This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Time running out to help 16 million Yemenis avoid disaster: Guterres
UN chief António Guterres has led a call for urgent support for 16 million Yemenis – including starving children – amid a massive funding shortfall for the huge aid operation in the war-crippled country.
In an appeal for $3.85 billion this year, Mr. Guterres said that nearly 50,000 Yemenis are enduring famine-like conditions”.
“Yemeni children are starving,” the Secretary-General insisted, adding that nearly half of all children under five will likely suffer from acute malnutrition – and 400,000 of those children “could die without urgent treatment”.
The worst hunger is in areas affected by six years of conflict, he said in opening remarks at a pledging event for Yemen, organised by the Governments of Switzerland and Sweden.
Some four million people have been forced from their homes, the UN Secretary-General said, adding that the Houthi offensive in Marib could displace “hundreds of thousands more”.
Mr. Guterres reiterated his appeal for the war to end.
“It has to stop,” he said, calling for an immediate, nationwide ceasefire and confidence-building measures, followed by an inclusive, Yemeni-led political process coordinated by the United Nations.
Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana begin COVID-19 vaccinations for key healthcare workers
The lifesaving work of vaccinating frontline workers against COVID-19 with UN-partnered equitable inoculation jabs began on Monday in Africa, with health professionals in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana among the very first to benefit from the COVAX scheme.
The campaigns follow deliveries of hundreds of thousands of AstraZeneca vaccines to both countries last week.
They were manufactured under licence by the Serum Institute of India (SII), the World Health Organization WHO said in a statement.
The UN health agency approved the vaccine for emergency use on 15 February and said that a further 11 million COVAX doses are expected to be delivered in the next week.
Together with COVAX partners GAVI the vaccine alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), UN Children’s Fund UNICEF and the World Bank, the WHO said that this marks the start of what will be the largest, most rapid and complex global rollout of vaccines in history.
In total, COVAX aims to deliver at least two billion doses of new coronavirus vaccines by the end of the year, including at least 1.3 billion to the 92 economies eligible for support through the COVAX mechanism to provide donor-funded vaccines to lower-income countries.
Fate still unclear of ‘tens of thousands’ of civilian detainees in Syria
The fate of tens of thousands of civilians being held in Syria’s “notorious” prisons or detention centres is still unclear, 10 years after the country’s civil war began, UN investigators said on Monday.
According to the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, thousands more have been subject to torture, sexual violence or death in captivity.
Despite the “staggering” wealth of evidence, almost all parties to the conflict “failed to investigate their own forces,” the Commissioners said.
Here’s chair of the inquiry, Paolo Pinheiro:
“The fate of detainees – there’s thousands who are disappeared by Syrian government forces… remains completely unknown. I think that it’s astounding that the international community and the Member States involved in the conflict cannot push for something to be done concerning the identification of those in detention.”
The Commission of Inquiry’s report highlights more than 100 specific detention facilities in Syria.
It plots the evolution of arbitrary detention in the country, from mass arrests of demonstrators in the early days of the conflict, to the mass internment of men, women and children today.
Such imprisonment has been “a root cause” and a “trigger” for Syria’s conflict, the investigators insisted, while saying that the Government along with other armed groups played their part in disappearances and other crimes and abuses on a “massive scale”.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.