This is the news in brief from the United Nations
Aid agencies rush to help Philippines avoid catastrophic tropical storm
As “super typhoon” Goni batters the Philippines, the UN has urged humanitarian partners to do all they can to save lives amid reports that it has killed at least 17 people.
The typhoon smashed into the country's main island Luzon, bringing heavy rainfall, flooding and landslides and winds of up to 225 kilometres per hour, making it the most powerful storm of 2020.
It lost power as it neared the capital Manila, and humanitarians have already started working with the Philippines Government, the national Red Cross and private sector groups to help those caught in the typhoon’s destructive path.
Gustavo Gonzalez, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines, said that although the people of the Philippines were “incredibly resilient…this is a very dangerous typhoon … we must prepare for the worst and be ready to save lives”.
Also helping in the response, the UN migration agency, IOM, has dispatched teams to Luzon Island.
Chief of Mission in the Philippines Kristin Dadey said that there had been “terrible destruction” in the province of Albay, with “power lines down, houses destroyed and …entire villages under water”.
“The Government deserves a lot of credit for getting so many people to safety but we are preparing for more bad news as the emergency response continues,” she said, adding that the region was still reeling from the effects of Typhoon Molave which struck last week, killing 22 people.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has spoken out against a growing number of attacks on journalists.
In a message coinciding with the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, on Monday, the UN chief said that the COVID-19 crisis had created new dangers for reporters too.
There were at least 21 attacks on media professionals covering protests in the first half of 2020; that’s equal to all the attacks in the whole of 2017, Mr. Guterres said.
After highlighting growing constraints on the work of journalists – including threats of prosecution, arrest, imprisonment, denial of access and failure to investigate and prosecute crimes against them – the UN’s top official said that when they are targeted, “societies as a whole pay a price”.
“If we do not protect journalists, our ability to remain informed and make evidence-based decisions is severely hampered,” Mr. Guterres insisted, in his call for “journalism without fear or favour” and a free press “that can play its essential role in peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights”.
Belarus rights record under spotlight at UN forum
To Geneva finally, where Belarus’s human rights record has been reviewed by fellow UN Member States, along with 13 other countries taking part in the ‘Universal Periodic Review’ process.
The scheduled meeting comes soon after a rare Urgent Debate on Belarus at the Human Rights Council, prompted by violence surrounding mass public demonstrations that have followed presidential elections.
Among those countries calling for reform, the US permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Andrew Bremberg expressed deep concerned at “the ongoing use of violence, intimidation and repression against the Belarussian people”, before calling for restraint from the authorities and “a genuine dialogue” with civil society.
Earlier, Belarus Ambassador Yury Ambrazevich told the Geneva forum that while the Government recognised that “work needs to be done” and would continue on some issues, “true progress” was only possible “through respectful dialogue without external pressure” and blackmail.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.