News in Brief 27 April 2021

News in Brief 27 April 2021

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

UN chief ‘realistic’ at start of fresh bid to resolve Cyprus stalemate

A fresh UN-led bid to seek to resolve decades of tensions in Cyprus began in Geneva on Tuesday, with Secretary-General António Guterres “realistic” about making progress, his spokesperson said.

The informal talks come four years since the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish communities met – also in Switzerland – without managing to reach an agreement on the divided island’s future.

Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, said that the purpose of the three-day meeting was to determine whether common ground exists for a negotiated solution to the Cyprus issue “in the foreseeable future”:

“The Secretary-General will move forward based on the outcome of these, of the informal talks. As we’ve said – and I think I’ve said back in February in other times in briefings in New York – the parties are welcome to be creative and the Secretary-General will be encouraging them to move, to use diplomatic language, in a sincere and frank manner.”

Key workers need greater workplace protections: ILO

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the workplace dangers faced by key workers who need far greater protection to do their jobs safely, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Tuesday.

A new report by the ILO found that 7,000 health workers have died since the outbreak of the crisis, while 136 million health and social care workers are at risk of contracting COVID-19 as a professional hazard.

Mental health pressures associated with the pandemic should also be taken into account by Governments planning for the next pandemic, the UN agency said, as one in five healthcare workers globally has reported depression and anxiety symptoms.

Teleworking has also blurred the lines between work and private life, adding to people’s mental stress the ILO said, with 65 per cent of businesses reporting that worker morale had been difficult to sustain while at home.

Rights expert on Myanmar appeals to military over ceasefire pledge

The leader of Myanmar’s military must commit to honouring the fundamental right to people’s freedom of expression without fear of violent reprisals, a UN-appointed independent rights expert said on Tuesday.

In an open letter to Senior General, Min Aung Hlaing, Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews insisted that this was “literally a matter of life or death” for those in Myanmar, amid ongoing protests at the coup on 1 February.

To date, the targeted attacks against demonstrators have claimed 750 lives, including young children, Mr. Andrews said, after reminding the head of the military junta that he had reportedly agreed to an immediate ceasefire in Myanmar, at a meeting of regional leaders at the weekend.

Since the military takeover and arrest of the country’s elected officials, there have been near-daily peaceful protests across the country calling for the restoration of democracy.

Katy Dartington, UN News. 

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  • UN chief ‘realistic’ about Cyprus informal talks in Geneva
  • Key workers need more protections in COVID era: ILO
  • Myanmar expert appeals for junta head to honour ceasefire pledge
Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Audio Duration
2'34"
Photo Credit
UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré