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  • Undergraduate wins N.5m in Western Lotto game

    LAGOS, Nigeria, Aug. 29, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — An undergraduate of the Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State went home N500,000 richer Monday, August 28, 2017, following his win in one of the games on the Western Lotto platform and pledged to continue to play for more winnings. A photo accompanying this […]

  • Children’s access to safe water and sanitation is a right, not a privilege – UNICEF

    In countries beset by violence, displacement, conflict and instability, children’s most basic means of survival � water � must be a priority, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said today, warning that children living in fragile situations are four times more likely to lack access to drinking water.

    Children’s access to safe water and sanitation, especially in conflicts and emergencies, is a right, not a privilege said Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF’s global chief of water, sanitation and hygiene, who warned, as World Water Week gets underway, that more than 180 million people in crisis-torn countries have no access to drinking water.

    UNICEF said that in Yemen, a country reeling from the impact of over two years of conflict, water supply networks that serve the country’s largest cities are at imminent risk of collapse due to war-inflicted damage and disrepair. Around 15 million people in the country have been cut off from regular access to water and sanitation.

    As for Syria, where the conflict is well into its seventh year, around 15 million people are in need of safe water, including an estimated 6.4 million children. Water has frequently been used as a weapon of war: In 2016 alone, there were at least 30 deliberate water cuts � including in Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, Raqqa and Dara, with pumps destroyed and water sources contaminated.

    In conflict-affected areas in northeast Nigeria, 75 per cent of water and sanitation infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, leaving 3.6 million people without even basic water services. The UN agency adds that in South Sudan, where fighting has raged for over three years, almost half the water points across the country have been damaged or completely destroyed.

    In far too many cases, water and sanitation systems have been attacked, damaged or left in disrepair to the point of collapse. When children have no safe water to drink, and when health systems are left in ruins, malnutrition and potentially fatal diseases like cholera will inevitably follow, said Mr. Wijesekera.

    In Yemen, for example, children make up more than 53 per cent of the over half a million cases of suspected cholera and acute watery diarrhoea reported so far. Somalia is suffering from the largest outbreak of cholera in the last five years, with nearly 77,000 cases of suspected cholera/acute watery diarrhoea. And in South Sudan, the cholera outbreak is the most severe the country has ever experienced, with more than 19,000 cases since June 2016, said UNICEF.

    In famine-threatened north-east Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, nearly 30 million people, including 14.6 million children, are in urgent need of safe water. More than five million children are estimated to be malnourished this year, with 1.4 million severely so.

    Source: UN News Centre

  • UK Supports WFP Efforts To Avert Famine In Yemen

    SANA’A � As efforts intensify to avert famine in Yemen, the United Kingdom has stepped up its support to the World Food Programme (WFP) by providing a contribution which will deliver life-saving food assistance for more than two million people in the country.

    The Pound 20 million (US$26 million) contribution from the Department for International Development (DFID) comes at a crucial time, as WFP strives to provide monthly food assistance to nearly seven million people on the verge of famine in Yemen. The country is mired in one of the world’s worst hunger crises, with more than 17 million people � two out of three people � requiring food assistance for survival.

    With millions of our brothers and sisters in Yemen on the brink of starvation, WFP is grateful for this significant and timely donation from the United Kingdom, said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. DFID’s contribution allows us to continue our life-saving work to provide food and nutritional support for children and other vulnerable people, many who face hunger or are threatened by the outbreak of cholera.

    WFP will use the UK contribution to provide two months of food assistance for more than two million people through direct distributions and food vouchers. The funding will also help WFP to provide nutritional support to around 550,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women for two months.

    The UK is providing a lifeline to millions of people in Yemen by providing food, clean water and emergency healthcare to contain the world’s worst cholera outbreak, said International Development Secretary Priti Patel. The international community must step up its response to stop Yemen falling into famine. Only by working together can we help stem this disaster.

    Each month, WFP aims to provide food assistance to 6.8 million people in Yemen. Of these, 3.3 million people in areas most at risk of slipping into famine receive full food rations. The rest receive 60 percent of a full ration due to a shortage of funding. WFP operations in Yemen are little more than 40 percent funded for the coming six months, with WFP facing a funding shortfall of US$369 million through February 2018.

    The UK is playing a leading role in the humanitarian response as the third largest humanitarian donor to Yemen and the second largest donor to the UN appeal. The support for WFP comes from the UK’s increased funding of Pound 139 million for Yemen for 2017-18.

    The UK government has been one of WFP’s most consistent and reliable partners in Yemen. Since 2015, the UK has generously contributed more than US$56 million to support WFP in its response to the hunger crisis in Yemen.

    Source: World Food Programme

  • Study: Blasphemy Laws on Books in One-third of Nations

    GENEVA � Laws prohibiting blasphemy are astonishingly widespread worldwide, with many laying down disproportionate punishments ranging from prison sentences to lashings or the death penalty, the lead author of a report on blasphemy said.

    Iran, Pakistan, and Yemen score worst, topping a list of 71 countries with laws criminalizing views deemed blasphemous, found in all regions, according to a comprehensive report issued this month by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

    Statutes invite abuse

    The bipartisan U.S. federal commission called for repeal of blasphemy statutes, saying they invited abuse and failed to protect freedoms of religion and expression.

    We found key patterns. All deviate from freedom of speech principles in some way, all have a vague formulation, with different interpretations, Joelle Fiss, the Swiss-based lead author of the report told Reuters.

    The ranking is based on how a state’s ban on blasphemy or criminalizing of it contravenes international law principles.

    Ireland and Spain had the best scores, as their laws order a fine, according to the report which said many European states have blasphemy laws that are rarely invoked.

    Offenders face imprisonment

    Some 86 percent of states with blasphemy laws prescribe imprisonment for convicted offenders, it said.

    Proportionality of punishment was a key criteria for the researchers.

    That is why Iran and Pakistan are the two highest countries because they explicitly have the death penalty in their law, Fiss said, referring to their laws which enforce the death penalty for insulting the Prophet Mohammad.

    Blasphemy laws can be misused by authorities to repress minorities, the report said, citing Pakistan and Egypt, and can serve as a pretext for religious extremists to foment hate.

    Recent high-profile blasphemy cases include Jakarta’s former Christian governor being sentenced to two years in jail in May for insulting Islam, a ruling which activists and U.N. experts condemned as unfair and politicized. Critics fear the ruling will embolden hardline Islamist forces to challenge secularism in Indonesia.

    Blasphemy on Facebook

    A Pakistani court sentenced a man to death last month who allegedly committed blasphemy on Facebook, the first time the penalty was given for that crime on social media in Muslim-majority Pakistan.

    Each of the top five countries with the highest scoring laws has an official state religion, the report said, referring to Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Somali and Qatar. All have Islam as their state religion.

    Saudi Arabia, where flogging and amputations have been reported for alleged blasphemy, is not among the top highest-risk countries, but only 12th, as punishment is not defined in the blasphemy law itself.

    They don’t have a written penal law, but rely on judges’ interpretation of the Sharia. The score was disproportionately low, Fiss said. If a law is very vague, it means prosecutors and judges have a lot of discretion to interpret.

    Source: Voice of America

  • News in brief 29 August 2017 (AM) – Geneva

    Myanmar urged to open borders for all fleeing Rakhine violence

    Access to communities in need of help in Myanmar’s Rakhine state remains “severely restricted” amid what the UN has called a “dramatic worsening” of the security situation there.

    Violence erupted in the state last Friday when attacks on police buildings left dozens of people dead, including security personnel.

    The development comes as UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed alarm on Tuesday at the violence.

    In a statement the High Commissioner called on Myanmar’s political leaders to condemn the inflammatory rhetoric and incitement to hatred, including on social media.

    Rakhine state is home to more than one million Muslims.

    There has been a history of violence between the minority and Myanmar’s Buddhist majority.

    More than 5,000 people are believed to have left Myanmar for neighbouring Bangladesh since Thursday and thousands more are at the border, UNHCR says.

    Agency spokesperson Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva that some people had been reportedly prevented from leaving Myanmar.

    “These appear to be isolated instances from what we can see at the moment so I don’t think there’s a systematic thing going on here. Do we have access to the populations to help them on other side of the border? No we don’t.”

    The UN Refugee Agency has appealed to authorities to do “everything possible” to allow humanitarian aid in � and ensure the safety of workers.

    Harvey storm is a “nightmare scenario” says UN weather agency

    The storm system that’s been lashing Texas is a “nightmare scenario” that’s far from over, the UN weather agency said on Tuesday.

    The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) issued the alert as Harvey � originally a hurricane but now a Tropical Storm � showed little sign of moving away from the southern US state, where it made landfall last Friday.

    But the cloudbursts it’s brought with it have caused catastrophic flooding in places, including the Galveston and Houston metropolitan areas.

    Harvey has also claimed 14 lives, according to reports.

    Here’s WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis:

    “The latest forecast that we have is that it is expected to move upwards today to the middle and upper coast of Texas and then weaken as it moves inland over Tennessee, so the wind speeds will weaken but the rainfall potential is still there and is still serious. In addition to the hazards from wind and water, tornadoes are an additional hazard that the local people are facingas I said, it really is a nightmare scenario.”

    Total rainfall is forecast to reach 50 inches (or 1.2 metres).

    There’s been so much rainfall that weather centres have had to create new charts, WMO said.

    180 million people lack basic drinking water in conflict zones

    More than 180 million people have no access to drinking water amid violence and insecurity, the UN said on Tuesday.

    UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, which issued the warning to coincide with World Water Week, also highlighted how warring parties frequently deny communities access to water.

    In Syria � where conflict is in its seventh year � 2016 saw at least 30 deliberate water cuts, UNICEF says.

    Meanwhile, violence in parts of north-east Nigeria has also damaged 75 per cent of water and sanitation services.

    In South Sudan, almost half the country’s water points are in crisis, after three years of fighting.

    And UNICEF says that in Yemen, war-inflicted damage and disrepair have left the country’s largest cities at “imminent risk” of going without water.

    In a statement the agency’s Sanjay Wijesekera said that access to water and sanitation “is a right, not a privilege”, especially in conflicts and emergencies.

    He added that a lack of clean water and sanitation meant that potentially fatal diseases such as cholera were inevitable.

    In Yemen, UNICEF says that more than a quarter of a million children are suffering from suspected cholera infections, while South Sudan is in the grip of the most severe cholera outbreak it has ever experienced- with more than 19,000 cases since June 2016.

    Source: United Nations Radio

  • The Cost of Clean Water: $150B a Year, Says World Bank

    TEPIC, MEXICO � Countries need to quadruple spending to $150 billion a year to deliver universal safe water and sanitation, helping to reduce childhood disease and deaths while boosting economic growth, said the World Bank.

    Investments should be better coordinated and targeted to ensure services reach the most vulnerable, and governments need to engage the private sector more closely to meet the high costs, said the World Bank in a report released on Monday.

    Millions are currently trapped in poverty by poor water supply and sanitation, Guangzhe Chen, senior director of the World Bank’s global water practice, said in a statement.

    More resources, targeted to areas of high vulnerability and low access, are needed to close the gaps and improve poor water and sanitation services.

    The high cost of clean water risks jeopardizing the ability of countries to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of providing access to safe and affordable sanitation for all by 2030, said the World Bank.

    More than three quarters of those without piped water supplies live in rural areas, where only 20 percent have access to improved sanitation said the report. In cities, poor people are up to three times less likely to have piped water than people in better off areas.

    The risk of diarrheal diseases and malnutrition caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation is creating a “silent emergency,” with stunted growth affecting more than 40 percent of children under five in countries including Guatemala, Niger, Yemen and Bangladesh, said the report.

    It said under-nutrition could have long-term effects on children, including poor mental development and reduced ability to work, which would eventually affect economic development.

    Some countries fail to maintain infrastructure or struggle to cope with growing populations. Nigeria provided piped water to fewer than 10 percent of city dwellers in 2015, down from 29 percent 25 years earlier. In Haiti, only 7 percent of households have piped water, compared to 15 percent previously.

    Water and sanitation services need to improve dramatically or the consequences on health and well-being will be dire, said Rachid Benmessaoud, Nigeria country director for the World Bank.

    No single solution

    In some countries, tap water is even more unsafe than pond water, with around 80 percent of Bangladesh’s piped supplies contaminated by E.coli bacteria, said the report.

    It urged governments to better inform people and encourage more household water treatment.

    Providing piped water in cities could generate economies of scale, the bank said, urging greater private-sector involvement in urban water provision where recovering costs may be easier.

    Researchers, decision makers and aid specialists are meeting in Stockholm for the annual World Water Week where they will focus on how to reduce waste in water use.

    Water and sanitation improvements should be linked to health programs to better tackle disease and malnutrition, said the World Bank report.

    Renewed efforts are needed to address those populations at greatest risk of death and disease due to inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene, which threatens human capital and economic development, it said.

    Source: Voice of America

  • World Bank: Tackle Middle East Water Scarcity to Save Money, Boost Stability

    YAOUNDE, CAMEROON � The Middle East and North Africa region loses about $21 billion each year because of an inadequate supply of water and sanitation, the World Bank said Tuesday, warning that urgent action is needed to prevent ripple effects on stability and growth.

    Poor management of water resources and sanitation in the world’s most water-scarce region costs about 1 percent of its annual gross domestic product, with conflict-hit states losing as much as 2 to 4 percent each year, the bank said in a report issued at the World Water Week conference in Stockholm, Sweden.

    Deaths due to unsafe water and sanitation in some parts of the region, particularly countries affected by conflict, are higher than the global average, it added.

    “As the current conflict and migration crisis unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa shows, failure to address water challenges can have severe impacts on people’s well-being and political stability,” the report said.

    Peril in Yemen

    In Yemen, which is reeling from more than two years of conflict, water supply networks serving its largest cities are at risk of collapse due to war-inflicted damage and disrepair, and about 15 million people have been cut off from regular access to water and sanitation, the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF) said in a separate statement Tuesday.

    In Syria, where the conflict is well into its seventh year, water has frequently been used as “a weapon of war,” with pumps deliberately destroyed and water sources contaminated, and about 15 million people are in need of safe water, including an estimated 6.4 million children, UNICEF said.

    Overall, 183 million people lack access to basic drinking water in countries affected by conflict, violence and instability around the world, it added.

    Better management

    With the urban population in the Middle East and North Africa expected to double by 2050 to nearly 400 million, a combination of policy, technology and water management tools should be used to improve the water situation, the World Bank report said.

    “Water productivity � in other words, how much return you get for every drop of water used � in the Middle East in general is the lowest on average in the world,” said Anders JA�gerskog, a specialist in water resources management at the World Bank and one of the report’s authors.

    Middle Eastern and North African countries are using far more water than can be replenished, said the report.

    To reverse the trend, technology and innovation are “essential but not enough,” JA�gerskog told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Water governance � in particular, water tariffs and subsidies � must also be addressed, he said.

    The region has the world’s lowest water tariffs and spends the highest proportion of GDP on public water subsidies. Such policies lead to excessive use of already scarce water supplies and are not sustainable, said JA�gerskog.

    Untreated wastewater

    Another challenge is that more than half of the wastewater collected in the region is fed back into the environment untreated.

    “Along with better water management, there is room for increasing the supply through nonconventional methods such as desalination and recycling,” Guangzhe Chen, senior director of the World Bank’s global water practice, said in a statement.

    Improved water management could bring considerable financial returns, the report noted.

    Governments could gain $10 billion annually by improving the storage and delivery of irrigation water to users, while increasing agricultural production by up to 8 percent, the report said.

    Egypt, Syria and Iran � which have the largest proportion of irrigated land in the region � are the countries that could benefit most.

    Source: Voice of America

  • La conférence TEDGlobal 2017 commence en Tanzanie

    Dix ans après, TEDGlobal revient en Afrique pour un évènement en direct présentant plus de 45 interventions, entretiens et performances ARUSHA, Tanzanie, 28 août 2017 /PRNewswire/ — TED, l’organisation à but non lucratif qui se consacre aux « Ideas Worth Spreading » (idées qui méritent d’être diffusées) inaugure sa conférence TEDGlobal 2017 aujourd’hui à Arusha, en Tanzanie. Placé […]

  • INTERVIEW: Preventing conflict key to relieving suffering, stresses outgoing UN humanitarian chief

    Preventing conflicts from breaking out in the first place, and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions once they do, is vital to relieving the suffering seen in many parts of the world, according to the top United Nations humanitarian official, Stephen O’Brien.

    That’s the issue about conflict, it’s man-made, and, therefore, it’s capable of being unmade by man and the humanitarian suffering that is brought about by it can be reduced and eliminated over time, Mr. O’Brien, who has served for over two years as Under-Secretary-General and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said in an interview with UN News.

    For the past two years, the British national has witnessed some of that suffering first hand, meeting some of the millions affected by conflict and crises in, among others, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

    As he prepares to wrap up his assignment with the UN, Mr. O’Brien discussed what he will remember most about being the UN humanitarian chief, some of his frustrations, UN reform efforts and how to avoid a sense of hopelessness from setting in given the numerous crises around the world and the ever increasing needs.

    UN News: When you look back at the past two years, what is the one encounter that will stay with you the most, that encapsulates what the job’s been about for you?

    Stephen O’Brien: In Yemen, when I visited a school that was occupied by internally displaced persons (IDPs) � there are millions in Yemen because of the terrible conflict � there was a girl called Marie, who was looking after eight of her siblings in the absence of any parents and they were struggling to get food. They had at last become registered so they were getting supplies from the very brave aid workers, from the UN and other NGO partners. But it was not possible as yet to give them schooling so they brought home to me more than anything else, that they should not be victims in other people’s wars, and also that the international community was doing an amazing job in giving them the lifesaving as well as the protection they needed.

    UN News: Where do you think you have been most effective in the job, and what has been your biggest frustration?

    Stephen O’Brien: I look at the extraordinary work of all of these humanitarian workers around the world in these very tough spots in the two years that I’ve been in the post and I’ve been really inspired by the courage, persistence and determination of these people who want to make sure that the people affected by the crisis, through no fault of their own, are given the lifesaving and protection that they need.

    The frustration is that we are simply not able to raise our ability to respond at the same pace that the needs are arising.

    While that has been rewarding, the job itself is extraordinarily challenging because the rise in humanitarian needs around the world has been exponential, and notwithstanding that we have managed to secure record amounts of funding in that period, the gap has grown wider.

    The frustration is that we are simply not able to raise our ability to respond at the same pace that the needs are arising. And in that period, we haven’t had � thank goodness, but it’s not to say that we will not have in the future � a very large humanitarian need as a result of natural hazards, so our primary focus has been on the humanitarian needs out of conflict.

    UN News: Your time in office has been dominated by some of the worst conflicts and humanitarian crises of the modern era. Is there any more that the UN could be doing in Syria, or is it really all up to the Security Council to act, as you’ve often said in your briefings?

    Stephen O’Brien: One of the great privileges that the Emergency Relief Coordinator has is that here in New York you get to speak to the Security Council on a fairly regular basis about the challenges that are arising as a result of conflict and other disasters and emergencies. It has been very clear to me that it is a duty, an obligation and, indeed, expected by General Assembly resolution 46/182, that I raise very difficult issues and often speak truth to power.

    It can be a little uncomfortable, it can be challenging, but it is very important that the facts are before all of the Member States, here at the United Nations, the highest body in the world, which has the capacity, diplomatically and politically, to find a resolution and to prevent conflicts that result in producing humanitarian needs, which could be avoided.

    That’s the issue about conflict, it’s man-made, and, therefore, it’s capable of being unmade by man and the humanitarian suffering that is brought about by it can be reduced and eliminated over time.

    UN News: As Syria and Yemen stand out, do you worry that some of these complex conflicts will prove to be unsolvable?

    Stephen O’Brien: I never accept that these are unsolvable because with a will, when people come together, when we put our fellow human beings around the planet first, rather than [focusing on] the dispute for power or competition for resourcesthe issues can be solved. As long as we put a huge premium on our ability to talk through our differences. At the same time, we must recognize that we have the highest possible public duty internationally to relieve the suffering of our fellow human beings, wherever that arises, be that for their protection in conflicts where innocent civilians are put at risk, or for their lifesaving in natural hazards and the terrible risks that happen because of that.

    UN News: What will you miss most about being UN relief chief?

    Stephen O’Brien: I’m certainly not shy of putting in a hard day’s work, but what I will miss most is working with extraordinary people doing an extraordinary job. I mean that both within my own team in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs here and across about 40 countries. These are extraordinarily dedicated, skilled, committed and very brave people who are often serving in what we call non-family duty stations.

    I shall be extremely sorry to miss the inspiring context of being able to do something about the suffering through the people we have here at the UN and through our partners in the international NGOs or through the many local people we work with to get that last mile.

    I will also miss the relationships and the professional approach with Member States and their representatives here, in Geneva and across the world because it’s only by harnessing all these energies that we can make that difference and we can try and make the world a better place.

    The protection of aid workers is paramount. People put themselves at great risk to reach people in need in some of the most dangerous environments in protracted crises around the world.

    UN News: Is the problem that you can only do as much as the Security Council allows, in a way?

    Stephen O’Brien: I don’t think the Security Council is the complete constraint. I do think it is a very, very important part of the peace and security make-up, but the General Assembly, which includes all the 193 recognized Member States of the UN and some very important observers as well, engage in passing resolutions, which are intended to bind the world.

    It really matters to all of us here, and certainly has mattered to me, that we do our very best to live out the values that are encapsulated in the Charter of the United Nations and in the Universal of Declaration of Human Rights, which are our founding documents that have stood the test of time for 72 years.

    While yes, there are disputes around the world and there are things that are causing terrible humanitarian suffering that should be relieved, we are in a better place to meet the suffering of people when emergencies strike. Now we need to continue to commit to doing a better job to prevent conflict and relieve the suffering of people.

    UN News: Looking back, is there anything that you would have done differently, any crisis that you might have handled in a different way?

    Stephen O’Brien: We can always, with the benefit of hindsight, think of ways to improve. We can see by the massive and widening gap there is between the needs and the resources. The inefficiency of our response is something that hurts and is clearly part of our inability to be fully accountable to affected people. So in looking back, I wish I’d found a better way to raise more resources.

    UN News: What advice do you have for your successor?

    Stephen O’Brien: Above all, go out and meet the people to whom we are ultimately accountable, the people who need us most.

    As I have sought to do, make sure all you do is rooted in the principles of international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law.

    Make sure that we call people to account so that there is a better deterrent to those causing humanitarian suffering today.

    UN News: The Secretary-General has made UN reform a priority. Do you have any constructive advice as to how that can be managed in the humanitarian field?

    Stephen O’Brien: The Secretary-General’s emphasis on prevention as core to policy and the ability for the UN in the world that we face today, and looking ahead and particularly to be relevant to the vast number of younger generations. We need to make sure it is reformed to reflect that world.

    If you leave humanitarian need or poverty unaddressed, it has the potential to be exploited by those of malign intent.

    That needs much better resolution of conflict, prevention in the first place, a greater participation of stakeholders, recognizing that so many of the world’s problems, particularly humanitarian, but also for enabling development and the equality of women’s rights, all need to come together in a way that is relevant to today’s generation.

    The reforms that the Secretary-General is pushing are all to be welcomed and supported. I am pleased that in OCHA, we have been doing this over the last two years. We have somewhat blazed a trail with our own reforms and put us in a fitter and better position to make sure that we are strategically aligned, nimble and adaptable.

    UN News: What is the key message you relayed for your last World Humanitarian Day?

    Stephen O’Brien: We should make sure to put a real focus on how humanitarian aid workers around the world are #NotATarget. This was articulated at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. The protection of aid workers is paramount. People put themselves at great risk to reach people in need in some of the most dangerous environments in protracted crises around the world.

    Humanitarian workers are operating across the world, often in countries for many years, despite insufferable difficulties. World Humanitarian Day is an opportunity for us to focus on protecting these humanitarian aid workers, particularly in the medical field.

    UN News: Isn’t the problem for the UN that there’s little more that we can do than try to persuade perpetrators of violence and war, and power-hungry politicians, to change their ways?

    Stephen O’Brien: It’s all about persuasion, and we should never be deterred. Yes, there will be knock backs, more disputes, more terrible violence but we must be clear that it is worth the effort every day to save lives and protect the people, particularly in conflict.

    But, also remember that there is a real need to recognize that we have the capacity to make a difference. It requires political will and relationships with players [everywhere] to acquire access to reach the people in need.

    The UN is very well placed to make sure we do this at the scale that the world needs and to bring it all together with that sense of courage and conviction.

    We must make sure that the perpetrators of violence are held accountable for their actions. This is why it is important that we adhere to the international norms, laws and principles that we’ve all agreed to, and do our best to bring forward the evidence and to make sure that people are held to account.

    UN News: You said there is never enough funding. How do we stop a sense of hopelessness, even cynicism, from creeping in and overwhelming us on the humanitarian front?

    Stephen O’Brien: We can never cease to seek to persuade people that this is a fantastic investment. We know that if you leave humanitarian need or poverty unaddressed, it has the potential to be exploited by those of malign intent. If we do not address it today, the higher cost in the future will simply be borne by future generations. It is in all of our mutual interest in the cause of peace and community but also in the value of doing the right thing by our fellow human beings.

    Source: UN News Centre

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