On Wednesday, we cover: chronic hunger in the Middle East; the toll of war on Gazans; the one-year-long detention of an academic in Iran; Syrian health facilities under attack; Ebola casualties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo hitting the 1,000 mark; and a two-day remembrance effort for those who died during the Second World War.
Around 52 million in Near East, North Africa, suffering chronic undernourishment, new UN food agency report reveals
Hunger continues to rise as conflicts and protracted crises have worsened in the Near East and North Africa region (NENA), which is likely to affect food security for years to come, warned the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Wednesday.
“Conflicts and civil instability have long-lasting impacts on the food and nutrition security of both affected and surrounding countries in the regions”, Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, Assistant Director-General and NENA Representative of the (FAO) said, noting that more than two-thirds of hungry people there live in conflict-affected countries, threatening efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the key goal of Zero Hunger.
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Iranian reasons for detention of American academic ‘reach the level of absurdity’
UN experts have described the three year “arbitrary detention” of American academic Xiyue Wang as a “clear violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under international law,” and have issued Iranian authorities with a “firm request” to immediately release him.
The experts, who include the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, Javaid Rehman, and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, noted that the use of espionage charges to justify the ongoing detention of Mr. Wang had reached the “level of absurdity.”
Mr. Wang, a doctoral student at Princeton University, was arrested in August 2016, whilst researching his PhD on Eurasian history. His health is reportedly deteriorating, putting his life at risk, amid claims of degrading treatment while in detention. Despite this, the experts say that he has been denied access to specialized medical treatment outside the prison since being held.
Some 300,000 civilians affected by attacks on Syrian health facilities
The World Health Organization (WHO) has condemned attacks on Syrian health facilities in the north-west of the country, which have affected close to 300,000 civilians. Since 29 April, over a period of nine days, twelve health structures have been hit: in a single day, May 05, two major hospitals were hit, killing three health care workers: there are now no functioning hospitals in northern Hama, and emergency care is provided by only three surgical units supported by WHO.
In a statement, Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, said the attacks were “a grave and totally unacceptable development,” adding that, according to the Geneva Convention, health facilities and civilians – especially the most vulnerable – must be protected: “parties to the conflict in northern Hama and in Idleb are flagrantly disregarding those rules; and it is women, children, the elderly and other vulnerable groups who are suffering as a result.”
WHO is particularly concerned about those who have had to flee their homes and now have no access to basic health services, increasing the risk for infectious disease outbreaks due to overcrowding in temporary settlements.
Arrest of three Libyans wanted for grave crimes ‘would send strong and necessary message’ to victims, urges top Prosecutor
The arrest and transfer of three men in Libya who are wanted on war crimes charges – including the son of former ruler Muammar Gadaffi - would “send a strong and necessary message” to victims, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) told the UN Security Council on Wednesday.
Fatou Bensouda was delivering her latest report on the progress being made to bring those charged with grave crimes in Libya to account, since the overthrow of the former president in 2011, acknowledging that “the path to justice is often long and the investigations undertaken by her office, “are complex and challenging”.
Read the full coverage here.
DR Congo: Ebola claims over 1,000 lives, Guterres commits ‘whole’ UN system, to help ‘end the outbreak’
Now in its tenth month, the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has claimed more than a thousand lives, prompting Secretary-General António Guterres to throw the support of “the whole United Nations system” into stemming the spread of the deadly virus.
Mr. Guterres expressed concern over the number of new Ebola cases in the east of the DRC on Wednesday, reiterating UN support “for efforts to end the outbreak”.
Read our full coverage here.
Hundreds of wounded Gaza protesters risk limb amputation without immediate help, warns top UN official
Millions of dollars in emergency funding is needed in Gaza to save the shattered limbs of some 1,700 people who have been seriously injured in demonstrations against Israel along the border fence, a top UN humanitarian official said on Wednesday.
In an appeal for $20 million to help victims hurt during protests dubbed the Great March of Return – weekly rallies on Fridays by Gazans that began a year ago, leaving 29,000 people injured, many by live ammunition - Jamie McGoldrick, Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), said that more resources were urgently required.
More information, in our complete story, here.
Remembering the victims of the Second World War
Wednesday marks the beginning of the UN’s two-day Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War.
The commemoration, launched by the General Assembly in 2004, recognises the fact that the Second World War established the conditions for the creation of the United Nations, which was designed to save succeeding generations from war.
The Assembly also called upon the member countries of the United Nations to collaborate in dealing with new challenges and threats, with the UN playing a central role, and settle disputes through peaceful means.
Listen to or download our audio News in Brief for 8 May 2019 on SoundCloud: