News in Brief 16 September 2022

News in Brief 16 September 2022

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Ukraine: UN rights office set to probe ‘mass graves’ in newly liberated east

Reports that mass graves have been discovered in the Ukrainian city of Izyum are to be investigated by UN rights monitors, it’s been announced.

The development follows the liberation of eastern areas of Ukraine previously held by Russian or Russian-backed forces.

One Ukrainian police officer has been quoted as saying that more than 400 bodies are believed to have been found in one location.

In Geneva on Friday, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said that UN investigators already in Ukraine would be looking to see if those buried were soldiers or civilians, and whether they had died in hostilities or from natural causes.

Here’s spokesperson Liz Throssell:

“As you may recall, that was something that came up quite a lot during the fighting, the siege of Mariupol; there were these reports of collective graves, it was really a case of looking at whether people had been killed or had died of natural causes because they weren’t able to get treatment, and they had indeed been buried in collective graves.”

UN humanitarians decry ‘largest funding gap ever’

Millions of families hit by emergencies around the world have been left without lifesaving support because of the largest funding gap ever, UN humanitarians said on Friday.

UN aid coordination office, OCHA, said that nearly $50 billion is needed to help more than 200 million people.

But only around one-third of that ask has been provided, and OCHA has taken the decision to release $100 million in emergency funding to help plug critical gaps in 11 operations.

Here’s OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke:

“These are difficult times; not least after COVID where budgets have shrunk and we have seen global recessionary trends and the rest of it. However, the needs are skyrocketing, it’s out of control.”

The $100 million cash injection will help scale up operations in emergencies that often receive little international media attention, in Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East.

The 11 countries that will benefit are Yemen, South Sudan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Uganda, Venezuela, Mali, Cameroon, Mozambique and Algeria.

In a related development, OCHA announced that its Central Emergency Relief Fund released $9.5 million on Friday to help struggling farmers in Niger.

They’ve been hit hard by failed rains, which have caused planted crops to fail by as much as four times already this season.

The aim of the funding is to provide early support to at-risk communities by restoring degraded land, upgrading water supplies, distributing seeds, protecting livestock and supporting health teams.

States still selling arms to Myanmar junta, warns UN report

To Myanmar, where a new UN human rights office report published on Friday has urged more countries to stop selling arms to the military junta that seized power 18 months ago.

Following widespread international condemnation for the coup and the generals’ violent repression of opposition voices, the report’s authors said that “several” States continue to supply weapons to those now controlling the country.

Some progress had been made to economically isolate the Myanmar military, according to the report, which was commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council.

But it noted that much more action was needed, not least targeted measures that should focus on the military’s access to foreign currency.

The country’s de facto authorities had “failed to govern in meaningful and sustainable ways” and had continued “to repress and terrorize the Myanmar people”, the report noted.

Latest information from Myanmar indicates that poverty has increased at least two-fold since the coup.

The public health system has “effectively broken down”, according to the UN rights office report, which added that “more than half of all school-age children” have not been to school in two years.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

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  • Ukraine: Rights office set to probe reports of 'mass graves'  
  • UN humanitarians decry 'largest funding gap ever'
  • States still selling arms to Myanmar junta, warns UN report 
Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
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3'39"
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© UNICEF/Anton Skyba for The Globe and Mail