This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
UN rights chief urges accountability for Beirut blasts, one year on
The people of Beirut need to see accountability for the deepening crisis they have faced after the devastating port blasts in the Lebanese capital 12 months ago, the UN’s top rights official said on Tuesday.
In a statement highlighting deepening despair and anger in Lebanon, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged the Lebanese Government to ensure a transparent, effective, thorough and impartial investigation into last August’s disaster, which killed more than 200 and injured over 6,500.
Here’s spokesperson for the High Commissioner, Marta Hurtado:
“There was initially a powerful spirit of national solidarity as all elements of society came together in response, and the Government initiated judicial proceeding. But 12 months on, victims and their loved ones are still fighting for justice and truth. Investigations appear to have stalled, amid a worrying lack of transparency and accountability.”
In a related development, the UN World Food Programme (WFP), warned that food is “out of reach for much of the population”, since the country’s currency plunged to a fifteenth of its former value.
In June, the UN agency assisted nearly 400,000 vulnerable Lebanese, nearly 987,000 Syrian refugees and about 21,000 refugees of other nationalities.
At least 700 healthcare workers, patients died in attacks since December 2017
More than 700 healthcare workers and patients have died since December 2017 and more than 2,000 have been injured in attacks on health facilities, according to the UN World Health Organization (WHO).
The UN agency issued the alert after studying data from 17 emergency-affected countries and fragile settings.
These included Ethiopia, Yemen, Syria, Mozambique, Nigeria, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Myanmar, Central African Republic and Somalia
Here’s Altaf Musani, Director of the Health Emergencies Interventions:
“During the pandemic more than ever, healthcare workers must be protected, must be respected. Health hospitals and healthcare facilities, including the transportation of ambulances, should not be used for military purposes as essential conditions for the continued delivery of vital health care must be given the necessary space.”
Mr. Musani said that one in six incidents led to a patient or health worker’s loss of life in 2020.
Health workers were impacted the most, he added, as they represented “two-thirds of all attacks in 2018, 2019 and 50 per cent of all recorded incidents in 2020”.
The report warned that the impact of attacks on health care went well beyond endangering health providers, not least by reducing the willingness of communities to seek medical help.
Countries agree bid to address eye care issues for two billion people
The UN General Assembly has approved its first resolution on vision, in a bid to help at least 1.1 billion people who have problems with their eyesight.
The initiative calls on all 193 Member States to ensure access to eye care for all those who lack eye services by 2030.
That’s the deadline for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, of which health is Goal number three.
The “Vision for Everyone” resolution, which was sponsored by Bangladesh, Antigua and Ireland, was co-sponsored by over 100 countries.
The text – passed on 23 July - notes that more than half of blind people are women and girls, while most of those with poor sight live in poor and middle-income countries.
Globally, the problem costs $411 billion dollars in lost productivity, but solutions are as simple as providing a pair of glasses to children so that they can learn more easily when they go to school.
Katy Dartford, UN News.