This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
UN chief urges greater investments in universal health coverage
António Guterres has issued an urgent appeal for countries to invest in health care for all, citing the disastrous impact of chronic under-investment that’s been exposed by the COVID-19 crisis.
The UN Secretary-General’s call comes nine months into the coronavirus crisis, which has claimed more than one million lives amid rising infection rates globally.
It has also cost the global economy $375 billion a month, about 500 million jobs have been lost so far, and decades of human development are going into reverse, Mr. Guterres said.
In a policy brief to Member States launched on Wednesday, the UN chief maintained that COVID-19 had shown that access to “strong public health systems and emergency preparedness are essential” to communities and economies – and that treatment “should not depend on financial status”.
Health is a fundamental human right - and a key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target which the world’s countries have agreed to achieve by 2030.
Today however at least half the world’s people do not have full coverage of essential health services and more than 800 million people spend at least 10 per cent of their household budgets on health.
Guinea elections hate speech must be curbed and condemned
Ahead of upcoming presidential elections in Guinea, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet has urged candidates to refrain from “stirring up” ethnic division.
She warned that such tactics “may lead to violence, discrimination and other human rights violations”, in a statement from her Office that highlighted “increasingly pervasive and divisive” rhetoric – in particular, references to the Malinké and Fulani ethnicities.
Those standing in the elections have also suggested that violence may follow the announcement of the results, the High Commissioner for Human Rights noted.
In her appeal, Ms. Bachelet said that she was deeply worried about the run-up to the 18 October poll, given Guinea’s history of intercommunal violence.
Joining the call for Guinea’s politicians to condemn incitement to violence and to allow free elections, UN prevention of genocide top official Pramila Patten urged the Government to protect everyone from violence, irrespective of their ethnic or political affiliation.
She also called for all Guinean political actors to send a strong message forbidding sexual violence.
Rights experts welcome return to Canada of five-year-old orphaned in Syria
UN-appointed independent human rights experts have welcomed the news that a five-year-old orphan has been released from a Syrian detention camp and is now in the care of her extended family in Canada.
The girl had been at Al Hol detention camp in northern Hasakah governorate, where mainly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces continue to oversee about 70,000 detainees. Tens of thousands are suspected of connections to the ISIS terror group.
Noting the lack of food and clean water, adequate medical care or proper education at Al Hol camp, the experts maintained that conditions were akin to torture.
They welcomed the Canadian move after it was announced on Monday, and urged more countries to follow Canada’s example, in reference to the reported 10,000 foreign nationals at the camp of non-Syrian or Iraqi origin.
“There is no proper shelter from the elements, and children are exposed to harassment, violence and exploitation,” the experts said in a statement, adding that people’s “most fundamental human rights” are being violated routinely.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.