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Thursday’s Daily Brief: Mandela Day, war waning in Yemen? Deadly monsoon rains, zero hunger hopes fade, fifth anniversary of MH17 crash

Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, addresses a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York in December 1991.
UN Photo/John Isaac
Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, addresses a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York in December 1991.

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Mandela Day, war waning in Yemen? Deadly monsoon rains, zero hunger hopes fade, fifth anniversary of MH17 crash

Human Rights

In today’s Daily Brief: World celebrates Nelson Mandela; Security Council hears end of Yemen war may be in sight; South Asia children turned ‘upside down’ by monsoon rains; world ‘off track’ to meet zero hunger target; Italy urged to stop ‘criminalising’ migrant rescues 


‘Emulate his example’ urges UN chief as world celebrates Nelson Mandela: a ‘global advocate for dignity and equality’ 

Nelson Mandela was an “extraordinary global advocate for dignity and equality” who anyone in public service should seek to emulate, Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message marking the International Day that honours the iconic anti-apartheid campaigner, and South Africa’s first democratically-elected President.

As “one of the most iconic and inspirational leaders of our time”, the UN chief said: “Nelson Mandela exemplified courage, compassion and commitment to freedom, peace and social justice”.

In November 2009, the UN declared 18 July, Nelson Mandela International Day as a global call to action under the premise that everyone has the power to make an impact on the planet. 

For our full coverage, click here.

Yemen: UN Envoy ‘guilty’ of optimistic hope that war is ‘nearing the end’

Children sitting next to their tent at the Al-Meshqafah camp in Yemen. (26 February 2019)

With Yemen once again at a “crucial moment” the UN Special Envoy told Security Council members on Thursday that despite the dangers of being over optimistic, he could not help thinking that the country could finally be “nearing the end of its war.” 

“It was not me, but a very senior and wise official in the region who recently said that this war can end this year”, said Martin Griffiths. “I take that as an instruction”, he added, pointing to recent positive meetings with the leadership of both the pro-Government coalition, and the Houthi rebel movement who had expressed “unanimous desire” to move towards a political solution “and to see it quickly”. 

Read our full story here.

Monsoon rains turn millions of children’s lives ‘upside down’ across South Asia

A young boy in Bangladesh navigates a river swollen from days of monsoon rain. He is collecting plastic bottles washed into the river to sell to recyclers to help his family purchase food. (July 2019)

Heavy rainfall, severe flooding and landslides across Nepal, India and Bangladesh have killed at least 93 children, and put the lives of millions more at risk, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which is “responding urgently”. 

"Millions of children have seen their lives turned upside down by the torrential rainfall, flooding and landslides," Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia, said on Thursday. 

Read our full coverage here

On fifth anniversary of MH17 crash, UN chief calls on all countries to cooperate with investigation 

Members of the  Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine examine the MH17 crash site in July 2014. Photo: OSCE/Evgeniy Maloletka

On the fifth anniversary of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash over Ukraine, marked on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres recalled “with sadness” the 298 victims who died on board, and called on all Member States to fully cooperate with the independent Joint Investigation Team launched by the Security Council in July 2014. 

Resolution 2166, which was unanimously adopted by the Security Council five years ago, demanded that armed groups would allow unfettered access to the crash site, ensuring that its integrity was maintained, and that all military activities, including by armed groups, would be immediately ceased in the immediate area surrounding the crash site to allow for security and safety of the international investigation. 

World ‘off track’ to meet most Sustainable Development Goals on hunger, food security and nutrition 

Sun drying tomatoes by local women in Luxor, Egypt, as part of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) activities on reducing food loss along the tomato value chain.

Key parts of the Global Goals agenda linked to achieving zero-hunger are “off-track”, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said on Thursday. 

Four years since the international community agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals - whose objectives include tackling food insecurity and poor nutrition - FAO says that a lack of progress “is the norm”. 

In a new report, the agency also warns of unsuccessful efforts to make farming sustainable, as well as the long-term management of land and ocean-based resources.

Key findings from the study that covers some 230 countries include data that more than 820 million people are going hungry around the world. 

Our full report here.  

UN independent experts urge Italy to stop ‘criminalising’ migrant rescues  

The wreckage of a boat that sank in the Mediterranean in April 2015 with the loss of at least 800 refugees is displayed at the Venice Biennale. The boat was lifted from the seabed by the Italian government and brought to Venice by Swiss-Icelandic artist C

Italy should rethink its stance on the rescue of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, UN-appointed independent rights experts have said, citing with concern ongoing criminal proceedings there against the captain of a vessel who landed 40 people on Italian territory last month. 

In a joint statement on Thursday, the five experts – who are appointed by Member States of the Human Rights Council – said that rescuing migrants in distress at sea “is not a crime”. 

They highlighted the case of German skipper Carola Rackete, who was arrested on 29 June after docking on the island of Lampedusa with her rescue vessel and dozens of migrants. 

Listen to or download our audio News in Brief for 18 July on SoundCloud: