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Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Switzerland leads on innovation, UNICEF ‘lifelines’ for Yemen, Ebola latest, Liberia peacekeepers

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

Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Switzerland leads on innovation, UNICEF ‘lifelines’ for Yemen, Ebola latest, Liberia peacekeepers

Economic Development

Our main stories today: the latest Global Innovation Index ranks Switzerland the world’s most innovative country, the head of the UN Mission in DRC warns of a ‘deadly environment’ for health workers, UNICEF delivers cash for 9 million vulnerable Yemeni families, acting head of UNAIDS says battle against HIV/ AIDS is “far from over”.

Switzerland ranked as most innovative country

The World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO, named Switzerland as the world’s most innovative country on Wednesday, during the launch of its latest Global Innovation Index, (GII) in the Indian capital New Delhi.

Following Switzerland in the rankings are Sweden, the United States, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. India has risen most in the rankings since 2018, jumping five places to fifty-second most innovative country.

The annual Index, which has been published for the last 12 years by WIPO, and a number of partners, is designed to help policy makers better understand innovation activity, which WIPO describes as a “main driver of economic and social development”.

Read the full story here.

UNICEF delivers cash ‘lifelines’ to millions of desperate Yemeni families

A makeshift shelter at a hosting site in the Abs district of Hajjah governorate, 150 kilometres north of Hudaydah. (8 May 2019)

The UN children’s Fund, UNICEF, has made unconditional cash payments to nearly nine million Yemenis to meet their urgent needs, as the conflict in the country enters its fifth year.

Vulnerable families reached by the Emergency Cash Transfer Project, receive the equivalent of around $30, helping them to cover basics such as food, health supplies, and education costs.

UNICEF has run the cash program since 2017, to support the poorest Yemeni families, whose situation has been made worse by the ongoing conflict.

In a statement released on Wednesday, UNICEF warned that the needs of Yemenis are “enormous”, and that much more needs to be done to alleviate the suffering of children, starting with an end to the war.

Ebola health workers in DRC face ‘deadly environment’

A psycho-social worker partnering with UNICEF holds the hands of eight-year-old twin brothers released from the Ebola Treatment Unit in Beni, North Kivu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The problems of eradicating Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are not only medical, but also linked “to a variety of political and social factors”, the head of the UN mission in the country told the Security Council on Wednesday.

“Along with continuing high levels of community distrust around the response to the epidemic”, Leila Zerrougui - UN Special Representative and head of the UN’s Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO) - said that militants, including the ADF and Mai-Mai groups, have caused “a deadly environment” for the people working to counter the virus, “to the point of being specifically threatened and killed by armed groups”. 

The briefing comes a week after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola outbreak an international Public Health Emergency of International Concern, following a reported outbreak in the city of Goma, near the border with Rwanda.

No new Ebola cases have been reported outside of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the last week, but within the country, there have been 91 new cases of the disease, of whom some 75 have died. Since then, no new cases have been reported in Goma, or any country other than DRC.

Read more on Ms. Zerrougui’s Security Council briefing here.

Fight against AIDS is ‘far from over’

At the UNICEF supported Regional AIDS Centre in Osh in Southern Kyrgyzstan, a female doctor explains proper doses of ARV treatment for HIV. (26 May 2014)

The battle against HIV/AIDS is being hampered by a false sense that it has already been won. In reality, says the head of the UN agency dedicating to tackling the virus, it is “far from over”

Gunilla Carlsson, the acting Executive Director of UNAIDS, says that if we forget about people at risk, such as intravenous drug users, men who have sex with men, and sex workers, “we will not solve the problem with the rise of new HIV infections”.

Speaking to UN News, Ms. Carlsson said that, although world leaders had signed up for “an AIDS-free generation by 2030” if we don’t walk the talk, “we might not get there”.


Liberia provides troops to UN Mali Mission

Scene from the camp of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in Timbuktu. The camp sustained an attack on 3 May 2017, which caused the death of a Liberian peacekeeper and injured others. (16 May 2017)

Liberia has formally agreed to send peacekeeping troops to the UN’s Mission in war-torn Mali.

The move is being seen as a significant transition for Liberia, which, for decades, was a host nation for ‘blue helmet’ peacekeepers, with a UN mission that was fully drawn down in March of last year.

The Liberian soldiers will join the 105-strong contingent of troops serving in the key Malian base of Timbuktu

The UN’s head of Operational Support, Atul Khare, said during the signing ceremony on Tuesday that "Liberia's path to peace demonstrates the clear positive impact of UN peacekeeping as a country that moved from conflict to stability and today is a key partner in assisting other countries in need". 

Read the full story here.

UN agency maps out route towards zero hunger

The Zero Hunger Challenge: can we create a world where no one is hungry? Photo: FAO

What are the challenges ahead in the fight against hunger?

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, will be focusing on that question during a high-profile review of the agency’s work, due to begin in Rome on Friday.

The event will explore the best ways to end hunger and malnutrition, as well as looking at the growing issue of obesity.

Food security for all, is one of the Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN’s blueprint for a world that leaves no one behind, whilst preserving the planet.

The Goal includes ending all forms of under-nutrition, which currently affect more than two billion people worldwide.

Listen to or download our audio News in Brief for 24 July on SoundCloud: