Monday’s Daily Brief: ‘Horror’ at Notre Dame fire disaster, Yemen still bleeding, measles now ‘global crisis’

Katie Dallinger Notre Dame cathedral in Paris was under renovation when it caught fire on 15 April 2019.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Top news on Monday includes: UN chief expresses his horror over the huge blaze in Notre Dame; a deal over Hudaydah troop withdrawal beckons, but war intensifies; “global measles crisis” underway.

UN chief ‘horrified’ as Notre Dame burns

As Notre Dame Cathedral burned on Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his “horror” at the images of the fire, shown live around the world.

The UN chief said that his thoughts are with the people and Government of France.

Audrey Azoulay, head of UNESCO – the Paris-based UN agency for education, science and culture – also expressed her “deep emotion” on social media.

Ms. Azoulay wrote that UNESCO is closely monitoring the situation and is standing by the French people’s side to “safeguard and restore this invaluable heritage.”

The Organization elevated Notre-Dame, widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French gothic architecture, to world heritage status in 1991.

Construction began in 1163, on the central Parisian island in the middle of the Seine, known as Île de la Cité, during the reign of King Louis VII, and it was finally completed in 1345.

‘Yemen bleeds’ as fighting worsens, UN Special Envoy tells Security Council

The situation for the people of Yemen has, if anything, worsened over the past year.

In a briefing to the Security Council on Monday, Martin Griffiths, the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, said that, in the months since a fragile UN-backed ceasefire began in the region around the key port of Hudaydah, civilian casualties have significantly reduced, and people are beginning to return to their homes.

However, outside the area, violence has escalated, and the economic situation in the country as a whole remains extremely fragile.

Full story here.

Tackling poverty, inequality and climate change: ‘We need more money’

There is a multi-trillion-dollar gap between the ambitions of the UN for a global economy that benefits all, and the amount of money offered up so far by individual countries.

This was the message from UN chief António Guterres on Monday, at the opening of the 2019 Financing for Development Forum, held in the Economic and Social Council hall at UN Headquarters in New York.

Mr. Guterres told delegates that the tools already exist – along with international agreements – to tackle poverty, inequality and climate change, but more money is needed to implement the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

Full story here.

‘We are living in the middle of a global measles crisis’ WHO chief

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Ghebreyesus, has declared that we are living in the middle of a global measles crisis.

In the first three months of this year, the number of recorded cases was almost 300 per cent higher than in 2018. Although the WHO’s data is provisional, the organization says that it indicates a clear trend, with many countries in the midst of a sizeable measles outbreak.

Even countries with high overall vaccination coverage, such as Israel, Thailand and the US, have seen spikes in case numbers. In the past week, New York City declared a public health emergency in parts of Brooklyn, due to the rapid spread of measles.

The disease is almost entirely preventable, through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine, but global coverage with the first dose, has stalled at 85 per cent of the population, leaving many people at risk.

Mr. Ghebreyesus said that there is no debate to be had about the profound benefits of vaccines, and that children are paying the price for complacency.

More here.

Hospitals in Libyan capital receiving daily casualties

More than a week after a Libyan regional commander began a major offensive to capture Tripoli from the internationally-recognized Government, hospitals in the capital continue to receive daily casualties.

A status update released by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), on Sunday, showed that 48 civilians casualties have been confirmed since  the start of the current hostilities, including 13 deaths.

Over 18,000 people have displaced so far, and further casualties are expected, given the continued use of air strikes and heavy artillery.

In a Tweet published on Sunday, the UN Mission in Libya, UNSMIL, warned both sides not to attack civilian areas, stating that the bombing of schools, hospitals and ambulances is strictly prohibited by international humanitarian law.

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