This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
In Mali, improvised bomb claims lives of two Egyptian peacekeepers
UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday echoed strong condemnation of the killing of two UN peacekeepers in northern Mali.
The blue helmets – who were serving with the UN Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) - died when their armoured vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device some 60 kilometres northeast of Gao on Tuesday.
Along with the deceased peacekeepers, who were both from Egypt, another nine Egyptian blue helmets were also seriously injured in the attack on a logistics convoy, on the Tessalit to Gao highway.
“The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the Government and people of Egypt, whose soldiers continue to pay the highest price in the service of peace in Mali,” said Mr. Guterres’s spokesperson in a statement, which also urged the authorities to bring those responsible to justice swiftly.
MINUSMA noted that 177 of its soldiers have been killed since it was established nearly a decade ago, including four just last month.
Tedros urges Pfizer to make oral COVID antiviral available more widely
The head of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) has called on drug manufacturer Pfizer to do more to ensure that its new COVID-19 oral antiviral medication is available quickly and effectively to countries that may struggle to afford it.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s appeal comes as confirmed coronavirus cases jumped nearly 30 per cent in the past two weeks, with increased infections in four out of six regions of the world.
“Our organizations are still trying to finalize with Pfizer the appropriate terms and conditions for low and middle-income countries. This is delaying access and some countries may choose to wait for a generic version of the antiviral, probably available only early 2023 and this will cost lives. I call on Pfizer to work closely with health agencies and countries to ensure its new oral antiviral is available quickly and effectively.”
The UN health agency has been working with the Global Fund and UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, to help countries source antivirals when they become available.
These include allocations of Molnupiravir, which 20 countries have secured, and Nirmatrelvir-Ritonavir, or Paxlovid, which 43 countries have expressed an interest in obtaining.
On Monkeypox, Tedros said that he continued to be “concerned by the scale and spread of the virus”.
There have now been more than 6,000 cases recorded in 58 countries, said Tedros, noting that it was “highly probable” that a significant number of cases were not being picked up because of limited testing.
Europe is the current epicentre of the outbreak, with more than 80 per cent of cases globally.
In Africa, cases are appearing in countries not previously affected, and record numbers have been confirmed in places which have seen monkeypox previously.
Brazil killings are evidence that police reforms are needed, say experts
To Brazil, where independent rights experts on Wednesday called for urgent reforms against “racialized police brutality”, following the killing of at least 23 people by officers, during raids and investigations.
The development follows a raid on Favela Cruzeiro in Rio de Janeiro in late May, where nearly two dozen people including children, were killed after security forces reportedly fired indiscriminately.
Most of the victims were Afro-Brazilians, said the Human Rights Council-appointed experts, who called on the Brazilian Government to adopt “wide-ranging reforms to …de-militarise all law enforcement agencies and …address systemic racism and racial discrimination”.
In another incident, the rights experts described how three police officers reportedly used pepper spray and tear gas on a motorcycle rider of African descent, after pulling him over and putting him in the trunk of their car, where he died a short time later.
The experts reiterated calls to adhere to international standards that govern the use of force. It should only be used “when strictly necessary to protect life or prevent serious injury from an imminent threat”, they said.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.
- UN condemnation over latest MINUSMA deaths following attack in Mali
- WHO chief urges Pfizer to make COVID oral antiviral ‘available quickly’
- Brazil killings, evidence that police reforms are needed: UN experts