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.
UN seeks humanitarian cease-fire in Ukraine
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday that his aid chief would immediately begin exploring with Moscow and Kyiv possible arrangements for a humanitarian cease-fire in Ukraine. Martin Griffiths is scheduled to fly to Moscow on Sunday.
UN to Seek Humanitarian Cease-fire in Ukraine
Humanitarian evacuations from Mariupol fail Friday
The International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday that its team was unable to reach the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol to evacuate civilians and would make another attempt Saturday.
ICRC Operation to Evacuate Civilians from Mariupol Remains Uncertain
International donors rally for Afghanistan
On Thursday, many international donors overcame their frustration with the Taliban’s recent decision to suspend school for girls from secondary level up and rallied around the Afghan people, pledging more than $2.4 billion to help alleviate the country’s dire humanitarian crisis. The U.N. requested $4.4 billion — its biggest appeal ever — to meet humanitarian needs. The U.N. Development Program says that following the change in government in August, the country is facing a potentially non-reversible economic collapse, a frozen banking system and liquidity shortage, leaving as many as 80% of its people in debt.
Donors Pledge $2.4 Billion for Afghan Relief
Rainy season threatens South Sudan
Aid agencies warned Tuesday that hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese are likely to suffer devastating consequences during this year’s wet season without emergency international support to head off the worst impacts.
Thousands in South Sudan Brace for Potentially Disastrous Rainy Season
— The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday that he had reached separate agreements with Ukrainian and Russian authorities on what assistance his agency would provide to safeguard Ukrainian nuclear sites. IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told reporters after a field visit to Ukraine and meetings in Russia that they had delivered some equipment and had agreed on a “structured set of activities” that would start next week. There are eight nuclear plants in the country, including the defunct Chernobyl reactor, which in 1986 was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident.
— Eight U.N. peacekeepers were killed in a helicopter crash in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo on Tuesday. The DRC’s army has blamed M23 rebels, saying they shot down the helicopter. The U.N. says it is investigating the circumstances and cause but acknowledges there were hostilities in the area. Six of the peacekeepers were from Pakistan, the other two were from Russia and Serbia.
— Secretary-General Guterres told the U.N. Peacebuilding Commission on Wednesday that 2 billion people — one-quarter of the planet — live in conflict-affected areas. He said last year 84 million people were forcibly displaced because of conflict, violence and human rights violations. The U.N. estimates that this year, at least 274 million will need humanitarian assistance.
Some good news
In a breakthrough, the U.N. special envoy for Yemen announced Friday that the parties to that war had accepted a U.N. proposal for a two-month truce that goes into effect Saturday — the first day of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Envoy Hans Grunberg said in a statement that the parties agreed to halt all offensive military air, ground and maritime operations inside Yemen and across its borders; they also agreed for fuel ships to enter Hodeida ports and commercial flights to operate in and out of Sanaa airport to predetermined destinations in the region. The truce can be renewed beyond the two-month period if the parties agree.
Quote of note
“In Kabul, I visited the Indira Gandhi hospital and saw severely malnourished children and newborns — newborns — clinging to life, sharing run-down, rickety incubators. These babies were emaciated, listless and far too small.”
— U.N. Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths, who visited Afghanistan this week, to international donors on the dire humanitarian situation.
What we are watching next week
As the war in Ukraine grinds on, humanitarians are trying to mitigate the suffering of millions of people in besieged cities with both aid and evacuations. The U.N. Security Council will be briefed on Tuesday on the efforts.