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News in Brief 20 April 2022

News in Brief 20 April 2022

Ukraine: refugee numbers pass five million mark 

More than five million people have fled across Ukraine’s borders since the Russian invasion just seven weeks ago, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR said on Wednesday. 

Latest data from the UNHCR Ukraine crisis portal indicates that five million, 34,439 people have sought shelter in neighbouring countries. 

Poland continues to host the highest number of refugees, at more than 2.8 million, followed by Romania, with 757,000 and Russia, at nearly 550,000. 

Here’s the UN refugee agency’s Shabia Mantoo: 

“Five million refugees have been forced to run for their lives, leaving their country, their homes and their belongings. And these numbers will continue to rise as hostilities intensify and as the war continues. People will continue to flee every day in the absence of peace.” 

To date, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, has verified nearly 4,900 civilian casualties in the war: 2,072 killed and more than 2,800 injured.  

Most were victims of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, OHCHR said, adding that the true number is almost certainly much higher as many areas cannot be accessed because of ongoing hostilities. 

UN chief condemns Afghanistan school attacks  

The killing of at least nine people in an attack on two schools in Kabul on Tuesday has been strongly condemned by the UN chief António Guterres. 

Targeting non-combatants and civilian infrastructure is strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law, he tweeted. 

His comments came after two explosions hit the two learning institutions in a largely Hazara Shia minority neighbourhood in Kabul, which has been targeted many times in the past. 

The UN Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, added his voice to international outrage at the attacks and joined the UN rights office in calling for an investigation and accountability. 

WHO guidelines to treat cryptococcal disease  

Advice for HIV patients now from the UN health agency, WHO, urging countries to adopt a new treatment for an associated secondary infection of cryptococcal disease, which can be deadly unless correctly treated. 

Cryptococcus is a common fungus that lives in the soil and in bird droppings that can infect the lining of the brain and spinal cord – contributing to illness, disability and mortality, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. 

WHO described it as “one of the most important opportunistic infections among people living with advanced HIV”. 

The new treatment involves giving a single high dose of the antifungal agent liposomal amphotericin B to people with HIV who have cryptococcal meningitis. 

Daniel Johnson, UN News 

  • Ukraine: refugee numbers pass five million mark 

  • UN chief condemns Afghanistan school attacks  

  • WHO guidelines to treat cryptococcal disease  

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Daniel Johnson, UN News
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© IOM/Alissa Everett