This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
UN agencies in plea for access to help stranded people in Ethiopia’s Tigray
The UN has renewed appeals for humanitarian access to all areas of Ethiopia’s troubled Tigray region to help people displaced by fighting, which has forced the most desperate to eat leaves just to survive.
The call by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday, came three months since heavy fighting began between Government troops and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in the northern region.
Full access must be granted now, to prevent things getting even worse, said UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch, while OCHA cited insecurity “and bureaucratic obstacles” that have prevented aid workers from providing life-saving assistance to 2.3 million people.
High-level efforts to avert a humanitarian disaster in Tigray have included a visit by UN refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi to Ethiopia earlier this week, when he met people who’d fled from two camps in northern Tigray that the UN cannot access.
Here’s UNHCR’s Babar Baloch:
CUT: “Some said they had resorted to eat leaves because there was no other food available. They also spoke about infiltration of armed actors in the camps, of killings, abductions and also some forced returns to Eritrea at the hands of Eritreans forces present in the area.”
COVID-19 ‘to contribute to two million additional cases’ of FGM over 10 years
Two million more girls than normal are likely to face female genital mutilation (FGM) over the next decade because of the COVID-19 crisis, the UN has warned.
In a call for greater efforts to protect girls from being cut, Secretary-General António Guterres insisted that eliminating FGM would have a positive effect on the health, education and economic advancement of girls and women.
Echoing that message, the heads of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) said that eliminating cutting and achieving gender equality were two sides of the same coin.
“If gender equality were a reality, there would be no FGM. This is the world we envision”, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem said in a joint statement, in a call to “UNITE around proven strategies, FUND them adequately and ACT”.
Ending female genital mutilation is a Sustainable Development Goal; the deadline is 2030.
Achieving this will require about $2.4 billion over the next 10 years – less than $100 per girl, UNICEF and UNFPA have said.
In Somalia, risks of Desert Locust crop damage remain ‘high and alarming’
Finally to Somalia, where the risk of Desert Locust crop damage this year remains “high and alarming”.
That’s the warning from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which has called for “substantial and timely funding” to scale-up operations to reduce locust populations.
FAO is working with the government in Mogadishu to decide on immediate action that will help farmers to protect their crops and people’s jobs, but also keep food insecurity at bay, it said in a statement.
The UN agency’s vital work includes monitoring the development of potential new swarms and spraying crops, amid the worst locust infestation to hit Horn of Africa States in 25 years.
The latest “devastating locust upsurge” has affected Somalia’s southern states in particular, where swarms have migrated and destroyed crops, FAO said in a statement.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.