United Nations news: top stories

‘Compelling case’ for urgency around global disarmament, UN-led forum told

Mon, 21 January 2019 21:54 +0000 GMT

Michael Møller, head of the UN in Geneva, has warned delegates to the Conference on Disarmament that cyber-security challenges, and the existence of new weapons systems and technologies, are not being sufficiently addressed or reflected in current arms control regimes.

World’s human rights watchdog spotlights Afghanistan, Yemen and 12 others: Here’s the scoop

Mon, 21 January 2019 21:14 +0000 GMT

The United Nation Human Rights Council (HRC) kicked off its Universal Periodic Review, or UPR, on Monday at the Palais des Nations in Geneva to examine the human rights situation in 14 countries, including Afghanistan and Yemen.

Migrants and refugees face higher risk of developing ill-health, says UN report on displaced people in Europe

Mon, 21 January 2019 20:16 +0000 GMT

European authorities are “struggling” to meet the needs of irregular migrants and refugees who are wrongly accused of spreading sickness among host communities, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, at the launch of its first report on the subject.

Human rights are ‘key’ for economic policymaking says UN expert

Mon, 21 January 2019 19:45 +0000 GMT

Calling on governments to take human rights obligations into account when designing economic reforms, an independent United Nations rights expert said on Monday that “human rights impact assessments are key to the process”.

Global economy to see ‘steady’ growth of three per cent in 2019 despite risks, says UN

Mon, 21 January 2019 17:20 +0000 GMT

The global economy grew at a “steady” 3.1 per cent last year and similar levels of growth are expected in 2019, but these headline figures mask growth that is uneven and often failing to reach where it is most needed, the UN’s chief economist warned on Monday.

Ten UN peacekeepers killed in a terrorist attack in northern Mali

Sun, 20 January 2019 20:29 +0000 GMT

Ten ‘blue helmets’ from the United Nations Stabilization Mission In Mali (MINUSMA) were killed on Sunday following a complex terrorist attack against the mission’s camp in Aguelhok, in the Kidal region, northern Mali. 

Mexico: UN chief saddened by pipeline blast in which dozens were killed

Sat, 19 January 2019 22:55 +0000 GMT

The United Nations' Secretary-General, António Guterres, learned with sadness of the deadly explosion of an oil pipeline on Friday in Hidalgo State, Mexico, and extended the UN's assistance to the national authorities, his Spokesman said on Saturday.

Another 170 migrants disappear in shipwrecks, UN agency reiterates call for an end to Mediterranean tragedy

Sat, 19 January 2019 17:30 +0000 GMT

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, stated on Saturday that “no effort should be spared” in saving lives at sea, following reports of two new shipwrecks on the Mediterranean Sea, in which some 170 people either died or went missing. 

UN News Centre - Middle East

Iraq: UN demining agency rejects desecration accusations, involving historic Mosul churches

Thu, 17 January 2019 18:26 +0000 GMT

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq issued a statement on Thursday rejecting allegations made earlier this week by a non-profit organization  there, alleging that personnel had carried out explosive hazard clearance inside two historic churches in Mosul “in a barbaric and arbitrary manner.”

Iran: women hunger strikers entitled to medical care, UN rights experts urge

Wed, 16 January 2019 22:13 +0000 GMT

A group of six independent United Nations rights experts called on Iran Wednesday to urgently provide Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Narges Mohammadi access to appropriate health care, and reiterated calls for their immediate release, as they continue a hunger strike in protest.

Yemen: Security Council backs new mission in support of key port city truce

Wed, 16 January 2019 17:04 +0000 GMT

The Security Council unanimously voted on Wednesday in favour of deploying up to 75 observers to monitor a fragile ceasefire in Yemen's port city of Hudaydah which went into effect late last month; a lifeline for millions of Yemenis on the verge of starvation.

Thousands of Syrians in ‘life and death’ struggle amid harsh conditions in remote desert camp, UN warns

Tue, 15 January 2019 17:23 +0000 GMT

Conditions in a makeshift Syrian camp near the border with Jordan are “increasingly desperate” and “have become a matter of life and death”, United Nations officials warned on Tuesday, after at least eight children died there from extreme cold and a lack of medical care.

First aid in six months reaches families in western Yemen, 'timelines' slip over Hudaydah ceasefire talks

Tue, 15 January 2019 14:50 +0000 GMT

Thousands of families in conflict-affected communities south of the Red Sea port city of Hudaydah in Yemen have received aid for the first time since last July, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday.

Thousands risk lives fleeing fighting in Syria’s last ISIL stronghold

Fri, 11 January 2019 14:29 +0000 GMT

North-east Syria is seeing increasing numbers of civilian casualties and large-scale displacement amid intensifying efforts to defeat extremists from ISIL, otherwise known as Da’esh, in Deir-ez-Zor governorate, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Friday.

Storms and snow in Lebanon worsen plight for Syrian refugees

Thu, 10 January 2019 17:49 +0000 GMT

Storm-force winds and snow across Lebanon have worsened the plight for tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who’ve been forced from their homes by nearly eight years of conflict, a top UN humanitarian official said on Thursday.

‘We cannot lose momentum’ on the road to peace in Yemen, UN envoy warns

Wed, 09 January 2019 20:17 +0000 GMT

“The difficult part” of reaching a lasting political settlement in Yemen “is still ahead of us” said the UN Special Envoy on Wednesday, urging the Security Council to support the “speedy implementation” of the fragile ceasefire agreed in and around the crucial port city of Hudaydah, at breakthrough talks in Sweden last month.

UN News Centre - Africa

Ten UN peacekeepers killed in a terrorist attack in northern Mali

Sun, 20 January 2019 20:29 +0000 GMT

Ten ‘blue helmets’ from the United Nations Stabilization Mission In Mali (MINUSMA) were killed on Sunday following a complex terrorist attack against the mission’s camp in Aguelhok, in the Kidal region, northern Mali. 

Thousands returning to Nigeria’s restive Borno state ‘at risk’; UN ‘gravely concerned’

Fri, 18 January 2019 22:22 +0000 GMT

Amid reports that Cameroon is forcing several thousand Nigerians to return to Borno state in the country’s crisis-gripped north-east, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) deplored the move, saying it has put lives “at risk”.

Libyan authorities must shoulder the burden to support country’s ‘vulnerable’ south

Fri, 18 January 2019 20:02 +0000 GMT

Despite years of promises to address the “vulnerable heart” of Libya – the country’s south – conditions around its water and oil resource wealth have continued to deteriorate at “an alarming rate”, the United Nations envoy for the country told the Security Council.

UN agency chief calls Ethiopia’s revised refugee law ‘one of most progressive’ in Africa

Fri, 18 January 2019 19:39 +0000 GMT

Ethiopia has revised its existing refugee law, making it easier to obtain work permits, drivers’ licenses and access primary school, a move being hailed by the head of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR). 

UN rights office calls on Zimbabwe Government to end ‘crackdown’ in response to fuel protests

Fri, 18 January 2019 17:17 +0000 GMT

In Zimbabwe, violence and the reported use of live ammunition by State security officials against protesters that has led to “a number of deaths” should be investigated thoroughly and transparently by the Government, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said on Friday.

FROM THE FIELD: Free tutorials in Mali, ‘a life-saver’ for Fatouma

Thu, 17 January 2019 21:12 +0000 GMT

After fleeing her home in Macina, a small village in central Mali, where she was due to be forced into marriage against her will, 16-year-old Fatouma took shelter with her brother.

Sudan: UN rights chief alarmed over ‘excessive force’, alleged use of live fire against protestors

Thu, 17 January 2019 16:36 +0000 GMT

The reported use of “excessive force” against demonstrators across Sudan over food and fuel shortages that has led to the deaths of at least 24 people is “deeply worrying”, the UN’s top human rights official, Michelle Bachelet, said on Thursday.

Nearly 900 reportedly killed following ‘shocking’ intercommunal attacks in DR Congo

Wed, 16 January 2019 21:20 +0000 GMT

The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) said on Wednesday that at least 890 villagers were reportedly killed in the western Democratic Republic of the Congo last month, following brutal inter-communal clashes.

UN News Centre - Europe

Migrants and refugees face higher risk of developing ill-health, says UN report on displaced people in Europe

Mon, 21 January 2019 20:16 +0000 GMT

European authorities are “struggling” to meet the needs of irregular migrants and refugees who are wrongly accused of spreading sickness among host communities, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, at the launch of its first report on the subject.

Another 170 migrants disappear in shipwrecks, UN agency reiterates call for an end to Mediterranean tragedy

Sat, 19 January 2019 17:30 +0000 GMT

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, stated on Saturday that “no effort should be spared” in saving lives at sea, following reports of two new shipwrecks on the Mediterranean Sea, in which some 170 people either died or went missing. 

UN refugee agency ‘deeply shocked’ at stabbing death of ‘deeply courageous’ Polish mayor

Mon, 14 January 2019 21:25 +0000 GMT

The Mayor of the historic port city of Gdansk in Poland, has died in hospital after being stabbed at a televised charity event on Sunday, prompting the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, to issue a statement on Monday praising him as “a deeply courageous, moral leader, who showed the way in helping refugees and migrants to integrate”.

UN welcomes progress in former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia naming dispute

Sun, 13 January 2019 18:20 +0000 GMT

The Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for the naming dispute between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Matthew Nimetz, has welcomed the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia parliament’s decision to ratify an agreement on a new name for the latter country, following a dispute that has lasted some 28 years.

FROM THE FIELD: How the smell of fresh bread transformed one refugee life

Fri, 11 January 2019 20:31 +0000 GMT

Who would imagine that the smell of fresh bread wafting through a bakery could change the course of a young Syrian refugee’s life?

UN refugee agency presses States to aid 49 refugees stranded on Mediterranean

Mon, 31 December 2018 19:53 +0000 GMT

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), on the last day of 2018, called on UN Member States to urgently offer safe ports of disembarkation for 49 refugees and migrants, including young children, aboard rescue vessels in the Mediterranean Sea.

Moves to create a Kosovo army have ‘deteriorated relations’ with Serbia: UN peacekeeping chief

Mon, 17 December 2018 22:36 +0000 GMT

The decision by Kosovo’s parliament to form a national army was described by the UN Peacekeeping chief on Monday as having “further deteriorated relations between Belgrade and Pristina,” which, he said, have been strained for some time.

FROM THE FIELD: Persons with disabilities bike towards sustainability

Mon, 03 December 2018 20:42 +0000 GMT

People with disabilities in Ukraine are contributing to the development of a network of environmentally friendly bicycle routes which are helping to protect unique local landscapes.

UN News Centre - Americas

Mexico: UN chief saddened by pipeline blast in which dozens were killed

Sat, 19 January 2019 22:55 +0000 GMT

The United Nations' Secretary-General, António Guterres, learned with sadness of the deadly explosion of an oil pipeline on Friday in Hidalgo State, Mexico, and extended the UN's assistance to the national authorities, his Spokesman said on Saturday.

Car bomb attack on National Police Academy in Colombia, ‘strongly condemned’ by UN

Thu, 17 January 2019 20:15 +0000 GMT

A car bomb attack at the National Police Academy in the Colombian capital Bogotá, which reportedly left at least nine dead and dozens injured, has been ‘strongly condemned’ by the United Nations.

Ahead of street protests, UN rights chief urges Guatemalan Government to respect democratic freedoms

Mon, 14 January 2019 17:42 +0000 GMT

With demonstrations expected to take place in various Guatemalan cities on Monday and Tuesday, the UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, is urging the Guatemalan Government to guarantee freedom of expression and opinion, and the right to peaceful assembly and association.

UN anti-corruption body in Guatemala rebuts government’s reasons for expulsion order

Sat, 12 January 2019 21:22 +0000 GMT

In a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Iván Velásquez, the senior UN official in charge of the International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG) in Guatemela, has responded to the accusations made by the Government to justify its decision to expel the Commission from the country.

Is Haiti better prepared for disasters, nine years on from the 2010 earthquake?

Sat, 12 January 2019 16:25 +0000 GMT

Half a capital city destroyed, 220,000 reported dead and 1 million residents displaced. This was the toll of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which struck on 12 January, nine years ago.

Guatemala: UN anti-corruption body will continue working, as Constitutional Court blocks Government expulsion

Wed, 09 January 2019 22:51 +0000 GMT

Following the Guatemalan Government’s unilateral decision to shut down a long-running UN anti-corruption commission, its spokesperson told UN News on Wednesday that the team is looking at ways to continue to carry out its mandate,  hours after the country's highest court ruled against the Government expulsion order.

UN Chief ‘strongly rejects’ Guatemala decision to expel anti-corruption body

Tue, 08 January 2019 15:41 +0000 GMT

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has “strongly rejected” the Guatemalan Government’s decision to unilaterally terminate the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), an independent body set up by the UN and Guatemala to investigate illegal security groups and high-level corruption in the country.

UN rights expert urges full investigation into death of migrant girl, held in US

Mon, 24 December 2018 16:28 +0000 GMT

A United Nations rights expert has called for a thorough investigation into the death of a Guatemalan migrant child, while she was in the custody of United States immigration authorities.

UN News Centre - Asia Pacific

‘Critical test’ for North Korea’s Government as civilian suffering remains rife, warns UN rights expert

Fri, 11 January 2019 15:37 +0000 GMT

The human rights situation in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – DPRK - remains “extremely serious”, and along with international demands for denuclearization, this constitutes a “a critical test” for the year ahead, a senior UN-appointed expert said on Friday.

Amid troop build-up in Rohingya's home state, UN appeals to Myanmar for peaceful solution

Wed, 09 January 2019 16:44 +0000 GMT

Major fighting in Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state has so far been avoided following clashes between armed separatists and national security forces who are increasing troop numbers there, a top UN humanitarian official there said on Wednesday.

Bangladesh elections: Hold those responsible accountable for ‘violent attacks and intimidation’

Fri, 04 January 2019 17:05 +0000 GMT

Violence and alleged human rights violations in Bangladesh “before, during and after” 30 December elections have prompted the United Nations human rights office (OHCHR) to call on Friday for those responsible to be held to account.

UN urges ‘restraint’ in Bangladesh’s post-parliamentary election violence

Mon, 31 December 2018 20:24 +0000 GMT

The United Nations said on Monday that it is aware of violent incidents and reports of irregularities in Sunday’s general elections in Bangladesh.

UN calls for ‘peaceful, credible and inclusive’ election in Bangladesh

Thu, 27 December 2018 15:38 +0000 GMT

In the run-up to Sunday’s general elections in Bangladesh, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for “an environment free of violence, intimidation and coercion” to allow a “peaceful, credible and inclusive poll.”

Indonesian tsunami death toll climbs over 400 as Government-led relief efforts are stepped up

Wed, 26 December 2018 20:05 +0000 GMT

Government-led relief efforts are being stepped up at the tip of the Indonesia’s two main islands of Sumatra and Java after a tsunami slammed into densely-populated coastal areas along the Sunda Strait on Saturday night.

Afghanistan: UN ‘unequivocally condemns’ attack in Kabul

Wed, 26 December 2018 16:39 +0000 GMT

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, known by its acronym UNAMA, condemned an attack on a government compound in the country’s heavily populated capital city of Kabul on Monday night, which news reports say left more than 40 dead.

Indonesia tsunami: Many still missing as death toll rises

Mon, 24 December 2018 18:20 +0000 GMT

Indonesians are being warned to stay away from beaches along the Sunda Strait, between the islands of Sumatra and Java, following this weekend’s devastating tsunami in the area, which government and humanitarian agency reports indicate has claimed hundreds of lives, with the total likely to rise.