News in Brief 18 September 2017 (PM)

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Damage on 8 September 2017 in Antigua and Barbuda from Hurricane Irma. Photo: UNDAC/Silva Lauffer

Appeal for "global solidarity" to help millions hit by Irma: UN chief

The UN chief António Guterres has appealed for "global solidarity" on behalf of the millions affected by Hurricane Irma and other extreme weather events to come.

The Secretary-General was speaking at a high-level meeting of the new session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday, devoted to outlining ongoing relief efforts and highlighting the need to manage risk and build resilience.

Leading representatives from the Small Island Developing States of the Caribbean said they had been worst impacted by the devastating hurricanes.

The Governor-General of Barbuda said that Irma had "forever changed" the landscape of the island, rendering it uninhabitable.

UN relief chief Mark Lowcock said that a US$27 million Regional Response Plan was now in place to meet the needs of the region over the next three months, together with additional funds for Cuba.

US$10 million were released on Sunday from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), he said.

Mr Guterres told the meeting that four major Atlantic hurricanes had now swept across the ocean this year, making it "the most violent on record," with Hurricane Maria now bearing down on the Caribbean.

"The season fits a pattern: changes to our climate are making extreme weather events more severe and frequent, pushing communities into a vicious cycle of shock and recovery. Extreme weather linked to climate change has an impact all over the world, including floods in southern Asia and landslides and droughts in Africa. Reducing carbon emissions must clearly be part of our response, together with adaptation measures."

Myanmar government continuing to deny humanitarian access to Rakhine State

The government of Myanmar is continuing to deny the UN access to the areas of Rakhine State, where military operations are ongoing that have led thousands to flee for their lives.

Latest figures from the UN estimate that around 415,000 mainly Muslim Rohingya refugees have crossed the border into Bangladesh, since 25 August.

The UN human rights chief said last week that the reported abuses of civilians and torching of their villages bore all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing.

Lack of access means that UN teams are unable to independently  verify the reports of continued violations, said UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric on Monday.

"More than 170,000 people are reportedly not able to access primary health services. Nearly 300,000 people, including 154,000 children under the age of five and nearly 55,000 pregnant women, require additional food assistance.
Funding is urgently needed to support and scale up existing services, as well as to set up new services across different sites."

Education "integral element" in closing digital gap: Broadband Commission

A "stark divide" has emerged over digital skills throughout the world, and more education is key to closing the gap.

That's according to a new report by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, a UN entity that promotes global connectivity.

The report points to factors including gender, class, geography and age as determinants of a person's ability to access and benefit from digital technology.

The report highlights how so-called "technological socialization" is imperative to an individual's success in terms of education and career.

Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, said on Monday that becoming competent in digital skills was "not automatic", but depended on a complex variety of factors.

In the report, Broadband Commission members recommend ways in which the public and private sector can work together, to ensure digital competence is a priority in education systems everywhere.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 3’58″

Filed under 72nd General Assembly.
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