United Nations news: top stories

Wednesday's Daily Brief: Women boost work profits, saving biodiversity, UK loses Chagos Islands vote, Gaza funding, malaria-free in Argentina, Algeria

Wed, 22 May 2019 20:44 +0000 GMT

Today's top stories include: boosting profits at work by hiring more women leaders; saving biodiversity to beat climate change; General Assembly condemns UK over Chagos Islands; just a month of funding left for Gaza; celebrating malaria-free Algeria and Argentina; and justice experts dicuss how best to fight hate crime. 

Palestine refugees’ relief chief warns Security Council money to fund Gaza operations will run out in mid-June

Wed, 22 May 2019 18:47 +0000 GMT

The head of the UN relief and works agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) warned on Wednesday that despite weathering a “truly existential crisis” over funding last year, money to continue operations this year in the Gaza Strip will only last until mid-June. 

Preserving biodiversity vital to reverse tide of climate change, UN stresses on International Day 

Wed, 22 May 2019 15:42 +0000 GMT

The food people eat around the world is becoming “alarmingly homogenous” according to UN data, even though access to a wide variety of nutritious food has never been greater. That warning comes as the world marks the International Day for Biological Diversity on Wednesday, which this year highlights the impact of environmental neglect on food security and public health. 

With potential to boost profits by up to 20 per cent, a woman’s place is at work, says UN labour agency

Wed, 22 May 2019 14:28 +0000 GMT

Businesses perform better – sometimes by as much as 20 per cent – when they employ more women in top positions, UN labour experts said on Wednesday, warning nonetheless that most still pay lip-service to the idea of gender equality in the boardroom. 

Iraq needs support to ‘leave violent past behind’, says UN envoy as Security Council extends UN mission for one year

Tue, 21 May 2019 23:24 +0000 GMT

Iraq’s democratic transition – weighed down by political infighting, weak institutions, corruption, and the constant threat of ISIL – needs more international support, “lots of time and lots of hard work,” the top United Nations official in the country said on Tuesday.  

Amidst high trade tensions and policy uncertainty, UN cuts economic growth forecast

Tue, 21 May 2019 21:19 +0000 GMT

Against a backdrop of unresolved trade tensions, high international policy uncertainty and softening business confidence, the UN on Tuesday announced a broad-based slowdown in the global economy and cut its growth predictions. 

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: Libya civil war, African displacement, global trade tensions, terrorists’ children ‘secretly detained’, and more

Tue, 21 May 2019 20:16 +0000 GMT

Tuesday’s stories include: Libya facing “permanent division”, regional war; Africa event highlights forcible displacement; terrorists’ children ‘secretly detained’ in Syria; Venezuelans need protection; global trade tensions rise.

UN highlights need to solve growing burden of forcibly displaced Africans

Tue, 21 May 2019 19:01 +0000 GMT

With 24.2 million Africans forced from their homes in 2017  ̶  4.6 million more than the previous year  ̶  the UN is hosting a three-day event at UN headquarters, focusing on finding durable solutions to the problem, which is a growing burden on the continent’s economy, environment and communities which host those displaced. 

UN News Centre - Middle East

Iraq needs support to ‘leave violent past behind’, says UN envoy as Security Council extends UN mission for one year

Tue, 21 May 2019 23:24 +0000 GMT

Iraq’s democratic transition – weighed down by political infighting, weak institutions, corruption, and the constant threat of ISIL – needs more international support, “lots of time and lots of hard work,” the top United Nations official in the country said on Tuesday.  

Children of ISIL terrorists likely held in ‘secret detention facilities’, UN human rights office warns

Tue, 21 May 2019 17:09 +0000 GMT

In Syria, it is suspected that children whose fathers fought for terrorist group ISIL are being held in unidentified “settlements” and “secret detention facilities” away from their mothers, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Tuesday.

Libya on verge of civil war, threatening ‘permanent division’, top UN official warns Security Council

Tue, 21 May 2019 16:11 +0000 GMT

The damage done to Libya will already take “years to mend” but unless fighting around the capital Tripoli stops, the country risks “descending into a civil war which could lead to the permanent division of the country”.

Hunger in Yemen: WFP considers aid suspension in face of repeated interference by some Houthi leaders

Mon, 20 May 2019 18:55 +0000 GMT

The UN emergency food relief agency said on Monday that without full access and “freedom to decide” who receives lifesaving aid, in Houthi rebel-controlled areas of Yemen, it could be forced to implement a “phased suspension”.

Risk grows of ‘catastrophic humanitarian fallout’ in Syria’s Idlib, where 3 million are trapped: top UN officials urge unity in Security Council

Fri, 17 May 2019 17:34 +0000 GMT

The UN’s Political and Humanitarian Affairs chiefs on Friday called on the Security Council to unite in support of an immediate de-escalation of fighting around Syria’s Idlib province, and work towards an enduring political solution on behalf of the Syrian people.

Deadly Yemen airstrikes that claim children’s lives in capital Sana’a, strongly condemned by UN

Fri, 17 May 2019 15:27 +0000 GMT

Thursday’s airstrikes on Yemen’s capital Sana’a that reportedly killed five children and injured dozens more, have been strongly condemned by UN agencies, which have warned of the “brutal toll” on civilians of more than four years of conflict.

Humanitarian situation increasingly dire for displaced Syrians stranded in camp near Jordanian border

Thu, 16 May 2019 16:07 +0000 GMT

Food supplies are dwindling and the humanitarian situation has become increasingly dire in a camp for displaced people in south-east Syria, a senior UN official said on Thursday, while condemning ongoing airstrikes and retaliatory shelling in opposition-held territories in the north-west.

Yemen war ‘a test of our humanity’, and we’re ‘badly failing’ warns UN Children’s Fund chief

Wed, 15 May 2019 16:30 +0000 GMT

“Fifteen million children in Yemen are asking you to save their lives” the head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) told the 15 members of the Security Council on Wednesday, in an impassioned plea for action to end four years of fighting which has left at least 7,300 children killed or seriously injured. 

UN News Centre - Africa

UN highlights need to solve growing burden of forcibly displaced Africans

Tue, 21 May 2019 19:01 +0000 GMT

With 24.2 million Africans forced from their homes in 2017  ̶  4.6 million more than the previous year  ̶  the UN is hosting a three-day event at UN headquarters, focusing on finding durable solutions to the problem, which is a growing burden on the continent’s economy, environment and communities which host those displaced. 

Sacrifice of fallen 'blue helmet' to be honoured with UN’s highest peacekeeping award

Mon, 20 May 2019 16:09 +0000 GMT

In recognition of his “brave and selfless” action under fire in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)  ̶  saving the life of a fellow ‘blue helmet’ and helping his colleagues repel an armed group  ̶  the late Malawian soldier Chancy Chitete, will be honoured with the UN’s highest peacekeeping award this coming Friday, by the UN Secretary-General. 

Cambodia: Giving back to UN peacekeeping

Mon, 20 May 2019 14:43 +0000 GMT

It’s an overcast morning, in South Sudan’s capital Juba, and growling thunder announces the start of some light rain. Standing in the drizzle in his military police uniform, is Colonel Channy Vongvannak, the commander of the Cambodian Force Military Police at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

UPDATED: Guterres condemns armed attack against UN peacekeepers in Mali

Sun, 19 May 2019 02:08 +0000 GMT

A violent attack against the United Nation's Integrated Stabilization Mission for Mali (MINUSMA) that left one peacekeeper dead on Saturday, drew strong condemnation from Secretary-General António Guterres. 

UN blue helmets in South Sudan use Sustainable Development Goals to help build peace  

Sat, 18 May 2019 20:05 +0000 GMT

 The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has concluded the week by harnessing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to support the nation, including by offering free medical services, encompassing SDG 3’s target on health coverage.

‘The time for action is now’ senior UN peacekeeping official says, urging support for regional force combating Sahel terrorism

Thu, 16 May 2019 21:10 +0000 GMT

The five-year-old force working to stabilize Africa’s Sahel has shown great potential, but needs more support from the international community to reach full operational capacity, a top UN peacekeeping official said on Thursday, calling for enhanced political and economic solutions to help tackle the strife-torn region’s myriad challenges.

Sudan: UN chief calls for ‘positive momentum’ as civilian rule talks stall between military and opposition

Thu, 16 May 2019 13:37 +0000 GMT

The UN Secretary-General has commended the progress made so far between Sudan’s military leaders and opposition forces towards agreeing a timetable for a return to civilian rule, following the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir just over a month ago.

UN condemns deadly attack on Burkina Faso church

Sun, 12 May 2019 21:30 +0000 GMT

Senior UN officials, including Secretary-General António Guterres have voiced their outrage at a deadly attack on a Catholic church in the north of Burkina Faso on Sunday, during which six people were reportedly killed by gunmen. 

UN News Centre - Europe

Children in crisis-torn eastern Ukraine ‘too terrified to learn’ amid spike in attacks on schools

Tue, 21 May 2019 00:25 +0000 GMT

Schoolchildren are bearing long-lasting mental and physical scars of eastern Ukraine’s conflict, the head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Monday, as the agency warned of an “alarming” increase in attacks on schools during the first four months of 2019.

Promoting ‘a healthy sustainable future’, the UN health agency engages young and young at heart to 'Walk the Talk'

Sun, 19 May 2019 15:55 +0000 GMT

Celebrating the importance of fitness, on Sunday morning in the Swiss city of Geneva, the United Nations health agency kicked off its second “Walk the Talk: The Health for All Challenge”.

Chernobyl nuclear disaster-affected areas spring to life, 33 years on

Fri, 26 April 2019 20:38 +0000 GMT

More than three decades after the devastating explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, parts of Belarus’ adjoining regions have sprung back to life and the biggest of them, Homiel, has become a leading destination for domestic and international investors.

Security Council: UN calls for ‘spirit and letter’ of Ukraine agreements to be upheld, as Russia issues simplified citizenship decree

Thu, 25 April 2019 22:26 +0000 GMT

The UN’s political affairs chief has urged all parties to the peace plan protocol for eastern Ukraine known as the Minsk Agreements, to avoid “any unilateral steps” that could undermine efforts to demilitarize the eastern conflict zone.

UNESCO experts ready to assist reconstruction of iconic Notre Dame, following devastating blaze

Tue, 16 April 2019 15:27 +0000 GMT

Two-thirds of the largely medieval roof of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris have “gone” after the devastating fire in Paris on Monday evening, but UN cultural experts are standing by to offer help where it is needed in rebuilding the iconic structure.

Peacekeeping: A 'great opportunity' to develop professionally and personally

Thu, 04 April 2019 14:54 +0000 GMT

A senior commander from Argentina, who has been deployed to the United Nations peacekeeping mission on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, has said that serving the UN is a “great opportunity” to develop professionally and personally.

Forced pregnancy in Italy violated ‘woman’s human right to health’, UN experts rule 

Wed, 27 March 2019 21:22 +0000 GMT

The Italian Government violated a woman’s “human right to health” after a law which denied her the right to refuse fertility treatment she had previously agreed to, “led her to undergo a forced pregnancy”, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) said on Wednesday. 

UN court increases sentence of former Bosnian-Serb leader to life imprisonment

Wed, 20 March 2019 20:53 +0000 GMT

A United Nations appeals court on Wednesday increased the 40-year sentence initially imposed on Radovan Karadžić, former leader of the Republika Srpksa region of Bosnia and head of the Bosnian-Serb Army, to life imprisonment.

UN News Centre - Americas

Colombia: ‘Terrible trend’ of rights defenders killed, harassed; UN calls for ‘significant effort’ to tackle impunity

Fri, 10 May 2019 16:18 +0000 GMT

Alarmed by the “strikingly high number” of human rights defenders being killed, harassed and threatened in Colombia, the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) in the country on Friday, called on authorities to “make a significant effort” to “tackle the endemic impunity” surrounding these cases.

Venezuela: UN human rights office calls for ‘maximum restraint’ by authorities in face of new demonstrations

Wed, 01 May 2019 20:15 +0000 GMT

With another day of mass protests taking place across Venezuela, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Wednesday it was “extremely worried by reports of the excessive use of force” by security forces, loyal to President Nicolás Maduro, a day after an opposition-led uprising appeared to stall. 

FROM THE FIELD: Hardy seeds bear fruit to protect Colombia’s environment

Tue, 30 April 2019 20:41 +0000 GMT

Communities in Colombia in South America are being helped by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to preserve and reintroduce indigenous crops as a way to combat the effects of climate change.

Some 300,000 Venezuelan children in Colombia need humanitarian assistance; UNICEF looks to boost response funding

Mon, 29 April 2019 15:26 +0000 GMT

Without increased support, the health, education and well-being of at least 327,000 children from Venezuela living as migrants and refugees in Colombia will be in jeopardy, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Monday.

Senior UN official strongly condemns Southern California synagogue attack

Sun, 28 April 2019 18:42 +0000 GMT

The top official for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) has strongly condemned the attack Saturday on a synagogue in Southern California, denouncing the deadly incident as a hate crime targeting Sabbath worshipers on the last day of Passover.

Nicaragua crisis: One year in, more than 60,000 have fled, seeking refuge

Tue, 16 April 2019 14:52 +0000 GMT

Doctors, journalists, students and farmers are among more than 60,000 Nicaraguans who have fled the country in fear of their lives since anti-Government demonstrations began last April, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said on Tuesday.

Mexico cannot move forward ‘without addressing the shadows of the past’, says UN rights chief

Wed, 10 April 2019 21:37 +0000 GMT

Concluding “five intense, interesting and rewarding working days” in Mexico, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Wednesday that the country was going through a “crucial” period where it needed to reckon with “the shadows of the past”, before it can move forward.

Venezuela’s needs ‘significant and growing’ UN humanitarian chief warns Security Council, as ‘unparalleled’ exodus continues

Wed, 10 April 2019 19:43 +0000 GMT

Over a month after two competing resolutions on Venezuela failed to pass, the UN Security Council met on Wednesday to discuss the “very real humanitarian problem” facing the country, where close to seven million people are in dire need of aid, and some 5,000 people continue to flee across borders every day.

UN News Centre - Asia Pacific

FROM THE FIELD: Saving the tree kangaroos of Papua New Guinea

Mon, 20 May 2019 15:57 +0000 GMT

The survival of an endangered animal which looks part kangaroo and part lemur has been secured thanks to a project in Papua New Guinea (PNG) supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

UN chief calls for ‘enlightened self-interest’ from world leaders to save ‘the whole planet’ from climate change 

Sat, 18 May 2019 14:33 +0000 GMT

Concluding a week-long visit to the South Pacific, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on the world’s decision-makers to make “enlightened” choices on climate action because “the whole planet” is at stake. 

Stop Tuvalu and ‘the world from sinking’ UN chief tells island nation facing existential threat from rising seas

Fri, 17 May 2019 15:21 +0000 GMT

Tuvalu “faces an existential threat from sea-level rise”, the United Nations chief said during his visit to the Pacific island nation on Friday whose highest point is less than five metres above the waves.

‘Climate change is the battle of my life’, UN chief tells students living on the frontline in Fiji

Thu, 16 May 2019 20:12 +0000 GMT

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres saw the frontline of “the battle against climate change” for himself on Thursday, by taking to the tropical waters of the South Pacific off the coast of Fiji, on a solar-powered boat.

UN chief lauds Fijians as ‘natural global leaders’ on climate, environment, hails ‘symbiotic relationship’ with land and sea

Thu, 16 May 2019 15:29 +0000 GMT

Fiji’s strong traditions of community and social responsibility, and its “symbiotic relationship” with its surroundings, has made its people “natural global leaders on climate and the environment”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the nation’s Parliament on Thursday.

UN chief outlines ‘intertwined challenges’ of climate change, ocean health facing Pacific nations on the ‘frontline’

Wed, 15 May 2019 00:03 +0000 GMT

Visiting Fiji for the first time as Secretary-General, António Guterres outlined two “fundamental challenges” facing leaders attending the Pacific Islands Forum on Tuesday, namely climate change and the world’s rising ocean, which threatens to submerge low-lying nations.

Myanmar: Conflict resolution at ‘total standstill’, military commanders must answer for crimes against humanity

Tue, 14 May 2019 19:11 +0000 GMT

Myanmar’s military commanders must answer charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in a credible court, a United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM) said on Tuesday, urging the international community to cut off all financial and other support to them.

‘Hateful attacks’ pushing Sri Lanka backwards, UN advisers warn, urging an end to ‘discriminatory practices’ that feed intolerance

Tue, 14 May 2019 16:07 +0000 GMT

Growing instances of religious-based violence in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka have prompted two United Nations Special Advisers to call for an end to “hateful attacks” directed towards the country’s Muslim minority.