This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
New UN-led global immunization strategy aims to save over 50 million lives
A UN-led global immunization strategy has been launched to reach more than 50 million children who’ve missed lifesaving jabs against diseases such as measles, yellow fever and diptheria, in large part because of COVID-19 disruption.
Welcoming the move, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that “even before the pandemic, there were worrying signs that (the world) was beginning to lose ground in the fight against preventable child illness, with 20 million children already missing out on critical vaccinations”.
According to the UN health agency, immunization services have started to recover from the disruption caused by COVID-19 restrictions in 2020.
But a World Health Organization (WHO) survey found that 60 mass vaccination campaigns have been postponed in 50 countries, putting around 228 million people - mostly children - at risk for diseases such as measles, yellow fever and polio.
More than half of the 50 affected countries are in Africa, while measles campaigns have seen most disruption, accounting for 23 postponed vaccination drives, affecting an estimated 140 million people.
UN offers condolences for Iraqi hospital fire
The UN’s top official in Iraq has expressed “shock and pain” over a deadly fire at a COVID-19 hospital in Baghdad that claimed scores of lives.
Special Representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert offered her condolences to the victims’ families after the blaze at Ibn Khatib hospital on Saturday night.
According to reports, the accident happened after an oxygen tank exploded.
Iraq's Civil Defence said that by the early hours of Sunday morning the fire was under control.
Emergency service officials said that many patients died when they were taken off oxygen machines to be evacuated, while others were suffocated by smoke, according to news sources.
Future disasters must be stemmed before they start, Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert said, calling for “stronger protection measures”.
UN’s Guterres in Geneva for fresh bid to end Cyprus division
A fresh UN-led bid for a reunified Cyprus is to get under way in Geneva on Tuesday, four years after Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders last met to discuss the future of the divided Mediterranean island.
Overseeing three days of meetings beginning Tuesday will be UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“The purpose of the meeting will be to determine whether common ground exists for the parties to negotiate a lasting solution to the Cyprus issue within a foreseeable horizon”, the UN said in a statement ahead of the talks.
UN resolutions call for reunification in a federal power-sharing arrangement, as opposed to a 'one island, two states' option.
Discussions in the Swiss city will also feature delegations from Greece, Turkey and the UK – all guarantor powers of Cyprus that agreed to the island’s independence in 1960.
The development comes after Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots marched for peace at the weekend in Nicosia, which is Europe’s last divided capital.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.