Tuesday’s Daily Brief: sexual violence in conflict, a malaria vaccine trial, updates on Libya, Ebola in DR Congo, Sri Lanka and Mali

23 April 2019

Here are our top stories for this Tuesday: a focus on conflict-related sexual violence at the Security Council, a groundbreaking trial for a malaria vaccine in Malawi, thousands seeking shelter in Libya’s capital as fighting continues, concerns in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after the attack of an Ebola treatment centre, an update on the death toll of the Sri Lanka attacks, and the Security Council’s condemnation of the killing of peacekeepers in Mali. 

Protect women’s rights ‘before, during and after conflict’ UN chief tells high-level Security Council debate 

Over the course of the past decade, there has been “a paradigm shift” in understanding the devastating impact of sexual violence in conflict on international peace and security, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council during a high-level debate on Tuesday. 

“Local civil society organizations, many of them women’s organizations, are on the frontlines of our efforts to prevent and provide redress for this crime, and they deserve our strong and consistent support” he said at the meeting marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of resolution 1888, which created the mandate of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. 

Read our full coverage here.  

New malaria vaccine trial in Malawi marks ‘an innovation milestone', declares UN health agency 

A new vaccine against deadly malaria which has been 30 years in development, was made available for the first time to infants in Malawi on Tuesday, marking an “innovation milestone”, said the World Health Organization (WHO). 

The disease remains on the of the world’s leading killers, with one child dying every two minutes. Most of the fatalities are in Africa, where more than 250,000 children die each year. 

Known officially as the RTS,S, vaccine, it will also be introduced in Ghana and Kenya in the coming weeks. “We have seen tremendous gains from bed nets and other measures to control malaria, but progress has stalled and even reversed in some areas”, said WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus. 

Find the whole story here.  

Libya: Thousands seek shelter in health clinics from Tripoli fighting, UN warns

Nearly three weeks since fighting began near the Libyan capital Tripoli, the UN health agency warned on Tuesday that “large numbers” of people are sheltering in medical clinics, while civilians continue to be killed or injured, and refugees and migrants remain exposed to clashes.

“The latest figure as of last night is 264 dead and 1,266 wounded”, World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told journalists.

Of that number, 21 civilians had perished and 69 had been injured since 5 April, he said, amid concerns that the conflict between the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) - led by General Khalifa Haftar – risks becoming bogged down.

Read our  full report

DRC Ebola dangers may increase after killing of health worker  

In DRC – the Democratic Republic of the Congo – WHO says it has been forced to suspend some Ebola-related activities following the killing of a UN epidemiologist in Butembo last Friday.  

According to the UN health agency, the body of Dr. Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, a father of four, will be flown back to Cameroon on Wednesday.  

In addition to Dr Mouzoko’s death, two other people were injured in the attack on Butembo University Hospital, but they are recovering.  

WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said it was not yet clear who was responsible, but that the incident had forced WHO to suspend some activities in Butembo, although not elsewhere.  

“I cannot really give you the answers on who did this and why. There have been number of incidents. Whether being directly targeting Ebola responders or security incidents on something else, where we were caught in the middle. But the result is that we do not provide vital services and then, once we get back to the?? community, then we see increasing numbers of cases because the transmission was ongoing while we were not there.”  

Latest data from the DRC authorities indicate that the Ebola outbreak in North Kivu has claimed more than 870 lives since it was confirmed last August.  

45 children among those killed in Sri Lanka Easter Sunday outrages   

In Sri Lanka, some 45 children are now believed to have been killed in the coordinated terrorist suicide bombings across the country on Easter Sunday, according to UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF. To date, more than 320 people are believed to have died and around 500 more have been injured.  

In a statement condemning the outrages which targeted churches and hotels, the UN agency said that the young victims were a mixture of both Sri Lankan and other nationalities. The youngest victim is believed to have been 18 months old, UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac said:  

“Twenty children have been admitted to hospital in Colombo with four of them in intensive care as a result of the blast, in Colombo. Many children have lost one or more parents and countless children have been witness to shocking or senseless violence.”  

According to reports, Sri Lankan police have arrested dozens of suspects in connection with the bombings.  

Communities and religious leaders have come together to call for peace and calm in Sri Lanka, following the deadly church and hotel suicide bombings, on Easter Sunday. The UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanna Singer, warned that beyond the “fear and shock” there was rising concern over a possible “backlash”. The UN is on the ground supporting communities and providing medical supplies, as well as psychological aid for those who witnessed the violence.

Listen to our interview with her: 

 

UN Security Council condemns killing of Egyptian peacekeeper in Mali 

On Tuesday, the members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the attack perpetrated on Saturday 20 April against a convoy of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) which resulted in one peacekeeper from Egypt killed and four others injured. 

They expressed their deepest condolences and sympathy to the family of the victim, as well as to Egypt and to MINUSMA and wished a speedy and full recovery to those who were injured.  

Calling on the Government of Mali to swiftly investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice, they underlined that attacks targeting peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law. They stressed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security and that involvement in planning, directing, sponsoring or conducting attacks against MINUSMA peacekeepers constitutes a basis for sanctions designations pursuant to United Nations Security Council resolutions. 

Since 2013 when MINUSMA deployed, more than 190 peacekeepers have died in Mali, including close to 120 killed during hostilities.  

The members of the Security Council expressed their concern about the security situation in Mali and the transnational dimension of the terrorist threat in the Sahel region. They urged the Malian parties to fully implement the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali (“the Agreement”) without further delay as it can contribute to improving the security situation across Mali. They underlined that the efforts of the joint force of the G5 Sahel to counter the activities of terrorist groups and other organized criminal groups will contribute to create a more secure environment in the Sahel region. 

They stressed that “these heinous acts will not undermine their determination to continue to support the peace and reconciliation process in Mali”. 

 

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News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

As fighting in Libya escalates, so does number of children ‘at imminent risk of injury or death’

In and around Tripoli, an increasing number of children are “at imminent risk of injury or death” two senior United Nations officials warned on Thursday, citing a surge of aggression in crisis-torn Libya.

Service and Sacrifice: Ugandan 'Blue Helmets' support UN efforts to bring peace to Somalia

A contingent of 530 Ugandan “Blue Helmets” (63 women, 467 men) is playing a crucial role in the United Nations’ efforts to help bring peace and stability to Somalia. They make up the United Nations Guard Unit (UNGU, that is tasked with protecting UN compounds in Mogadishu in order to assist the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) to carry out their mandate.