This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Concern grows for thousands of Eritrean refugees ‘scattered’ in Tigray
In Ethiopia’s war-scarred Tigray region there’s deep concern for thousands of Eritrean refugees whose camps have been looted and burned to the ground.
The whereabouts of thousands of refugees who have scattered is unclear, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday, after gaining access to the Shimelba and Hitsats settlements for the first time since conflict erupted on 4 November.
Here’s UNHCR spokesperson, Boris Cheshirkov:
“Most of the shelters in an area known as Zone A, as well as UNHCR’s offices and staff guesthouse, were found burned to the ground. The mission confirmed what satellite imagery and accounts from refugees had indicated at the beginning of this year. UNHCR is deeply concerned for the well-being of the Eritrean refugees who had been residing there, all of whom have fled the camps.”
Around 20,000 refugees had been living in the two camps prior to the crisis which erupted last November, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, launched a military campaign in Tigray after accusing the region's governing party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), of attacks on army camps.
100 million more children fail basic reading skills because of COVID-19
One hundred million more children than were expected now have trouble reading because of school closures linked to COVID-19.
The warning from UNESCO, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural agency, comes in a new report, which shows that basic reading skills were already “on a downward curve” before the pandemic.
In 2020, instead of 460 million children having reading difficulties, that number jumped to 584 million as a result of the pandemic.
Schooling has been disrupted for an average of 25 weeks since the beginning of the pandemic, UNESCO says, with learning losses expected to be highest in the Latin America and Caribbean region, and in Central and Southern Asia.
To tackle what the UN agency has called a potential “generational catastrophe”, it is calling for schools to reopen with greater support for teachers; initiatives to prevent pupils dropping out and an acceleration of the availability of digital learning tools.
It’s convening education ministers from all over the world on Monday 29 March to discuss these recommendations.
Angola drought drives desperate families to neighbouring Namibia
To Angola, finally, where hunger is on the rise in the southwest, as families endure the worst drought in four decades.
The alert from the World Food Programme (WFP) is for the provinces of Cuanza Sul, Benguela, Huambo, Namibe and Huíla, where harvests are down around 40 per cent.
In addition to chronic food insecurity and malnutrition rates, the situation is also causing displacement, as families move towards other provinces and across the border to Namibia, to feed themselves and their livestock.
In 2019, drought had already affected 1.6 million people in Angola, a situation that continued into 2020.
WFP said in statement that it is helping by coordinating food security and nutrition assessments in the south of the country, and supporting school meals programmes, along with Government partners.
Daniel Johnson, UN News