UN Calls For End To Violence In Afghanistan

In this file photo taken on February 4, 2020 United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an end to violence in Afghanistan amid fears of a new civil war now that the Taliban has seized power.

“I call for an immediate end to violence, for the safety, security and rights of all Afghans to be respected, and for adherence to Afghanistan’s international obligations, including all international agreements to which it is a party,” Guterres said in a report to the Security Council this weekend.

The document, obtained by AFP, has not yet been released publicly.

“I urge the Taliban and all other parties to exercise utmost restraint to protect lives and to ensure that humanitarian needs can be met,” Guterres said.

The report was compiled as the mandate of the UN political mission in Afghanistan is scheduled to expire on September 17.

The UN says Afghanistan is mired in a humanitarian crisis affecting 18 million people, or half the population.

UN aid efforts can finance help for only 38 percent of the population, so the world body urgently needs nearly $800 million, the report says.

“I call on all donors to renew their support so that life-saving response is urgently scaled-up, delivered on time and suffering is mitigated,” said Guterres, who has convened an international aid conference for Afghanistan in Geneva for September 13.

He also called on countries to take in Afghan refugees and refrain from deporting any they might already be hosting.

And in an allusion to the Taliban’s brutal first stretch of rule from 1996 to 2001, Guterres said: “Reports of severe restrictions on human rights throughout the country are highly concerning, particularly accounts of mounting human rights violations against the women and girls of Afghanistan who fear a return to the darkest days.”


Antonio Guterres Secures Second Term As UN Secretary-General

File Photo of United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. PHOTO: Angela Weiss / AFP


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was sworn in Friday for a second term as head of the world body, promising to draw on the lessons of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our greatest challenge — and which is at the same time our greatest opportunity — is to use this crisis to turn the tide, pivot towards a world that learns lessons,” the former Portuguese prime minister said as the General Assembly re-appointed him for the 2022-2016 term.

This, Guterres added, would include promoting a “just, green and sustainable recovery” which shows the way forward “through increased and effective international cooperation to address global issues.”

In-office since 2017, Guterres promised to act independently of member states and organizations during the swearing-in ceremony attended by Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the first head of state to set foot in the United Nations building for more than a year because of the pandemic.

READ ALSO: UN Chief Antonio Guterres Praises Africa’s Efforts To Stem COVID-19

Guterres added that it would be essential to “make prevention and preparedness — in the broad sense of the words — a top priority in the international system.”

Speaking at a press conference after the ceremony, Guterres reiterated that “from the many lessons that we learned, the most important lesson is that alone we can do nothing. The most important lesson is that we need to rebuild solidarity and trust.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Guterres saying his country looked forward to “continuing our strong and constructive relationship” with the secretary-general.

Global issues “require a collaborative, effective, and results-oriented leader in the United Nations secretariat, and we have that in Antonio Guterres,” Blinken added.

The 193-member General Assembly had approved a resolution extending Guterres’ five-year term, rather than taking a vote.

The UN Security Council, at a crucial stage in the nomination process, gave its blessing on June 8 to the reappointment of the 72-year-old, who had previously served as UN High Commissioner for Refugees between 2005 and 2015.

UN Secretary-General Warns Of Risk Of Famine For Millions Around The World

In this file photo taken on February 4, 2020, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)


Millions of people around the world risk dying of hunger and the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change are increasing the threat, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday. 

“Without immediate action, millions of people will reach the brink of extreme hunger and death,” Guterres told the Security Council during a meeting on the links between food and security.

Guterres said over 30 million people in more than three dozen countries are “just one step away” from a declaration of famine.

“Climate shocks and the Covid-19 pandemic are adding fuel to the flames. I have one simple message: if you don’t feed people, you feed conflict,” he said.

“Famine and hunger are no longer about lack of food. They are now largely man-made — and I use the term deliberately There is no place for famine and starvation in the 21st century.”

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At the end of 2020, more than 88 million people were suffering from acute hunger due to conflict and instability — a 20 percent increase in one year, he said, pointing to a worsening trend in 2021.

High-risk zones include the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, South Sudan, Yemen and Afghanistan.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told how she saw a two-year-old girl die of hunger in Uganda in 1993.

“There’s no reason we can’t get resources to people in acute need,” the ambassador said.

“In today’s world, famine is human-made. And if it is caused by us, that means it must be stopped by us too,” Thomas-Greenfield added.

Oxfam International executive director Gabriela Bucher said people in these areas “are not starving — they are being starved.”

She added: “It makes little difference to the hungry whether they are being starved by deliberate action or the callous negligence of conflict parties or the international community.”

Guterres said that in order to save 34 million people in the high risk zones, the United Nations and its agencies have appealed for emergency mobilization of $5.5 billion.

Guterres announced he was launching a task force “to avert catastrophe,” with representation from the World Food Program and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Countries’ responsibilities do not end with simply donating money for food aid, said Bucher of Oxfam.

She denounced “an international community whose most powerful states too often drive starvation with a plentiful supply of weapons.”

She cited as examples the Tigray region of Ethiopia, and Yemen.

She said the council “should deepen its work on this topic,” guarantee humanitarian access to dangerously hungry people and “also take any opportunity to create meaningful accountability for starvation crimes.”


Guterres Warns COVID-19 Could Send Millions In Africa Into ‘Extreme Poverty’

A man grabs a loaf of bread at a distribution of food hampers, masks, soap and sanitiser organised by different charities at the Iterileng informal settlement near Laudium, Pretoria, on May 20, 2020. MARCO LONGARI / AFP.


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that millions of people could be pushed into extreme poverty in Africa due to the coronavirus pandemic and called for “global solidarity” with the continent.

“The pandemic threatens African progress. It will aggravate long-standing inequalities and heighten hunger, malnutrition and vulnerability to disease,” Guterres said in a statement accompanying a UN study with recommendations for the African continent.

While he congratulated Africa for responding swiftly to the pandemic, which has claimed more than 2,500 lives across the continent, Guterres noted that “as of now, reported cases are lower than feared.”

“African countries should also have quick, equal and affordable access to any eventual vaccine and treatment, that must be considered global public goods,” he said in his statement.

Since the pandemic is still in its “early days” in Africa, Guterres stressed that “disruption could escalate quickly.”

“Global solidarity with Africa is an imperative — now and for recovering better,” he said.

Among his recommendations, Guterres urged “international action to strengthen Africa’s health systems, maintain food supplies, avoid a financial crisis.”

It is also necessary, he added, to “support education, protect jobs, keep households and businesses afloat, and cushion the continent against lost income and export earnings.”

READ ALSO: UN Chief Antonio Guterres Praises Africa’s Efforts To Stem COVID-19

Guterres called for “more than $200 billion as additional support from the international community” to help Africa recover from the pandemic.

He said he was also advocating “a comprehensive debt framework — starting with an across-the-board debt standstill for countries unable to service their debt.”


Remember The Disabled During COVID-19 Crisis, UN Chief Says


(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 4, 2020 United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters in New York City. – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on May 6, 2020 called on governments around the world to specifically take into account the billions of people with disabilities in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called on governments around the world to specifically take into account the billions of people with disabilities in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even under normal circumstances, persons with disabilities are less likely to access education, healthcare and income opportunities or participate in the community,” Guterres said in a statement released in support of a UN study on people with disabilities.

“The pandemic is intensifying these inequalities — and producing new threats,” he said.

“I urge governments to place people with disabilities at the center of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts and to consult and engage them,” Guterres added.

“We must guarantee the equal rights of people with disabilities to access healthcare and lifesaving procedures during the pandemic.”

READ ALSO: Can Italian Infrastructure Reboot Post-virus Economy? 

Since it emerged late last year in China, the novel coronavirus has left more than 250,000 people dead, forced nearly half of humanity into some form of lockdown and plunged the world into a deep economic recession.


Pope Joins UN Appeal For Global Ceasefire

Pope Francis waves to the faithfuls as he delivers the Sunday Angelus prayer from his studio window overlooking Saint Peter’s Square, at the Vatican on March 01, 2020. Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP.


Pope Francis on Sunday joined UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s appeal for an “immediate global ceasefire”, on the fifth anniversary of Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen’s civil war.

“I join all those who have accepted this appeal and invite everyone to follow it by ceasing all forms of hostility, promoting the creation of humanitarian aid corridors, being open to diplomacy, and paying attention to the most vulnerable,” the pope said in a message delivered after holding prayers.

Several explosions shook the Saudi capital Riyadh late on Saturday, which the Saudi-led military coalition blamed on Yemen’s Iran-aligned Huthi rebels, who have repeatedly targeted Saudi cities with missiles, rockets and drones.

The attack came with the Saudi capital under curfew imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

READ ALSO: Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s Wife Recovers From Coronavirus

Pope Francis pointed out that Guterres’s call on Monday came during “the current COVID-19 emergency, which knows no borders”.

“The joint commitment against the pandemic can lead everyone to recognise our need to strengthen our fraternal ties as members of one human family,” the pontiff said.

Saudi Arabia, the Yemeni government and the rebels all welcomed Guterres’s appeal.


UN Chief ‘Disappointed’ By Climate Talks Outcome

File Photo: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during Jordan’s King Abdullah II receiving the 2018 Templeton Prize at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC on November 13, 2018. MANDEL NGAN / AFP


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Sunday he was “disappointed” by the results of a major UN climate summit in Madrid, calling it a missed opportunity to tackle the global warming crisis.

Guterres issued the statement as the COP25 concluded its marathon meeting voicing “the urgent need” for new carbon-cutting commitments but falling well short of what was needed.

“I am disappointed with the results of COP25,” Guterres said. “The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis.”

UN Secretary-General Urges Myanmar To Pardon Reuters Reporters

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Photo: Jewel SAMAD / AFP


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday said he hoped that Myanmar’s government will pardon two Reuters journalists who were sentenced to seven years in jail after they reported on massacres in Rakhine state.

Guterres said it was “not acceptable” for Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, to be jailed “for what they were doing” as journalists in Myanmar.

“It is my deep belief that that should not happen, and I hope that the government will be able to provide a pardon to release them as quickly as possible,” he told a press conference at UN headquarters in New York.

Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi last week said that the two journalists were not convicted because of their work but because they broke the law.

“They were not jailed because they were journalists” but because “the court has decided that they had broken the Official Secrets Act,” she said in her first direct comments on the issue.

Myanmar journalist Wa Lone (C) is escorted by police after being sentenced by a court to jail in Yangon on September 3, 2018. Photo: Ye Aung THU / AFP


The Reuters reporters had denied the charges, insisting they were set up while exposing the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims in the village of Inn Din in September last year.

The case has sparked an international outcry and is seen as an attempt to muzzle reporting on last year’s crackdown by Myanmar’s security forces on the Muslim Rohingya minority in Rakhine state.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet has said the jailing of the pair “sends a message to all journalists in Myanmar that they cannot operate fearlessly, but must rather make a choice to either self-censor or risk prosecution.”

Reuters journalist Wa Lone (front) followed by Kyaw Soe Oo (C-back) arriving in court in Yangon on August 27, 2018. Photo: YE AUNG THU / AFP


UN Secretary-General Defends Iran Deal After Trump Demands Changes

This file photo taken on September 18, 2017, shows UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, US President Donald Trump and other participants wait for a meeting on United Nations Reform at the UN headquarters in New York City.  Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday warned that any bid to address concerns about Iran should not jeopardise the hard-won nuclear deal after US President Donald Trump demanded changes to the accord.

The United States is concerned the deal, thrashed out over 12 years of talks, does nothing to punish Iran over its ballistic missile programme, interference in regional conflicts or human rights abuses at home.

In a statement, Guterres said “issues not directly related to the JCPOA should be addressed without prejudice to preserving the agreement and its accomplishments.”

The 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is a “major achievement of nuclear non-proliferation and diplomacy, and has contributed to regional and international peace and security,” he said.

Trump on Friday agreed to waive US nuclear-related sanctions but warned it was the “last chance” to fix the Iran deal, demanding that US lawmakers and European allies fix the “disastrous flaws” of the accord.

Iran has ruled out any change to the deal, which was signed with the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia.

Concerns regarding the implementation of the nuclear deal should be addressed “through the mechanisms established by the agreement”, Guterres said in the statement marking two years since the accord went into force.

He noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly confirmed that Iran is fulfilling its nuclear-related commitments under the deal.


UN Chief Urges Myanmar To Halt Military Campaign Against Rohingya

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017. TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday urged Myanmar to halt its military campaign against Rohingya Muslims, just hours after Aung San Suu Kyi failed to quell an international outcry in a much-anticipated address.

Addressing the opening of the UN General Assembly, Guterres said he “took note” of Suu Kyi’s pledge to abide by the recommendations of a report by former UN chief Kofi Annan that has advocated citizenship for the Rohingyas.

“But let me be clear,” Guterres said. “The authorities in Myanmar must end the military operations, and allow unhindered humanitarian access.”

More than 420,000 Rohingya have been forced to flee violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state in what the United Nations has described as “ethnic cleansing.”

In her nationwide address, Suu Kyi insisted that army “clearance operations” in response to attacks by Rohingya militants had finished on September 5 and denied that Rakhine was in flames.

“More than 50 percent of the villages of Muslims are intact,” she said.

The Nobel laureate called for patience and understanding of the unfurling crisis in her “fragile democracy” and pledged to resettle some refugees, but she did not speak out against the military campaign.

“We are all shocked by the dramatic escalation of sectarian tensions in Myanmar’s Rakhine state,” Guterres told world leaders.

In an interview earlier this week, Guterres described the address by Suu Kyi as “a last chance” to speak out and put in motion an end to the mass exodus.

The 1.1-million strong Rohingya have suffered years of discrimination in Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship even though many have longstanding roots in the country.

Myanmar’s second Vice President, Henry van Thio, is to take the podium at the assembly on Wednesday after Suu Kyi decided against attending this year’s world gathering.


Trump’s Warning To Syria “Should Be Heard”, Says UN Secretary-General Guterres

UN Secretary-General-antonio-guterres-trump-Syria
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres

The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has called U.S. President Donald Trump’s warning to the Syrian Government of President Bashar al-Assad on its reported planned chemical weapons attack a “serious warning” that “should be heard.”

Guterres took the question from a reporter during a visit to the U.S. Department of State in Washington on Wednesday, after he was welcomed by the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.

U.S officials said the Syrian Government appeared to heed the warning.

The White House had said President Assad and his forces would “pay a heavy price” if it followed through with a chemical weapons attack.


UN Secretary-General, Others Mourn Babatunde Osotimehin

The death of the Executive Director of the United Nations Populations Fund, Babatunde Osotimehin is not only a loss to Nigeria alone, but also to the UN community.

The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres and the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed have taken to Twitter to mourn the loss of the former Minister of Health who died in the early hours of Monday.

Others who paid tributes to the UNPF boss include the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe and President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson.