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Friday’s Daily Brief: DRC Ebola concerns, Yemen peace hopes, more migrant boats leave Libya

An Ebola health worker signals that people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo should not be scared of doctors but rather the deadly disease itself. (August 2019)
UN Photo/Martine Perret
An Ebola health worker signals that people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo should not be scared of doctors but rather the deadly disease itself. (August 2019)

Friday’s Daily Brief: DRC Ebola concerns, Yemen peace hopes, more migrant boats leave Libya


A recap of Friday’s stories in brief: WHO raises fresh Ebola concerns, UN envoy raises hopes of Yemen political settlement, WFP makes urgent Venezuela appeal, hundreds of migrants discovered in boats off Libya coast.

New DRC Ebola virus transmission chain risks reversing major gains: WHO

In Butembo, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Red Cross workers ensure safe burials to help stop the spread of the deadly Ebola disease. (August 2019)

Amid multiple deadly attacks on civilians by armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), an Ebola death “unlinked to any chain of transmission”, risks reversing major gains against the epidemic, a top UN medic said on Friday.

Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director for the World Health Organization (WHO)  Health Emergencies programme, said that while “98 per cent” of infection in the last three weeks could be traced back to two chains of transmission, a third one had now been identified in Oicha health zone, North Kivu.

According to the WHO, the death can be linked to health zones in Kalunguta, Mandima, Mabalako and Beni, in addition to Oicha.

The agency says it knows of more than 200 contacts associated with that case, 62 are of “extreme high risk”, but it has only had access to 19 so far. There have been 3,298 infections in total and 2,197 deaths since the latest  Ebola outbreak was declared last August.

Read the full story here

Momentum building towards political settlement for Yemen

Crater neighbourhood in Aden, Yemen. (18 November 2018)

The UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said on Friday that momentum to reach a political settlement in Yemen “has been building”.

The Special Envoy cited developments such as the Riyadh Agreement, signed on 5 November between the Government and the Southern Transitional Council; a decrease in violence – with the observation that there have been 48-hour periods without airstrikes “for the first time since the conflict began” – and the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement, which among other things, has enabled fuel ships to enter the crucial port city tof Hudaydah, averting a worsening humanitarian crisis.

“We have seen the parties work together”, said Martin Griffiths, including on the situation in southern governorates, the de-escalation of hostilities and economic crisis facing the war-torn nation, where a Saudi-led coalition backing the Government has been trying to defeat Houthi rebel forces during more than four years of brutal fighting.

Mr. Griffiths avowed that Yemen now needs “the kind of leadership that creates peace”, a leader who practices “the art or concession, of inclusion, and who encourages forbearance over entitlement”.

Full story here

UN chief hails progress in global peacebuilding

Malawian peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) greet children while on patrol in August 2012.

Addressing a meeting of the UN’s Peacebuilding Commission at UN headquarters on Friday, Secretary-General António Guterres hailed progress made by the UN, in the fields of conflict prevention, peace and security, and connecting the Organization’s work on peace, sustainable development and human rights.

The Commission, said Mr. Guterres, has brought attention to some of the drivers of instability – such as inequality, climate change and corruption – and how to address them. He cited meetings on Burkina Faso, Liberia and the Sahel region, amongst others, at which challenges and risks have been discussed.

The UN chief underscored the crucial nature of funding for peacekeeping: he described contributions to the Peacebuilding Fund as having increased modestly, at a time when demands for support have grown exponentially, and reiterated calls for a “quantum leap” in support.

Looking ahead to 2020, Mr. Guterres said that his forthcoming report will focus on the Commission’s impact in the field, and a review will be an opportunity to “take stock, consolidate gains and push forward on implementation”.

Full statement here

Venezuela: WFP makes urgent appeal for US$196 million to help millions of refugees, migrants 

The humanitarian response for millions of Venezuelans in need continues to be scaled up. (October 2019)

The World Food Programme, or WFP, says it needs nearly $200 million to help a growing number of people leaving Venezuela, as the longstanding economic crisis continues.

In Geneva, spokesperson for the UN agency, Hervé Verhoosel, said that funds were needed to prevent an increasing number of desperate women resorting to so-called “survival” sex work.

“Some of the families who don’t have money, especially if women are the head of the family…will basically do whatever is possible to have either food or money to buy food.”

According to WFP, 4.6 million Venezuelans have now left the country. Nearly 1.5 million of them live in Colombia, 385,000 in Ecuador.

The WFP appeal is part of a larger Refugee and Migrant Response Plan initiative; its $1.35 billion budget involves 137 organizations in 17 countries and aims to support four million migrants next year.

Libya: 600 migrants discovered on at least nine boats in Mediterranean Sea

Two teenage brothers from Gambia who travelled across the Mediterranean Sea without their parents walk along a beach in Italy in 2016.

There’s been a spike in the number of migrant boats leaving Libya’s coastline this week, the UN migration agency, IOM, said on Friday.

More than 600 people were discovered in the waters off Libya between Tuesday and Thursday. The development comes amid some of the heaviest shelling so far in the capital Tripoli, where the Libyan coastguard is reported to have returned nearly 300 migrants to shore, including 14 children and 33 women.

The UN Migration agency said it is unable to verify reports that another vessel sank on Wednesday evening with significant loss of life.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 8,600 migrants have been returned to detention centres in Libya where the UN has frequently condemned serious rights violations.

Listen to or download our audio News in Brief for 22 November on SoundCloud: