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.”

AFP

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.

AFP

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.

AFP

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

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.

AFP

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.

AFP

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.

Reuters

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.

Amina Mohammed To Resume Duty As UN Deputy Secretary-General

Amina Mohammed, United Nations, UN Deputy Secretary-GeneralNigeria’s Amina Mohammed will resume duty as Deputy Secretary-General at the United Nations this week.

Her appointment was announced on December 15, 2016 shortly after the new UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, resumed office.

Before her new appointment, she had served in a number of high profile roles in Nigeria, making it no surprise that will be chosen for the top job.

Ms. Mohammed served as Special Adviser on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

She is also an adjunct Professor in Development Practice at New York’s Columbia University, and serves on numerous international advisory boards and panels.

Born in 1961, and educated in Nigeria and the UK, the former Minister of Environment is married with six children.

South Africa Set To Leave International Criminal Court

Zuma, al-Bashir
The failure of South Africa to arrest the Sudanese President has been a knotty issue in African politics.

South Africa has begun the legal process of formally withdrawing from the Roman Statute setting up the International Criminal Court.

If it formally withdraws from the statute, it means the country would no longer be bound to the International Criminal Court.

In the ‘Instrument of Withdrawal’ signed South Africa’s Foreign Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, states that South Africa “has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court of obligations contained in the Rome Statute.”

Under that statute, South Africa is obligated to arrest anyone sought by the tribunal.

The United Nations spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, is however yet to confirm if  the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon has received the notice of withdrawal from South Africa.

al-Bashir Brouhaha

South Africa is exiting the ICC after a controversial visit by Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who was wanted by the tribunal over allegations of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

President al-Bashir in June 2015 was in Johannesburg to attend an African Union summit but the South African government refused to arrest him.

During the visit, provincial court has ruled that the Sudanese president remains in the country while judges considered whether he should be arrested on the ICC warrants.

President al-Bashir left for Khartoum before the court ruled that he should be arrested.

South Afica’s Supreme Court of Appeal later ruled that the government’s refusal o arrest President al-Bashir was a “disgraceful conduct”.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda insists President al-Bashir as a sitting president, directed a campaign of mass killing, rape, and looting against civilians in Darfur.

The charges against the Sudanese president follow the unrest in the Darfur region which started in 2003.

The United Nations said 300,000 people died in the conflict while 2.7 million people were displaced.

US, China Ratify Paris Climate Agreement

Barack-Obama-Xi-JinpingThe United States and China have officially ratified the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming discharges.

The world’s two biggest economies confirmed this on Saturday, saying the ratification could help put the pact into force before the end of the year.

UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, who is in China to witness the declaration, received the plan to join the agreement from American President, Mr Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping.

A senior adviser to President Obama, Brian Deese, observed that the joint announcement should push other countries to formally join the deal.

“The signal of the two large emitters taking this step together and taking it early, far earlier than people had anticipated a year ago, should give confidence to the global communities and to other countries that are working on their climate change plans, that they too can move quickly and will be part of a global effort,” Reuters quoted Deese as saying.

Obama’s aide hinted that the US President was expected to meet the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, on the sidelines of a Group of 20 nations meeting in Hangzhou, China, this weekend.