This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Mozambique: UN responds as thousands are hit by Cyclone Eloise
UN agencies have stepped up to help communities in Mozambique affected by Tropical Cyclone Eloise, just three weeks after devastating Tropical Storm Chalane made landfall.
Eloise hit Beira, a major city in Sofala province in central Mozambique, at the weekend, bringing high winds, heavy rains and severe flooding.
Preliminary figures indicate that at least six people died in the latest tragedy. The storm also damaged more than 8,800 houses and at least 26 health centres, and disrupted power and communication links.
More than 30 shelters have been set up in the province, providing temporary accommodation for around 15,000 families, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Churches, mosques and some Government offices are also housing the displaced, “many of whom fled with little more than the clothes on their backs”, said Paul Dillon, a spokesperson from the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Refugee resettlement suffers ‘extreme anomaly’ from pandemic fallout in 2020
A lack of flights and delays caused by COVID-19 were responsible for the large drop in the number of refugees finding shelter in another country last year, the UN has said.
Lower national quotas also drove down admissions to resettlement countries, from around 64,000 people in 2019, to just under 23,000.
These are the lowest refugee resettlement numbers the agency has witnessed in almost two decades, said UN refugee agency Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs.
“We can only hope that 2020 will be an extreme anomaly for refugee resettlement”, Ms. Triggs said, on Monday, before urging governments everywhere to offer more places, process claims more quickly “and help…save lives of those most in need and at greatest risk”.
Globally, an estimated 1.44 million refugees are in urgent need of resettlement, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
UN health agency panel issues key guidance on second COVID vaccine timing
A World Health Organization (WHO) expert panel issued its first guidance on the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, saying that it should ideally be given to people in two separate doses, 28 days apart.
In exceptional circumstances this period could be extended to 42 days, said WHO’s advisory group of experts on immunization, SAGE, amid supply shortages affecting many countries.
The development follows SAGE’s recommendations on 5 January on how the similar Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine should be used, as deaths from the new coronavirus have topped 2.1 million globally.
Dr Kate O’Brien, who heads the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at the UN health agency, also underlined the UN agency’s belief that there was “no reason” to think that the vaccine caused complications in pregnant women.
She dismissed misplaced fears over the new pharmaceutical technique that relies on a mRNA molecule to produce the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, insisting that it could not alter human DNA, as many believed erroneously.
“They’re not live vaccines, and especially for Moderna and Pfizer the mRNA vaccines, the MRNA is degraded quickly, there is no chance of it – it’s impossible for it - to change anything in your DNA…and so there’s no reason why we think there will be a problem in pregnancy.”
Dr. O’Brien also reiterated the WHO’s appeal for equitable access to COVID-19 immunisation – with healthworkers and other key workers first - as the only way to overcome the pandemic.
“More vaccine is coming,” she said, before urging all those who were “not in the highest risk group” to “wait their turn”, in order to help the greatest number of people with the limited number of doses available.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.