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News in Brief 11 April 2024

News in Brief 11 April 2024

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

UNICEF high temperatures alert for children in east Asia 

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Thursday that sweltering heat could expose up to 243 million children across east Asia and the Pacific to a host of heat-related illnesses.

These include respiratory conditions, asthma, cardiovascular disease and even death in the most extreme cases.

Extreme heat also increases the likelihood of pregnant women giving birth to premature or stillborn babies, as well as complications from gestational diabetes.

With temperatures already exceeding 40 degrees Celcius – or 104 Fahrenheit – and high humidity, the forecast is for further heatwaves in the coming months. 

Parents and caregivers are being urged to take extra precautions, including creating cooler spaces in schools and kindergartens for children to play and rest; avoiding being outdoors during the hottest parts of the day; dressing children in light, breathable clothes, and having them drink plenty of water.

“Children are more vulnerable than adults to the effects of climate change, and excess heat is a potentially lethal threat to them,” said Debora Comini, UNICEF’s regional director.

Myanmar: Middle class ‘disappearing’ amid ongoing political crisis

Staying in Asia, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has warned that Myanmar’s middle class is simply “disappearing” amidst deepening poverty and civil conflict following the 2021 military coup.

The country’s vulnerable populations, particularly women and children, are being hit hardest.

The middle class has shrunk by 50 per cent since the junta took power, coupled with a surge in poverty, against a backdrop of widespread insecurity.

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner cited data from the report showing that less than a quarter of the population has sufficient income to live above the poverty line. 

Without immediate remedies “vulnerability will keep growing, and impacts will be felt across generations” he said. 

Thursday’s report reveals glaring regional inequalities within Myanmar.

Conflict-ridden areas suffer heightened poverty levels marked by destruction of homes, restricted access to farmlands and an increase in those displaced. 

UNDP estimates that aid adding up to $4 billion per year is needed to effectively address ballooning poverty, via cash transfers and other means.

Gaza: Security Council demands accountability for attacks on humanitarians

And now to Gaza, where the UN Security Council voiced alarm on Thursday over the attacks on humanitarian workers in Gaza and the threat of famine in the war-ravaged enclave. 

In a statement, the 15-member body expressed grave concern over the Israeli air strikes that killed seven team members of the World Central Kitchen on 1 April.

The attacks brought the number of humanitarians killed in Gaza to at least 224, more than three times more than any other conflict recorded in a single year. 

Security Council members underlined the need for accountability.

Ambassadors stressed the need for a “full, transparent and comprehensive investigation into the incident, that is fully publicized”, although they acknowledged Israel’s initial acceptance of responsibility.

They reiterated their “deep concern” over the rising death toll, the catastrophic humanitarian situation, and the threat of imminent famine in Gaza.

They called for the immediate lifting of all barriers to the delivery of humanitarian aid at scale.

Matt Wells, UN News.

  • Life-threatening heat alert for children in east Asia: UNICEF
  • Myanmar middle class ‘disappearing’: UN development report
  • Gaza: Security Council demands accountability for humanitarian attacks
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Matt Wells, UN News
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