Editor’s note: Here is a fast take on what the international community has been up to this past week, as seen from the United Nations perch.
Security Council adopts resolution creating exemption in sanctions regimes
The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution Friday that will protect humanitarian assistance from unintended negative impacts across all U.N. sanctions regimes. Fourteen council members voted in favor and only one, India, abstained on the U.S. and Ireland-initiated text. The resolution seeks to exempt “the provision, processing or payment of funds, other financial assets,” or the provision of goods and services “necessary to ensure the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance” from U.N. sanctions.
UN Security Council Protects Humanitarian Aid from Sanctions
Condemnation of Iran’s execution of protester
The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Iran condemned the Iranian government’s execution of a 23-year-old protester as “horrifying and shocking” in an exclusive interview with VOA Persian on Thursday. Protester Mohsen Shekari was hanged Thursday after a swift trial that rights groups said was a sham. He was convicted for blocking a Tehran street and hitting a Basij paramilitary on September 25. Protests have roiled the country since mid-September, when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in police custody. She was detained for improperly wearing her headscarf.
Read VOA Persian’s interview with Special Rapporteur Javaid Rehman: VOA Interview: Javaid Rehman
UN refugee agency concerned for Somali refugees in Kenyan camp
The U.N. refugee agency warns humanitarian conditions are deteriorating for tens of thousands of Somalis in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camps as unrelenting drought grips the Horn of Africa and funding dries up.
UNHCR: Conditions Deteriorate for Somalis in Dadaab Refugee Camps
First shipment of ‘Grain from Ukraine’ initiative arrives in Horn of Africa
The first shipment of grain as part of Ukraine’s own initiative to supply countries in need arrived Monday in drought-hit Horn of Africa. Another grain ship is due to arrive next week and a third is being loaded. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the “Grain from Ukraine” initiative last month to help countries most affected by the food crisis. This program is separate from the commercially focused Black Sea Grain initiative that gets Ukrainian grain to international markets.
More from the Associated Press: 25,000 Tons of Ukraine Grain Reach East Africa
— Biodiversity talks opened in Montreal on Wednesday with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealing for “a peace pact with nature.” The two-week long COP15 review conference focuses on the relationship between man and nature’s support systems. The first part of COP15 was held in Kunming, China, in October of last year. This second meeting will include continued negotiations by parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which the U.N. hopes will lead to the adoption of an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
— The U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator in Haiti said Thursday that gangs control more than a third of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and they are subjecting the population to violence, including rape. Ulrika Richardson told reporters at U.N. headquarters that hunger is growing, with half the population food insecure. For the first time, there are 20,000 Haitians who are in the most catastrophic level of food insecurity, primarily in the capital’s biggest slum, Cite Soleil. A recent cholera outbreak is also growing, spreading beyond the capital to eight of the island nation’s 10 departments. At least 238 people have died from the water borne disease since October, and nearly 12,000 more have been hospitalized. This year’s flash appeal for $145 million is only 16% funded, as the U.N. looks ahead to next year seeking a further $719 million for hunger, cholera and other humanitarian needs.
— The World Health Organization said Thursday that malaria cases continued to rise between 2020 and 2021, but at a slower rate than in the period 2019 to 2020. The newly released World Malaria Report says there were an estimated 619,000 malaria deaths globally in 2021, compared to 625,000 in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, before the pandemic struck, the number of deaths stood at 568,000. Most countries also managed, despite supply chain and logistics challenges, to maintain malaria testing and treatment during the pandemic. WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said through a strengthened response, risk mitigation, building resilience and accelerating research, “there is every reason to dream of a malaria-free future.”
The Secretary-General welcomed the signing Monday of a framework agreement in Sudan between pro-democracy political parties and the military, which returned to power in an October 2021 coup. Guterres said he hopes the agreement can lead to the return to a civilian-led transition in the country and he urged the parties to address outstanding issues.
Quote of Note
“In Ukraine today, the ability of civilians to survive is under attack.”
U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths in remarks to the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday about living conditions in Ukraine, where Russia has stepped up attacks on energy infrastructure as winter temperatures begin to plummet.
What we are watching next week
Griffiths heads to Ukraine December 12-15. He will meet with government officials, humanitarian partners and people impacted by the war. The U.N. humanitarian chief will meet displaced persons in the southern city of Mykolaiv and inspect an aid distribution site in Kherson. He will also meet with senior government officials in Kyiv and meet representatives from the NGO community.