This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Grave concern for women and children targeted in northern Mozambique
Disturbing reports of targeted attacks against civilians have continued to emerge from the northern Mozambique town of Palma, marking a serious escalation of violence and volatility in the Cabo Delgado region.
Issuing the alert on Tuesday, UN agencies reported that dozens of people had been killed during attacks by unnamed insurgents who reportedly descended on the town at the weekend.
Families have fled “sporadic” ongoing violence, “seeking refuge in the surrounding bush”, some of the 670,000 people who have been displaced by the insurgency that began in October 2017.
More than half are children, explained Marixie Mercado, spokesperson for UN Children’s Fund UNICEF:
“We are expecting more children and again, as I said there were already more than 350,000 children displaced in Cabo Delgado, that’s an extraordinary large number of children who are displaced right now and they are all in desperate need of help, all of them.”
In addition to continuing insecurity in Mozambique’s north, the aid response has also been hampered by a severe lack of funding, with the $254 million appeal only one per cent funded.
Syrians’ struggle is getting worse, not better, says UN’s Guterres
The daily struggle for millions of Syrians after a decade of war is getting worse, not better, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday, in an appeal for more than $10 billion to help them.
In his message to the online donor meeting hosted by the UN and the European Union, Mr. Guterres explained that more than 13 million people inside Syria need assistance to survive this year.
“That’s over 20 per cent more than last year – and the majority of the population is now facing hunger,” the Secretary-General said - before highlighting that another 10.5 million people outside Syria also require support.
Every month, humanitarians bring help to 7.6 million people in Syria, including across conflict lines and cross-border operations.
Most of these aid workers are Syrians who have suffered because of the conflict, Mr Guterres said, adding that they have braved “immense odds, and thousands of them have shown “extraordinary commitment and endurance …on the front lines”.
Also addressing the pledging conference in Brussels, UN Syria Envoy Geir Pedersen urged participants to push for a countrywide ceasefire.
Although the frontlines of the conflict have remained stable for around a year, “hospitals and civilians are still getting hit” and “five foreign armies operate in proximity from one another”, Mr Pedersen said.
World leaders call for new international treaty to improve pandemic response
World leaders have joined the World Health Organization’s call for an international treaty to improve pandemic preparedness after COVID-19, for the sake of future generations.
So far 25 heads of state and governments from all regions have given their support to the initiative, which is being spearheaded by the UN health agency’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
In a joint article published across leading news platforms, the signatories said that the coronavirus crisis had been a “stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe”, and that “there will be other pandemics and other major health emergencies”.
The main goal of the treaty, which all 194 members of the World Health Organization will decide upon in May during the World Health Assembly, is to foster a new approach to strengthen national and international response to future pandemics.
Tedros noted that a future treaty could promote timely information-sharing on outbreaks, equitable access to vaccines and vaccine technology.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.