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News in Brief 12 February 2024

News in Brief 12 February 2024

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Gaza: Relief over rescued hostages as Tedros warns of ‘ocean of need’

Amid reports on Monday that two hostages were rescued during a raid by Israeli special forces in Rafah city, the head of the UN health agency said that nowhere near the amount of aid relief needed is getting into Gaza. 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the World Health Organization (WHO) had delivered 447 metric tons of medical supplies to Gaza since war erupted last October, but it’s “a drop in the ocean of need” which continues to grow every day”.

Only 15 out of 36 hospitals are still “partially or minimally functional” in the enclave, Tedros told the World Governments Summit in Dubai.

He was speaking after fresh reports of intense bombardment by the Israeli military in southern Gaza that accompanied the rescue mission of two Israeli male hostages from the second floor of a building in Rafah.

“Health workers are doing their best in impossible circumstances,” the WHO Director-General continued, as he echoed widespread concerns among the international community about recent attacks on Rafah.

According to the Israeli authorities, about 134 Israelis and foreign nationals remain captive in Gaza; these reportedly include fatalities whose bodies are being withheld. 

During a humanitarian pause in the fighting from 24 to 30 November, 86 Israeli and 24 foreign national hostages were released.

68,000 children affected by Nepal earthquake still need urgent assistance – UNICEF

To Nepal, where tens of thousands of youngsters impacted by a massive earthquake 100 days ago still need help urgently, the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has said.

The 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit Jajarkot district in Karnali province, killing 154 people including 81 children. 

The disaster also damaged homes, schools, health facilities and water supply infrastructure, which has left 68,000 youngsters – and some 200,000 people in total - needing assistance to rebuild their lives.

Alice Akunga, UNICEF Representative to Nepal, said that affected children are “still dealing with the trauma of losing loved ones”, and that their development is at risk as they lost everything.

Even as temperatures rise, children still need nutritious food, clean water, education and shelter, UNICEF said. 

And Ms. Akunga said that “one of the best ways to rebuild children’s lives and restore a sense of normalcy is to get them back to school and learning, so that they can play with their friends, learn and heal”.

UNICEF is appealing for $14.7 million to help rebuild the lives of the affected children.

Progress must be linked to a ‘human rights economy’, say experts

All governments could do more to protect the rights of vulnerable people everywhere by adopting legally binding legislation on their economic, social and cultural policy choices.

That’s the message from a top human rights panel of experts meeting in Geneva on Monday - the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – which is reviewing developments in Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Mauritania, Romania and Sweden, and following up on previous assessments issued for Belgium and Kuwait. 

The panel’s chair, Laura-Maria Craciunean-Tatu, said that the need for progress on human rights around the world couldn’t be more urgent, as conflict affects two billion people today and armed conflicts continue to divert resources away from rights-based sustainable development.

The Committee chair insisted that human dignity is “truly respected and protected only if and when economic, social and cultural rights (are) no longer considered as mere aspirations, but instead, as legal standards that needed to underlie policy choices.” 

The panel also noted that the huge challenges posed by climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution - and the fact that more than 750 million people live in extreme poverty – should convince governments that they should place human rights “in the centre of all policies”.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • Gaza: Relief over rescued hostages as Tedros warns of ‘ocean of need’
  • Economic progress must be linked to a ‘human rights economy’, say experts
  • 68,000 children affected by Nepal earthquake still need urgent assistance: UNICEF 
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Daniel Johnson, UN News
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