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World News in Brief: Diabetes on the rise, UN prisoners in Yemen, Ukraine war fuels rise in landmine casualties

A patient at risk of diabetes receives a special eye exam at the National Centre for Diabetes in Amman, Jordan.
WHO/Panos/Tania Habjouqa
A patient at risk of diabetes receives a special eye exam at the National Centre for Diabetes in Amman, Jordan.

World News in Brief: Diabetes on the rise, UN prisoners in Yemen, Ukraine war fuels rise in landmine casualties


One hundred years after the discovery of insulin, millions of people with diabetes around the world still cannot access the care they need, risking severe complications, WHO warned on Tuesday’s World Diabetes Day.

Diabetes is a chronic disease which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.

WHO said that more than 460 million people worldwide live with diabetes and millions more are at risk.

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The UN health agency stressed that people with the condition require ongoing care and support to manage it and avoid complications, which can include blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and lower limb amputation.

While type 1 diabetes is not preventable, maintaining a healthy diet, physical activity and avoiding tobacco use can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.

WHO warned that the global prevalence of the disease has nearly doubled since 1980, rising from 4.7 per cent to 8.5 per cent in the adult population.

The UN health agency said that this reflects an increase in associated risk factors such as being overweight or obese. Over the past decade, diabetes prevalence has risen faster in low and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.

Yemen: UN agencies demand immediate release of staffers

UN agencies on Tuesday issued another call for the immediate release of two staffers detained in Yemen more than two years ago by the Houthi authorities in the capital Sana’a.

The UN education, science and culture agency UNESCO and UN rights office (OHCHR) released their joint statement, underlining that “we have not received information about the reasons for their detention or their status” even though officials from the Houthi movement “have repeatedly assured that their release would be imminent.”

The agencies said that in August and October this year, another UNESCO staff member plus a UN Volunteer worker with OHCHR, had also been detained in the Houthi-held capital, again, with no information being released on their whereabouts.

‘Complete disregard’ for international law

"This is a profoundly alarming situation as it reveals a complete disregard for the rule of law", the agencies said.

Since full-scale civil conflict erupted in Yemen during 2014 between the internationally recognized Government backed by a Saudi-led coalition, and Houthi insurgents, thousands have died and more than 21 million rely on aid. More than 450,000 children are acutely malnourished.

The agencies said the “unacceptable detentions” are violations of the privileges and immunities accorded to UN staff under international law.

The head of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, and the Executive Coordinator of the UN Volunteers’ programme, Toily Kurbanov, reiterated their demand to release staff members “and all other people illegally detained by the de facto authority.”

Rise in landmine victims fuelled by Ukraine war

New use of anti-personnel landmines drove an increase in casualties from the weapons last year, according to a UN-backed civil society report released on Tuesday.

The Landmine Monitor 2023 shows that 4,710 people were injured or killed by landmines and explosive remnants of war across 49 countries and two other areas in 2022.

According to the report, civilians accounted for over four in five casualties from landmines and explosive remnants of war, half of them children.

The highest number of casualties, 834, was recorded in Syria, followed by Ukraine where 608 people were killed or injured, the report said.

Amidst the conflict in Ukraine, the country saw a ten-fold increase in the number of civilian casualties from the lethal weapons compared to 2021.

Yemen and Myanmar both recorded more than 500 casualties last year.

The civil society group behind the report, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, said that “the only way communities will be truly safe from the scourge of these weapons” is when all States join the international instrument addressing this threat, the Mine Ban Treaty adopted in 1997, and respect it fully.

The publication comes just days before the 164 States parties to the treaty are due to meet at the UN in Geneva.