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World News in Brief: Ukraine dam disaster update, childcare investment, healthcare under fire in Sudan

These are the grim findings of an assessment published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on Thursday, which calls for both immediate and long-term remediation measures.

Hundreds of square kilometres were flooded in the disaster, and thousands of square kilometres of reservoir and wetlands were desiccated.

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UNEP’s preliminary assessment carried out at the request of the Ukrainian Government concluded that consequences of the dam breach will be felt “for decades”, reaching far beyond Ukraine’s borders. The report reviewed environmental impacts both upstream and downstream, such as chemical contamination and ecological damage to protected areas.

The authors of the report wrote that “a detailed estimation of the full impacts on irrigation, drinking water and supply of water to industry, including the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, and associated human health impacts, fall outside the scope of this rapid assessment but pose a substantial concern.”

They concluded that more assessments will be needed to address the full scale of the disaster’s environmental impacts and that financial and technical support is “urgent and indispensable” for a sustainable reconstruction, restoration of damaged habitats and disaster waste management.

Sudan: Civilian attacks continue

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Clementine Nkweta-Salami, says she is deeply concerned by continued reports of attacks against civilian infrastructure, noting that “even hospital wards full of sick and wounded children are not safe’ from conflict.”  

Since the start of the war between the national army and the Rapid Support Forces militia in April, the World Health Organization (WHO) has verified 58 attacks on healthcare, said UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric on Thursday.

Healthcare devastated

More than 70 per cent of health facilities in conflict areas in Sudan are now out of service.

Over the weekend, the water supply in Omdurman in the state of Khartoum was temporarily suspended after a water treatment centre came under fire. 

“Our colleagues on the ground say that this is extremely worrying, given the ongoing cholera outbreak in Khartoum State and other parts of the country”, said Mr. Dujarric.

More than 1,600 suspected cholera cases – including about 67 deaths – have been reported so far, “and we and our partners are scaling up our response to the outbreak”, he added. 

Closing childcare policy gaps offers high return on investment: ILO

Providing continuous childcare to parents from the birth of their child to the start of mandatory schooling could bring a more than threefold return on investment, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Thursday.

“Such investments could also lead to reductions in gender and other inequalities, generation of decent jobs, improvements in health and wellbeing, and help create a path to social justice,” ILO said.

ILO’s research covering 82 countries found that each US dollar invested in closing the gap in childcare between the end of parental leave and the first day of school, would bring a $3.76 rise in global Gross Domestic Product by 2035, as parents – mainly women – exchange unpaid care work for paid and formal employment. Currently, only 26 countries have childcare laws which allow to bridge this gap.

The agency projects that the measure would create 300 million jobs worldwide and reduce the global gender gap in monthly earnings from 20 per cent in 2019 to eight per cent in 2035.

ILO said that providing “universal, high-quality childcare services staffed by trained and valued early childhood education personnel” would require additional spending equivalent to 1.5 per cent of global GDP.

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