This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Afghanistan: 65 media workers, rights defenders killed since 2018
There’s been a “sharp and chilling” rise in the number of human rights activists and media professionals killed in Afghanistan in recent months.
That’s according to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which said that 11 killings have happened after the start of the peace negotiations last September between the Government and the Taliban.
Over the three-year period ending 31 January 2021, 65 journalists, media professionals and human rights defenders were killed in the country.
“This trend, combined with the absence of claims of responsibility, has generated a climate of fear among the population”, UNAMA said.
It blamed the violence on a shrinking human rights and media space, noting that many media professionals self-censored or have quit their jobs and even their country out of fear.
This has in turn led to “diminishing expectations around efforts towards peace”, UNAMA added.
Three die in Ebola outbreak in southern Guinea
UN workers have begun helping Guinean health authorities to control a new outbreak of Ebola virus disease, which has left three people dead in the south of the country.
Others have been infected in the rural community of Gouéké in N’Zerekore prefecture, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a tweet.
It added that it is working to procure a vaccine which has been key to controlling outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while staff “are already on the ground supporting surveillance, infection prevention and control and community engagement”.
This is the first time the disease has been reported in West Africa since the last Ebola outbreak there ended in 2016.
Guinea was at the heart of the world’s biggest outbreak of the disease in 2013, when the virus spread to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone and internationally, killing more than 11,000 people.
WTO appoints first female and first African leader
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from Nigeria has been named as the new head of the World Trade Organization – an historic announcement, as Okonjo-Iweala is the body’s first woman leader and the first African top appointment.
The development comes after nearly six months without a leader at the Geneva forum.
Okonjo-Iweala, who is an economist by training and a former minister of finance of the Government of Nigeria, starts her term on 1 March.
She succeeds the Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who left the 164-member organization last August, a year before his term was due to end.
Her reported objectives at the WTO are to reach an agreement on fishing quotas and find a solution to the deadlocked Dispute Settlement Body appeals system.