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News in Brief 9 June 2021

News in Brief 9 June 2021

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

‘Mass deaths’ alert in Myanmar as 100,000 flee junta’s heavy weapons

In Myanmar, international action is needed urgently to prevent “mass deaths” there, after civilians fled attacks by so-called “junta bombs”, a top UN rights expert has warned.

UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar, Tom Andrews, tweeted late on Monday that deaths from starvation, disease and exposure were feared in southern Kayah State, where many of the 100,000 people forced to flee military attack have been cut off from food, water and medicine.

“The international community must act,” Mr. Andrews said, noting that the Kayah state violence had been repeated throughout Myanmar, from Mutraw in Karen state to Mindat in Chin state and Bago city.

The independent rights expert, who reports to the Human Rights Council, emphasised that the lives of many thousands of men, women and children were under threat from indiscriminate attacks, on a scale not seen since the 1 February coup, “that likely amount to mass atrocity crimes”.

‘Alarming’ numbers of antibiotic-resistant human pathogens

An “alarming” number of infections that cannot be cured by last-resort antibiotics have been reported all over the world, the UN health agency said on Wednesday.

In an update on global antimicrobial resistance, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported “high levels” of resistance among bloodstream infections, such as those increasingly picked up during hospital stays.

There was also high resistance to commonly used antibiotic treatments for urinary tract infections and gonorrhoea, the WHO said, adding that the overall problem was more prevalent in low and middle-income countries than in richer countries.

This is particularly worrying for countries with limited access to modern antibiotics effective against these infections, the UN agency said.

Anti-microbial resistance happens when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites evolve and no longer respond to medicines.

The problem is driven by the misuse and over-use of antimicrobial treatments which makes it harder to treat infections, thus increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

Rights experts urge richest nations to promote fair vaccine access

Finally, an appeal to the leaders of the world’s largest economies to ensure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for much of the Global South.

Wednesday’s call, from top UN-appointed independent rights experts, comes ahead of the G7 summit of leaders later this week in the UK.

In a statement, the experts said that the fast production of safe vaccines against the coronavirus had not been matched by equitable access across countries and regions.

They stressed the need to ensure that intellectual property rights did not become a “barrier to low-cost production and expanded supply”.

Pharmaceutical companies should also join the UN health agency’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) to share know-how, data, and to facilitate technology transfer, the experts said.

According to WHO, less than one per cent of all vaccines administered had reached low-income countries.

The situation has resulted in billions of people being “left behind” who see vaccines “as a mirage or a privilege for the developed world”, said the experts.

They warned that the situation would “unnecessarily prolong the crisis, drastically increase the death toll and deepen economic distress”.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • 'Mass deaths' alert across Myanmar: UN rights expert
  • 'Alarming' rise in antibiotic-resistant pathogens: WHO
  • G7 nations must promote more equitable COVID vaccine access
Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Photo Credit
Unsplash/Gayatri Malhotra