This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
‘Families came first’ for remittances in pandemic’s first year, says Guterres
Migrants working away from their families made significant sacrifices to send almost as much money home last year as they did before COVID, UN chief António Guterres said on Wednesday, warning that now is not the time for countries to withdraw their support to these key workers.
The Secretary-General’s message to mark the International Day of Family Remittances comes as World Bank data showed that cash wired home from migrants in wealthy countries, dropped only 1.6 per cent in 2020 from 12 months earlier to $540 billion.
“Migrants put their families first”, by buying less and dipping into their savings to send money to relatives, Mr. Guterres said.
Financial support from host countries also played its part and it must continue, he insisted, urging all countries to include migrant workers in their COVID-19 vaccination plans.
They should also aim to reduce the costs of sending remittances “to as close to zero as possible in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, he said.
DR Congo: Top UN official urges leaders to avoid ethnic hate speech
To the Democratic Republic of the Congo now, where the UN on Wednesday condemned a spike in hate speech that looked to incite ethnic division in several parts of the country.
Bintou Keita, who represents the UN Secretary-General in DR Congo, urged all political and community leaders to abstain from using “discriminatory and provocative” language, at a time of exceptional instability in eastern provinces.
She said that hate speech was prevalent in the Kivus and Ituri, but also in Katanga, Maï-Ndombe and even in the capital, Kinshasa.
Incitement to hate, violence and conflict, runs contrary to international and Congolese law, Ms Keita noted, before urging the country’s parliament to adopt a proposed bill against tribalism, racism and xenophobia.
We should all aim for ‘healthy land’ for sustainable development: Guterres
Finally, an appeal on Wednesday from the UN Secretary-General to protect land from erosion and unsustainable development and help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change.
In his message marking the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, António Guterrres said that land degradation from climate change and the expansion of agriculture, cities and infrastructure, have undermined the well-being of 3.2 billion people.
In addition to the harm done to the planet’s biodiversity, the UN chief insisted that land degradation had also allowed infectious diseases to emerge, such as COVID-19.
To counter this, greater efforts are needed to promote “healthy land”, he said.
The benefits include removing carbon from the atmosphere and the generation of an extra $1.4 trillion dollars in agricultural production each year.
“The best part is that land restoration is simple, inexpensive and accessible to all,” according to the UN Secretary-General, who said that it was one of the best ways of accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
Daniel Johnson, UN News