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World News in Brief: Kyiv under attack, Sudan peace talks, progress on hunger in Europe

That’s according to UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, briefing reporters in New York who said critical infrastructure in at least four of the capital’s 10 districts have been damaged, including homes, a hospital and a kindergarten.

“Water and electricity systems were also hit, but authorities managed to quickly restore these vital supplies”, he added, quoting UN humanitarians on the ground.

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He said the UN and humanitarian partners had distributed blankets and hot meals for hundreds of people and provided psychosocial and medical assistance, in addition to registering those impacted for cash assistance. 

“Sites to help people stay warm have been set up, complementing the efforts of the authorities to find accommodation for people whose houses were damaged”, he added.

Cyberattack

Due to a cyberattack on one of Ukraine’s largest mobile phone operators, millions have reportedly been without access to an air raid warning system in the Kyiv Region, but also in some parts of the north and the centre.

“Once again, we stress that deliberate attacks on civilian infrastructure are forbidden under international humanitarian law”, the UN Spokesperson said. “That includes telecommunications and other infrastructure that help people to be informed and protected during times of war.”

Speaking at the launch of the latest human rights report from UN rights office OHCHR, Danielle Bell who heads the Ukraine division, said that “the impact of the continued attacks in civilian locations, human rights violations, and civilian suffering we are witnessing today will reverberate for generations to come”.

She added that “virtually every aspect of public life, from education and healthcare to the economy and social cohesion, has been adversely affected by the war, inflicting long-term damage on Ukraine’s social, economic, and political fabric”.

The report said that 576 had been killed and 1,864 civilians injured between August and the end of November.

Around 86 per cent of the casualties occurred in territory controlled by the Government in Kyiv, particularly in the Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions.  of eastern and south-eastern Ukraine.

The OHCHR report notes that the majority of civilian casualties and damage, resulted from shelling and multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) attacks near the frontline.

UN chief welcomes signs of progress in talks over ending Sudan war

The UN Secretary-General on Wednesday welcomed “encouraging developments” reported following the latest talks held by African regional body IGAD in Djibouti at the weekend, on ending the military showdown in Sudan which has left the country and its neighbours in turmoil.

IGAD reported that Sudan’s army chief had agreed to meet with the head of rival militia, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The two men have reportedly agreed to meet within 15 days for discussions over a ceasefire and political process to forge a lasting peace.

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“The Secretary-General welcomes the encouraging developments in the context of the Extraordinary Assembly of the IGAD Heads of State and Government held in Djibouti on 9 December, which discussed the situation in Sudan”, said a statement released by his Spokesperson.

Committed to support mediation

Antonio Guterres reiterated the UN’s “commitment to support the mediation efforts of its African partners and to work with all other relevant stakeholders to help end the war and restore peace in Sudan.”

The conflict between the warring sides began in April as negotiations were continuing to merge the RSF militia into the national armed forces and begin the transition towards civilian rule. 

This followed the collapse of a power-sharing council under former Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, in October 2021, which was dissolved by the military.

Wednesday’s statement said that Mr. Guterres was “gravely concerned by the unwillingness of the parties – so far – to cease hostilities, which has caused untold suffering for civilians across Sudan.”

The UN chief’s Personal Envoy for Sudan, Ramtane Lamamra, stands ready to engage with all parties and partners to advance the cause of peace in Sudan.

The former UN political mission known as UNITAMS, was terminated early this month after the Security Council agreed to the military government’s request, arguing that it was failing the meet expectations.

More than 6,000 have been killed during the fighting, with millions driven from their homes, and allegations of multiple human rights violations have compounded a growing humanitarian crisis.

Europe and Central Asia making progress on SDG ‘zero hunger’ target

Europe and Central Asia are making progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 on ‘zero hunger’, including tackling food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition, despite serious challenges experienced in the past few years.

That’s according to the latest Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition, covering the vast region, published today by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Even though the average cost of a healthy diet has increased in the region, the number of people who cannot afford a healthy diet declined in 2022.

The report also notes that in the past years, the pandemic, conflicts, weather extremes, and natural disasters have made it more difficult to improve food security and nutrition.

However, since 2000, the prevalence of undernourishment in the Europe and Central Asia region has been below 2.5 percent and the estimated number of moderately or severely food-insecure people declined by 4.1 percent between 2021 and 2022, to 111.1 million people.

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‘Valuable information’

“We hope that this report provides valuable information that can contribute to effective intersectoral collaboration, including with civil society organizations and the private sector, to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDG 2 goal in Europe and Central Asia,” said Godfrey Magwenzi, Officer-in-Charge for the FAO Regional Office.

This stands in contrast to the “alarming” regional trend on the proportion of those overweight and showing signs of obesity.

In 2022, the prevalence of overweight children under 5 in Europe and Central Asia was 7.1 per cent, higher than the global estimate of 5.6 per cent. 

Adult obesity is on the rise in all subregions and all countries, the study said.

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