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Monday’s News Brief: World population, Desertification Day, ocean protection, Nigeria, Yemen and Gaza

Yemeni children ‘dying right now’ due to food aid diversions, Beasley warns Security Council

Food continues to be taken “from the mouths of hungry little boys and little girls” in many areas of Yemen controlled by Houthi rebels, warned the head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) on Monday, who said the agency would be forced to suspend some food assistance within days, unless agreements are finally honoured.

David Beasley was briefing the Security Council on the continuing dire humanitarian situation, along with the UN relief chief, Mark Lowcock, and the UN special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, who provided updates on the search for a political solution to end more than four years of brutal fighting between the Houthis and the Saudi-led pro-Government coalition.

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9.7 billion on Earth by 2050, but growth rate slowing, says new UN population report

By the year 2050, there will be some 9.7 billion people living on Earth, says a UN population report released on Monday. However, the overall growth rate will continue to fall, and more countries will have to adapt to the consequences of an ageing population.

“The World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights”, estimates that the next 30 years will see the global population add an extra 2 billion people to today’s figure of 7.7 billion, and, by the end of the century, the planet will have to sustain around 11 billion.

Read our full coverage here.

UN oceans treaty ‘essential’ to combat ‘unprecedented pressure’ on the world’s seas – UN chief

The oceans are not only under “unprecedented pressure” due to climate change, but “half of all living coral has been lost in the past 150 years”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday, addressing the latest gathering of nations which are party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“In the past four decades, plastic pollution in the sea has increased ten-fold”, he told the meeting. A third of fish stocks are now overexploited; de-oxygenated dead zones are growing rapidly in extent and number; and ocean acidification, sea level rise and other impacts of climate change are “taking a massive toll”.

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24 billion tons of fertile land lost every year, warns UN chief on World Day to Combat Desertification

In a video message released in advance of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, marked on Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that the world loses 24 billion tons of fertile land every year, and that the degradation in land quality is responsible for a reduction in the national domestic product of up to eight per cent every year.

“Desertification, land degradation and drought are major threats affecting millions of people worldwide,” said the UN chief, “particularly women and children.” Mr. Guterres said that it is time to “urgently” change such trends, adding that protecting and restoring land can “reduce forced migration, improve food security and spur economic growth”, as well as helping to address the “global climate emergency”.

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Nigeria: UN condemns ‘horrific’ triple suicide attacks and use of children as ‘human bombs’

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, strongly condemned the triple suicide attacks that took place on Sunday in Konduga, Borno State, north-east Nigeria, in which three children we used to detonate explosives. In total, at least 30 people were killed and another 40 were injured.

According to reports on the ground, two girls and one boy detonated the bombs at a community football viewing centre.

“It is unacceptable that children should be used in this way,” said the head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), appealing “to all those involved in this terrible conflict to protect children at all times and to keep them out of harm’s way” in line with international humanitarian law.

According to the agency, this incident brings the number of children recorded as having been used as human bombs this year to five. In 2018, 48 children – including 38 girls – were used in so-called “suicide attacks”.

Mr. Guterres sent his “sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Nigeria” and wished “a speedy recovery to the injured,” hoping that “those responsible for these attacks will be swiftly brought to justice”. He reiterated the solidarity of the UN with the national and regional efforts against terrorism and violent extremism.

Solar power plant in Gaza, ‘an important step’

A newly installed solar power plant in the Gaza Strip, Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), will reduce Nasser Hospital’s reliance on donated fuel and, by providing life-saving interventions, help build resilience. This is according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The power plant provides clean energy and is expected to save fuel, reduce CO2 emissions by 185 tons, and improve health services for an estimated 19,000 people per month.

“Interruptions in energy supply have created an enormous challenge for the health sector in Gaza, putting lives of the most vulnerable patients at risk,” said Gerald Rockenschaub, WHO head for the OPT. “The solar electrification of Nasser Hospital is an important step towards ensuring more sustainable power supply to health facilities”.

Chronic electricity shortages in Gaza have severely compromised basic health assistance and left the enclave reliant on backup generators to sustain critical life-saving services. Solar electricity can help decrease hospital’s dependence of on emergency generators.

Listen to or download our audio News In Brief for 17 June on SoundCloud:  


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