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World News in Brief: Mali mission latest, starvation alert for ‘hotspots’, inclusive sport for all

In line with the accelerated withdrawal process of the UN’s stabilization mission, MINUSMA, the convoy initially left by road on Tuesday for Gao, and suffered two attacks from improvised explosives on the way that caused vehicle damage and minor injuries to two peacekeepers which were treated on site.

Thursday’s incident involved another explosive device leading to much more serious injuries. 

“A mission to evacuate the injured peacekeepers by air has been launched from Gao, and the Permanent Mission of the troop-contributing-country in question has been kept informed throughout”, said Stéphane Dujarric, briefing reporters in New York.

“The convoy, the last to depart the Kidal camp, is making its way towards the MINUSMA base in Gao in extremely challenging security conditions.”

The convoy was forced to depart without any air support due to a lack of flight authorization by the Malian military authorities, which have pressed the UN to wind up the mission by the end of next month, which it is on track to do.

The lack of air cover “has increased the threat to the safety of our peacekeepers as they travel hundreds of kilometers in very unsafe territories”, Mr. Dujarric added.

He said with the exception of the liquidation team, including the rear parties of contingents and its guard unit, the UN is determined to meet its 31 December deadline.

“We continue to look forward to Mali’s full cooperation with this process” he added.

MINUSMA has been in Mali since 2013 when it was established by Security Council mandate to protect civilians and stabilize the restive north and central regions following a failed coup, and a continuing insurgency led by Islamist armed groups. 

‘Possible starvation’ looms in ‘hunger hotspots’: WFP, FAO

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) added Palestine on Wednesday to a list of countries and territories “at greatest risk of a serious deterioration in food security and possible starvation”. 

Burkina Faso, Mali, South Sudan and Sudan are also among the countries of highest concern. 

The UN agencies warned that conflict is a key driver of global hunger and that the trend of increased civilian targeting across different conflicts is expected to continue throughout 2023.

Food insecurity is also being compounded by cuts to food assistance in several hunger hotspots because of a lack of funding, WFP and FAO said.

This has been the case in Afghanistan, where “a shocking 10 million people have been cut off from life‑saving assistance due to a massive funding shortfall”. 

If WFP and humanitarian actors do not receive the funding needed to address the crises at hand, “millions of people could be pushed further into hunger and to the brink of starvation”, said WFP’s Director of Emergencies Kyung-nan Park. 

Ms. Park stressed that the cost of inaction is “catastrophic” for the most vulnerable and called for critical investments to boost resilience “so that communities are better prepared for forthcoming climate, conflict, and economic shocks”.

Sport must be inclusive of LGBT and intersex persons: Rights experts

Countries must respect the right of all to participate in sports and enforce equal treatment of all athletes, especially all women and girls, LGBT and intersex persons. 

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That’s the message from UN-appointed independent right experts, who said on Wednesday that “deep inequalities” continue to limit the access of these communities and populations to take part in organised sport.

The experts, who include Alexandra Xanthaki, the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, called bans on trans and intersex women in women’s sports a violation of human rights obligations under the principle of non-discrimination and of their right to privacy.

The experts regretted the recent instrumentalisation of this debate, leading to the adoption of restrictive measures in law and public policy by State institutions and sporting bodies. 

According to the experts, States and sports organisations must remain committed to fairness of competition by considering factors “that may impact participation of persons based on categories protected under international human rights law, including sex characteristics, sexual orientation and gender identity”. 

This includes the requirement to adopt human rights-based approaches in the evaluation of bids for countries that seek to hold major sports events, they said. 

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