This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Aid agencies call for urgent action to prevent emergency in hunger hotspots
People in four food insecurity “hotspots”, inside Burkina Faso, northeastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen, need help urgently to avoid sliding into famine, UN humanitarians said on Friday.
In a joint alert with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) also warned that 16 other countries also face a “major (food) emergency – or series of emergencies” in the next three to six months.
The drivers of these crises include conflict and a lack of humanitarian access to communities in need, climate extremes and the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agencies said in a new report.
Among the at-risk nations, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has 22 million who are acutely food insecure - the highest number ever registered for a single country.
The people of South Sudan have also been driven to acute hunger levels after years of conflict and recurring floods.
Here’s World Food Programme spokesperson, Tomson Phiri:
“People have lost assets, people have lost their capability to cope with any shocks. We had …unprecedented floods this year; I mean, floodwaters were submerging whole towns, people are struggling, the harvest that was just about to come in.”
Both WFP and FAO noted that while in many countries COVID-19-related restrictions have been progressively lifted, allowing economic activity to resume, food insecurity has worsened in 27 others, with up to 104.6 million people in need.
UN chief calls for peaceful elections in Myanmar
Ahead of elections in Myanmar on 8 November, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that he hoped they would help to advance “inclusive sustainable development” across the country.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr Guterres also expressed his hope that they might lead to refugee returns “in safety and dignity”.
In August 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled a massive military campaign in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state, seeking sanctuary in neighbouring Bangladesh.
Mr Guterres also noted with concern that armed conflict was ongoing “in many areas of Myanmar” with intensifying clashes in Rakhine and Chin states continuing to take a heavy toll on vulnerable civilians.
Unimpeded humanitarian access for the UN and its partners remained crucial, Mr Guterres said, before renewing his appeal for a national ceasefire.
This would allow everyone to focus on combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN chief said.
Top emergency relief official condemns killing of six humanitarian workers
Finally, to the killing of six humanitarian workers in a week, a tragic reminder of the dangers aid teams face all over the world.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the victims died in targeted attacks in Somalia, South Sudan, and northwest Syria.
Condemning the attacks, the UN’s emergency relief chief, Mark Lowcock, demanded justice for the victims.
He said that attacks directed against humanitarians were “an obscene act against people working …in extraordinarily difficult circumstances, to help vulnerable people, and that “Governments must investigate these killings and prosecute the suspects where appropriate”.
The two relief workers killed in South Sudan were working to provide nutrition support to communities affected by floods and violence. In Somalia, the two humanitarian workers were engaged in polio response, bringing critical health services to vulnerable children.
The humanitarians killed in northwest Syria were attacked as they were on their way to a child-friendly space, run by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Daniel Johnson, UN News.