Skip to main content

News in Brief 17 March 2023

News in Brief 17 March 2023

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Lives of 10 million children at risk as conflict rages in central Sahel

Children are increasingly caught up in armed conflict in the climate-affected, food insecure central Sahel region, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Friday.

“Brutal” armed conflict has left 10 million children in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger in need of humanitarian assistance – more than double the number in 2020.

And hostilities spilling over into neighbouring countries are putting another four million children at risk.

Here’s UNICEF’s John James:

“The conflict may not have clear boundaries, there may not be headline-grabbing battles, but slowly and surely things have been getting worse for children, and millions of them are now caught up in the centre of this crisis.”

In Burkina Faso, the number of children killed during the first nine months of 2022 has tripled, compared to the same period in 2021.

More than 8,300 schools in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have also shut down either because of attacks by armed groups or because teachers have fled – with some parents too frightened to send their children to school, UNICEF said.

UN rights chief calls on Belarus to end campaign of violence and repression

“Unacceptable” impunity and “near-total destruction of fundamental freedoms” must stop in Belarus, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday.

Volker Türk’s comments accompanied a UN Human Rights Office report showing “widespread and systematic” abuse across the country in the lead-up to and after a disputed election in 2020.

Rights violations included killings and arbitrary detention, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, as well as violations of civil and political rights.

As of 17 March, more than 1,400 people are in detention in Belarus on politically motivated charges. Long prison sentences have been handed down in recent weeks against opposition leaders and human rights defenders, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski.

The UN rights chief has called for the detainees to be released.

“The Government owes it to its people to bring a halt to this mass repression and to conduct impartial and transparent investigations to ensure that those responsible for grave violations are held accountable”, said Mr. Türk.

Emergency response continues in cyclone-hit Southern Africa

UN humanitarians have continued to work around the clock in Southern Africa, where Cyclone Freddy made its second deadly landfall almost one week ago.

To help storm victims in Mozambique, $10 million has been released from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), as aid teams support 49,000 displaced people across nearly 140 accommodation centers.

In Malawi, additional search and rescue capacity has been provided by the UN World Food Programme (WFP); the agency plans to deploy a helicopter to help airlift essential supplies, food, fuel and other relief items.

Six months’ worth of rainfall has fallen in six days in the south of the country and flooding has inundated farmlands just before harvest, in a country where 5.4 million people are food insecure.

Speaking from Blantyre, here’s WFP Malawi Director Paul Turnbull:

“The satellite imagery collected so far indicates that 240,000 hectares have been flooded, including 75,000 hectares of cropland. What I have already seen from visits to three districts is a massive destruction of crops, in a region where most people make a living from agriculture.”

Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, UN News.

  • Lives of 10 million children on the line as conflict rages in central Sahel
  • UN rights chief calls on Belarus to end campaign of repression
  • Emergency response continues in cyclone-hit Southern Africa
Audio Credit
Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, UN News - Geneva
Photo Credit
©Artisan Productions / UNEP