained that the exploitation left youngsters with deep mental scars. “Their bodies have been so maltreated, so abused, so exploited that they feel alienated from those bodies, as if they don’t belong to them,” she said of the girls who have been rescued.
Describing the educator’s work in saving hundreds of refugee children as “heroic”, Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said she had also restored children’s hopes for a better future.
In 2009, Ms. Perez’s advocacy led to two landmark pieces of legislation against the abuse of youngsters. One law established a mandatory 14-year prison sentence for those convicted of such offences; another law targeted the owners of establishments that allow the sexual exploitation of youngsters on their premises.
Global estimates indicate that millions of people continue to be trafficked every year. Women and girls account for the largest numbers of detected victims.
UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award honours outstanding service to people who have been forcibly displaced.
The award includes a $150,000 prize donated by the governments of Switzerland and Norway.
Working with UNHCR, the winner uses the funds to support a project that complements their existing work.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.