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Sudan crisis: UN health agency alerts over attack on key hospital

“WHO is appalled by the recent attack on South Hospital, the only facility with surgical capacity in Al Fasher, Darfur,” the UN agency said in a post on X. “The hospital’s closure following the attack has stretched the two other hospitals there beyond capacity, further limiting access to lifesaving services.”

According to reports, the hospital had to close after Rapid Support Forces (RSF) soldiers entered the building and opened fire. The NGO which helps to run the hospital, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), said on X that the armed fighters stole equipment and an ambulance.

Wad Al-Nura fallout 

In a related social media post, the WHO condemned “another attack” on a health facility in Wad Al-Nura in Al-Jazirah state south of Khartoum, that caused the death of a nurse who was on duty and caring for patients at the time.

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“WHO strongly condemns attacks on healthcare. Health workers and patients should not have to risk their lives to provide and access health services,” the UN agency said, days after an attack on the village reportedly by RSF paramilitaries involving heavy artillery left more than 100 dead.

Rights chief’s warning

UN human rights chief Volker Türk added his voice on Friday to widespread international condemnation of that attack in which he cited evidence gathered by his Office which “indicates that the RSF used weapons with wide-area effects, including artillery shells, during the attack”.

Previously, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spoke out against the “deeply devastating impact” on civilians of the clashes between the Sudan Armed Forces and the RSF in Al Fasher in the far west of the vast country.

In addition to personal appeals in separate phone calls to the generals of the rival militaries, Mr. Türk warned that more than 1.8 million residents and internally displaced people were besieged in the city “and at imminent risk of famine”.

Any further escalation “would have a catastrophic impact on civilians and would deepen intercommunal conflict with disastrous humanitarian consequences”, the High Commissioner insisted.

Hunger crisis

The humanitarian emergency caused by heavy fighting which erupted across Sudan last April is now close to becoming the world’s largest hunger crisis.

According to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), 18 million people in Sudan are acutely food insecure including nearly five million who are now in the grip of emergency levels of hunger.

“This is the highest number ever recorded during the harvest season… Around 90 per cent of those in emergency are in areas where access is extremely limited due to heavy fighting and restriction,” WFP said, in an appeal for urgent funding. 

Gaza: Deaths and devastation during hostage rescue operation show ‘seismic trauma’ of ongoing war

According to Gaza’s health ministry, more than 270 people including children and other non-combatants were killed during intense fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants in and around the Nuseirat refugee camp on Saturday, in the middle area of the war-torn enclave. More than 600 were reportedly injured with hospitals overwhelmed.

Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said in a post on X that the Nuseirat camp “is the epicentre of the seismic trauma that civilians in Gaza continue to suffer.”

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“Seeing shrouded bodies on the ground, we are reminded that nowhere is safe in Gaza”, he continued.

Scores of hostages still held

The Humanitarian Affairs chief said that even as the four hostages were reunited with their families in Israel thanks to the military operation “scores are still being held captive. All of them must be released.”

In a tweet on Saturday following news of the hostages being freed, UN chief António Guterres said he had sent messages to the relatives of Noa Argamani and Shalomi Ziv – some of whose family members he had received at the UN last week – to express his relief.

I renew my appeal for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and for an end to this war”, said the Secretary-General.

Mr. Griffiths asserted that “all civilians must be protected. This collective agony can and must end now.”

The emergency relief chief added that seeing the video footage from the scene of shrouded bodies in Nuseirat camp was a reminder that nowhere is safe in the enclave, where Israel has carried out a nine months long offensive since the Hamas-led terror attacks of 7 October.

Palestinian militants took over 250 hostage in southern Israel that day, massacring some 1,200 people. More than 40 of the hostages are believed to have died so far with more than 110 reportedly remaining.

Healthcare ‘hanging by a thread’

“Seeing bloodied patients being treated on hospital floors, we are reminded that healthcare in Gaza is hanging by a thread.”

Video from Al-Aqsa Hospital in the aftermath of the fighting and bombardment shows numerous casualties lying on the floor while the director of Al-Adwa Hospital in Nuseirat reported that no morgue is available at the hospital to house the bodies of the dead.

Negotiations continue for a comprehensive ceasefire and hostage deal between Israel and Hamas but a United States-led proposal presented on 31 May has not been accepted by either side.

World News in Brief: UN staff detained in Yemen, cyclone threat for Haiti, rights chief Lao PDR, climate change

“We are very concerned about these developments, and we are actively seeking clarification from the Houthi de facto authorities regarding the circumstances of these detentions and most importantly to ensure the immediate access to those UN personnel,” Mr. Dujarric said.  

Of the detainees, two are women and nine are men. Six work for the UN human rights office (OHCHR), with another five working for different UN agencies and the Office of the UN Special Envoy in Yemen, said Mr. Dujarric.

Militants from the Houthi movement control most of Yemen including the capital, and in recent months have attacked vessels in the Red Sea in response to Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.  

Mr. Dujarric assured that the UN is “pursuing all available channels to secure the safe and unconditional release of all of them, as rapidly as possible.”

Haiti tornado strike could point to ‘devastating’ cyclone season warns UNICEF

Thousands of children and their families may be pushed into poverty in Haiti, compounding the chaos due to gang violence and a collapsing health system, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Friday.

The National Emergency Operations Center has announced a “hyperactive” cyclone season, with 23 phenomena, 11 of which could develop into hurricanes, predicted between June and the end of November.

The first tornado of the season already hit Bassin Bleu, in the country’s northwest, on 21 May, signaling the beginning of some potentially devastating months ahead.  

According to the Haitian authorities, 112 people, including 29 children, were injured in the disaster. Approximately 4,350 people, including 650 children, lost their homes.  

“With every cyclone, every tornado, every flood, children will lose their homes, their livelihoods, their lives, and the season has barely started” said Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in Haiti.

“We support children after every disaster, but support from the international community is essential for us to enhance our preparedness and response capabilities for the worst-case scenarios.”

UNICEF and partners are supporting affected families in Bassin Bleu to recover. The agency and the national partners are distributing cash assistance to the 300 most vulnerable affected families.

Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. (file)
© OHCHR/Irina Popa

Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. (file)

First-ever visit by a UN human rights chief to Lao People’s Democratic Republic  

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk visited Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) on Friday, marking the first ever visit by a UN rights chief to the southeast Asian country.  

While there, he discussed progress Lao PDR has made in advancing the human rights of their citizens.  

Mr. Türk stated that by ratifying seven out of nine core international human rights treaties, “the country has signalled its commitment to accede to a roadmap for human rights.”

However, Mr. Türk was also sure to highlight several key challenges facing the country, notably rising public debt.

“One key challenge for Lao PDR is public debt. Let me be clear: debt is a human rights issue,” he stated.  

Lens of human rights

With over half the world’s poorest countries in or near full-blown debt distress, Mr. Türk pushed for international financial institutions to work through a human rights lens, calling it an “urgent priority.”  

He stressed the dangers of declining public spending on social services and the necessity of human rights playing a role in budget allocations.  

“If a country does not invest sufficiently in education, health, equality and other essentials, this will result in a cascade of problems in society,” the UN human rights chief stated.  

The high levels of child marriage and the low participation of women in decision-making were also mentioned as areas for improvement in Lao PDR.  

In light of these challenges, Mr. Türk expressed hope that his visit “heralds the deepening of our collaboration on the promotion and protection of human rights for all the people in the country, as well as in the region.”

Climate change is worsening the intensity and frequency of droughts.
© UNICEF/Fani Llaurado

Climate change is worsening the intensity and frequency of droughts.

Climate change impacts on health of pregnant women, children, older people: WHO

The climate crisis is a global health crisis, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, as it urged governments everywhere to consider how to protect people from the worst impacts of our warming planet.

To help convince health authorities that the climate emergency should not be ignored, WHO released new data on the impact of climate change at key life stages.

This included threats from air pollution, wildfires, flooding and extreme heat.

Taking extreme heat as one example, WHO said that preterm births increase during heatwaves, while older people are more likely to suffer heart attacks or respiratory distress.  

Indirect factors

Indirect impacts on human health from climate change include reduced crop outputs and food shortages, increased vector-borne disease and greater stress which impacts on mental health, the UN health agency also noted.

Among the solutions to help mitigate the threat posed by our warming world, the WHO suggested flexible work hours and modifying buildings for childcare, education and healthcare, with an emphasis on reducing emissions, too.  

Governments should also focus on collaborating with communities and sharing knowledge of what to do during heatwaves or other climate emergencies, the UN health agency added, including issuing public health messages during peaks in air pollution, so that people can protect themselves, or training health workers to recognize heat stress.

Terrorism, humanitarian crises threaten stability of West Africa: UN deputy chief

At an event commemorating the 49th anniversary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed noted progress made, alongside immediate challenges.  

“Over the last decade, the region has seen an exponential rise in terrorism that has reversed its development gains. This has been further exacerbated by the resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government posing a significant threat to regional stability,” she said.

Humanitarian needs are rising amid the web of crises, “creating new dynamics, bringing new risks of conflicts, beyond the region”.

“ECOWAS at 49 serves as a reminder that the road ahead is challenging, but it is also filled with potential. This requires both a multilateral and regional response to the complexities each country faces,” Ms. Mohammed added.

Collective solutions

The Deputy Secretary-General underscored the need to use “all existing tools”, while also designing new solutions collectively to meet the expectations of the people.

Peace and security must underpin the ‘Vision for Africa’ in the African Union’s Agenda 2063 socio-economic development framework, with a strong emphasis on strong democratic institutions, she said.

“The values of democracy and good governance still hold true for our region. But recent developments tell us that populations are putting in question our models of democracy and the need to be made fit for purpose in line with local realities,” she added, also urging root causes of conflicts in the region to be addressed.

Rescue SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – woefully off track – must be rescued, the deputy UN chief said.

Efforts must be stepped up to achieve the development targets by the 2030 deadline, with “bold and transformative” actions, Ms. Mohammed said.

She emphasized the need for investments in just energy transitions, food systems, digital connectivity, education and skills, as well as in climate action and social protection.

Once-in-a-generation opportunity

Mr. Mohammed also underscored that September’s Summit of the Future provides a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to address gaps in global governance, including for peace and security as part of the Secretary-General’s New Agenda for Peace.

In that context, Africa will be a vital player in finding ways to end existing conflicts and prevent new ones – with women playing a central role.

“As negotiations for a new Pact for the Future (the outcome of the Summit of the Future) intensify, I encourage all of you to engage in all aspects,” she said.

Silence guns in Gaza, Sudan

In conclusion, the Deputy Secretary-General drew attention to the conflicts in Sudan and in Gaza, “which continue to cause unimaginable suffering, particularly for women and children”.

She reiterated the necessity for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, the unconditional release of all hostages and a pathway to a lasting two-State solution.

“We are united in our call for peace, for silencing the guns across Africa, and for working to end all conflicts around the world,” she concluded.

Amid Gaza war, children now work so families can survive: ILO

Details of that development and the “unprecedented devastation” to the Palestinian jobs market and the wider economy beyond Gaza and the West Bank are outlined in a new report from the ILO.

Ahead of its publication, the UN agency’s Director-General Gilbert Houngbo told the 112th International Labour Conference in Geneva on Thursday that the labour market in Gaza had “literally collapsed” since “horrific” Hamas-led terror attacks against Israel last October, that sparked Israel’s “relentless war”. 

“Today Gaza is in ruins. Livelihoods are shattered and work is scarce. Labour rights have been decimated,” he said. “This has been the hardest year for Palestinian workers since 1967. Never before has the situation been this bleak.”

Hard data 

According to data crunched by the ILO and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, unemployment in the Gaza Strip has reached 79.1 per cent. 

Although not directly impacted by the war, the occupied West Bank has also been severely impacted by the crisis, with almost one in three unemployed.

“These figures bring the average rate of unemployment to 50.8 per cent across the two areas of the OPT,” said the authors of The situation of Workers in the Occupied Arab Territories, before noting the true figure was likely even higher as it did not include individuals who had left the labour force altogether because of a lack of opportunities.

Unsurprisingly, overall economic output in Gaza has contracted by 83.5 per cent and by 22.7 in the West Bank over the past eight months, while the entire OPT economy has shrunk by nearly 33 per cent.

Health relief breakthrough

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In related developments in Gaza on Friday, the UN health agency announced despite “significant constraints”, one fully-laden truck and a partially stacked trailer carrying medical relief had reached Gaza via the southern crossing of Kerem Shalom.

“The supplies will be distributed to health facilities to support the treatment of up to 44,000 people,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a post on X. 

The assistance comprises treatments for noncommunicable diseases such as hypertension and cardiac conditions, type 2 diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases but much more relief is needed urgently via the still-closed Rafah crossing, the UN health agency insisted.

In a separate update, the WHO reported that 464 attacks on healthcare in the Gaza Strip have been documented since 7 October.

“Attacks have resulted in 727 fatalities, 933 injuries, affected 101 health facilities and 113 ambulances,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in another post on X. 

“Two-fifths (37 per cent) of attacks were in Gaza City, nearly a quarter (23 per cent) in north Gaza, and over a quarter (28 per cent) in Khan Younis. WHO calls for the respect of international law and active protection of civilians and health care,” the UN agency insisted.

Rafah

In Rafah, fewer than 100,000 people now remain across the southern governorate, the UN aid coordination office, OCHA, reported late Thursday.

This follows the forced evacuation “of about a million people – who were again on the run” and moving toward Khan Younis and Deir al Balah, OCHA said, adding that the ongoing hostilities had massively disrupted the delivery of lifesaving relief.

The halt to fuel deliveries via Rafah crossing from Egypt had multiple negative ramifications, the UN aid office explained, as it affected “trucks, hospitals, sewage systems, desalination operations and bakeries”.

“As things stand, aid convoys still need to navigate active hostilities, barely passable roads, unexploded ordnance, and recurrent delays,” OCHA said.

 

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UN chief condemns escalating violence and civilian attacks in Myanmar

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said the Secretary-General “strongly condemns” recent attacks by the Myanmar military in Rakhine State and Sagaing Region that have reportedly claimed the lives of many civilians.

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the widening regional ramifications of the deteriorating situation in Myanmar and reiterates his appeal for a unified approach,” Mr. Dujarric said.

Conflict in Myanmar

Myanmar’s Rakhine State has seen a spike in violence between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army that has left tens of thousands homeless.

Many of the attacks reportedly targeted the minority Muslim Rohingya community, who have been based in Rakhine for generations but denied full citizenship. Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee into Bangladesh from there in 2017 following persecution by government forces.

Targeting ethnic Rakhine in Western Myanmar, and the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya, underlines the need for protection of all communities.

During the attacks, some members of this community experienced beheadings and burning of their homes. Recent data from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) revealed that about 226,000 people from this community have been uprooted due to the violence who are in need of resettlement.

Even further, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had previously reported cases of “shooting at unarmed fleeing villagers” and disappearances in Myanmar.

The country is now recognised as a hunger hotspot where “acute food insecurity is likely to deteriorate further in coming months.”

Being held accountable

Mr. Dujarric, said that recent incidents “targeting ethnic Rakhine in Western Myanmar, and the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya, underlines the need for protection of all communities.”

He said that aerial bombings and human rights violations are constantly reported in many parts of Myanmar and “those responsible must be held to account.”

Further, he said the Secretary-General “calls on all parties to the conflict to exercise maximum restraint, prioritise protection of civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law and prevent further incitement of communal tension and violence.”

Mr. Dujarric said that the Secretary-General is urging member states and stakeholders to support his newly appointed Special Envoy, Julie Bishop as she works on fostering sustainable peace through close cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and neighbouring countries.

Philemon Yang of Cameroon elected President of upcoming General Assembly session

President-elect Yang also served as the Chairperson of the Panel of Eminent Africans of the African Union, demonstrating “unwavering dedication” to the principles of peace, sustainable development and human dignity, Dennis Francis, President of the General Assembly said.

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His steadfast leadership has also been characterized by a consistent commitment to dialogue, cooperation, and inclusivity – principles that are absolutely essential for guiding the General Assembly’s work.”

With the world confronting multiple, complex challenges, Mr. Francis emphasized the importance of multilateralism and international cooperation.

He urged all Member States to work together – and work harder – to ensure nobody is left behind.

“With His Excellency Philemon Yang at the helm, I am confident that the General Assembly will rise to the occasion to meet this challenge with courage and compassion,” he added.

Theme for 79th session

At an informal dialogue with Assembly members in May, then candidate Yang, highlighted his theme for the 79th session as “unity in diversity, for the advancement of peace, sustainable development, and human dignity for everyone everywhere”.  

Speaking to journalists following the elections, he reiterated that diversity “is a part of life”.

“I am convinced that through dialogue, through consensus, talking together and looking to the future together, we can solve problems,” he said.

The 79th session of the General Assembly will convene on 10 September, with the body’s high-level general debate starting on 24 September 2024.

Secretary-General António Guterres (centre) congratulates Philemon Yang of Cameroon, the President-elect of the 79th session of the UN General Assembly.
United Nations

Secretary-General António Guterres (centre) congratulates Philemon Yang of Cameroon, the President-elect of the 79th session of the UN General Assembly.

A challenging time: Guterres

Congratulating the president-elect, UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted the challenges confronting the global community.

“Conflicts continue to rage. Climate catastrophe is deepening. Poverty and inequality are rife. Mistrust and division are pulling people apart. The Sustainable Development Goals are dramatically off-track. And developing countries are left without the support they need to invest in their people.”

Mr. Guterres urged everyone not to lose sight of the collective objective of a more peaceful and sustainable world.

He acknowledged the leadership of Assembly President Francis, adding that like him, president-elect Yang will also play an important role.

He brings a vital voice to this Hall. He has a wealth of experience representing his country as a diplomat and public servant … He is also a proud African dedicated to the future of his continent,” Mr. Guterres said, adding that he looks forward to working with Mr. Yang.

Dozens feared dead in Israeli airstrike on UNRWA school in Gaza

“UNRWA can confirm that one of our schools in the Nuseirat area (Middle Areas) was hit overnight / early morning by Israeli Forces. ⁠The school was possibly hit several times,” the UN agency for Palestinian refugees told UN News. “The number of those reported killed is between 35 and 45. Scores others are injured. We are not able to confirm the above figure at this stage.”

Children caught up in war

Local officials in Gaza reported that 37 people were killed in the school building attack in Nuseirat refugee camp near Deir Al Balah in central Gaza. The toll included 14 children, it was also reported.

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Media cited the Israeli military that the strike’s objective was to eliminate Hamas operatives and that it was only given the go-ahead after aerial surveillance, with additional measures taken to reduce the risk to civilians.

In an early response condemning the school attack, UNRWA said that 6,000 people had been sheltering on the premises. Since the war began, more than 180 buildings belonging to the UN agency have been hit, killing more than 450 displaced people in those facilities.

“The vast majority” were schools-turned-shelters, UNRWA said, as it issued a reminder “to all parties to the conflict that schools and other UN premises must never be used for military or fighting purposes…UN facilities must be protected at all times”.

Rubble for a home

The development came as humanitarians issued alerts about the already dire sanitary emergency in Gaza, as civilians displaced by the war “have no choice but to live amid the rubble and in destroyed UNRWA facilities”.

In its latest report on relief activities in May, the UN agency flagged that aid teams were allowed to pick up “just under 450 trucks in the past three weeks in support of the humanitarian operation. This is nothing in the face of the needs,” UNRWA said, insisting that at least 600 trucks per day “of commercial, fuel and humanitarian supplies” are required to help stave off famine and death in Gaza.

“Fuel is running short: our teams are standing by to pick it up when the Israeli Authorities give the green light,” UNRWA said, before highlighting “horrific” scenes of devastation from Jabalia Refugee Camp in northern Gaza, home to thousands of displaced people.

“All eyes are on the proposal to reach an end to this war through a ceasefire, the release of all hostages and substantial and safe flow of urgently needed supplies into Gaza,” the UNRWA update continued, as the US and 16 other countries reportedly expressed their full support for the ceasefire and hostage release proposal presented by President Biden on 31 May.

Cholera killer

As summer temperatures rise, humanitarians also expressed deep concerns that preventable disease outbreaks could spread more widely.

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“Children in Gaza are living alongside mountains of trash and raw sewage as basic services reach a breaking point amid continued fighting and displacement,” said Catherine Russell, head of UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, on X.

The lack of clean drinking water has also fuelled warnings that cholera may strike too, just as healthcare provision remains “crippled”, UN health agency chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“Intense hostilities have severely crippled health care provision in Rafah where tens of thousands of vulnerable people still remain,” he said in post on X, noting that the partner medical NGO International Medical Corps had moved its 160-bed field hospital from Al-Mawasi to the west of Rafah to its existing facility in Deir Al Balah.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General noted that the only functioning field hospital in Al-Mawasi was the one run by the International Committee of the Red Cross. In Rafah city, meanwhile, only the United Arab Emirates field hospital currently provides health services “but is increasingly difficult to reach due to hostilities”, Tedros said.

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Keep global spotlight on Haiti as millions go hungry, WFP official says

“We now have five million people in Haiti that are acutely food insecure, of which 1.6 million are classified as facing emergency food insecurity conditions,” said WFP Country Director Jean-Martin Bauer, speaking via videolink to journalists at UN Headquarters in New York.

These are the highest numbers on record. These are the highest numbers we’ve had since the 2010 earthquake,” he added. 

Feeding displaced people 

Mr. Bauer’s briefing took place just hours after WFP and sister UN agency the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published their latest hunger hotspots report, calling for action to save lives and prevent starvation in 18 places such as Gaza, Sudan and Haiti.

He spoke from a community kitchen in Port-au-Prince, managed by WFP and a local partner, that prepares thousands of hot meals for people displaced by the rampant gang violence, and ensuing insecurity and human rights violations, that have rocked the city in recent years. 

The UN Security Council has authorized the deployment of a Multinational Security Support Mission to assist the Haitian National Police, which is still in the planning stages. 

Airport shuttered 

The situation in the Caribbean country worsened in early March after gangs tightened their grip on the capital, carrying out coordinated attacks against police stations and other key State institutions, and releasing thousands of prisoners in jail breaks.  Flights were grounded and the Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, resigned. 

Responding to reporters’ questions, Mr. Bauer said that security is the “number one priority” in the face of violence that makes it dangerous for people, including his staff, to even take their children to school, shop for groceries or go to church.

The violence has forced over 360,000 Haitians to flee their homes.  More than 100,000 left Port-au-Prince in March alone, he said, citing data from UN migration agency IOM. 

Mr. Bauer said this “exodus” from the capital is especially affecting the south of the country, where infrastructure is limited, thus compounding the food crisis. 

Although a new Prime Minister has been nominated, the period since then “has been quite violent, quite unsettled”, he added.   

“The country has been blocked. The main ports for containers, the airport, were not functional for months. They’ve slowly resumed functioning,” he said. 

A million meals 

Humanitarians have been doing their best to respond to the crisis, and the hot meals programme is just one example of their efforts, he said.  In total, WFP and partners have assisted more than 100,000 people since the start of the year, providing over a million hot meals. 

“Right now, we’ve been able to use the stocks that we placed in position in Port-au-Prince ahead of the crisis, but those have been running low,” he said.

With the recent re-opening of the port, he expressed optimism that more commodities will flow into the country to sustain humanitarian activities. 

A WFP-chartered cargo plane being unloaded of its 15 MT of desperately needed medical supplies at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
© WFP/Luc Junior Segur

A WFP-chartered cargo plane being unloaded of its 15 MT of desperately needed medical supplies at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Aid flown in 

He also pointed to good news.  Last week, a WFP cargo flight transported 15 tonnes of vital medical supplies to the Port-au-Prince airport, marking the first time in months. 

The items were for partners such as the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) who delivered them to local hospitals and clinics. More flights will soon take to the skies

Other “breakthroughs” saw WFP reaching the Cité-Soleil neighbourhood, providing rations to some 93,000 people in May. WFP has also maintained a ferry service linking Port-au-Prince to the north and south of Haiti, bringing food and medical supplies to areas that have been isolated from humanitarian supply chains. 

Pay attention to Haiti 

“But there’s a sense of crisis still,” Mr. Bauer said.

This month marks the start of the Atlantic hurricane season which is on track to be “very active” this year.   Food prices in the capital have also increased by nearly 30 per cent since January, representing another blow to the population.

He urged the international community to step up and support Haiti, as a $674 million humanitarian response plan, launched in February, is only around 22 per cent funded. WFP also needs $76 million to continue its lifesaving work in the country. 

“We need to continue having Haiti in the spotlight,” he said.  “We know that in some parts of the world there just hasn’t been enough attention on Haiti because we’re looking at other crises, we’re looking elsewhere, but the crisis in Haiti is here, it’s now and it deserves a response.” 

UN investigative team hands over key ISIL crime data to Iraq

Thus far, some 28 terabytes (TB) of data have been transferred, representing a majority of the 40TB held by UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD).

Briefing ambassadors at the Security Council, UNITAD acting head Ana Peyró Llopis said she has regularly engaged with Iraqi officials, notably the judiciary, survivors of terrorist violence and civil society organizations.

“All stakeholders were eager to intensify cooperation prior to the conclusion of the mandate, particularly on the delivery of evidence, other materials and analyses as well as on capacity-building.”

Ana Peyró Llopis, acting head of UNITAD, briefing the Security Council.

The legacy

Since its inception, the UNITAD has been pivotal towards ensuring accountability for the atrocities committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ Da’esh) between 2014 and 2017, which may constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, Ms. Peyró Llopis said.

The evidence, meticulously collected and preserved by the Team, includes testimonials from witnesses, data from ISIL’s digital devices, on the ground investigations and content extracted using advanced forensic methods.

This vast repository of information has been compiled into a digital archive adhering to rigorous international standards for evidence, ensuring that it can be used in ongoing and future judicial proceedings, Ms. Peyró Llopis said.

“These products will remain, beyond the closure of the Team, and Member States, including Iraq, could consider them in the future to hold ISIL perpetrators accountable for the international crimes they committed in Iraq,” she added.

Handing over evidence

Ms. Peyró Llopis further informed Council members that UNITAD had transferred its 28TB of evidence in March

On Monday, another tranche of evidence, including online and open-source information, was transferred, while evidence collected from the Kurdistan Regional authorities is ready for delivery.

“Some of this returned evidence was generated because of the close collaboration between the Team and the Iraqi authorities,” she added, through activities such as excavating a mass grave or data from seized ISIL held devices.

Drawdown and liquidation

Ms. Peyró Llopis further briefed the ambassadors of the progress towards the drawdown and liquidation of the Team by 17 September.

This includes the closure of its offices, proper management of its human resources and assets, and archiving of both evidentiary and non-evidentiary records.

“The importance of maintaining, preserving, and managing these archives has been at the center of my discussions,” she said, noting that Iraqi authorities would retain custody and preserve, store, and manage the original evidence in Iraq.

“This will be for use in domestic criminal proceedings and achieving accountability at the national level,” she added.

A copy of the original evidence will be kept by the UN Secretariat as part of its archives.

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