Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Guterres in Kenya, Prisoners sick in Iran, #GlobalGoals, Myanmar, Ukraine updates, and new space partnership

This Wednesday’s UN top stories are: latest global terror warnings; political prisoners denied health access in Iran; high-level discussions on Sustainable Development Goals; continued abuse of Rohingya in Myanmar; Odessa killings in Ukraine; and partnering with NASA.

Terrorism ‘spreading and destabilizing’ entire regions, Guterres warns States, at key Kenya conference

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visits an ICT Training Centre in Kamakunji, Kenya. (9 July 2019)

Trauma from terrorism hurts families, communities and destabilizes entire regions, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday, as he expressed solidarity with victims of extremist attacks in Africa.

Speaking in Nairobi at the opening of a conference on counter-terrorism, Mr. Guterres recalled how attackers had laid siege to a hotel complex in the capital in January, killing 21 people.

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UN experts voice ‘deep concern’ over Iran’s ‘consistent pattern’ of denying life-saving medical treatment to detainees

The flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran flying at United Nations headquarters in New York.

Despite repeated calls, Iran continues to deny medical treatment to detainees in what amounts to a consistent pattern, according to eight UN human rights experts, in a statement on Wednesday.

Over several months we have communicated to the Iranian Government our deep concerns about the physical and mental integrity of detainees, the experts said in a statement. Despite Government assurances, we are frustrated to still receive reports of denial of medical treatment, including in life-threatening situations.

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A quarter of Pacific islanders live below ‘basic needs poverty lines’, top UN development forum hears

Children riding a bicycle in Tuvalu.

While progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been made over the past four years, some vulnerable island States are losing momentum in the race to 2030, according to discussions at the United Nations’ annual High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) on Wednesday.

In 2015, the UN set out a vision for people, planet, peace and prosperity through partnership and solidarity, when it adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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Myanmar’s Rohingya ‘can and must’ be granted citizenship, says top UN rights official

A Rohingya woman crosses the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh near the village of Anzuman Para in Palong Khali.

In an update to the Human Rights Council, Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that her Office continues to verify reports of sexual violence allegedly committed by security forces in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, and urged the Government to end the statelessness of its ethnic Rohingya, who face this appalling treatment.

Almost two years ago, hundreds of thousands of mainly Muslim Rohingya fled across the border to Bangladesh, in an operation likened to ethnic cleansing by former UN rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein.

Today, only 240,000 Rohingya remain in Rakhine from a previous population of approximately one million, and they continue to be persecuted, Ms. Gilmore said.

In a continuation of attacks, it was reported that on 2 and 9 May this year Rohingya homes and shops were burned in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, she added. Later in the month reports alleged that the remaining houses there were burned to the ground: Our information suggests that the authorities have taken no steps to investigate these attacks.

Ukraine authorities should show they are serious about justice for Maidan, Odessa killings

In Mariinka, eastern Ukraine, evacuation drills and learning how to take cover in the school’s underground bomb shelter have become part of students’ education.

Five years since armed conflict erupted between the Government and largely pro-Russian separatists in the east of Ukraine, Deputy High Commissioner Kate Gilmore told the Human Rights Council that five million people are directly affected by ongoing hostilities along the contact line.

The consequences for the people living in the Donbass region are grave, she explained, noting that her Office had recorded 13 deaths and 78 injuries in the first six months of the year from shelling, small arms and light weapons, mines and explosive remnants of war.

Some 700,000 people living in non-Government-controlled areas have no access to their pensions, Ms. Gilmore said, while also noting that in the Crimea, Russia was violating human rights laws by imposing citizenship on Crimean residents, forcibly transferring Ukrainian citizens and deporting prisoners to the Russian Federation.

In an appeal to the Government of Ukraine, the Deputy High Commissioner also noted that it was five years since dozens of demonstrators were killed in Kiev and Odessa, and yet no-one has been prosecuted.

This continued impunity hampers the long-standing objective of reinforcing justice and peace, Ms. Gilmore said.

UN environment agency teams up with NASA to promote environmental understanding

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is seen floating during a spacewalk on 21 December 2015 as he and fellow astronaut Tim Kopra released brake handles on crew equipment carts on either side of the space station.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States, NASA, is teaming up with the UN environment agency (UNEP) to boost an international science and education programme and raise environmental awareness.

Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) provides students and the public worldwide with the opportunity to participate in data collection and the scientific process and contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the Earth system and global environment.

Through this partnership, GLOBE and UNEP will cooperate on environmental education and training, citizen science, and the collection and distribution of environmental data.

GLOBE and UNEP will also work together to increase awareness and promote the use of GLOBE data by the international science community with the goal of encouraging participation of environmental researchers in GLOBE.

The NASA GLOBE and UNEP partnership strengthens the sharing and interoperability of geospatial data, promoting the availability of rich information for learning and observations towards a better environment, said Alexandre Caldas on Wednesday, UNEP’s Chief of the Country Outreach, Technology and Innovation Branch.

Source: UN News Centre