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World News in Brief: UN chief shocked by Czech mass shooting, UNICEF appeal for West and Central Africa, world leaders urged to heed climate science

At least 14 people were killed and 25 injured after a gunman opened fire in what some media called the worst shooting in the country’s history.

The gunman, reportedly a student at the university, also killed himself.

UN chief António Guerres was shocked and saddened by the incident, his Spokesperson said in a statement issued later on Thursday.

Mr. Guterres expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wished those injured a speedy and full recovery. 

A Sudanese mother and her children take refuge in a town in Chad across the border from Darfur in Sudan.
© UNICEF/Annadjib Ramadane Maha

A Sudanese mother and her children take refuge in a town in Chad across the border from Darfur in Sudan.

UNICEF: $1.89 billion appeal for West and Central Africa

The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, on Friday appealed for nearly two billion dollars to provide lifesaving assistance to more than 24 million boys and girls across West and Central Africa in 2024.

The agency warned that 46.7 million children in the region are projected to face another year of humanitarian need mainly due to ongoing conflict and insecurity, including in the central Sahel and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and massive displacement into Chad sparked by the war in Sudan.

“West and Central Africa is home to a large number of critically underfunded emergencies, and some of the most neglected humanitarian crises in the world for children,” said UNICEF Regional Director Felicité Tchibindat. 

The $1.89 million appeal aims to reach roughly 24.1 million children next year, up from 23.5 million in 2023. 

Aid will include lifesaving nutrition supplies, clean water, education and child protection services, as well as humanitarian cash transfers for households.

More than a third of the funding will be used to address malnutrition, as the prevalence of wasting in children under five remains high. The Sahel countries are most affected, with several areas of Burkina Faso, Mali and northwest Nigeria showing emergency levels of child wasting.

Time running out for global shift to green energy, outgoing WMO chief warns 

The outgoing head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has urged global leaders to heed scientific evidence on climate change and accelerate the shift to renewable energy sources. 

Petteri Taalas ended his tenure as WMO Secretary-General on Friday.  He assumed the post in 2016 and was at the helm of the UN agency over the warmest eight-year period in recorded history.

“The expertise and services of WMO and the scientific community have never been more necessary to tackle climate change, which represents humanity’s biggest challenge,” he said. 

He issued a request to world leaders, saying “please pay attention to the scientific evidence and listen to the United Nations which is committed to promoting the welfare of citizens worldwide.”

Mr. Taalas hailed the agreement reached at the recent COP28 climate change conference in Dubai as historic because it recognized the need to transition away from fossil fuels, marking a first.

“This is an important step in the right direction but not the final goal,” he said. 

“We urgently need to reduce our production and consumption of fossil fuels and speed up the transition to renewable energy. Time is running out.” 

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