News in Brief 21 September 2022

News in Brief 21 September 2022

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Famine looms in Somalia, but many ‘hunger hotspots’ are in deep trouble

The number of people facing life-threatening levels of hunger worldwide without immediate humanitarian aid, is expected to rise steeply in coming weeks, the UN said on Wednesday, in a new alert about looming famine in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

In Somalia, “hundreds of thousands are already facing starvation today with staggering levels of malnutrition expected among children under five,” warned the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

“Large-scale deaths from hunger” are increasingly likely in the east African nation, the UN agencies said, noting that unless “adequate” help arrives, analysts expect that by December, “as many as four children or two adults per 10,000 people will die every day”.

In addition to the emergency already unfolding in Somalia, the UN agencies flagged 18 more deeply concerning “hunger hotspots”, whose problems have been created by conflict, drought, economic uncertainty, the COVID pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The worst emergencies are in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, a record 970,000 people “are expected to face catastrophic hunger and are starving or projected to starve or at risk of deterioration to catastrophic conditions, if no action is taken”, the UN agencies said.

This is 10 times more than six years ago, when only two countries had populations as badly food insecure.

It’s a myth preventable diseases only affect developed nations: WHO

To the growing global threat of preventable diseases, which the UN health agency has said that too many countries are doing their best to ignore – not least developing nations.

In an alert on Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that every two seconds, someone under 70 years old is dying from a non-communicable – or preventable - illness.

The chief non-communicable disease killers are heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease.

Along with mental health sickness, they cause nearly three in four of all deaths, but they are “not inevitable” and could be addressed by spending more on prevention, the WHO said.

Cost-effective measures that promote universal healthcare were available in a new report from the UN health agency on non-communicable diseases, tailored to countries’ specific needs, said Bente Mikkelsen, WHO’s Director of Noncommunicable Diseases.

“It is a misconception that this is really the diseases of the high-income countries…unfortunately 85 per cent of all premature deaths are in the low and middle income countries”.

WHO’s report noted that investing $18 billion a year in NCDs prevention across all low and middle-income countries, could generate net economic benefits of $2.7 trillion by 2030.

Ukraine crisis: UN launches new digital support hub for refugees

To the Ukraine crisis, where UN relief agencies announced that they’re stepping up support for refugee families who’ve continued to flee their country or who remain on the move.

To complement the existing network of safe spaces known as “Blue Dot Hubs” that have been set up in Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, a digital Blue Dot platform has been set up online, too.

It provides refugees with “updated, accurate and localized information on their mobile phones, including on rights and entitlements, key social services and providers, how to access them, and how to stay safe”, said the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF.

The innovation responds to the face that refugees from Ukraine “are largely reliant on information from social media and other online sources …about where and how travel (and) where to settle down,” the agencies noted.

The link to the platform is It is mobile phone and tablet-friendly, continuously updated and available in several key languages, including Ukrainian and Russian.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • Every two seconds someone is dying of a preventable disease: WHO 
  • Famine looms in Somalia, but many ‘hunger hotspots’ are in deep trouble – FAO, WFP
  • Ukraine crisis: UN refugee agency unveils digital refugee support hub
Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Photo Credit
© WFP/Albaraa Mansour