This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
COVID-19 could worsen ‘devastating tragedy’ of stillbirth
Nearly two million babies are stillborn every year, or one every 16 seconds: a figure that could worsen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new UN report.
Most stillbirths, or 84 per cent, occur in low income countries, but high income nations also face this challenge.
“Losing a child at birth or during pregnancy is a devastating tragedy for a family”, said Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Many of these deaths could have been prevented with high quality monitoring, proper antenatal care and a skilled birth attendant, she added.
UNICEF issued the report alongside the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank Group and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
The partners warned that a reduction in health services due to COVID-19 could cause nearly 200,000 additional stillbirths over a 12-month period
Mediterranean rescuers should be celebrated, not criminalized
Eleven rescue boat workers in Italy who save lives in the Mediterranean should be applauded and not criminalized, a UN independent rights expert has said.
Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, has condemned ongoing proceedings against Carola Rackete, former captain of the Sea-Watch 3, and 10 crew members from another rescue vessel, the Juventa.
Italian authorities arrested Ms. Rackete in June 2019 for docking her ship, with 53 migrants on board, without permission. The country’s Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that she should not have been arrested. However, Ms. Rackete continues to face charges and risks 20 years imprisonment, as well as up to 50,000 Euros in fines.
The “Juventa 10” case goes back to September 2016, when a criminal investigation was opened against some crew members.
Charges included aiding and abetting in the commission of illegal immigration: a crime which can result in five to 10 years in jail and a 15,000 Euro fine. A motion to dismiss the preliminary investigation was filed in June 2019 but the decision is still pending.
Ms. Lawlor, the UN expert, said these human rights defenders should be commended for their efforts to save migrants and asylum seekers at sea. As many as 16,000 lives have been lost in the Mediterranean since 2014, according to UN migration agency, IOM.
Prices for cereals and other staples hit ‘multi-month highs’: FAO
The price of several staple food items, such as vegetable oils and cereals, hit “multi-month highs” in September, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has reported.
The UN agency publishes a monthly index that tracks the international price of the most commonly-traded food commodities.
Last month, the index averaged nearly 98 points: up more than two per cent over August, and five percent higher than in September 2019.
FAO said new forecasts for global cereal output, as well as stocks and trade, “all point to well-supplied markets.”
The cereal price index stands at 13.6 per cent higher than this time last year, led by higher wheat price quotations.
Meanwhile, the vegetable price index rose six per cent in September, reaching an eight-month high, bolstered by rising quotations for palm, sunflower seed and soy oils in line with “firm global demand”.
Dianne Penn, UN News.