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News in Brief 20 January 2021

News in Brief 20 January 2021

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations. 

First shipwreck in Central Mediterranean this year claims 43 lives 

More than 40 people died in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya on Tuesday: the first in the Central Mediterranean this year, two UN agencies have reported. 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said the boat reportedly capsized due to bad sea conditions when its engine stopped, just a few hours after departure from the city of Zawya. 

Ten survivors, mainly from Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Ghana, and The Gambia, were brought to shore by Libyan Coastal Security, where they received food, water and other emergency assistance before being released. 

They reported that the 43 people who died were all men from West African countries. 

“This loss of life highlights once more the need for re-activation of State-led search and rescue operations, a gap NGO and commercial vessels are trying to fill despite their limited resources”, the UN agencies said on Wednesday. 

They repeated their call for countries to find an urgent approach to the situation in the Mediterranean, where hundreds of people died last year trying to cross into Europe. 

Armed violence disrupting main supply chain in Central African Republic 

Moving to the Central African Republic (CAR), where increased armed violence is hampering the delivery of vital aid and commercial goods, according to the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in the country. 

Denise Brown expressed extreme concern over sustained disruptions on the main supply road which connects the capital, Bangui, with the rest of the country, and with the closest port, located in neighbouring Cameroon. 

She said an attack on Monday against a convoy of 30 trucks, five of which were carrying humanitarian supplies, resulting in serious injuries to three drivers, was “totally unacceptable”

Violence has escalated in the CAR surrounding elections held in late December, forcing more than 120,000 to flee their homes. UN peacekeepers have also been killed in attacks. 

Ms. Brown said the supply chain disruption has led to a rise in the price of basic food commodities, with staples such as oil, fish, meat and onions increasing by more than 50 per cent in some areas. Shortages of fuel have also been reported in several towns. 

It is estimated more than 1,600 trucks are stuck at the border with Cameroon, including 500 trucks with critical supplies for the UN and its partners, which have been held up since mid-December. 

Mozambique: Agencies warn of worsening humanitarian crisis in Cabo Delgado 

UN agencies are voicing concern over the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique, where attacks by armed groups have forced more than half a million people to flee their homes. 

Growing insecurity and poor infrastructure are making it increasingly difficult to reach families “completely reliant” on aid relief, they said in a joint statement on Wednesday. 

Top officials from four UN agencies visited the country in December to assess the needs of the displaced people and the communities hosting them. 

They said the crisis has become even more complex when coupled with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Dianne Penn, UN News.

  • Central Mediterranean: 43 die in first shipwreck for the year, IOM and UNHCR report

  • Violence disrupting main supply chain in Central African Republic

  • UN agencies concerned over worsening humanitarian crisis in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique

Audio Credit
Dianne Penn, UN News
Audio Duration
Photo Credit
IOM/Hussein Ben Mosa