News in Brief 18 January 2023

News in Brief 18 January 2023

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Ukraine war: no chance for serious peace negotiations yet, say UN chief

On Ukraine, the UN Secretary-General said on Wednesday that he did not believe that there was an opportunity to organise “a serious peace negotiation” between the warring parties, yet.

Despite that sobering assessment, António Guterres told the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, that he remained committed to alleviating the suffering of Ukrainians and vulnerable people in the wider world, still reeling from the conflict’s “dramatic, devastating impacts” on the global economy.

“There will be an end of this war, there is an end of everything, but I do not see an end of the war in the immediate future, unfortunately. I do not see a chance at the present moment to have a serious peace negotiation between the two parties.”

Reiterating that the Russian invasion of Ukraine violated international law and the UN Charter, the Secretary-General underscored the difficulty of ending the violence, when the two sides continued to have such fundamentally different ideas about each other’s history.  

With Ukrainian and Russian fighters entrenched in Ukraine, Mr. Guterres insisted that the UN had nonetheless helped to secure the support of Kyiv and Moscow to ship desperately-needed grain and fertilizer to countries facing or trying to ward off spiralling food insecurity.

Small Island Developing States accelerate action to tackle biggest killers

Small island developing States have among the highest rates of non-communicable diseases and mental health risks in the world, which is why the UN health agency said on Wednesday that it’s taking part in a new push to help people there stay well.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one in two people in developing small island nations die prematurely from preventable diseases. These include high blood pressure, which affects more than three in 10 citizens from those countries.

The UN health agency’s new data portal also showed that 10 of the countries with the highest rates of obesity worldwide are small island States, which also have the highest rates of diabetes among adults in the world.

In part, this is because they “are disproportionately exposed to the impact of the climate crisis on both physical and mental health”, WHO said.

Based on discussions with affected communities and meetings between the WHO, the Government of Barbados and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), new recommendations have been agreed, to scale up action on non-communicable diseases and mental health.

These include accelerating the early detection, prevention and management of disease and mental health conditions across small island developing States, and also strengthening health systems to cope with the climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic.

Middle East gripped by cycle of violence, Security Council hears

To the Security Council, which heard a worrying assessment on Wednesday about spiralling insecurity in the West Bank.

In an update to the Council, the UN’s Special Coordinator on the situation in the Middle East, Tor Wennesland, described armed exchanges between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians.

He said that between 8 December and 13 January, 14 Palestinians were killed - including five children – “during demonstrations, clashes, search-and-arrest operations, attacks and alleged attacks against Israelis”.

Israeli settlers or other civilians also perpetrated more than 60 attacks against Palestinians, Mr. Wennesland continued, resulting in 28 injuries, including six children.

Area A of the occupied West Bank saw “a high proportion” of all casualties, the UN official noted.

He reiterated that “all perpetrators of all acts of violence must be held accountable and swiftly brought to justice.”

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

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  • Ukraine war: no chance for serious peace negotiations yet, say UN chief
  • Middle East gripped by cycle of violence, Security Council hears
  • Small Island Developing States accelerate action to tackle preventable disease threat: WHO
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Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
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