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News in Brief 30 May 2023

News in Brief 30 May 2023

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.


UN humanitarians complete first food distribution in Khartoum as hunger, threats to children intensify

For the first time since fighting broke out in Sudan on 15 April, humanitarians have been able to reach desperate families trapped in the conflict’s epicentre, Khartoum, with food assistance, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday.

WFP’s Country Director in Sudan, Eddie Rowe, told reporters in Geneva that in a major breakthrough, since last Saturday, the agency was able to distribute food to 15,000 people in both Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) controlled areas of Omdurman, part of the Khartoum metropolitan area, amid a worsening food security situation in the country, as the lean season fast approaches.

Here is Mr. Rowe speaking from Port Sudan:

“Apart from the assessed 16 million people who would find it very difficult to afford a meal a day, this conflict compounded by the hunger season would increase the food insecure population by about 2.5 million people, who definitely would slip into the hunger category in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that an unprecedented 13.6 million children in Sudan today require urgent assistance.

Hundreds of girls and boys have already been killed in the fighting and thousands more injured, UNICEF said, while the lack of access to food, safe water and healthcare could mean “a death sentence” for the most vulnerable.

Flooding in Somalia could affect up to 1.6 million as climate puts generation of children at risk: UNICEF

Following five consecutive failed rainy seasons which had brought Somalia to the brink of famine, heavy rains are now inflicting extreme hardship on the country’s vulnerable children, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.

UNICEF’s Waafa Saeed said that flooding this year has already displaced more than 400,000 people and could affect up to 1.6 million should the rains continue.

Here is Ms. Saeed speaking from Mogadishu:

“Somalia’s story – and the challenge facing a generation of children growing up in the country - is not simply about droughts or floods, it is a climate emergency. Communities in Somalia contributed the least to climate change, yet they are suffering the most. The droughts and floods are becoming more frequent and more severe and have eroded people’s coping mechanisms.”

UNICEF warned that the Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan is only 26 per cent funded, and that the provision of clean water and sanitation is under threat in the face of skyrocketing risks of disease outbreaks, such as cholera and malaria.

Melting cryosphere: WMO’s urgent call to action

Global warming’s devastating effects on the world’s sea ice, icebergs and glaciers – part of what is known as the cryosphere – need to be better understood and mitigated, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

WMO warned on Tuesday that glaciers and ice sheet melt in Greenland and Antarctica accounts for some 50 per cent of sea level rise, which is accelerating, with disastrous impacts on small island developing states and densely populated coastal areas.

The average thickness of the world’s glaciers has plummeted by almost 30 metres since 1970.

“The cryosphere issue is a hot topic not just for the Arctic and Antarctic, but it is a global issue,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

The irreversible changes in the global cryosphere will affect well over a billion people who rely on water from snow and glacier melt, WMO said. The agency also called melting Arctic permafrost a “sleeping giant” of greenhouse gases, as it stores twice as much carbon as there is in the atmosphere today.

WMO said it has made this burning issue one of its top priorities and called for better predictions and intensified research, data exchange and investment.

Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, UN News.

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Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, UN News - Geneva
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© UNHCR/Charity Nzomo