This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Refugees exposed disproportionately to COVID impact: Guterres
Everyone has a duty to help refugees rebuild their lives after a particularly difficult year for so many – that’s the message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres to mark World Refugee Day on 20 June.
In an appeal for greater empathy for all those who’ve had to flee conflict, climate shocks and harassment through no fault of their own, Mr. Guterres said that the pandemic had wiped out refugees’ livelihoods, led to stigmatization and vilification.
Refugees had also been exposed disproportionately to the virus, the UN chief insisted, adding that once again, they had demonstrated their invaluable contribution to their host communities as essential and frontline workers.
According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, the number of people in need of international protection rose last year to nearly 82.4 million people.
This is a four per cent increase on top of the already record-high of 79.5 million, recorded at the end of 2019.
Famine risk spikes amid conflict, COVID and funding gaps: WFP
In a related story, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) on Friday launched an appeal for $5 billion “to avoid famine”, warning that millions of refugees faced “uncertainty and hunger” because of the impact of the pandemic on emergency aid budgets.
Millions more are on the verge of famine than six months ago, said spokesperson Tomson Phiri, speaking in Geneva:
“The number of people teetering on the brink of famine has risen from 34 million projected at the beginning of the year, to 41 million projected as of June. Without immediate emergency food assistance, they too face starvation, as the slightest shock will push them over the cliff into famine conditions.”
New refugee influxes this year, linked to conflict and drought, have left some 584,000 people in catastrophic need of assistance. These include those in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, southern Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen.
Globally, more than 270 million people are estimated to be acutely food insecure or at high risk, according to WFP.
UN rights office condemns targeting of civilian objects in Marib
To Yemen now and deep concerns from the UN rights office OHCHR about the continuing targeting of civilian infrastructure in Marib Governorate.
Houthi forces, who are also known as Ansar Allah, have been trying to seize the oil-rich region from the Yemeni Government for several months.
OHCHR spokesperson Liz Throssell said that an attack on 10 June had targeted a civilian compound in Marib City - which included the Governor’s office, the local branch of the Ministry of Planning, police headquarters, a mosque and a women’s prison.
Missiles were used “and possibly an explosive-laden drone”, launched by Ansar Allah, Ms. Throssell told journalists in Geneva.
She added that eight civilians had been killed and 30 other civilians injured. A few days earlier, on 5 June, a petrol station reserved for military personnel and authorized civilians was also hit.
Houthi fighters who have been fighting the internationally recognised government since 2015 have also continued strikes on neighbouring Saudi Arabia – albeit with less intensity, Ms. Throssell said.
She noted that since January, there have been 128 drone strikes and 31 ballistic missiles launched into Saudi Arabia.
Most targets have been military, but civilian airports and industrial facilities have also been hit, the UN rights office spokesperson said.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.