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News in Brief 31 August 2021

News in Brief 31 August 2021

This is the news in brief from the United Nations.

Despite funding shortages, UN committed to staying in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, a message from UN humanitarians that they fully intend to stay and deliver to those in need, as western governments completed their pull-out from the country.

Spokesperson Jens Laerke from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Tuesday that operations were continuing and that the UN had already helped eight million people this year alone.

But he warned that the $1.3 billion funding requirement had not been met and that there was a lack of supplies in the now Taliban-controlled nation.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that despite Monday’s air delivery of 12.5 metric tonnes of medical supplies that will cover the basic health needs of more than 200,000 people, it's still “not enough”.

WHO spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris said that although the UN health agency was planning two more supply flights this week, it wanted to have continual flights to restore basic services. Dr. Harris warned that before the Taliban takeover, some 12.2 million people were already projected to experience food insecurity and malnutrition; getting supplies into Afghanistan was “absolutely critical”, she said.

UNHCR reiterates call for Afghanistan’s neighbours to keep borders open

Staying with Afghanistan where the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has repeated its call to  neighbouring States to keep their borders open to those fleeing the country. 

Around 3.5 million people are displaced within the county and many of those wishing to cross into countries such as Pakistan or Iran may not have the documents they need, said UNHCR spokesperson, Andrej Mahecic.

“Those leaving Afghanistan may nevertheless have international protection needs and those wishing to cross may also be unable to do so without passports and visa documentation. Hence our call on the countries neighbouring Afghanistan to keep their borders open and allow those who may be at risk to seek safety.”

The UNHCR spokesperson commended Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees for decades, with 1.4 million registered. He added that whilst he was aware of the pressures this poses, UNHCR remained ready to help national authorities to scale up the response to humanitarian needs.

Mali violence and impunity responsible for uptick in civilian deaths

To Mali, where UN peacekeepers have condemned the steep rise in the number of civilians killed in recent months.

According to MINUSMA, at least 527 non-combatants were killed, injured or disappeared between April and June this year – a 25 per cent increase on the first three months of 2021.

The main areas targeted were Bandiagara, Douentza, Djenne, Koro, Mopti, Niono and Segou.

Those responsible for more than half of the victims, were fighters affiliated with Al Nusra, Islamic State and other extremist groups.

A further 20 per cent were killed, injured or kidnapped by local community self-defence forces.

One of the worst incidents involved ethnic Dogon fighters who attacked Peul people in Doura and Dougabougou in May, killing at least 16 civilians; while in another assault, Peul attackers targeted at least four Dogon villages near Bandiagara. 

MINUSMA’s report also noted that Malian security forces were behind nine per cent of human rights violations in the three months from April to June, and that regional and international forces were responsible for six per cent.

Katy Dartford, UN News.

  • Afghanistan: far more lifesaving medical supplies needed: WHO
  • UNHCR stands ready to help Afghan neighbours offer shelter
  • Mali uptick in civilian killings, warns UN mission MINUSMA
Audio Credit
Katy Dartford, UN News - Geneva
Photo Credit
Unsplash/ Mohammad Rahmani