This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
ECOWAS and UN strongly condemn election-related violence in Niger
The West African bloc ECOWAS and the United Nations are calling for restraint in Niger, where violent protests erupted this week following the second-round run-off of the presidential election on Sunday.
Ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum was on Tuesday declared the winner, but opposition candidate, Mahamane Ousmane, a former president, has alleged fraud.
His supporters have taken to the streets in the capital, Niamey, burning tyres, throwing rocks and setting buildings on fire, according to media reports.
ECOWAS and the UN issued a joint communiqué on Thursday strongly condemning the violence.
They invited stakeholders to comply with legal provisions on settling electoral disputes, and encouraged them to work together to bring the electoral process to a conclusion.
The two organizations also underlined their readiness to support Niger in its efforts to consolidate peace and democracy.
UNICEF signs third agreement on COVID-19 vaccines
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca signed an agreement this week for supplying COVID-19 vaccines to the global partnership working to make these medicines affordable to all countries.
UNICEF and its procurement partners will have access to up to 170 million vaccine doses for some 85 countries.
Vaccine deliveries are set to begin in the first quarter of the year, taking into consideration factors such as country readiness and national regulatory authorizations.
This is the third such vaccine agreement, following arrangements announced earlier with Pfizer and the Serum Institute of India.
South Sudan: Polio vaccination campaign targets nearly three million children
Finally, in more vaccine news: A campaign is underway in South Sudan to protect more than 2.8 million children against polio following an outbreak last September which has spread to 17 counties in all states in the country.
Nearly 40 cases of the disease have been confirmed so far, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Thursday.
The campaign began in November and is now in its second phase, with workers going from house to house to vaccinate children while following COVID-19 protocols.
WHO and partners are supporting the Ministry of Health in the goal of reaching children under five, and in ensuring South Sudan remains polio-free while improving routine immunization coverage.
Widespread displacement due to ongoing conflict and insecurity, as well as perennial flooding, have led to low rates of immunization, making children more vulnerable to polio.
Roughly 2.6 million under-fives were inoculated during the first round of the vaccination campaign, which was carried out in two phases over November and December.
Dianne Penn, UN News.