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Thursday’s Daily Brief: Religious site protection, South-South Cooperation, ‘UNComplicated’ airs, West Bank threat, vaccination, Hong Kong update

Cameroonians, including Wala Matari (far right,) displaced by terrorist activity in the Lake Chad region attend church in north-east Cameroon.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Cameroonians, including Wala Matari (far right,) displaced by terrorist activity in the Lake Chad region attend church in north-east Cameroon.

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Religious site protection, South-South Cooperation, ‘UNComplicated’ airs, West Bank threat, vaccination, Hong Kong update

Peace and Security

A recap of Thursday’s top stories: UN Chief’s global call to safeguard religious sites; South-South Cooperation ‘accelerates’ towards SDGs; Guterres on West Bank annexation threat; WHO says one in 10 children not getting proper vaccines; Protestor protection call over Hong Kong; New ‘UNComplicated’ podcast launches.

‘Reaffirm the sanctity’ of religious sites to counter hate, violence, says Guterres

Friday prayers in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir.

Amidst a global call by Secretary-General António Guterres to “reaffirm the sanctity” of religious sites and keep worshippers safe, the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) on Thursday launched a new plan of action to “counter hate and violence around the globe”.

“Religious sites are powerful symbols of our collective consciousness”, said the UN chief. “

When people are attacked because of their religion or beliefs, all of society is diminished”. 

The plan outlines a wide array of recommendations - you can get our full story here.

South-South Cooperation ‘accelerates’ us toward 2030 goals, UN Chief says on International Day

Children eat a meal at their school which is taking part in a school feeding programme in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Collaboration among countries of the global south offers a “unique pathway” that accelerates us towards the key 2030 sustainable development targets, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, told a commemorative event for South-South Cooperation (SSC) on Thursday.

This year’s United Nations Day dedicated to the initiative, annually observed on 12 September, is particularly significant, as it follows international commitments made at the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA+40) Second UN High-Level Conference in March, which coincided with the Plan’s 40th anniversary.

Get our full coverage here.

West Bank annexation pledge would be serious violation of international law: Guterres

The three-year-old girl in this 2018 photograph had been twice displaced with her family in the West Bank (file photo).

Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s election promise to annex the Jordan Valley and Northern Dead Sea “would constitute a serious violation of international law” if carried out, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said.

In a statement issued by his office, the UN chief also noted that he was concerned by Mr. Netanyahu’s description of the move as “a first step to applying Israeli sovereignty over all settlements and other areas in the occupied West Bank”.

Such a development “would be devastating” to reviving negotiations and to regional peace, Mr. Guterres said.

More details here.

One in 10 children miss out on essential vaccines, warns WHO in bid to address immunization gap

The Pan American Health Organization vaccinates children and adolescents against measles and diphtheria in South America.

The UN health agency has joined forces with the European Union to tackle the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases - and confront the spread of misinformation about inoculations.

Speaking at the first Global Vaccination Summit in Brussels on Thursday, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that one in 10 children fails to get the essential jabs they need.

Together with EU President Jean-Claude Juncker, Tedros called for governments and partners to invest in immunization “as a right for all”.

The initiative comes amid a resurgence of preventable diseases, notably measles, which has seen infection rates surge above levels not seen since 2006. The agency has declared people’s hesitancy about vaccines, one of the 10 key threats to global health.

China/Hong Kong: UN independent experts urge China to respect protesters’ rights

Hong Kong

As protests in Hong Kong enter their third month, UN-appointed independent rights experts have called on the territory’s authorities and the Chinese Government in Beijing to ensure the full protection of individuals engaged in peaceful assembly.

Issuing their appeal on Thursday, the four rights experts said that they were concerned by “credible” reports of attacks on demonstrators, arrests of activists and human rights defenders, and threats to communications.

The development follows months of sometimes violent clashes over a planned bill allowing extradition to mainland China.

Although the authorities have fully withdrawn the legislation, indicating a willingness to address “some” grievances, demonstrations have continued, the rights experts said.

Introducing ‘UNComplicated’: a new UN News podcast born over coffee in New York

Jason DeWall (left) and Sinduja Srinivasan.

This week, just in time for #UNGA74, UN News is launching a brand-new podcast which grew out of a conversation in a coffee shop, between our hosts, Sinduja Srinivasan, and Jason DeWall.

Here’s how it went down:

Jason: "What do you do at the UN?" 

Sinduja: Speaks for 20 minutes straight, excitedly, but mostly in academic and high level "UN-speak"...

Jason: "Yeah, but so...what do you actually DO?" 

And so, UNcomplicated was born: For the first episode and more on the podcast, click here.

Listen to or download our audio News in Brief for 10 September, on Soundcloud: