Unprecedented Impacts of Climate Change Disproportionately Burdening Developing Countries, Delegate Stresses, as Second Committee Concludes General Debate

Describing climate change as one of the greatest threats facing humanity in their time, delegates urged the international community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve forests, monitor water sources and honour pledges made in the Paris Agreeme…

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Women-Led, Locally Owned Peace Processes Key to Preventing Conflict Across Africa, Speakers Tell Security Council, Stressing Important Role of Regional Partners

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Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.Good afternoon, everyone.

**International Day of Peace

Good morning.  This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the…

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Amid Effects of Climate Change, High Debt, Least Developed, Landlocked, Small Island Countries Struggle to Meet 2030 Agenda, Speakers Warn Political Forum

‘Stop the Problem,’ Palau’s President Urges, Pointing to Warming Oceans, Slow Progress on Halting Global Temperature RiseFrom climate change to burdensome debt, the challenges of small island developing States, least developed countries and landlocked …

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Stronger South-South Cooperation Key to Tackling Climate Change, Rising Inequality, Global Leaders Stress as High-Level Conference Begins in Buenos Aires

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Raising Living Standards Boosts Overall Well-Being of Societies, Speakers Say, as Commission for Social Development Continues Session

Smart fiscal policies and minimum wages set well above the cost of living top the list of strategies countries can use to improve their populations’ health, happiness and overall well-being, said delegates today as the fifty-seventh session of th…

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Nearly $4 billion needed to protect 41 million children from conflict and disaster

Speaking in Geneva, the agency’s Director of Emergency Operations, Manuel Fontaine, warned that conflict is at a 30-year high: “There’s never been as much conflict in the world in the past 30 years as this year, so it is obviously a particular threat,” he said.

”Eight years after the start of the conflict in #Syria, there are still 2.5 million Syrian #refugee children living in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Demand for services such as health and education far outstrips the existing capacities”, informs @UNICEF. pic.twitter.com/RAkoaQQdGq

— UN Geneva (@UNGeneva) January 29, 2019

Amid countless reports of deadly attacks on civilians and places of shelter – both of which are prohibited under international law – Mr. Fontaine insisted that the long-held notion that children should be protected above all others is also being undermined.

He said it was “being accepted as a new normal of attacks on schools and hospitals and detention of children,” adding that increasingly, “children are being seen not only as victims, when they’ve been actually recruited by an armed group or used by a particular armed group, but also as a perpetrator and detained once they’ve been released by an armed group.”

A total of 59 countries are to benefit from UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children 2019 appeal, as the agency pursues its goal of providing 41 million children with safe water, food, education, health and protection.

Syria still number one concern

Child protection funding amounting to $385 million includes more than $120 million for youngsters affected by the Syria crisis, whose needs are estimated at $904 million – the largest part of UNICEF’s overall appeal.

“Nearly eight years after the conflict broke out, we still have 2.5 million Syrian children living as refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey where demand for basic services such as health and education outstrip the capacity of institutions and infrastructure to actually respond,” Mr. Fontaine explained, noting that aid was needed for Syrian refugees and host communities.

Asked if he expected a significant number of Syrian families to return to the country, the UNICEF official replied that such a development was likely premature.

“There might be cases of some families, some children who decide they want to go back and we accompany them,” he said. “I think it’s a bit early right now to see how that’s going to happen in practice.”

Yemen: Two million children need food support

Needs in Yemen represent UNICEF’s second largest individual appeal, at just over $542 million, as a fragile and as-yet unimplemented ceasefire deal between Houthi militants and the internationally recognised government over the Red Sea port of Hudaydah continues to cause serious concern among humanitarians.

Nearly four years since conflict escalated, more than 22 million people need humanitarian assistance, including two million Yemeni children who will require food assistance this year. “Projections from 2019 are that nearly 400,000 children will suffer from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition in Yemen during the course of the year,” Mr. Fontaine warned.

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Other emergency situations include the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a vast country facing a significant escalation of violence and armed conflict linked to terrible rights abuses. An ongoing outbreak of deadly Ebola virus in the east of the country has made matters worse.

“Violations against children include forced recruitment by armed groups and rampant sexual abuse,” the UNICEF official explained. “The insecurity has also seriously hindered the response to the Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri and aggravated disastrous malnutrition conditions across the country.”

According to the UNICEF appeal, an estimated 1.4 million children – over three times the number at risk in Yemen – are projected to require lifesaving treatment for severe acute malnutrition in 2019.

Venezuela’s adolescents in dire need of protection

Turning to Venezuela, where 40 people have died in recent clashes between demonstrators and security forces, according to UN human rights office, (OHCHR), Mr. Fontaine appealed for children to be protected.

“We are very concerned about the risk of violence,” he said. “We are obviously calling on everyone to protect children in this particular moment and adolescents in particular.”

The UNICEF official confirmed that an estimated three million people have left the troubled South American country in recent years, and that the agency is “working in the neighbouring countries, in Colombia, Brazil Ecuador and other countries to help the struggling host communities receiving families and children that are crossing the border”.

‘Toxic stress’ last longer than physical wounds

Faced with such unprecedented needs, UNICEF is appealing for funding that can be allocated where it is needed most urgently, not least to under-reported emergencies including the Lake Chad region, where nearly 21 million people in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Niger and Nigeria have been affected by ongoing conflicts.

Despite the challenges, Mr. Fontaine insisted that the agency has been successful in helping vulnerable children, not least those whose mental scars caused by the “toxic stress” of conflict often take longer than physical wounds to heal.

“At the same time, I would say we’ve also made great progress,” he insisted. “It is the behaviour of parties to conflict that actually creates this kind of situation. Should they give us more access, should they give us more ways to protect children and should they themselves respect the sanctity of the protection of children, things would actually go a lot better.”

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Continuing its Regular Session, Non-Governmental Organization Committee Recommends 35 Entities for Consultative Status, Defers Action on 67 Others

Continuing its 2019 regular session, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended 35 organizations for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and deferred action on the status of 67 others.The 19-member Co…

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