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Wednesday’s Daily Brief: mental health, conflict prevention, Ebola in Uganda, Sudan protests, child labour

One-in-five suffers mental health condition in conflict zones, new UN figures reveal

More than one-in-five people living in conflict-affected areas suffers from a mental illness, according to a new report based on UN figures, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to call for increased, sustained investment in mental health services in those zones.

Around 22 per cent of those affected, suffer depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, according to an analysis of 129 studies published in The Lancet – a United Kingdom-based peer-reviewed medical journal.

Find our full story here.

Listen to our interview with Dr. Mark van Ommeren, from WHO, who outlines the findings of the report and describes what is being done to help sufferers, including in war-torn Syria: 

Conflict prevention, mediation: among ‘most important tools’ to reduce human suffering, Guterres tells Security Council

Conflict prevention and mediation are two of “the most important tools at our disposal to reduce human suffering” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council on Wednesday.  

“When we act early, and are united, we can successfully prevent crises from escalating, saving lives and reducing suffering – fulfilling the most fundamental mandate of the United Nations”, he continued.

Read our full coverage here.

Five-year-old Congolese boy with Ebola dies in Uganda, as family members test positive

After being infected with Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the five-year-old child who had crossed the border into Uganda on Monday died on Wednesday, according to the country’s Ministry of Health. This marked the first case of Ebola outside DRC since the epidemic began last August, the deadliest in the country’s history.

On Wednesday, his 50-year-old grandmother and his three-year-old brother were also confirmed infected with the virus. They are now receiving medical care at the Bwera hospital Ebola treatment unit, 5 kilometers from the DRC border.

The family entered the country through Bwera border post and sought medical care for the boy at Kagando hospital. Health workers identified Ebola as a possible cause of illness as he was presenting symptoms of blood vomiting, bloody diarrhoea, muscle pain, headache and more.

To date there is no known transmission of Ebola in Uganda itself, but the country’s Ministry of Health, the UN and partners, are monitoring all possible contacts and the situation is being evaluated across the district with rapid response teams. A ring of vaccinations is scheduled to be carried out for the most at-risk people in the area, including frontline health care workers.  

Sudan sliding into ‘human rights abyss’, warn UN independent experts

Sudan is sliding into a “human rights abyss”, UN-appointed experts said on Wednesday, in a call for an independent investigation into the reported killing of demonstrators and activists.

In their appeal to the Human Rights Council to establish an inquiry, the five experts expressed alarm at deaths and injuries caused by a military raid on protesters in front of army headquarters in Khartoum on 3 June.

Women have been among the first victims of the violence, including sexual abuse, the experts said, adding that dozens of female human rights defenders have been detained arbitrarily.

Some have been released, but several are believed to still be in police custody and in need of medical attention. The development echoes similar concerns over the situation in Sudan by top UN officials including the head of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore.

On Tuesday, she announced that at least 19 children had reportedly been killed in Sudan since a military backlash against protesters began earlier this month.

The UN Children’s Fund has also received reports that “children are being detained, recruited to join the fighting, and sexually abused”, while schools, hospitals and health centres have also been targeted, looted or destroyed.

In recent developments, protest leaders in Sudan have reportedly agreed to end the general strike that brought Khartoum to a standstill this week and are willing to resume power-sharing talks with the ruling military council.

Military leaders have yet to formally confirm their participation.

Key overseas investment data show slide for third year in a row

A successful global economy that leaves no one behind depends to a large extent on countries and companies investing in markets abroad – it’s a practice that’s known as foreign direct investment, or FDI. Last year, however, global flows of FDI fell by 13 per cent, to US$1.3 trillion, UN trade and development experts UNCTAD said on Wednesday; representing a slide for the third consecutive year.

This is also the lowest level of FDI since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago, and it underlines the long-term downward pressure on international investment.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi, explained how tax reforms encouraging repatriation of capital in the United States in 2017, had played their part in the slide: “A large segment of the decline of FDI to developed economies was accounted for by the changing tax policy of the U.S., multinational enterprises with major investments in the developed economies who are taking back the resources that have been kept out because of taxation considerations.”

While investment flows to developed economies – such as those in Europe – fell to their lowest point since 2004, cash flows to developing countries in Africa rose by 11 per cent, to $46 billion, and to Asia by four per cent, while falling six per cent to Latin America and the Caribbean.

More funding needed to tackle child labour in agriculture says UN, marking World Day

The number of children working in agriculture has increased by 10 million since 2012, which is why on Wednesday’s World Day Against Child Labour, the UN agency for the sector is urging countries to allocate more funding to address a global surge in subsistence farming at every level. 

“It is time we go beyond the exclusive focus on selected global supply chains and begin investing resources into tackling child labor in all situations”, said Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) José Graziano da Silva in a video message, adding it was “essential to engage the agricultural workers and producer organizations.” 

Find our complete story here. 


Listen to or download our audio News In Brief for 12 June on SoundCloud: 


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