Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Help for Venezuelans, Burundi Ebola vaccine drive, Paraguay poison probe urged, talking disarmament in Geneva, Libya violence down

14 August 2019

Our main stories today cover: Scaled-up assistance for Venezuelans; Ebola vaccinations for Burundi health workers; reports of civilian deaths following an Afghan-sponsored security operation; agrochemical spray probe urged in Paraguay; Libya violence abates during truce, and disarmament conference’s first woman chief urges Governments to “overcome their differences”.  

Humanitarian assistance to be scaled-up for millions of Venezuelans in need

The United Nations humanitarian wing launched a new Response Plan (HRP) on Wednesday, that aims to help around 2.6 million people in Venezuela through to the end of the year, almost half of whom are youth.  

Noting that the plan “only represents a limited number of all people in need”, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that $223 million was required from donors, to achieve this goal. 
A collective effort to coordinate and intensify the ongoing humanitarian response, the plan aims to significantly mitigate the impact of the crisis on the country’s most vulnerable populations.  

Read our story here.

‘Palpable reduction’ in violence following Eid truce says Libya Mission, as UN investigates deadly bombing which left 3 dead 

A UN call for a humanitarian truce over this week’s Eid al-Adha religious holiday led to a “palpable reduction” of violence around the embattled capital of Tripoli, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMILsaid in a statement released on Wednesday. 
Following the UN’s plea last Thursday, both the forces loyal to the UN-recognized Government and the self-styled Libyan National Army of commander Khalifa Haftar, announced that they would respect a truce.  
Our full coverage here

New Ebola vaccination deployed for health workers in Burundi

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Wednesday a new Ebola vaccination campaign in Burundi to protect health and front-line workers there. 
The WHO-supported campaign is being implemented under the leadership of the Ministry of Public Health and AIDS Control, and financially supported by GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance. 
Burundi has received doses of the Ebola vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV to protect against the Zairian strain of the virus, which is currently affecting the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  
Although the vaccine has not yet been approved nor has its commercial use been authorized, it has shown itself to be effective and safe during Ebola outbreaks in West Africa.  
Further scientific research is required before the vaccine can be licensed. 

Afghanistan: grave concern at reports 11 civilians killed by pro-Government forces

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, says it is gravely concerned at reports that 11 civilians were killed during a State-sponsored security operation.  

In a tweet on Wednesday, UNAMA, said they had died in a search operation carried out in Paktia province, in the east of the country, during the Eid festival earlier this week.     
Accountability is essential and harm to civilians must stop, the Mission insisted.  
The development, which reportedly claimed the lives of students, comes as UNAMA continues to support preparations for the delayed Afghan-led presidential election, due to take place next month.  

UN panel urges Paraguay to probe poisonings, contamination from agrochemical sprays  

Paraguay should take action to prosecute those responsible for the illegal use of fertilizers that allegedly led to the death of one farmer and the poisoning of at least 20 others, a UN-appointed panel of independent experts has said.  

According to the Human Rights Committee, the large-scale spraying of “toxic agrochemicals” in Canindeyú department in the east of the country, has severely-impacted living conditions, health and livelihoods.  
It said in a statement that despite samples being found in people’s homes that showed the presence of banned chemicals many years ago, subsequent investigations had “made no substantive progress”, and had not led to any finding of criminal responsibility, or to the redress of the harm” caused.  
The expert panel maintained that water resources and aquifers had been contaminated by industrial soybean production that had caused the loss of fruit trees, the death of farm animals and severe crop damage.  
The committee also highlighted a court ruling in Paraguay which found that the authorities had failed to protect people from the toxic products, while also calling for a buffer zone between housing and growing areas.   

Disarmament discussions must make urgent progress, says UN's new top diplomat in Geneva

In Geneva, the UN’s top diplomat there has urged Governments at the Conference on Disarmament to be more successful in tackling global threats to peace.  
Tatiana Valovaya, who’s the first woman Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament, as well as the first female UN Director-General in the Swiss city, warned that escalating tensions around the world were “severely jeopardizing” the gains made in the last 40 years at the Conference by Member States.  
New scientific, technological developments and dynamics were challenging international security, Ms. Valovaya insisted, while also calling for the Conference to “overcome their differences” in search of results.  
“For us to move forward and get things done to deliver on the important mandate bestowed on this body, we must ensure that the Conference does what it was intended to do”, she said, “to negotiate and agree new instruments governing complex, sensitive and urgent issues of national and international security, issues that impact on every living being on this planet.”  
Ms. Valovaya’s comments follow the recent ending of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and Russia.  
In a statement at the beginning of the month, UN Secretary-General António Guterres underlined the need to avoid what he called “destabilizing developments” and to urgently seek agreement on a new common path for international arms control.  

 

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