Category Archives: News

Omicron COVID variant underlines need for global ‘pandemic treaty’

The emergence of the threatening new Omicron variant shows how important it is for the world to end the current “cycle of panic and neglect” over the COVID-19 pandemic, said the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, was addressing the start of a special three-day meeting of the organisation’s governing body in Geneva on Monday, amidst a global alert over the new strain, arguing that greater international cooperation is essential to preserve “hard won gains” against the virus.

The World Health Assembly meeting was convened to decide on the issue of a so-called “pandemic treaty”. Tedros said the world has not responded accordingly to COVID-19, and vaccine inequity, among other challenges, has facilitated the appearance of new highly mutated variants such as Omicron.

“Omicron demonstrates just why the world needs a new accord on pandemics: our current system disincentivizes countries from alerting others to threats that will inevitably land on their shores”, said the WHO Director General. More

Coronavirus pandemic could cost global tourism $2 trillion this year

According to the latest forecast by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the coronavirus pandemic will likely cost the global tourism sector $2 trillion in lost revenue in 2021, making it one of the sectors hit hardest by the health crisis.

Despite recent improvements, the report warned that demand for travel could be further affected by “uneven vaccination rates around the world and new COVID-19 strains which had prompted new travel restrictions in some countries.

In the past few days, the emergence of the Omicron variant has led dozens of countries to reinstate restrictions on arrivals, or to delay relaxation in COVID-19 travel and testing rules, leading to wide uncertainty for holiday season travellers worldwide.

Spikes in oil prices and the disruption of global supply chains have also had an effect. According to the latest UNWTO data, international tourist arrivals are expected to remain 70-75 per cent below 2019 levels in 2021, a similar decline as in 2020. More

WHO labels new COVID strain Omicron, designates it a ‘variant of concern’

The latest COVID-19 variant identified in South Africa has been given the Greek name ‘Omicron’, and labeled as a variant of concern by UN health agency experts due to its large number of mutations and possible faster rate of infection. 

According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), preliminary evidence also suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant of concern, as compared to other strains, such as Delta.

On Wednesday, WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, said the information about the now ‘Omicron’ variant is still limited. Dr. Kerkhove explained that researchers are currently trying to determine where the mutations areand what they potentially mean for diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.

The WHO officials reminded previous advice: people can do a lot to protect themselves from COVID, including by continuing to wear masks and avoiding crowds. More

Secretary-General’s message on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

On this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory — including East Jerusalem — continues to pose a significant challenge to international peace and security.  Persistent violations of the rights of Palestinians along with the expansion of settlements risk eroding the prospect of a two-State solution.

The overall goal remains two states living side-by-side in peace and security, fulfilling the legitimate national aspirations of both peoples, with borders based on the 1967 lines and Jerusalem as the capital of both states.

I call on the parties to avoid unilateral steps that would undermine the chances for a peaceful resolution of the conflict based on international law and relevant United Nations resolutions.  I further call on the parties to engage constructively to end the closure of Gaza and improve the living conditions of all Palestinians under occupation.

I commend the generous donors who support UNRWA and call for Member States to provide timely and predictable funding to allow the Agency to conduct its vital work.

Together, let us reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the Palestinian people in their quest to achieve their inalienable rights and build a future of peace, justice, security, and dignity for both Palestinians and Israelis.

New York

29 Nov 2021

Are you sure you want to share that? Sorting online fact from fiction

Since the creation of the World Wide Web, we have had access to more information than ever before. However, we are also bombarded with dangerous disinformation. The  UN’s Verified campaign has launched an online course to help us decide which is which, and protect vulnerable people from potential harm.

It has become increasingly apparent that, for some time, some individuals and organizations are intent on spreading false information online. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, claims that certain drugs or remedies are miracle cures, or that the pandemic is a hoax, have circulated on social media platforms.

To help combat the spread of harmful disinformation, the UN’s Verified campaign has teamed up with wikiHow, an online community of experts creating trusted how-to guides, to create a free online course.

The course, which contains a series of lessons sent to email subscribers over five days, teaches vital skills and how to put them into practice, helping users identify false information and help slow the spread, and protect vulnerable people from harm. By the end of the course, students will know when, and why, to pause before sharing, how to fact-check, and how to speak to people who have shared misinformation.

Sign up to Verified’s #pledgetopause campaign, and take a moment to pause before forwarding a message, retweeting a story or watching a video in your social media feed. More

Violence against refugee women surged in 2020, but grassroots solutions can help tackle scourge

One in five refugee or internally displaced women have faced sexual violence, and the situation continues to worsen globally, the UN refugee agency, (UNHCR), said on Thursday.

On the 30th anniversary of the campaign for 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, the UN agency said that there’s been a global surge in domestic violence, child marriages, trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse since March.

“A lethal mix of confinement, deepening poverty and economic duress is unleashing a renewed wave of violence against refugee, displaced and stateless women and girls”, UNHCR said in a statement. More

On International Day, UN chief says ‘violence against women is not inevitable’

In a virtual event to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, commemorated annually on 25 November, UN Women chief Sima Bahous described gender-based violence (GBV) as “a global crisis”.

“In all of our own neighbourhoods, there are women and girls living in danger. Around the world, conflict, climate-related natural disasters, food insecurity and human rights violations are exacerbating violence against women”, she said.

And according to UN Women, more than 70 per cent have experienced GBV in some crisis settings.

COVID-19 has triggered a shadow pandemic, which enables unseen violence. She cited an increase in reports on helplines for violence against women and girls (VAWG) in all corners of the world.  This year, the UNiTE campaign set “Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!” as the official theme.

Security Council Press Statement on Colombia

On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Final Peace Agreement between the Government of Colombia and the former FARC-EP, the members of the Security Council congratulated the parties and the people of Colombia on the important achievements of the peace process.  They recalled that the Final Peace Agreement had not only ended five decades of conflict but also laid the foundations for deeper transformations to address its root causes and ensure lasting peace.

The members of the Security Council welcomed the significant progress achieved thus far in this regard including the transformation of the former FARC-EP from an armed group into a political party, and steady advances in the reintegration process; the implementation of development plans in conflict-affected regions designed with the involvement of communities; continued progress by the Comprehensive System for Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition with the rights of victims at its core; and the creation of special transitional electoral districts to facilitate the political participation of historically excluded populations. Continue reading

UN chief sees first-hand the progress and challenges five years after Colombia’s historic peace deal

In Colombia to mark the fifth anniversary of the peace accord between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC-EP, UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday visited a small mountainside village he described as a “laboratory of peace”, where former combatants and civilians are working and living side-by-side.

Mr. Guterres visited the northern town of Llano Grande, in the Department of Antioquia, along with Colombia’s President, Ivan Duque, as well as the former FARC-EP commander, Rodrigo Londoño. The town is one of several areas in the country where the former guerillas are being reincorporated into civilian life.

The UN chief walked through the town and was able to talk with its residents who are benefiting from different reincorporation entrepreneurial projects.

The Secretary-General reaffirmed the commitment of the United Nations to support the peace process and assured that he will discuss with the Government both the issue of security and housing. “We are all going to take advantage of this meeting to enhance our work,” he said. More

The Pacific Youth Summit: The values of integrity for the achievement of sustainable development

Students and youth leaders from around the Pacific region are coming together to discuss the importance of integrity and stronger youth action on anti-corruption, transparency, and accountability towards progress on the sustainable development agenda in the Pacific.

The Pacific Youth Summit is being convened on 7 December as a hybrid event connecting the University of the South Pacific (USP) students in Campuses across the region. The Summit will commemorate International Anti-Corruption Day (9 December) with the 2021 theme, “Your right, your role: Say no to Corruption”.

The Pacific Youth Summit is being hosted by the University of the South Pacific Students’ Association (USPSA) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UN-PRAC) Project funded by the New Zealand Government. More