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News in Brief 27 October 2020

News in Brief 27 October 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations. 

Yemen’s children in desperate need: new food security assessment  

The children of Yemen are suffering acute malnutrition at unprecedented rates as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis grinds on, UN agencies have warned.  

In an alert based on new food security analysis, in some areas, more than one in four children is acutely malnourished, said the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, along with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). 

They cited data from 133 districts in southern parts of Yemen which are home to 1.4 million children under five; it revealed a near 10 per cent increase in acute malnutrition so far this year.  

Even worse is the more than 15 per cent rise in children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, meaning that at least 98,000 under fives, are at high risk of dying without urgent medical treatment. 

From Geneva, here’s UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado: “The most significant increase is among young children who suffer from severe acute malnutrition. This is a condition that leaves children around 10 times more likely to die of diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea, malaria or acute respiratory infections, all of which are common in Yemen.”  

According to WFP, by the end of 2020, four in 10 people in surveyed areas of Yemen - about 3.2 million people - are likely to be severely food insecure. 

Data for the remaining districts in northern Yemen has yet to be published.  

But the situation there is expected to be equally concerning, based on historical trends.  

Health centres hit amid ongoing fighting in southern Afghanistan 

Fighting between Government troops and non-state actors has continued in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province where civilians have been killed and thousands displaced, the UN has said. 

An update from OCHA, the UN humanitarian aid office, reported that more than two weeks since clashes began near Lashkargah city, the security situation remains volatile, while talks between the Afghan Government and Taliban representatives continue in Qatar.  

Fighting has also been reported along the road connecting Lashkargah with Kandahar city in the east, and improvised explosive devices planted on main highways continue to threaten those looking for shelter. 

Amid attacks affecting 15 medical facilities, the World Health Organization (WHO) also reported that the closure of clinics has affected thousands of people, although a handful have partially reopened.   

Open science up for all, urge UN agency chiefs, in call for common good 

Science needs to be more accessible, transparent and in tune with people’s needs if global threats like the COVID-19 pandemic are to be overcome effectively, UN agency heads said on Tuesday. 

In a joint appeal for free access to scientific reviews, data, tools and software, Audrey Azoulay from UNESCO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from the World Health Organization and Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on the international community to take all necessary measures to make this happen. 

With the additional support of Fabiola Gianotti, who heads CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, the appeal also intends to promote trust in research and technology, at a time when rumours and false information are increasingly common. 

In a statement, UNESCO – the UN agency for Education, Science and Culture – said that the recent response of the scientific community to the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how well open science “can accelerate the achievement of scientific solutions” to global challenges. 

But the agency insisted that sustainable solutions to global threats “require an efficient, transparent and vibrant scientific effort”  from everyone in society, not just scientists. 

In line with the wishes of UN Member States, UNESCO is now developing guidelines explaining how countries can implement Open Science policies to bring citizens closer to science, and how they can commit to helping to share scientific knowledge around the world. 

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • Yemen’s children in desperate need: new food security assessment  

  • Health centres hit amid ongoing fighting in southern Afghanistan 

  • Open science up for all, urge UN agency chiefs, in call for common good 


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Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
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