This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Africa ‘not ready’ for huge vaccine drive against COVID: WHO
Africa is “far from ready” to roll out what will be its largest ever immunization drive to beat COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
The warning, from senior WHO official Matshidiso Moeti, comes amid increasingly promising efforts to find a coronavirus vaccine.
In her call for African governments to “ramp up” readiness for the campaign, Dr. Moeti said that “planning and preparation will make or break” the “unprecedented endeavour”.
“We need active leadership and engagement from the highest levels of government with solid, comprehensive national coordination plans and systems put in place”, insisted Dr. Moeti, who is WHO’s Regional Director for Africa.
According to the WHO analysis, which is based on countries’ self-reporting, the African region has an average score of 33 per cent readiness for a COVID-19 vaccine roll-out - well below the desired benchmark of 80 per cent.
First of four UN humanitarian airlifts for Ethiopia refugees lands in Khartoum
An airplane loaded with humanitarian supplies for people fleeing violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has arrived in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, to help those arriving at the country’s border.
Announcing the first of four airlifts, (on Friday) UN refugee agency UNHCR appealed for international assistance to cope with the growing number of refugees seeking shelter in Sudan.
Since the start of fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region in early November, more than 43,000 refugees have crossed into Sudan.
People have sought shelter amid reports of a heavy build-up of tanks and artillery around regional capital Mekelle, following the Ethiopian Government’s ultimatum to forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to surrender.
Concerns continue to grow for the safety of civilians in Mekelle, home to more than 500,000 people, and some 96,000 Eritrean refugees based in four camps, who UNHCR said had only three days of food supplies left.
Food emergency forces Malagasy to forage for food
To Madagascar now, where years of drought have wiped out harvests and left 1.5 million people in crisis and struggling to feed themselves.
Sounding the alarm, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said that in Amboasary district, in the worst-affected region in the south of the country, three-quarters of children had dropped out of school to help their families forage for food.
WFP spokesperson Tomson Phiri told journalists in Geneva that Madagascar has the world’s tenth highest stunting rate, and that almost half of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition:
“Most of the women that we spoke to said they had nothing to feed their young children except the red cactus pears growing by the roadside.”
The agency plans to assist around 890,000 of the most vulnerable people until June next year.
But it has warned that as hunger numbers rise, more families are resorting to crisis coping mechanisms, including selling off kitchen utensils and farm implements.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.