Key Issues

News in Brief (AM) – Geneva

Severe acute malnutrition leaves children “on brink of death”

In Nigeria, tens of thousands of children could die in coming months from severe acute malnutrition, UNICEF said Friday.

The warning from the UN Children’s Fund comes as aid workers start to gain access to the north-east of the country after government forces pushed back Boko Haram insurgents.

Speaking from the Nigerian capital Abuja, UNICEF’s Arjan De Wagt said that children are “literally on the brink of death”, and that the agency needs funds to identify the most vulnerable youngsters in three states: Borno, Jobe and Adamawa.

“We’re going from house to house, from hut to hut, from shelter to shelter, and those children that are severely malnourished, those children get treatment. And earlier I mentioned that without treatment about one in five of these children will die. With our programme we can reduce mortality to less than one per cent, but with very high impact intervention, it’s just that we need to find these children before it is too late, we need to reach them before it is too late.”

UNICEF estimates that 400,000 children are at risk in three states in Nigeria, while a total of 4.4 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance there.

Ongoing security concerns have prevented the agency from reaching all those in need, including two million people in Borno state alone.

South Sudanese refugees pass one million

Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, and now South Sudan; all countries which have produced more than one million refugees and seen massive waves of displacement.

According to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, South Sudan joined the roll-call of nations to have passed that sad humanitarian milestone just this week.

The situation has been made worse by recent fighting around the country between supporters of President Salva Kiir and former First Vice President Riek Machar.

Here’s UNHCR’s Leo Dobbs:

“Five years after independence this is a very sad milestone, and we again call on all the actors involved to step up efforts to forge a durable peace pact so that people can start rebuilding their lives and return home.”

Since the latest flare-up in fighting in Juba in July, more than 185,000 people have fled South Sudan.

Most crossed into Uganda but a surge this week has seen new arrivals in Ethiopia’s Gambella region, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic.

UNHCR says that the fighting in South Sudan and a lack of funds has made it very difficult to help and protect those in need outside the country, and the 1.6 million internally displaced.

Climate agreement needs ratification, says WMO

And finally, data showing “extraordinary” global temperatures is evidence that more Member States should sign up to the UN-led climate pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

That’s the message from the World Meteorological Organization, WMO, which on Friday confirmed that the current “exceptionally long spell” of above-average heat continued last month.

Here’s the agency’s Clare Nullis:

“WMO’s message to world leaders is that the need to ratify and even more importantly to implement the Paris Agreement is more urgent than before; our planet is really sending distress signals and we need to act, we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions dramatically and quickly.”

In addition to record temperatures , WMO says that carbon dioxide levels also reached new highs, as has coral reef bleaching.

Another sign of the effect on the planet of global warming is Arctic sea ice melt, which now covers 40 per cent less of the earth than it did in the late 1970s.

Under the terms of the Paris Agreement, states are expected to take action to stop global temperatures rising above two degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial levels.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has convened a high-level event on 21 September to encourage more governments to support the climate deal.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 4’01?

Source: United Nations Radio.