This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
600 million children not in school because of COVID-19: UNICEF
Six hundred million students are still not in school across the world because of the COVID pandemic, UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said on Tuesday.
In an appeal to reopen schools as soon as possible, the agency warned that unless governments do so, students will face lasting harm.
Remote learning is out of reach for at least a third of the world’s school children, it said, before highlighting the case of Uganda, where classrooms have been shut for 306 days and where home internet connectivity is the lowest in the world, at 0.3 per cent.
UNICEF noted that while governments faced the impossible choice of locking down communities or else see COVID-19 infections skyrocket, there was “clear evidence that primary and secondary schools (were) not among the main drivers of (coronavirus) transmission”.
By region, the UN agency said that nearly half the countries of Asia and the Pacific had closed their schools for more than 200 days during the pandemic.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, which have seen some of the longest school closures, there are 18 countries and territories where schools are either fully or partially closed.
In Eastern and Southern Africa, UNICEF said that 40 per cent of all school-aged children are still out of class.
Rising concern for Eritrean refugees stranded in Tigray camps
To Tigray now, where there’s growing concern for thousands of Eritrean refugees who remain trapped in camps there, as fighting escalates in the region.
UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday that an estimated 24,000 Eritrean refugees in Mai Aini and Adi Harush camps in western Tigray are cut off from humanitarian assistance and “living in constant fear”.
Spokesperson Babar Baloch said that 30 days of food supplies were delivered to the camps in June and that there was “a real danger of hunger among the refugees if supplies do not resume”:
“Our staff have lost all access to the refugee camps for the last two weeks. Trapped refugees need urgent life-saving assistance. Clean drinking water is running out, no healthcare services are available, and hunger is a real danger. The last food distribution to both camps was done in late June, providing rations for one month.”
UNHCR said that it had also received credible reports that at least one refugee was killed by armed elements operating inside Mai Aini camp.
This follows the killing of another refugee in the last two weeks, said UNHCR, which appealed to all warring parties to respect international humanitarian law and the right of all refugees and civilians to be protected from violence.
Dozens feared dead in new Mediterranean boat tragedy
Another shipwreck off the Libyan coast has left dozens missing, feared dead, the UN migration agency, IOM, said on Tuesday.
The UN agency said that the vessel was carrying at least 70 people when it left the Libyan port of Khums late last Sunday.
Spokesperson Paul Dillon said that the boat ran into trouble, took on water and sank.
Local fishermen and the Libyan Coast Guard rescued 18 people:
“Survivors told staff from the International Organization for Migration, who regularly respond to these heart-wrenching scenes, that at least 57 people are missing, among them at least 20 women and two toddlers.”
The survivors who are from Nigeria, Ghana and The Gambia have received emergency medical assistance, food, water and comfort.
This latest tragedy pushes the 2021 death toll on the central Mediterranean route to roughly 970 men, women and children, IOM said, in a call for better migration management and greater solidarity from European Union countries.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.