This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Peace needed now, ‘more than ever’: Guterres
After a year of brutal warfare from Afghanistan to Ukraine, the world needs peace in 2023 “more than ever”, the UN Secretary-General has said, in his New Year message.
In a stark reminder that as we prepare to “sweep out the ashes of the old year and prepare for a brighter day”, António Guterres insisted that in 2022, “millions…around the world literally swept out ashes”.
More than 100 million fled violence, wildfires, droughts, poverty and hunger in the past 12 months, the UN chief continued, as he appealed for “peace on streets”, and “the full protection of all human rights”, after a year marked by violent reprisals by some repressive State forces.
Peace has many faces, Mr. Guterres explained: peace with one another, through dialogue to end conflict, and peace with nature and our climate, to build a more sustainable world.
Top UN and civil society officials slam Afghan rulers’ NGO ban for women
Top UN agency officials and civil society organization heads joined forces on Thursday to urge Afghanistan’s de facto authorities to reconsider their ban on women working for NGOs that provide aid relief.
“Banning women from humanitarian work has immediate life-threatening consequences for all Afghans,” they insisted.
Some aid programmes have already had to stop temporarily, owing to a lack of female staff, the agency principals said, at a time when more than 28 million people in Afghanistan need “assistance to survive” the brutal winter, economic collapse and the risk of famine.
In a joint statement that followed Tuesday’s announcement by the Taliban that Afghan women must stop working for NGOs, the top UN officials insisted that female staff were “key to every aspect of the humanitarian response in Afghanistan”.
In particular, this was because “they have access to populations that their male colleagues cannot reach”, they explained, as they also insisted that Afghan women humanitarians “save lives”.
Their work must continue, the UN and NGO principals insisted, as “teachers, nutrition experts, team leaders, community health workers, vaccinators, nurses, doctors, and heads of organizations”.
Violent clashes in South Sudan stretch humanitarian operations
To South Sudan, where the United Nations and aid partners have been providing assistance to thousands of people displaced by violent clashes in the east of the country.
An estimated 30,000 people have been uprooted in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area, and some 5,000 internally displaced people have arrived in Pibor town after fleeing Gumuruk and Lekuangole, according to UN aid coordination agency, OCHA.
The agency said on Thursday that “armed young men” from neighbouring Jonglei State had “attacked communities” in Greater Pibor Administrative Area. Cattle-raiding and the destruction of properties have also been reported.
This latest violence follows the mass displacement of civilians – again triggered by fighting - in November in South Sudan’s Fashoda County, Upper Nile State, to the north of Jonglei State.
UN humanitarians and partners have continued to provide support to communities in need; but they have warned that escalating violence in South Sudan has forced them to prioritize immediate lifesaving relief over longer-term projects.
An estimated 9.4 million of the most vulnerable people in South Sudan will need urgent life-saving assistance and protection in 2023, an increase of half a million compared to 2022.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.