This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Ukraine: Guterres welcomes opening of control centre for grain exports
The official inauguration of a control centre in Istanbul to oversee the Black Sea Grain Initiative for the export of lifesaving foodstuffs from Ukraine, has been welcomed by the UN Secretary-General.
The Joint Coordination Centre which opened on Wednesday will be staffed by senior representatives of Ukraine, Russia, Türkiye and the UN.
The agreement allows merchant ships to transport grain and related foodstuffs and fertilizers from three key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea to the rest of the world.
Since Russia’s invasion began, it’s been impossible to ship supplies to markets which rely on Ukraine exports, raising the threat of dangerous food shortages.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, UN chief António Guterres underscored how important it was for all parties to work “in partnership directly”, to reduce rising global food insecurity.
Mr. Guterres added that the food crisis – and in particular high prices - would also be alleviated by implementing the memorandum of understanding between the UN and Russia on the distribution of Russian food and fertiliser to world markets.
Aid teams ‘ready to reach’ victims of Philippines quake
UN aid teams have said that they’re ready to reach victims of a magnitude seven earthquake in the northern Philippines that reportedly left five dead and more than 130 others injured.
Tremors were felt hundreds of kilometres away in the capital Manila after the quake hit northern Luzon island - the most heavily populated island in the Philippines - at 8.43am local time on Wednesday.
Access remains difficult however as roads have been blocked by the emergency, the World Food Programme (WFP) said in a short update to UN News on Thursday.
According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, there were more than 13 aftershocks within hours of the initial earthquake.
Prepositioned emergency supplies and teams “are on standby” and ready to support the authorities’ relief efforts, the UN agency said, highlighting that in any emergency, children are among the most vulnerable.
Top rights expert questions ‘double standard’ over Ukraine displaced
A top UN-appointed human rights expert on Thursday has condemned the alleged “double standard” in Poland and Belarus towards those forced to flee the war in Ukraine.
UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe González Morales - who is mandated by the Human Rights Council in Geneva - said that although “hundreds and thousands” of Polish households had offered a “warm welcome” to Ukrainian nationals, the reality for others “seemed very different”.
Mr. González Morales was referring to third country nationals who had been based in Ukraine at the outbreak of the war, particularly people of African descent and other minorities, who he said had not found it so easy to integrate in Poland.
People with irregular migration status faced “heightened difficulties in obtaining residence permits and proper shelter”, said the Special Rapporteur, after visiting the border area between Poland and Belarus.
That was where tensions flared late last year when between 2,000 and 4,000 migrants - many from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East – were forced to camp in freezing conditions, before the political dispute was resolved between both countries.
Mr. González Morales said that although the border area was “relatively calm compared to last winter”, some migrants who included new arrivals had remained stranded between Poland and Belarus, “and subject to violence and pushbacks from both sides”.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.
- UN chief welcomes opening of Black Sea control centre for Ukraine exports
- Philippines Luzon earthquake: Aid teams ‘ready to reach’ victims
- Top rights expert spotlights ‘double standard’ towards Ukraine refugees in Poland, Belarus