Global perspective, human stories
Afghanistan facing ‘epic humanitarian crisis' UN chief warns neighbouring countries. COVID-19 pandemic impact on jobs, worse than feared: ILO Russian Wagner Group, intimidating, harassing civilians in Central African Republic, independent rights experts warn
Messages of solidarity rang across Expo 2020 in Dubai as participants celebrated UN Day on Sunday. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed called on the world “to hold on to the hopefulness of the future of mankind and its home, the planet”. EXPO 2020, which runs through March, includes a UN Hub where visitors can learn about the Organization's mission for peace, development, human rights and human dignity. UN News's Jessica Jiji spoke to the deputy UN chief about the significance of commemorating UN Day at Expo 2020.
A new UN publication sheds light on the ways in which victims of human trafficking are accommodated during different stages of their trafficking ordeal. This process known as ‘harbouring' constitutes an act of human trafficking in the internationally recognised definition of this crime and is used by prosecutors and judges to secure convictions. Martin Hemmi, a UNODC Associate Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, who coordinated the production of the report, says he hopes the new study will be used by investigators, prosecutors and judges to lead to a better understanding of this crime and support measures to effectively protect victims and punish traffickers.
In this week's show, the “Jimi Hendrix of the Sahel”, also known to his fans as Vieux Farka Touré, sings his message of peace, in a region on the frontlines of climate change, mass displacement and violent extremism; we also hear the latest stories from the UN News team, covering Afghanistan, COVID-19 and a radical weather forecasting initiative from the World Meteorological Organization. With closing comments too, from regular guest Solange Behoteguy-Cortes.
More than one million people in southern Madagascar are going hungry in what the World Food Programme (WFP) believes could become the first-ever famine brought on by climate change. Successive years of drought have forced people in rural communities to eat locusts, fruit and cactus leaves because they have been unable to plant or harvest sweet potatoes, tomatoes and other crops. Alice Rahmoun, WFP Communications Officer in the capital, Antananarivo, was in the region recently. She said families have been selling prized assets, such as cattle, farmland and even homes, to survive. Ms. Rahmoun spoke to Dianne Penn about the UN agency's support to some 700,000 people, with plans to reach more, and hopes for the COP26 climate change conference which opens later this month in Glasgow, Scotland.
For more than two years, a UN-appointed team of 59 people has been collecting and analyzing more than two million pieces of evidence about possible human rights violations in Myanmar. The team of professionals are formally known as the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, (IIMM) or Myanmar Mechanism, and was created in 2018 by the Human Rights Council. In an extensive interview with UN News, the head of the Mechanism, Nicholas Koumjian, explains the importance of preserving this evidence before it is potentially lost.
In this week's show, just one in seven COVID cases is detected in Africa while deaths from another deadly disease – tuberculosis – rise for the first time in a decade, the World Health Organization tells us. An update too from Afghanistan, where the UN refugee agency is desperately worried about a lack of funds for lifesaving aid work – and plunging winter temperatures…We'll also meet the team behind The Walk, an ambitious project to raise awareness about Syrian refugees, which involves walking a huge puppet across Europe.
It's not very often at the UN that we get the chance to talk to talented musicians whose work can help to promote the Organization's goals of peace, human rights and development; but that's exactly what happened when Mali songwriter Vieux Farka Touré agreed to tell us all about his brand new composition, A Song For The Sahel. In partnership with the humanitarian coordination office OCHA, Mr. Touré set out to write a message of hope to the people of the Sahel, a region where spreading violence has left almost 29 million people in need of life-saving assistance and protection; that's five million more people than last year. Here he is now, talking - and singing - to UN News's Daniel Johnson.
When he went to school for the first time, five-year-old Kailash Satyarthi saw a child cobbler, sitting outside the school gate. Seeing the impoverished boy having to work and unable to go to class, gave him a new perspective, and set him on the road to becoming a passionate child rights advocate. Kailash Satyarthi has been at the forefront of the global movement to end child slavery for decades now. The human rights activist from India won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 and was recently appointed to serve as one of four new UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocates. Mr. Satyarthi spoke to UN News's Anshu Sharma in New Delhi.
The most important action the world can take to tackle the climate crisis is to quickly decarbonize every mode of transportation on earth, according to one determined expert, starting with buses. Alex Mitchell, Senior Vice President of Unlocking Innovation at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, and author of the newsletter, Sustainable Mobility, says that carbon is an existential threat that the world has an obligation to remove from transport. For Mr. Mitchell, electric buses are a “Swiss army knife solution” to the problem because, as ridership grows, there is less dependency on private car, and because they are equally applicable in both emerging and developed markets. Ahead of the upcoming UN Sustainable Transport Conference, which takes place between 14 and 16 October, Mr. Mitchell shared with UN News's Liz Scaffidi, some of the ways the world can shift to safe, accessible and environmentally friendly transportation.
In this week's show, a UN-led push to get more COVID vaccines into lots more arms all over the world, Afghanistan reaches a new ‘depth of destitution' and an alert in northern Mozambique over the indoctrination of children by insurgents. Plus, the latest on the situation inside Syria, from Paolo Pinheiro, chair of the UN-appointed International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, which reports to the Human Rights Council.
Kaylee Werner was a teenager when a gunman attacked the Tree of Life Synagogue in the US city of Pittsburgh, on October 27, 2018. It was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the nation's history, with 11 people killed and nine injured. Kaylee, who is Jewish, wasn't at the synagogue that day, but she bears the scars: one of her relatives was killed, and she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She now campaigns for religious tolerance and gun control. In this episode of The Lid Is On, we look at how the attack has changed Kaylee's life, and how to combat antisemitism and other form of religious hatred.
Three years after being appointed by the Secretary-General, the Force Commander for the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) ended his tour of duty just a few days ago. Lieutenant General Dennis Gyllenspore, from Sweden, led over 13,000 women and men, often in challenging conditions. Among the difficult tasks he faced were securing the north and the centre of the country, supporting the implementation of the Peace Agreement, and enforcing the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of former combatants. As he shares in this interview with Nadege Digne Sinarinzi, from Mikado FM, he leaves with a sense of accomplishment and proud of the partnerships made.
When David Gressly, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, called for $3.85 billion from international donors to avoid a point of no return in March, he said that “Yemen can't wait”. Five months on, some $2 billion has been received, averting the immediate risk of famine, but leaving significant gaps in desperately needed areas, such as healthcare. During a recent visit to UN Headquarters, Mr. Gressly spoke to UN News's Conor Lennon about the current humanitarian situation in Yemen, and the impact the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have across the war-torn nation.
In this week's show, the UN's top humanitarian official says that famine is likely happening in Ethiopia's Tigray, while food waste and poor diets continue to handicap millions of children worldwide, the Food and Agriculture Organization says. We'll also hear from an Afghan political activist who's speaking up for women's rights after the Taliban takeover, as well as bleak prospects for recovery in the Occupied Palestinian Territories from UN economists UNCTAD...and, a global initiative to tackle meningitis, with the help of the World Health Organization.
Conditions on the ground are dire for the thousands of Haitian migrants being forced to return to their homeland from the Americas, many of them “empty handed”, and bewildered. That's according to Giuseppe Loprete, chief of the International Organization for Migration's (IOM) Mission in Haiti, who told UN News that around 5,500 people have been forcibly returned since 19 September, with thousands more expected in the days ahead. Those being expelled from the US border area and flown home, often after spending years away, are returning to a land facing multiple crises, Mr. Loprete told Leda Letra, including a recent devastating earthquake, rampant gang violence and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty opened for signature 25 years ago this month but hasn't yet entered into force. In his first UN News interview, the new head of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) notes that prior to 1996, when the Treaty opened for signature, around 2,000 nuclear tests were conducted, but since then, only three countries have crossed the line - only one of those, this century. For Robert Floyd, nuclear testing remains an existential threat for humanity, with some 13,400 nuclear weapons still primed for use. He spoke in New York to UN News's Alexandre Soares, who started by asking him how CTBTO helps make the world a safer place.
Afghan political exile Zarifa Ghafari fled Kabul shortly after the Taliban takeover on 15 August; she'd already survived three attempts on her life as one of the country's few female mayors – and she feared the worst if she stayed. Today, the 29-year-old activist is determined not to let the gains made by women over the last 20 years, go to waste. She spoke in Geneva to UN News's Daniel Johnson, who started by asking her for her assessment of the country's new de facto rulers.
In this week's show, UN Secretary-General António Guterres talks about Afghanistan and other big problems that require international cooperation to fix them; details from UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Myanmar's continuing spiral of violence, and corruption in South Sudan that's impacting terribly on the country's people – although there is a little bit of good news from there too, thanks to a UN mission UNMISS initiative, as we'll hear.
For UN Secretary-General António Guterres, this is a pivotal moment for mankind, which is on the brink of global catastrophe, but has the tools to create a fairer, cleaner world, if the political will can be found. In September, Mr. Guterres outlined his vision of how international cooperation needs to develop over the next 25 years, in “Our Common Agenda”, which lays out a pathway for a sustainable future. For this special episode of The Lid Is On, Assumpta Massoi from UN News sat down for an exclusive interview with the UN chief, to talk Afghanistan, gender equality, and why world leaders need to “wake up, change course, and unite”. Music credit: Music credit: Ketsa, Within the Earth
In this week's show, an appeal for support for Afghanistan's people from António Guterres, who also warns that we're at a “tipping point” for climate action; we also hear from the fifth and final Commission of Inquiry report on Burundi – it's still talking of crimes against humanity…. And an interview with UN-appointed independent human rights expert Dr Ardi Imseis, on Yemen's unrelenting conflict and its impact on the country's most vulnerable people.