This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Sudan violence takes ‘devastating toll’ on children: UNICEF chief
Escalating violence in Sudan is putting millions of children at risk amid disrupted access to healthcare and basic essentials, the head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Thursday.
UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said that at least nine children have reportedly been killed in the fighting, and more than 50 injured, adding that “the perilous security situation across the country makes it very difficult to collect and verify information”.
Families are “trapped in the crossfire” and running low on essential supplies, Ms. Russell said. She also highlighted reports of “children’s hospitals forced to evacuate as shelling moves closer”.
The ongoing violence has disrupted “critical, life-saving care” for some 50,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, she said, while power cuts are jeopardizing over $40 million worth of vaccines and insulin in cold storage.
Humanitarian needs are soaring in the country, and concern is deepening for the safety of aid workers bringing assistance on the ground. UNICEF has called on all parties to “respect their international obligations to protect children from harm”, to refrain from attacks on civilian infrastructure and to ensure the safety and security of humanitarians.
Millions of children deprived of life-saving vaccinations
Staying on the topic of children: some 67 million of them worldwide missed out on essential vaccinations between 2019 and 2021, due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also decreasing confidence in vaccines, according to UNICEF.
Agency data shows that vaccination coverage levels decreased in 112 countries during the pandemic, “the largest sustained backslide in childhood immunization in 30 years”, largely due to stretched health systems and stay-at-home measures.
But UNICEF also highlights a trend of declining confidence in childhood vaccines of up to 44 percentage points in a number of countries.
The agency says misinformation about vaccines circulating widely during the pandemic has given a boost to vaccine hesitancy.
The lag in immunization has already been putting children at the risk of more frequent deadly outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and polio.
UNICEF is calling on countries to urgently unlock resources so that they can accelerate catch-up vaccination efforts, rebuild lost confidence in vaccines, and strengthen the resilience of health systems.
Nearly 2 million Ukrainians provided with crucial cash assistance
UN humanitarians have reached nearly two million Ukrainians whose lives have been impacted by Russia’s ongoing invasion with multi-purpose cash assistance in the first three months of 2023, the UN Spokesperson said on Wednesday.
Stéphane Dujarric described the direct transfer of money, mostly to those who have been displaced and lost their jobs due to the fighting, as “a continuation of crucial assistance that we, along with our partners, have provided in most regions of Ukraine”.
He added that the target was to provide cash assistance to around 4.4 million people to help them meet their basic needs, for a total of close to $1 billion in transfers.
Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, UN News.