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30 Apr

UN chief calls for ‘maximum restraint’ in Venezuela amid uncertainty over coup attempt reports

  • 30 April 2019 |

UN chief António Guterres is calling for both Government and opposition forces in Venezuela to exercise “maximum restraint” amid reports of a possible attempted coup, and renewed violence on the streets.

His Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists in New York that that the focus needs to be on the well-being of the people of Venezuela. He called for everything to be done to avoid violence and restore calm, and the Secretary-General said he was monitoring events closely through Tuesday, and with great concern.

UN humanitarian agencies ramped up their presence in the country over the last few months, amid strife between President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim President.

Mr. Guterres has had dialogue with both sides. He met with the Venezuelan Foreign Minister last week, and on Monday with the Lima group of countries, which are supporting Mr. Guaido.

 news source: UN News (Daily Breifing)

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29 Apr

Some 300,000 Venezuelan children in Colombia need humanitarian assistance; UNICEF looks to boost response funding

  • 29 April 2019 |

Without increased support, the health, education and well-being of at least 327,000 children from Venezuela living as migrants and refugees in Colombia will be in jeopardy, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Monday.

“At a time when anti-migrant sentiment is growing worldwide, Colombia has generously kept its doors open to its neighbors from Venezuela,” said Paloma Escudero, UNICEF Director of Communication who has just finished a four-day visit to Cúcuta, on the Colombian side of the border with Venezuela.

The economic and political situation in Venezuela has caused an estimated 3.7 million Venezuelans to leave their homes for Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and other countries in the region.

Some 1.2 million of them are in Colombia, often living in vulnerable host communities with already overstretched resources, said UNICEF.

“As more families make the painful decision to leave their homes in Venezuela every day, it is time for the international community to step up its support and help meet their basic needs,We cannot let that generosity wear thin.”

Paloma Escudero
UNICEF Director of Communications

At the Simon Bolivar Bridge between Colombia and Venezuela, Ms. Escudero spoke to families making the trek every day to seek medical care, take their children to school, and bring food and other essential items to their families back home.

“I met a mother who has epilepsy and is eight months pregnant. She needed to come to Colombia to get her prenatal checkups and protect her health and the health of her baby,” she said. “For most families, the decision to leave is only a measure of last resort.”

Colombia also offers free education to migrant children from Venezuela. UNICEF says that more than 130,000 Venezuelan children are enrolled in schools across Colombia today, up from 30,000 in November last year. Nearly 10,000 of these students are in the border town of Cúcuta and close to 3,000 of them commute from Venezuela every day to go to school.

“I saw hundreds of students cross into Cúcuta at the crack of dawn, in pouring rain, to go to school. Such dedication to learning by parents and students alike is a lesson in commitment, perseverance and determination for all of us,” Ms. Escudero said.

UNICEF is working closely with other humanitarian agencies, national and local authorities, non-governmental organizations and communities in Colombia to provide migrant children, as well as children in host communities with health, nutrition, education and protection.

The agency is looking to boost its current response budget from $5.7 million to $29 million in the coming year to:

  • Help vaccinate more than 30,000 children;
  • Provide water, sanitation and hygiene services in schools for 13,000 children;
  • Provide 40,000 children with formal and informal learning opportunities;
  • Reach 15,000 nursing mothers with micronutrients; and
  • Reach 90,000 children and adolescents with actions to prevent and address violence, abuse and exploitation, including gender-based violence and the prevention of child recruitment.

this story was orginally posted on UN News.

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24 Apr

New malaria vaccine trial in Malawi marks ‘an innovation milestone', declares UN health agency

  • 24 April 2019 |
A new vaccine against deadly malaria which has been 30 years in development, was made available for the first time to infants in Malawi on Tuesday, marking an “innovation milestone”, said the World Health Organization (WHO)

The disease remains on the of the world’s leading killers, with one child dying every two minutes. Most of the fatalities are in Africa, where more than 250,000 children die each year.

Known officially as the RTS,S, vaccine, it will also be introduced in Ghana and Kenya in the coming weeks. “We have seen tremendous gains from bed nets and other measures to control malaria, but progress has stalled and even reversed in some areas”, said WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus.

“We need new solutions to get the malaria response back on track, and this vaccine gives us a promising tool to get there”, he added. “The malaria vaccine has the potential to save tens-of-thousands of lives.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus
WHO Director-General

 

RTS,S, is the first and only vaccine so far, that has demonstrated it can “significantly reduce” malaria in children so far, during clinical trials. It was successful in approximately four in 10 cases, including three in 10 cases, where the disease was life-threatening to the young patient.

WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said malaria was “a constant threat” to the communities where it was being administered in the coming weeks. “We know the power of vaccines to prevent killer diseases and reach children, including those who may not have immediate access to doctors”, she added.

‘Model’ public-private partnership

The pilot programme is a collaboration between the UN and ministries of health in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi and a range of other national and international partners, including PATH, a non-profit organization, and GSK, the vaccine developer and manufacturer, which is donating up to 10 million doses for this pilot.

“We salute WHO and Malawi for their leadership in realizing this historic milestone,” said Steve Davis, President and CEO of PATH, “and we look forward to the start of vaccination in Ghana, and then Kenya later this year. A vaccine for malaria is among many innovations needed to bring an end to this disease, and we proudly stand with all countries and our many partners in progressing towards a malaria-free world.”

The malaria vaccine pilot aims to reach about 360,000 children per year across the three countries. Dr. Seth Berkley, Chief Executive of the global public and private sector vaccine alliance, Gavi, said that Malaria continues to be “one of the biggest killers of children worldwide”, taking the lives of over 200,000 every year.

“These pilots will be crucial to determine the part this vaccine could play in reducing the burden this disease continues to place on the world’s poorest countries,” he noted.

this story was orginally posted on UN News

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22 Apr

‘Do everything in your power to tackle climate change’ UN chief urges on Mother Earth Day

  • 22 April 2019 |

Marking International Mother Earth Day, the UN on Monday debated how best to build “an equitable and sustainable future” for all, through enhanced education and climate action, on the road to a key international summit on the issue due to take place in September.

 Billed officially as an Interactive Dialogue on Harmony with Nature, the UN General Assembly session involved Member States and top officials discussing the need to take urgent action against the pace of global warming, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement, to keep carbon dioxide emissions to well-below two degrees Celsius.

In a tweet to mark Earth Day, UN chief António Guterres said it was vital “every day” to “commit to taking better care of our planet. Please do everything in your power to tackle climate change – the defining issue of our time”, he said.

“Climate change is one of the largest threats to sustainable development globally,” said the concept note prepared for the General Assembly meeting, “and is just one of many imbalances caused by the unsustainable actions of humankind, with direct implications for future generations.”

Only we can prevent ‘irreparable damage’

President of the General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, said that taking care of nature was, in essence, “taking care of people”. She also noted the importance of respecting life-cycles of the natural world, and contributing to biological diversity so that the world can “continue and prosper”.

“We are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to the planet and to its inhabitants” she tweeted. “We are at a crossroads; this is the moment in which we decide the path we wish to take, to avoid reaching a point of no return in global warming. We already know the results of inaction.”

Video: UN General Assembly president, addressed an interactive dialogue.

Day honours ‘life and sustenance’ earth provides

The international day recognizes a collective responsibility, as called for in the 1992 Rio Declaration, to promote harmony with nature and the Earth to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations of humanity.

It also provides an opportunity to raise public awareness around the world to the challenges regarding the well-being of the planet and all the life it supports.

To boost ambition and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the UN Secretary-General will host the 2019 Climate Action Summit on 23 September, to meet the climate challenge.

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17 Apr

‘A global measles crisis’ is well underway, UN agency chiefs warn

  • 17 April 2019 |

Noting a 300 per cent surge in the number of measles cases during the first three months of this year, compared to the same period last year, two UN agency heads declared on Monday that we now stand “in the middle of a global measles crisis”.

 “Cases have soared across the world, including in places where measles had previously been eliminated, like the United States”, asserted Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Measles is almost entirely preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine, despite being highly contagious. The UN agency chiefs painted “an alarming picture” of the rate of infection, saying that “by the time you finish reading this, we estimate that at least 40 people – most of them children – will be infected by this fast-moving, life-threatening disease”.

A clear and dangerous trend

Following two years of consecutive increases, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine, are all in the midst of current outbreaks. It is also spreading fast among clusters of people, who are resisting vaccination, in countries with high overall vaccination rates, including the United States, Israel, Thailand and Tunisia.

“We're worried not only because measles can be so severe, it still causes over 100,000 deaths every year, but also because it is extremely contagious” said the agency chiefs.

Referring to measles as “the canary in the coalmine of vaccine preventable illnesses”, the UNICEF and WHO heads explained that “around the world, millions of children are still missing out on lifesaving vaccines, leaving them and their communities vulnerable to disease and deadly outbreaks”.

Living in countries where healthcare systems are challenged by poverty and conflict, many lack access to effective vaccines.  But “in several high- and middle-income countries", the UN agency heads lamented, “there are parents who are delaying or refusing to vaccinate their children because they're unsure of the need for vaccines or that vaccines are safe”.

Moreover, the UN agencies revealed that uncertainty is often fueled by confusing, contradictory online information, which spreads fast, with harmful content transmitted on digital channels; amplified by algorithms that reward controversy and clicks; and exploited by anti-vaccine activists to sow.

Additionally, scientists and health advocates have even been harassed for sharing information, according to the agencies, while unproven so-called vaccine alternatives are being marketed for profit.

full story on UN News

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10 Apr

World Health Day 2019: In solidarity for equitable access to health 

  • 10 April 2019 |

In celebration of World Health Day 2019, citizens across the globe have created chains of solidarity to support the WHO/PAHO call for access to health care and universal health coverage.  

 

On 9 April, some 70 persons gathered at midday outside the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) office in Trinidad and Tobago and linked hands in a Solidarity Chain to celebrate World Health Day 2019 and endorse the Day’s theme of access and universal health coverage.  The solidarity chain in Port of Spain was among many formed across the globe this week demonstrating popular support for “equitable access to comprehensive and quality health care,” and highlighting this year’s focus on primary health care (PHC). 

Equitable access to health remains a priority in the Latin America, Caribbean and wider Americas region, which has made important progress in health with a 16-year increase in life expectancy over the past 45 years and a reduction in infant mortality, but where an estimated third of the population lacks access to health care.  The main objective, says PAHO Director Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, is for everyone, wherever they live, to have access to health care “without restrictions and without serious difficulties.” 

To this end, PAHO has launched a report outlining ten recommendations for achieving universal health. The report was produced by a Commission (“Universal Health in the XXI Century: 40 years of Alma-Ata”) established by the PAHO Director in February 2018 to help countries achieve improved access to health in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report “reaffirms that health is a fundamental human right … not a privilege, nor a commodity,” notes Dr Etienne, and it points to primary health care as fundamental to achieving health for all.  The report’s recommendations include:

  1. Ensure the right to health.
  2. Develop models of care based on primary health care (PHC).
  3. Generate social participation mechanisms.
  4. Generate mechanisms for regulation and control of the private sector.
  5. Eliminate barriers to health access.
  6. Address social determinants with intersectoral interventions.
  7. Reposition public health as the guiding axis of the State’s response.
  8. Value human resources as protagonists of PHC.
  9. Promote the rational use and innovation of technological resources.
  10. Ensure efficient and sustainable financing.

The report will contribute to regional preparations for the High-level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, to be held in September within the United Nations General Assembly. 

 

Take a look also at the Barbados solidarity chain

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09 Apr

Top UN officials tell global forum: urgently address ‘defining challenges of our time’, to empower youth worldwide

  • 09 April 2019 |

Young people require “skills, values, jobs and livelihoods that empower them” so they can help forge a more sustainable world, the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) said on Monday, kicking off its eighth Annual Youth Forum

“We need to urgently address the defining challenges of our time: access to quality education, unemployment, inequality, social exclusion and climate change”, Inga Rhonda King asserted in her opening remarks. “We cannot achieve this at the UN alone. We are all in this together”. 

Under the theme “Empowered, Included and Equal”, this year’s Forum aims to mobilize support for young people across the globe. 
While noting some encouraging signs concerning the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), she pointed to emerging evidence that suggests “the world is not yet on track to meeting many of the SDGs by 2030”. 

“I urge you to assess where we stand and mobilize together to move us forward” she stressed. 

The Youth Forum provides a platform for young leaders globally to engage in a dialogue among themselves and with UN Member States and to share ideas for advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development, and the Paris Agreement on climate change. 

It also gives youth the space to share their vision and contribute to upcoming UN meetings, including the 2019 ECOSOC Substantive Session in July, the 2019 High-level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF) and the high-level events taking place on the margins of the General Assembly in September, including the Climate Summit, the High-level Meeting on Financing for Development and the SDG Summit

General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa called the Youth Forum "one of the most important mechanisms for young people to shape the 2030 Agenda”. 

[ full story on UN News ]

 

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02 Apr

FAO Regional Chief - opens new office in Port of Spain

  • 02 April 2019 |

02 April 2019, Port of Spain – Dr. Julio A. Berdegué, Assistant Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO/UN) and Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, opened the new country office of the FAO Representation for Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname in St. Clair, Port of Spain, today. FAO Representative to Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname, Mr. Reuben Robertson and Senator the Hon. Clarence Rambharat, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries attended and gave remarks.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has worked in cooperation with the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) since 1963 to support the development of the food, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and rural sectors, complementing strategic objectives of the UN Country Programme Action Plans.

The 2017 -2020 Country Programming Framework (CPF), an agreement between FAO and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago prioritizes four areas for cooperation: Food and Nutrition Security; Food Safety, Quality and Certification Systems; Sustainable Food Systems; Natural Resources Management, Disaster Mitigation and Building Resilience.

FAO, together with its partners, is currently implementing 12 projects in the country, including: Improving Forest and Protected Area Management in Trinidad and Tobago; Sustainable Management of bycatch in Latin America and Caribbean trawl fisheries; and Sustainable Processing and Value Chain development for root and tuber crops. Guests attending the new office’s opening will be given an insight into key results achieved by the projects in an exhibition mounted at the venue. With the re-opening of the country office at the new location, FAO reaffirms its continued commitment to contribute to achieving zero hunger and promoting sustainable agriculture in Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname.

 rneckles 190402

Students from a secondary school entertain guests at the opening ceremony. -- photo credit UNIC Port of Spain/Ruben Neckles

      

 

     

 Biography of Jiulio Berdegué

Dr. Julio A. Berdegué is FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean since April 22, 2017.

He is a national of Mexico, holds a Ph.D. in Social Science from Wageningen University, The Netherlands, and a Master of Science degree in Agronomy from the University of California-Davis (USA).

Before his appointment at FAO, he was the Principal Researcher at the Latin American Center for Rural Development (Rimisp) in Santiago, Chile, where he coordinated the Territorial Cohesion Working Group, spearheading research, policy support and capacity development programs addressing issues of territorial inequality and rural development.

Dr. Berdegué has published and worked extensively on different aspects of rural development, such as territorial development, rural non-farm employment, the changing structures of agri-food and rural markets and their impact on small and medium producers and enterprises, and the role of small and medium cities in rural development.

He has written and edited several books and dozens of articles in international scientific magazines, some of which are among the most-cited in their respective fields.

Julio Berdegué has advised national and regional governments in several Latin American countries, including Colombia, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru.

He has been a board member of several international organizations, including the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), which he chaired between 2008 and 2011, and the International Institute on Environment and Development (IIED).

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01 Apr

UN highlights profound implication of population trends on sustainable development

  • 01 April 2019 |

The United Nations is highlighting the important role that population trends play in promoting sustainable development, during the annual Commission on Population and Development, which began at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday.

This year’s Commission is also an opportunity to take stock and review progress made since the landmark International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which took place 25 years ago in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. The 1994 event resulted in a Programme of Action, based on the idea that investing in individual human rights, capabilities and dignity, is the foundation of all sustainable development.

The Programme was described by the UN as “revolutionary”, because it succeeded in bringing together diverse views on human rights, population, sexual and reproductive health, gender equality and sustainable development, in the search for a global consensus.

This year’s Commission will examine the many gains that have been made in implementing the Programme of Action, but also the gaps and shortfalls in achieving its goals and objectives: these must be addressed, says the UN, if we are to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN’s plan of action for bringing about a better and more sustainable future for all.

Speaking on behalf of Liu Zhemin, Under Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, and head of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, drew attention to the four demographic “mega-trends” that are shaping the world in fundamental ways: population growth, population ageing, international migration and urbanization.

The two latter trends, international migration and urbanization, “affect the spatial distribution of population,” she said, “and are linked in various and complex ways to the process of sustainable development. While it is right to celebrate achievements, we must also prepare for a world that is larger, older, more mobile and more urbanized than ever before.”

In her address, Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), credited “national strategies and leadership, United Nations agencies, civil society, communities and our partners,” for their role in bringing about the progress made since the International Conference on Population and Development.

“The vision and values of the ICPD, that development must be people-centred, and attention paid to strengthening equal access to health, education and human dignity for all persons, anticipated the vision and values of the 2030 Agenda, our common blueprint for peace and prosperity, for people and the planet now and in years to come.”

UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, speaking on behalf of Secretary-General António Guterres, warned that efforts on some Sustainable Development Goals are not keeping pace with population growth, citing targets on poverty in the least developed countries, child marriage, and people living in urban slums.

“While the percentage of affected persons may be declining,” she said, “their number is still rising. It is time for the world to show greater ambition and urgency around SDG implementation that is fully aligned with the Cairo Programme of Action.”

[ full story on UN News ]

Video - Goodwill Ambassador Ashley Judd at the Opening 52nd session of the Commission on Population and Development

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Contact

Email: unic.portofspain@unic.org 

Telephone: 1(868) 623 8438 or 623 4813

Address: 

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