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.
Ukraine asks UN to send experts to examine possible Iranian drones
Ukraine has invited U.N. experts to examine debris from what it says are Iranian-made drones sold to Russia in violation of international sanctions and used to attack Ukrainian towns and cities. Iran and Russia both deny the accusations. Experts say the drones are likely Iranian-made Shahed-136 unmanned aerial vehicles. Russia says it manufactured the drones. It has warned that the U.N. Secretariat has no mandate to carry out an investigation, and if it does, Moscow will “reassess” its collaboration with the U.N. body. Britain, France and Germany urged the U.N. to investigate in a letter on Friday.
Meanwhile, humanitarians are working to reach as many Ukrainians as they can with winter assistance as temperatures begin to drop. Denise Brown, U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator in Ukraine, spoke to VOA this week about the challenges for both humanitarians and the people they assist.
Security Council sanctions Haitian gang leaders
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Friday to impose targeted sanctions including asset freezes, travel bans and an arms embargo on gang leaders in Haiti, who are fomenting widespread violence against civilians and blocking access to vital fuel stocks. The vote follows a meeting Monday, during which Haiti’s foreign minister spoke of the “unfathomable reality” of the hardships Haitians are facing.
Northern Ethiopia ‘spiraling out of control’
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Monday that the situation in northern Ethiopia is “spiraling out of control” and that he sees no military solution to the conflict. He urged the international community to come together to end the nearly 2-year-old conflict between the government and Tigrayan forces, which has killed and injured thousands and left millions on the brink of starvation. Guterres said the United Nations is ready to support African Union-led efforts at peace talks “in every possible way.” A private meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday to discuss the issue ended without action. Diplomats said China and Russia blocked a press statement calling for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire at the behest of Ethiopia.
Separately, the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned Wednesday that “there is a very narrow window now to prevent genocide in Tigray.”
This warning was amplified by Alice Nderitu, U.N. special adviser on the prevention of genocide, who said the “targeting of civilians based on their ethnicity or perceived affiliation to the warring parties remains a key characteristic of the conflict and one that is worsened by horrifying levels of hate speech and incitement to violence.” The U.N. has warned that such language can lead to atrocity crimes.
— The World Health Organization said Tuesday that as of October 14, there have been 15,823 suspected cases of cholera in Syria, including 807 confirmed cases and 68 reported deaths. The rise in cases is compounded by severe countrywide water shortages and drought-like conditions. Water infrastructure has been destroyed or damaged in a decade of conflict, leaving people dependent on unsafe water sources. Aid groups say they are facing shortages in cholera supplies, including medicines.
— Four U.N. peacekeepers from Chad were killed and two seriously wounded in northern Mali this week when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Tessalit, in the Kidal region. They were on a mine search and detection patrol. A dozen peacekeepers have been killed in Mali this year.
— The U.N. expressed concern Thursday about flooding in Nigeria that the government says has killed more than 600 people and displaced 1.3 million. Food security is a concern, as more than 440,000 hectares of farmland have been partially or totally damaged. Before the floods, 19 million people across Nigeria were facing severe food insecurity. The Food and Agriculture Organization forecasts cereal production will likely decline by 3.4% compared with 2021 because of the flooding, high agriculture production costs and insecurity.
Quote of note
“We cannot separate the perilous state of peace in our world from the destructive effects of patriarchy and the silencing of women’s voices. The challenges we face today — from proliferating conflicts to worsening assaults on human rights — are in many ways connected to the trampling of women’s rights and to deeply ingrained misogyny around the world.”
U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed urged nations to challenge misogyny and the structures that sustain it during remarks Thursday to the Security Council debate on women, peace, and security.
What we are watching next week
The African Union hopes to hold peace talks aimed at ending the war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region starting Monday in South Africa. The talks were supposed to take place earlier this month but were delayed. U.N. chief Guterres says the situation is “spiraling out of control” and has joined AU calls for an immediate cease-fire.
Mark your calendar
Monday, October 24, is U.N. Day. It marks the day in 1945 when the U.N. Charter entered into force and the organization officially came into being. “As we mark U.N. Day, let us renew our hope and conviction in what humanity can achieve when we work as one, in global solidarity,” Secretary-General Guterres says in his message this year.