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Friday’s Daily Brief: Honouring fallen peacekeepers, action against gender-based violence; LGBT rights in Kenya, Rohingya water crisis

UN hails peacekeepers who ‘paid the ultimate price’

Ever since the UN deployed the first of its 72 peacekeeping missions back in 1948, more than 3,800 peacekeepers have lost their lives, Secretary-General António Guterres said on Friday, at a wreath laying ceremony in honour of those “brave men and women” who serve.

Speaking of “the true cost of peacekeeping”, the UN chief called for a moment of silence for those who “paid the ultimate price” to protect others and “to give war-torn countries a chance for peace and hope”.

“Today, in 14 missions around the world, our peacekeepers serve heroically to preserve peace and stability”, he said, adding that they also “face grave threats”.

Read our full story here.

Ground-breaking conference aims to tackle gender-based violence in humanitarian crises

One-in-three girls or women will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime, and “the risk multiplies” during a conflict or natural disaster, the Executive Director of UNICEF told delegates attending the first-ever “Ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Humanitarian Crises Conference” on Friday, in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

In a ground-breaking collaboration, the Governments of Norway, Iraq, Somalia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) together with UN agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is taking on the global SGBV challenge.

The conference yielded a total of $363 million in pledges from 21 countries for 2019, 2020 and beyond, including $226.2 million to be spent on priorities this year alone.

Ms. Fore spelled out that although “they have experienced terrible injustices, what they’ve endured does not define them…their determination does”.  More on the Conference here.

Kenyan High Court ruling on same-sex relations ‘sends dangerous signal’: rights chief

A Kenyan High Court ruling which upholds a colonial-era ban on consensual, same sex relations between adults, sends a “dangerous signal” to society and is “inherently discriminatory”, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said in a statement issued on Friday.

Human rights defenders have long argued that these provisions breach Kenya’s human rights obligations, said the High Commissioner, and contribute to violence and discrimination against members of Kenya’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community.

“Criminalizing acts targeting certain individuals based on who they are and whom they love is inherently discriminatory”, she said. “It also sends a dangerous signal to broader society and encourages hostility and even violence against LGBT individuals”.

Noting that LGBT activists in Kenya have fought hard to secure their rights , he said: “My message to the people of Kenya is to fight on for greater equality for all, and never give up. The United Nations stands with you and joins you in your demands for dignity, equal rights and fair treatment.”

Emergency funds needed to save 600,000 malnourished children in Afghanistan

Unless seven million dollars in funding is found within weeks, Afghani children suffering from the most serious form of malnutrition may die, UNICEF said on Friday.

Speaking in Geneva, UN Children’s Fund spokesperson Christophe Boulierac, likened the humanitarian situation in the war-torn country to “one of the worst disasters on earth”.

And he warned that increased violence and last year’s severe drought have left hundreds of thousands of under-fives, critically vulnerable in the west and north of the country.

Go here for the full story.

UN health agency applauds Brazilian compensation bid from tobacco giants

The Brazilian Government’s offer to tackle tobacco giants to recover the cost of caring for people who’ve fallen ill from smoking – or exposure to tobacco smoke – has been applauded by the UN health agency.

In a statement, the World Health Organization (WHO) cited the authorities in saying that public health spending triggered by tobacco consumption in Brazil amounts to billions of dollars annually.

Moreover, it warned that the so-called “tobacco epidemic” was still one of the biggest public health threats in the world, killing more than seven million people a year.


Water shortages rise for Myanmar refugees in Bangladesh camps

Water shortages in Bangladesh have reached critical levels for 140,000 Rohingya refugees living on the country’s Teknaf Peninsula.

UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday that it was expecting to begin delivering water by truck within 10 to 12 days, and put in new projects that will help the region cope with longer dry seasons.

“Because of the changing weather patterns, we’ve had more six months of longer dry season without sufficient rainfall resulting now in critical cuts in the daily supply of water to refugees” explained UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic.

Trucking water to them and host communities will cost some $60,000 a month, according to UNHCR, which has warned that its humanitarian appeal for more than 900,000 people is only one-fifth funded so far this year.

Listen to, or download our audio News In Brief for 24 May, on SoundCloud:


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