News in Brief 29 November 2017 (AM)

Listen /

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

End conflict by establishing an independent Palestine, urges Guterres

“Now is the time” to end decades of conflict by establishing an independent Palestinian State, “living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel”, said Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday.

The UN chief made his plea in a statement to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

He said the Palestine question had been “inextricably linked” with the history of the UN, and “is one of the longest unresolved issues” on the organization’s agenda.

Mr Guterres said he was convinced the two-state solution envisaged by General Assembly Resolution 181, 70 years ago, “is the only premise for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”.

He said leaders on both sides had restated their commitment to a negotiated peace, but needed to “tangibly demonstrate” that commitment and return to negotiations.

“The recent positive developments on intra-Palestinian unity, should be harnessed by all to move the process in the right direction”, he added.

“Horrific” mass-killings in Jonglei region of South Sudan condemned by UN

The killing of around 45 civilians in the Jonglei region of South Sudan on Wednesday has been condemned by the top UN official in the world’s youngest country.

Special Representative David Shearer, who also heads the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), said the “horrific” killings threatened to undermine on-going peace and reconciliation efforts.

South Sudan’s been involved in a brutal civil conflict since 2013, when fighting began between troops loyal to the President and then Vice-President.

Reports suggest that Wednesday’s attack, which also left 19 injured, involved the Murle and Dinka communities, who have been engaged in long-standing inter-ethnic violence.

Mr Shearer said the “vast majority” of civilians in the region wanted to see an end to the destructive pattern of “revenge attacks”.

“I utterly condemn these killings and the abduction of perhaps 60 women and children which accompanied the attacks, and I urge both communities to show restraint and to put an end to the cycle of revenge killings that has occurred so much in this part of the country. It is crucial that the state and national authorities work together to bring the perpetrators of all attacks to account. From UNMISS’s point of view, we will do whatever we can to try and bring peace to this area and support those communities that choose to follow a path of peace.”

Mr Shearer said the dead included humanitarian workers who “worked selflessly for the people of Jonglei”.

Their deaths were “pointless and utterly contemptible”, he added.

Regional organizations “essential” to face global challenges: UN chief

“Strong and effective” regional organizations are essential to confront today’s global challenges and threats, said the UN chief on Wednesday.

António Guterres was addressing the opening session of the Africa-EU Summit in Abijan, Côte d’Ivoire, where African Union (AU) and European Union countries have come together to foster cooperation under the theme of “Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace”.

The Secretary-General said that national governments had to lead the response to climate change, terrorism and conflicts, but multilateral cooperation and capacity-building was crucial.

He described the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the AU’s Agenda 2063 as “ambitious and mutually reinforcing blueprints.”

He told delegates that gender equality and women’s empowerment were fundamental, with discrimination and violence blocking many women from being able to participate.

“Regional organizations are essential to face the very difficult challenges that threaten us. The importance or regional organizations grow with every decade that passes. Regional and global solidarity must be our guide, as we draw on our collective efforts to build a life of peace, dignity and prosperity for all.”

Child malnutrition rate in East Ghouta reaches record high

Acute malnutrition rates are at a “record high” among children living in Syria’s besieged East Ghouta district, close to the capital Damascus, said the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday.

About half of the 400,000 trapped in the rebel-held suburbs are children, and more than a third of them are suffering from life-threatening malnutrition-related illnesses.

Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, warned that children are the first to suffer the dire consequences of living under siege conditions.

He called on the siege to be lifted immediately, in order to “provide them with the life-saving assistance they need now.”

Mr Cappelaere stressed that escalating violence by Syrian government forces who are trying to retake East Ghouta, and the lack of humanitarian access, had “severely restricted” children’s ability to receive health and nutrition services.

Sky-rocketing food prices was another factor causing a drastic increase in malnutrition, he added.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 4’18″