Tuesday's Daily Brief: Situation critical for Libya migrants, ‘dangerous paralysis’ in Israel-Palestine conflict, ‘shocking escalation’ in Syria, record heatwaves

23 July 2019

Our main stories today: UN officials warn of desperate situation for migrants and refugees in Libya; the UN peacebuilding chief calls for ‘tangible steps’ to alleviate the crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and keep two-State solution alive; Idlib in Syria suffers more deadly attacks on civilians; Europe and Bangladesh deal with extreme weather events; and Angry Birds take on the climate crisis.

UN officials warn of desperate situation for migrants and refugees in Libya

The heads of the two key UN agencies championing refugees and migrants, have called for an end to their “arbitrary detention” across Libya, following an agreement on Tuesday by European Union countries to offer those fleeing across the Mediterranean a safe berth through a new distribution mechanism.

“The violence in Tripoli in recent weeks has made the situation more desperate than ever, and the need for action critical”, stressed António Vitorino, Director General of the International Organization of Migration (IOM), and Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Disagreements on how to distribute people rescued at sea, led the European Union (EU) to end official Mediterranean Sea patrols earlier this year.

Read our full story here.

‘Tangible steps’ needed to alleviate crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, keep two-State solution alive, says UN peacebuilding chief

The “dangerous paralysis” that prevails in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is fuelling extremism and exacerbating tensions, leading to a “loss of hope” that peace can ever be achieved through negotiation, the UN’s Political and Peacebuilding chief told the Security Council on Tuesday.

Rosemary DiCarlo said it was “not inevitable” that the international desire for a two-State solution, with both countries living securely side-by-side, was a lost cause, but to resolve all the final status issues dividing Israelis and Palestinians would take “leadership, political will, and a determination to make tangible progress, despite the difficulties.”

Full story here.

‘The nightmare in Idlib is getting worse’, UN humanitarian official warns

59 civilians killed, and over 100 injured, some critically: that’s the human toll from the latest attack in the last rebel-held province in Syria, Idlib.

The succession of airstrikes on Monday was described as “the deadliest so far” by a senior official at OCHA, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Mark Cutts, Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, said on Tuesday that the worst strike was on a popular public market in the town of Maarat al-Numan, which left at least 39 dead, with the figure likely to rise.

Mr. Cutts said that the attacks amounted to a “shocking escalation” in the ever-worsening conflict in north-west Syria, and that rescue teams had been working all day to pull people out of the rubble.

Strikes continued into the evening, including one that hit a market in the town of Saraqeb, reportedly killing eight, including one woman and four children, and another in Aleppo, where seven civilians reportedly lost their lives.

Record heatwaves in store for Europe

Heatwaves will continue to hit many parts of Europe this week, with some countries on course to see record temperatures, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Tuesday.

Briefing journalists in Geneva, a WMO spokesperson said that Germany and the Benelux countries are likely to experience their hottest day ever on Thursday, when they will have to deal with a peak of over 40 degrees Celsius – that’s 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Several parts of France have set records for the lowest amount of rainfall since records began, and in Bordeaux-Merignac, overnight temperatures did not fall below 24.9 degrees Celsius. France and Switzerland are both on “level 3” amber alerts for a period of four days, which means an increased likelihood of travel disruption due to road and rail closures, and risks to health.

In Spain, the national weather service is warning of an extreme fire risk for large parts of the country, whilst Portugal is experiencing severe wildfires, with a burned area increasing by 2,000 hectares (almost 5,000 acres) per day.

A spokesperson for the WMO said on Tuesday that extreme weather events are “not a problem that’s going to go away”, and that heatwaves are starting earlier, becoming increasingly common, and more intense.

The warnings follow a sweltering weekend for the USA, where records were set for several locations, including Atlanta, New Jersey and New York’s JFK airport .

Widespread flooding brings destruction to Bangladesh

Meanwhile, in Bangladesh, parts of the country - including the huge Cox’s Bazar refugee camp – are struggling to cope with continual heavy rains that have brought widespread flooding and destruction.

In a statement on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP), said that the agency has supported more than 11,000 refugees affected by the rains and flooding in the first two weeks of July, a significant rise compared to the same time last year.

Refugee camps have been affected by hundreds of landslides caused by storms and rain, and WFP engineering teams have been working against the clock to stabilize slopes and create drainage systems. Thanks to their efforts, the camps are now “significantly safer” than before.

The flood response is already greater than that of 2018, and the second half of the monsoon season in Bangladesh is still to come.

Angry Birds attack climate crisis

The Angry Birds from the game and movies of the same name, are taking a break from hurling themselves into the path of green pigs, to encouraging all of us to do what we can, to help solve the climate crisis.

The English-speaking voice stars behind “The Angry Birds Movie 2”, have joined forces with the UN to promote the #ActNow campaign to raise awareness about the importance of changing our habits and routines, and making choices that are less harmful to the environment.

The Angry Birds and pigs themselves will be on hand for the first ever takeover of the ActNow website from July 23-30, providing users with individualized suggestions – like traveling more sustainably, saving energy or eating less meat – in a campaign to highlight the impact that collective action can have at this critical moment in the planet’s history.

Find out more about making a difference, and how to use the ActNow chatbot, here.

Listen to or download our audio News in Brief for 23 July on SoundCloud: 

 

 

♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.