UN Weekly Roundup: August 27- September 2, 2022
Editor’s note: Here is a fast take on what the international community has been up to this past week, as seen from the United Nations perch.
IAEA team visits Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi led a team of inspectors to Ukraine this week on a support and assistance mission. He met in Kyiv with President Volodoymr Zelenskyy on Tuesday and then traveled through Ukrainian-held territory to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is in a Russian-controlled area. Grossi has been appealing to the parties for months to let his team inspect the plant to avert a potential nuclear accident. He spoke to reporters late Friday upon his return to Vienna about his mission.
UN appeals for $160m for victims of Pakistan’s ‘monsoon on steroids’
The United Nations appealed Tuesday for $160 million to assist 5.2 million people impacted by monsoon rains in Pakistan. By Friday, U.N. agencies had provided food aid to 300,000 people and clean water to 55,000 people. Pakistani officials say the climate-driven storms have badly impacted more than 33 million people and killed more than a thousand others since the seasonal rainfall began in June. More than 700,000 livestock have also been lost. The World Meteorological Organization forecasts the heavy rains are set to continue. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to flood impacted areas next week.
UN rights chief releases long-awaited report on Xinjiang
Moments before her term expired at midnight on Wednesday, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet released a long-awaited report that found the treatment of minorities in China’s Xinjiang province may constitute crimes against humanity. China dismissed the findings as “smears and slanders.”
Hunger stalks millions of Afghans
U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said Monday that 6 million Afghans are on the brink of famine, with winter around the corner and humanitarian appeals dramatically underfunded. In all, 24 million people need some kind of humanitarian assistance, and almost 19 million of them face acute hunger. An estimated 3 million children are acutely malnourished. Funds are needed quickly so aid agencies can purchase and pre-position supplies before winter sets in.
— UNESCO said Thursday that 244 million children and youth ages 6 to 18 are still out of school across the world as the new school year begins in many places. Sub-Saharan Africa has the most young people out of school – 98 million, while South and Central Asia has 85 million. UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said this should be a reminder of that “deep inequalities persist in access to education.”
— The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, said Wednesday that it will transport 1.5 tons of essential medicines each week to Gao in the northeast. Regional authorities requested MINUSMA’s help to ease a pharmaceutical shortage due to a blockade of the main supply route by terrorist groups since May. Peacekeepers from Togo and Jordan are also helping to provide medical care for local communities in Douentza town and Tin Hama.
— The Food and Agriculture Organization said Friday that global food commodity prices dipped for a fifth month in a row. The FAO Food Price Index averaged 138.0 points in August, down 1.9% from July, although remaining 7.9% above its value a year before. The cereal price index decreased by 1.4% from the previous month, driven by a 5.1% decline in international wheat prices attributed to improved production prospects in North America and Russia, as well as the resumption of exports from the Black Sea ports in Ukraine.
The first ship carrying Ukrainian wheat for the World Food Program under the Black Sea Grain Initiative arrived in Djibouti on Tuesday with 23,000 metric tons of grain. Its final destination will be Ethiopia, where millions face severe hunger. A second WFP-chartered vessel departed Ukraine on Tuesday with 37,000 metric tons of wheat grain that will be milled into flour in Turkey and then delivered to Yemen where 17 million people are facing acute hunger. WFP says the grain will provide a 50-kilogram bag of wheat flour to nearly 4 million Yemenis for one month. Before Russia’s February 24 invasion, Ukraine was WFP’s top provider of food items. WFP’s Deputy Emergency Coordinator in Ukraine Marianne Ward says the agency purchased 880,000 metric tons of commodities there last year.
What we are watching next week
The Security Council will hold two meetings on Ukraine. On Tuesday, at Russia’s request, IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi will brief remotely on his mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The secretary-general will also address the meeting. On Wednesday, council members will meet again at the request of Albania and the United States to discuss the issue of forced displacement of Ukrainians.
Learn more about the forcible displacement of Ukrainians in this VOA Exclusive: