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News in Brief 19 January 2021

News in Brief 19 January 2021

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations. 

UN health agency underlines dangers of ‘vaccinationalism’ over COVID-19 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reiterated its concern about countries going it alone to secure sufficient COVID-19 vaccines for their populations, at the expense of poorer nations. 

At a press briefing in Geneva, the UN agency also called for much quicker international cooperation to ensure that “a large amount of doses could be rolled out to the countries that do not have the resources to purchase them themselves or to vaccinate”. 

“That work needs to be accelerated now”, WHO spokesperson Dr Margaret Harris told journalists. 

She also urged drug manufacturers to supply WHO with complete information on their products, so that they can be checked thoroughly before distribution: 

“We want the manufacturers to submit the full data, the full dossiers, so that we as WHO can do the full examination, in order to issue an emergency use listing, because we can’t put out the vaccines, you know, they can’t be cleared for those countries, until they’ve got that emergency use listing.” 

The development comes 24 hours after WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cautioned that while vaccines had brought hope to some, they had become “another brick in the wall of inequality between the world’s haves and have-nots”.  

Although 39 million doses of vaccine have been administered in nearly 50 richer countries, only 25 have been given in one lowest income nation, Tedros said. 

Mass protest calls in Haiti, raise spectre of fresh rights violations 

To Haiti, where the UN rights office OHCHR warned on Tuesday against ‘violent police repression”, amid growing calls for mass protests, stemming from inequality and a fundamental lack of opportunities. 

Published on Tuesday, a new report from the UN human rights office, OHCHR, also detailed an environment of kidnappings for ransom, attacks by criminal gangs, and near-complete impunity for those responsible. 

Spokesperson Marta Hurtado expressed concern over what she called “persistent insecurity, poverty and structural inequalities in Haiti”. 

These danger signs, coupled with “increasing political tensions may lead to a pattern of public discontent followed by violent police repression and other human rights violations” that were seen during months-long protests in 2018, 2019 and in October and November last year, Ms Hurtado told journalists.  

Among its recommendations, the UN rights office said that law enforcement officers should abide by international norms and standards during protests.  

The authorities should also ensure that gangs do not interfere with people's right to demonstrate peacefully, OHCHR added.  

UN mourns peacekeepers killed in continuing Central African Republic violence 

Two United Nations peacekeepers – from Gabon and Morocco - have been killed after their convoy was ambushed and attacked in southern Central African Republic (CAR). 

In a statement condemning the violence, the UN peacekeeping mission there, MINUSCA, blamed two armed groups that had acted together: UPC and anti-Balaka. 

The assault, which comes after nationwide elections on 27 December, happened near Bangassou, the capital of Mbomou prefecture.  

UN peacekeepers had retaken control of the city last Friday, after its capture two weeks earlier by anti-government forces, who are reportedly calling for the resignation of the President. 

Mankeur Ndiaye, head of MINUSCA denounced the killings as “war crimes”. 
And he stressed that the Mission would work with the Central African authorities to ensure that the perpetrators were held accountable.  

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • UN health agency underlines dangers of ‘vaccinationalism’ over COVID-19 

  • Mass protest calls in Haiti, raise spectre of fresh rights violations 

  • UN mourns peacekeepers killed in continuing Central African Republic violence 

Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Audio Duration
Photo Credit
University of Oxford/John Cairns