April 21, 2024

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

We must push for lasting peace in Gaza, UN chief insists, as starvation threat nears

Starvation is bearing down on Gaza, UN Secretary-General AntΓ³nio Guterres warned on Monday, as he repeated his call for a sustainable end to the conflict and the release of all remaining hostages.

Speaking in Amman, Jordan, Mr. Guterres insisted that a lasting end to the violence was urgent, amid β€œunprecedented and ongoing devastation” in the occupied enclave.

The Secretary-General pledged to keep pushing β€œfor the removal of all obstacles to life-saving aid (and) for more access and more entry points” into Gaza – his call coming amidΒ increasingly dire scenes in northern governorates, where 27 children have now reportedly died from complications linked to severe malnutrition.Β 

Effective Sunday, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, confirmed that it had been barred by the Israeli authorities from transporting assistance to northern Gaza.

The UN health agency, meanwhile, warned that Israeli forces had β€œbesieged and attacked” Al-Amal Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis on Sunday. Media reports indicated that Israeli military vehicles had also reached Nasser hospital in Khan Younis.

Deadly cholera infections spreading fast in Somalia, warn UN aid teams

To Somalia where cholera has killed nine people in the last week and more than 50 in recent months, UN aid teams said on Monday.

The alert from UN aid coordination office, OCHA, confirms that the preventable disease is spreading, with increasing numbers of infections reported in Hirshabelle, Puntland and South West states.

The outbreak is expected to escalate when the Gu rains start next month, especially in high-risk districts located along the Shabelle and Juba River basins.

The Somali capital, Mogadishu, has also seen a spike in cholera cases in the last two weeks while the UN health agency, WHO, reported three times more infections so far in 2024 than in the last three years.

More than six in 10 of the deceased have been children under five in an outbreak that’s being driven by high levels of malnutrition, poor access to clean water and toilets along with open defecation.

As part of the ongoing aid response, about 1.4 million cholera vaccine doses have been approved. More than 100 cholera kits have also been prepositioned across the country, with enough supplies to treat 10,500 patients.

Yemen conflict enters 10th year, over 17 million people need health assistance: WHO

Conflict in Yemen entered its 10th year on Monday, as UN humanitarians issued a warning that over half of the country’s people are in desperate need of aid.Β 

According to the UN health agency, almost 18 million people need medical assistance and half of that number are children.

Nearly one in two under-fives also suffer from moderate to severe stunting, said the World Health Organization, WHO, pointing out that this is nearly 2.4 million children.

β€œIt’s important to step back and remember that hungry children, disease outbreaks, hospitals shutting down … are not to be normalized,” said Dr Hanan Balkhy, World Health Organization Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

Fighting in Yemen between the internationally recognised government in Aden and mainly Houthi rebels who occupy the capital, Sana’a and other territory, has been accompanied by a significant decline in international support.

This has left communities vulnerable to worsening conditions, including climate change.

Last year, natural shocks – particularly heavy rains and flash-flooding – were the main cause of new displacement in Yemen, the UN health agency said.

It noted that some 4.5 million individuals are still internally displaced today in Yemen, with women and children accounting for about eight in 10 of those affected.

In the last five Β years, funding for WHO activities in the country has fallen by 45 per cent. This year, the UN agency needs $77 million to provide essential health assistance.

WHO today supports 96 therapeutic feeding centres (enough to help around 30,000 children per year). It also provides nutrition screening services in more than 270 districts. These centres have achieved 96 per cent cure rates which is well above the international standard.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.Β 

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