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News in Brief 23 July 2021

News in Brief 23 July 2021

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Fears of famine persist in Ethiopia’s stricken Tigray region

UN humanitarians said on Friday that they are still extremely concerned about the number of people facing famine in Ethiopia’s Tigray, despite the resumption of aid flights there.

So far this month, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has only reached 30,000 people because of security concerns, compared to more than 185,000 people in June.

Here’s WFP spokesperson Tomson Phiri:

“Our teams are telling us that the people we are reaching, particularly in areas that were previously inaccessible, such as Zana - are the furthest behind. They have been completely cut off and living in dire conditions…They are literally living from hand to mouth and are completely reliant on WFP assistance to survive.”

Mr Phiri confirmed that WFP’s first UN Humanitarian Air Service flight had arrived in Tigray on Thursday after a month-long break, but that the agency’s wider response continues to be hampered “by a severe lack of sufficient food” and limited communication.

Last Sunday, a 10-truck WFP aid convoy was attacked in neighbouring Afar region, while attempting to transport food aid to Tigray.

Reports from the Ethiopian authorities overnight indicated that clashes in Afar between Government and opposition forces had left 20 dead and displaced thousands.

The last acute food insecurity assessment carried out in June predicted that 400,000 people will likely face “catastrophic levels of hunger” in Tigray this month, after more than eight months of fighting between Ethiopian Government troops and those loyal to the dominant regional force, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

Thailand: rights experts warn against heritage status for Kaeng Krachan national park

Top independent rights experts who report to the Human Rights Council have said that Thailand should not receive World Heritage status for the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex, alleging that indigenous Karen people have faced rights violations there.

In an appeal on Friday to UN body UNESCO to defer the listing as it oversees the World Heritage Committee’s work, Special Rapporteurs José Tzay, David Boyd and Mary Lawlor, maintained that the panel’s decision may influence policies on indigenous peoples’ rights across Asia.

The World Heritage Committee is scheduled to review the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex nomination on 26 July.

It has previously twice rejected Thailand’s push to get heritage status for the park, in 2016 and 2019.

Refugees at Tokyo Olympics carry torch for world’s 82 million forcibly displaced

To Tokyo, where a refugee team is competing in the 2020 Olympics, which began on Friday in the Japanese capital.

Leading the delegation for the opening ceremony at the National Stadium were the flagbearers, swimmer Yusra Mardini, and marathon runner, Tachlowini Gabriyesos.

The entire refugee team consists of 29 athletes across 12 sports and 13 host countries, and they carry the hopes of the world’s 82 million forcibly displaced people, said the UN refugee agency’s Aikaterini Kitidi:

“Sport is very important for refugees and forcibly displaced people at large. For them, it is much more than a usual activity, for them it is a chance to develop, to grow, and to heal from any potential drama that forced displacement might have caused.”

This is only the second time after the 2016 Rio Games that a refugee team has competed in the Olympics. And we wish them every success.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • Fears of famine persist in Ethiopia’s stricken Tigray region
  • Thailand: Heritage status row over Kaeng Krachan national park
  • Tokyo Olympians’ message of hope for world’s displaced
Audio Credit
Katy Dartford, UN News - Geneva
Audio Duration
Photo Credit
© UNHCR/Benjamin Loyseau