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10 minutes | Jan 23, 2022
UNICEF education chief insists on reopening schools amid growing learning gap
There was already a learning gap before the pandemic, with disadvantaged and marginalized children lagging far behind in terms of educational achievement. Since the onset of COVID-19, which has seen millions of children affected by school closures, it has become a gulf, and by some estimates, around 70 per cent of 10-year-olds can’t read a simple piece of text. Richard Jenkins, the Director of Education at UN children’s agency, UNICEF, spoke to Conor Lennon from UN News ahead of the International Day of Education, marked on 24 January, and began by explaining the severity of the COVID effect on children’s schooling.
3 minutes | Jan 21, 2022
Tongans ‘still overwhelmed with magnitude of disaster’
One week after the volcanic eruption and tsunami that hit the islands of Tonga, the UN Coordination Specialist there, says people “are still overwhelmed with the magnitude of the disaster.” The disaster has affected 84,000 people, more than 80 per cent of the population, and killed three people - although many islands have yet to be reached. Sione Hufanga explained that UN agencies are in the field distributing dignity kits to the most affected, along with food support, and trying to kick-start the agricultural sector, much of it blanketed in volcanic ash. Mr. Hufanga spoke to UN News’s Alexandre Soares, detailing the most urgent needs and how the disaster can affect the country long-term.
10 minutes | Jan 20, 2022
‘Deep reef’ find, signals hope in face of warming seas, says coral biologist
Stunning images of a just-discovered deep-sea coral reef near Tahiti travelled across the world on Thursday – the result of a UNESCO-supported scientific mission to map the oceans. For dive team member Laetitia Hedouin, from France’s National Centre of Scientific Research, it was an exciting chance to examine how living coral can adapt to our warming seas, as she told UN News’s Daniel Johnson.
15 minutes | Jan 17, 2022
UN labour agency chief predicts slow recovery to pre-pandemic jobs levels
The head of the UN labour agency warns that a recovery in the international labour market is still a long way off, with a lot of uncertainty for workers and businesses, hoping for the economy to bounce back. Guy Ryder, the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), spoke to UN News at the launch of the agency’s World Employment and Social Outlook Trends (WESO) 2022 report, which offers gloomy projections of increased unemployment, and widening inequality between developed and developing countries. Conor Lennon from UN News asked Mr. Ryder why the estimate is so dramatically different from the previous report, released in June of last year.
4 minutes | Jan 11, 2022
Exhibition provides ‘strong, powerful’ argument for nuclear disarmament
A powerful and haunting exhibition featuring the Hibakusha – the Japanese survivors of the nuclear bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki more than three-quarters of a century ago – has just been staged at UN Headquarters in New York. It’s not the first exhibit dedicated to the issue of nuclear disarmament that Japanese art director Erico Platt has created for the UN, and although she is far too young to be a hibakusha, she is proud to amplify their voices against the horrors of nuclear weapons. Ms. Platt explained to Liz Scaffidi, how her studies in Japan linked her to the right people, who, in turn, helped highlight again the urgency of banning nuclear weapons in what she describes as a “strong, powerful” and also beautiful exhibition, that’s the best she’s done…
7 minutes | Jan 7, 2022
Sudanese authorities must respect freedom to protest: UN rights office
Amid daily mass protests in Sudan and the reported lethal shooting of three demonstrators in Khartoum on Thursday, the UN rights office, OHCHR has urged the country’s military rulers to respect people’s fundamental freedoms. Tensions have been running high since generals seized power in a coup last October, and there have been daily protests since the resignation of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok last weekend, as OHCHR’s Seif Magango tells UN News’s Daniel Johnson.
12 minutes | Jan 5, 2022
Tourism industry needs fundamental ‘rethink’ in wake of COVID pandemic
In the three decades leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, world tourism grew steadily year on year. But in 2020, the industry suffered an unprecedent hit, accounting for a staggering 70% of the fall in global gross domestic product (GDP). The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has been constantly assessing the impact of the pandemic, and working hard to help kickstart the industry on behalf of millions around the world who rely on it. Zoritsa Urosevic, UNWTO’s Executive Director spoke in depth to UN News’s Bessie Du, and highlighted the need to rethink the whole sector, boost rural tourism, and improve safety for travellers.
13 minutes | Dec 23, 2021
‘We have an obligation to solve the hunger problem’: award-winning chef Andrew Zimmern
Globally, enough food is produced to feed the world’s seven billion people, and yet 811 million still go to bed hungry each night. Award-winning chef and TV personality Andrew Zimmern was recently named a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), expanding his global advocacy to fight hunger and food waste around the world. In an interview with UN News, Mr. Zimmern speaks about the implications posed by a growing food crisis, and how, as a “land of plenty”, the United States has a responsibility to help solve the hunger problem. UN News’s Bessie Du starts by asking him what it means to be a Goodwill Ambassador for WFP.
10 minutes | Dec 14, 2021
Sudan: Finding consensus to move forward a ‘challenge’: UN mission chief
Finding a national consensus to move forward following October’s military takeover of Sudan’s government, and subsequent reappointment of the civilian Prime Minister, is going to be a challenge, but discussions to restore trust are underway. That’s according to the top UN official in the country, Volker Perthes, who also heads the UN assistance mission in Sudan, UNITAMS. In an interview with UN News’s Abdelmonem Makki, Mr. Perthes also spoke about the de-escalation of tension in the restive Darfur region, and about the overall future of Sudan, where he believes that a return to full democratic government, is still possible.
11 minutes | Dec 2, 2021
ISIL survivors can be assured of international support
Survivors of genocide and other atrocities committed by ISIL fighters in Iraq should rest assured that the international community supports them. That’s the message from Christian Ritscher, head of UNITAD, the special UN team investigating these crimes. While it might appear action is slow coming, he said there is no statute of limitations and crimes can be prosecuted “as long as at least one perpetrator is alive.” Mr. Ritscher was in New York recently and spoke to UN News’s Abdelmonem Makki, prior to presenting the latest UNITAD report to the Security Council.
12 minutes | Nov 27, 2021
Safeguarding children’s digital lives
Artificial Intelligence systems are being used in an increasingly large range of toys, games and educational tools targeting children, but there are few safeguards in place to protect them. The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, has developed guidance to help policymakers protect children, following consultations with private companies, experts, and young people. Jasmina Byrne, Policy Chief at the UNICEF Global Insights team, and Steven Vosloo, a UNICEF data, research and policy specialist, both worked on the guidance. They explained to Conor Lennon from UN News that they were motivated by the huge growth of AI in everyone’s lives.
10 minutes | Nov 23, 2021
Yemen recovery will take time and money, but is not impossible: UNDP
Despite the ongoing war in Yemen, and the devastating humanitarian consequences, there is still hope for recovery within a generation, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said in a report published on Tuesday. The report outlines how ending the conflict, combined with inclusive policies, including greater investment in women, could lift Yemen out of poverty and put it back on the path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Auke Lootsma, UNDP Resident Representative in Yemen, was in New York and spoke to Dianne Penn ahead of the launch.
15 minutes | Nov 23, 2021
Moving the narrative from ‘feeding to nutrition’: an interview with the World Food Prize laureate
Aquatic foods – a key source of protein, micronutrients and essential fatty acids – are “superfoods”, which, when added to a diverse diet of vegetables, fruits and pulses, such as beans, peas and lentils, contribute to cognition, health and nutrition. In an interview with UN News, 2021 World Food Prize Laureate Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted explained the important role that fish and aquatic food systems have in sustainable healthy diets, and how they should be included in nutrition policies and programme interventions to tackle malnutrition. Noting an urgent need to shift the global narrative from simply feeding people to nourishing a growing population, Dr. Thilsted, a steering committee member of a high-level food panel with the UN Committee on World Food Security, began by telling UN News’s Sachin Gaur how her research approach has led to this award.
4 minutes | Nov 19, 2021
‘Kid of the year’ who’s not afraid to tackle global challenges through science
If news headlines get you down sometimes, I’ve got the antidote: it’s youth activist Gitanjali Rao. At just 15, Miss Rao was Time Magazine’s first Kid of the Year in 2021 – in recognition of her success in solving problems through science. Earlier this week, she was in Geneva for the Youth Activists Summit, which is where UN News’s Daniel Johnson caught up with her.
10 minutes | Nov 19, 2021
For Afghan children, 'it's all about survival': UNICEF
In Afghanistan, some 22.8 million people are facing food insecurity, including 14 million children. The situation s expected to worsen, with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) predicting that food stocks will run out halfway through winter. UN News’s Jia Du spoke with Samantha Mort, Chief of Communication, Advocacy and Civic Engagement at UNICEF Afghanistan, who assured that all offices remain open and warehouses full. For Ms. Mort, “there's no childhood” these days in Afghanistan. “It's all about survival and getting through the next day.”
12 minutes | Nov 10, 2021
UN steps up wheat planting support, as Afghans face catastrophe
Afghanistan may have dropped out of the news headlines since the Taliban takeover in mid-August, but the situation there is heading towards catastrophe, UN humanitarians have warned. What the country’s most vulnerable communities need most urgently are food, and seed for next year’s harvest and livestock, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which is ramping up support to reach the poorest families there. Here’s the agency’s representative in Afghanistan, Richard Trenchard, speaking from the capital Kabul, with UN News’s Daniel Johnson.
11 minutes | Nov 10, 2021
New UNDP initiative shows Afghan people they ‘have not been forgotten’
In the past few weeks, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), under an agreement with the Global Fund, has quietly extended a lifeline to Afghanistan’s health system and all the families that depend on it, providing $15 million to avoid the collapse of the entire sector. Over 23,000 health workers, in nearly 2,200 health facilities across 31 provinces, have received wages since the scheme got underway. UNDP has also paid for medicines and health supplies. Deputy Resident Representative in Afghanistan, Surayo Buzurukova, told UN News the Agency “undertook this enormous challenge to help prevent the total collapse of the health system.” She spoke to UN News’s Alexandre Soares.
16 minutes | Nov 9, 2021
Turn to the ICJ before going down path to war, Registrar urges countries
The Registrar of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is urging States to manage their disputes through the key UN institution’s courtroom, before considering taking up arms against each other. The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. The man currently tasked with heading the Secretariat which assists the court, is Phillipe Gautier, who sat down with UN News in New York a few days ago, for a wide-ranging interview. Jerome Bernard, of our UN News French team, began by asking him how the world’s top court had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
7 minutes | Nov 3, 2021
UN rights office report: Tigray situation is unbearable
When you hear about war and conflict as a news consumer, it can be easy to overlook the human toll; but not in Ethiopia, where a hard-hitting UN rights office report has uncovered the very real impact on ordinary people in Tigray. That’s where Government troops and their supporters have been fighting regional opposition forces since November 2020, and it’s led to serious rights violations that may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes. To explain the report’s key findings, here’s Françoise Mianda from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – she’s Section Chief for East and Southern Africa. She spoke to UN News’s Daniel Johnson.
11 minutes | Nov 1, 2021
Online technologies ‘very useful’ for human trafficking
Human trafficking takes many forms and can involve forced labour or domestic servitude. But when it comes to misusing technology platforms online, that’s mainly being done by sex traffickers to target and manipulate their victims. New research conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) shows how victims are being lured via social media and online dating platforms, where personal information and location details, are readily available. Tiphanie Crittin, a UNODC Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer spoke to Louise Potterton, and told her about the challenges of trying to shut down sex trafficking networks.
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