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News in Brief 22 December 2020

News in Brief 22 December 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations. 

Tigray: Hundreds of civilians reported killed in artillery strikes 

Reports of artillery strikes on civilians and mass killings of non-combatants in Ethiopia’s Tigray region must be investigated and full access granted to independent investigators, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Tuesday. 

The appeal by the High Commissioner for Human Rights follows seven weeks of conflict in northern Ethiopia between central Government soldiers and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces, that has displaced tens of thousands. 

“Fighting is said to be continuing, particularly in some areas of north, central and southern Tigray”, Ms. Bachelet said, before citing the alleged mass killing of several hundred people - mainly Amharans - in the western Tigray town of Mai Kadra, on 9 November.   

“It is essential that there are investigations into allegations of human rights violations there against both Amharans and Tigrayans”, the High Commissioner insisted. 

Urgent appeal launched for Tigray emergency  

In a related development, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has launched an urgent appeal for $156 million to help 130,000 people affected by the Tigray conflict. 

To date, more than 54,500 refugees have fled the region into Sudan, spokesperson for the UN refugee agency Andrej Mahecic said on Tuesday. 

He said that the number of new arrivals has dropped to around 500 a day, but aid agencies face a “full-scale humanitarian emergency in a very remote area that has not seen such a large refugee influx in decades”. 

“The Regional Refugee Preparedness and Response Plan for the Ethiopia Situation in Tigray covers the period from November 2020 through to June 2021 and will reach up to 115,000 refugees and 22,000 people from host communities. It also aims to support the Governments of Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea in maintaining and facilitating access to asylum and providing life-saving assistance to those who have been forced to flee.” 

Funding for the UN agency and some 30 partners will be used to register new refugees and transfer people to new settlements away from crowded border areas.  

Other priorities include providing food, health and education services, with dedicated support for groups with specific needs, such as women and girls at risk.  

World will soon lose coral reefs without emission cuts, UN report warns 

Finally to the world’s coral reefs, every one of which “will soon disappear”, without drastic reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions to stop oceans warming up, UN experts have said. 

The warning from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) comes in a new report which says that if the world continues to rely heavily on fossil fuels, all of the world’s reefs will turn white – or “bleach” - by the end of the century. 

Bleaching happens when water temperatures rise and corals expel the colourful algae that live among their branches.  

Although bleached corals are still alive and can recover their algae if conditions improve, if this does not happen, they will die.  

This worst-case scenario also predicts that reefs will see annual severe bleaching by 2034, nine years earlier than previously thought. 

If countries manage to exceed current pledges to limit their carbon emissions by 50 per cent, severe bleaching could be delayed until 2045, UNEP said.  

The agency noted that the loss of coral reefs would have devastating consequences not only for the marine life, but also for over a billion people who benefit from them. 

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • Tigray: Hundreds of civilians reported killed in artillery strikes 

  • Urgent appeal launched for Tigray emergency  

  • World will soon lose coral reefs without emission cuts, UN report warns 


Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Audio Duration
Photo Credit
© UNHCR/Hazim Elhag