UNITED NATIONS — Here is a fast take on what the international community has been up to this past week, as seen from the United Nations perch.
UN chief warns risk of multiple famines in 2021
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told an international conference on food security Friday in Berlin that the world is facing the “real risk” of multiple famines this year and that 2023 could be even worse. He said rising fuel and fertilizer prices are dramatically affecting the world’s farmers.
Earthquake rocks Afghanistan as Security Council urges respect for rights
The U.N. Security Council expressed sympathy for the Afghan people on Thursday in the aftermath of the deadly earthquake, while it continued to press Taliban authorities to reverse restrictions on women and to stabilize the country.
Guterres appeals for renewal of cross-border aid operation for Syria
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council on Monday that it is a “moral imperative” for the 15 members to renew a cross-border aid operation from Turkey into northwest Syria that assists more than 4 million people. The council must vote on renewing the mechanism by July 10. Russia says it prefers all aid to go through Damascus. U.N. humanitarian officials say that would be inadequate to meet the scale of need, which is the highest it has been since the war started in 2011.
— Friday marked four months since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The U.N. says more than 12 million Ukrainians have been uprooted by the conflict. It is scaling up its assistance and is now reaching nearly 9 million people with aid. In the east of the country, where fighting is intense, the organization says it needs access to civilians in need.
— The U.N. expressed concern Thursday at reports that Myanmar’s military junta has transferred ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest to prison, where she is being held in solitary confinement. Antonio Guterres’ spokesman said the development “goes against everything we’ve been calling for, which was her release and the release of the president and all of the other political prisoners, and we are concerned for her state.”
— The U.N. said Friday that across northern Ethiopia’s Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions, 13 million people need food and other assistance. The region had been cut off to aid for months, but since convoys started entering in early April, more than 120,000 tons of food and supplies have been delivered. But aid distribution is being hindered by fuel shortages. Two million liters per month is needed, but less than half of that has entered the region in the past three months.
— A U.N. study says 222 million children and adolescents worldwide have had their education disrupted by multiple crises. Education Cannot Wait said Wednesday that conflict, displacement, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate-induced disasters are the main culprits. The study found that 78.2 million children have dropped out of school — a troubling development education, experts say, as they are unlikely to resume their education, which will have lifelong repercussions.
Quote of note
“Access to safe, legal and effective abortion is firmly rooted in international human rights law and is at the core of women’s and girls’ autonomy and ability to make their own choices about their bodies and lives, free of discrimination, violence and coercion. This decision strips such autonomy from millions of women in the U.S., in particular those with low incomes and those belonging to racial and ethnic minorities, to the detriment of their fundamental rights.”
— Michelle Bachelet, U.N. high commissioner for human rights, reacting to the U.S. Supreme Court decision Friday removing a 50-year-old constitutional right to a legal and safe abortion for American women.
The United Nations said Thursday it will broker new talks between Libyan politicians from rival institutions in a bid to break a deadlock on the rules for long-awaited elections.
Read more on the political situation here: UN to Hold New Libya Talks as Stalemate Persists
Did you know?
Friday was the first International Day of Women in Diplomacy. The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution by consensus on June 20 put forward by the Maldives making it an annual commemoration. Only one-fifth of the current ambassadors to the United Nations in New York are women — about 44.
U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said in a tweet that the international community must keep fighting for women’s leadership.
Source: Voice of America