This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
COVID-19 cases rise globally for sixth consecutive week
More than four million new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the last week, including more than 71,000 deaths – an 11 per cent increase - the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
In its latest weekly update on the coronavirus late on Tuesday evening, the UN health agency reported that the largest increases in case incidence were in India and the Western Pacific.
All regions except for Africa reported increases in the number of deaths, with the largest increase from the South-East Asia Region, up 46 per cent.
By country, India and Brazil saw more than half a million new cases of infection each, followed by the United States with over 444,000 cases, Turkey – with nearly 266,000 and France, over 244,000.
Greater action needed on refugee vaccination, urges UNHCR’s Grandi
To the issue of COVID-19 vaccinations for people displaced by conflict and natural disaster - and a warning that many are missing out on the lifesaving jabs – the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Wednesday.
Leading the appeal for fairer access to vaccines, UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi criticised the “my country first approach” that had created “blatant imbalances” and left poorer countries unprotected from the coronavirus.
It’s a “counter-productive and shortsighted” approach, Mr. Grandi insisted, before commending the 20 countries that are known to have begun vaccinating refugees on an equal footing to citizens.
Among them, Serbia and Nepal, Rwanda and Jordan.
More than eight in 10 of the world’s refugees are in in low and middle-income countries, which urgently need more support to address the health needs of their nationals and those seeking international protection.
Hate speech still rising against Roma despite recognition gains
More must be done to tackle hate speech and violence against minorities including the Roma and Sinti who’ve been scapegoated for spreading the COVID-19 virus, a leading rights expert has said.
Ahead of International Roma Day on Thursday 8 April, UN Special Rapporteur Fernand de Varennes urged States to control the spread of inflammatory comments on social media.
Online hate speech violates international human rights obligations and can lead to violence against Sinti, Roma and other minorities”, the independent rights expert said.
His comments come 50 years since the first World Roma Congress in London; it was seen as a push for unity by the minority and an attempt to build a common ethnic identity.
Despite greater international recognition for the Roma today, Mr. de Varennes highlighted a lack of progress in countering hate speech both online and in mainstream media, including by unnamed “public authorities who not only condoned but actively took part in such vitriol”.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.