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News in Brief 6 June 2023

News in Brief 6 June 2023

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Ukraine: Destruction of dam sparks nuclear safety, humanitarian concerns

Thousands of civilians in Ukraine are in danger after the apparent destruction of a dam whose reservoir is used to cool the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant (ZNPP), UN humanitarians said on Tuesday.

In a tweet, the UN aid coordination office, OCHA, described dire humanitarian needs among the many people already left without homes, as water levels continue to rise.

According to the UN’s nuclear watchdog, IAEA, the damage to the Nova Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine has already led to a “significant” reduction in the level of the reservoir that supplies the ZNPP.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi warned that the “absence of cooling water in the essential cooling water systems for an extended period of time would cause fuel melt and inoperability of the plant’s emergency diesel generators”.

While there was no “immediate risk” to the plant’s safety, as the supply of cooling water from the reservoir “should last for a few days”, the agency’s monitors present at Zaporizhzhya, which is occupied by Russia but operated by Ukrainian civilians, continue to monitor closely the rate at which the reservoir level is falling.

Mr. Grossi also said that a “large cooling pond” next to the ZNPP could potentially provide an alternative source of water. But he insisted that it was “vital” that this cooling pond remains intact.

Over 400,000 deaths a year due to unsafe food: WHO, FAO

Every day, 1.6 million people around the world become sick from eating contaminated food. And every year, unsafe food kills 420,000 people.

These startling figures were shared on Tuesday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), ahead of World Food Safety Day, marked on 7 June.

WHO said that over 200 diseases, from diarrhoea to cancers, are caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals. And with over 345 million people facing high levels of food insecurity in 2023, more people face a bleak choice between going hungry and eating unsafe food.

Here’s the Director of FAO’s office in Geneva, Dominique Burgeon:

“When food is scarce, it’s clear that people will make all possible efforts to find food and to provide food to their family. And we see that there is definitely a direct correlation between situations of food scarcity and increased threats to food safety.”

WHO and FAO provide scientific advice to help countries develop food standards and have established a trust fund to enable low and middle-income countries to implement food control systems, build laboratory capacities and protect consumer health.

Safety belts: 50 years of saving lives

Since becoming mandatory in the early 1970s in a handful of western European countries, safety belts in cars have saved millions of lives over the past 50 years.

The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), whose Regulation no. 16 entered into force on 1 December 1970 and inspired a push in the region towards national legislation on seatbelts, marked the milestone on Tuesday by calling for improved road safety in developing countries.

Jean Todt, the UN Special Envoy for Road Safety, insisted that it was necessary to support developing countries in adopting and enforcing safety-belt laws in line with international standards and providing access to vehicles with appropriately fitted belts.

Over 1.3 million people still die on the roads every year, 93 per cent of them in developing countries. According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), only 105 countries have safety-belt laws aligned with best practice.

WHO also says that when front-seat passengers strap themselves in, they reduce the risk of fatal injury by up to 50 per cent, while the risk of death and serious injuries among those who buckle up on the back seat is reduced by 25 per cent.

Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, UN News.

  • Ukraine: destruction of Nova Kakhovka dam sparks nuclear safety, humanitarian concerns
  • Over 400,000 deaths a year due to unsafe food: WHO, FAO
  • Safety belts: 50 years of saving lives
Audio Credit
Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, UN News - Geneva
Photo Credit
© UNOCHA/Matteo Minasi