News in Brief 2 May 2023 |


    This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.


    Afghanistan: UN will continue to always ‘put Afghan people first’: Guterres

    Special envoys on Afghanistan from around the world agreed on the need for a “strategy of engagement” with the Taliban, to help the country’s most vulnerable people, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday.

    Addressing reporters following the high-level meeting on Afghanistan that he convened in Doha, Mr. Guterres made clear that the gathering did not focus on recognition of the de facto authorities, but rather on developing a common, international approach to burning interlinked issues, such as terrorism, the crackdown on the rights of women and girls, and the spread of drug trafficking.

    Here’s Mr. Guterres speaking to the press:

    “To achieve our objectives, we cannot disengage. Many called for engagement to be more effective and based on lessons which we have learned from the past. The UN will continue to use its convening power to advance a forward-leaning approach, which puts the Afghan people first, and in a manner that is complementary to existing regional platforms and initiatives.”

    Sudan latest: over 100,000 have fled says UNHCR

    More than 100,000 people have now fled Sudan to neighbouring countries in search of safety, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.

    Those fleeing the fighting include Sudanese refugees as well as people who were themselves refugees in Sudan. UNHCR estimates that the number of refugees and returnees may rise to over 800,000.

    Here’s UNHCR spokesperson, Olga Sarrado:

    “Countries neighbouring Sudan impacted by this new emergency are already hosting large refugee and internally displaced populations. The majority remain severely underfunded. Asylum countries will need additional support to provide protection and assistance. Among the urgent needs are water, food, shelter, health care, relief items, gender-based violence response and prevention, and child protection services.”

    UNHCR said that the main cross-border movements so far have been Sudanese refugees arriving in Chad and Egypt and South Sudanese returning to South Sudan. Most new arrivals in Chad and South Sudan are women and children.

    Meanwhile, in an appeal to donors, the UN humanitarian affairs office (OCHA) said on Tuesday that aid agencies and partners are facing a funding gap of $1.5 billion for the Sudan response.

    Health systems recovering from pandemic, but delays persist: WHO

    After more than three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, national health systems have started showing the first major signs of recovery, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

    In 84 countries surveyed by WHO where trend analysis is possible, the percentage of disrupted health services fell from more than one in two, during September 2020, to less than one in four by January this year. 

    The number of countries reporting disruption to their national supply chain system dropped from nearly half, to about a quarter within the last year.

    Still, some service disruptions persist across countries in all regions and income levels. Countries are notably dealing with increasing backlogs in the screening, diagnosis and treatment of noncommunicable diseases, which can lead to significant delays in access to care.

    WHO says that recovering essential health service delivery is critical because disruptions “may have even greater adverse health effects at population and individual level than the pandemic itself”, especially among vulnerable populations.

    Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, UN News.

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