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.
Russia’s war in Ukraine reaches 100-day mark
Friday marks the 100th day of fighting since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian troops control about one-fifth of his country’s territory. U.N. Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine Amin Awad said in a statement that “this war will have no winner.” Awad said nearly 14 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes — mostly women and children. More than 3 million children have seen their education suspended and 15.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. He urged the parties to end the war “now.”
Yemen truce extended for two months
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the extension of a two-month truce in Yemen for another two months on Thursday. During the initial truce, negotiated by his envoy, Hans Grundberg, civilian casualties have decreased, fuel deliveries through Hodeida port have increased, and some roads have reopened. The first commercial flights in nearly six years have also resumed from Sana’a airport.
Yemen Warring Parties Agree to Extend Truce for 2 Months
COVID-19 on rise in North Korea
The World Health Organization expressed concern Wednesday that a COVID-19 outbreak in North Korea is likely getting worse. Pyongyang has claimed to some international skepticism that it is the country’s first outbreak since the coronavirus pandemic started sweeping the planet in 2020.
WHO: COVID Most Likely ‘Getting Worse’ in North Korea
– Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has deployed two teams, led by humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths and UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan, to help negotiate a package deal for the safe and secure export of Ukrainian-produced food through the Black Sea, along with unimpeded access of Russian food and fertilizers to global markets, especially in developing countries. The two were in Moscow this week and Grynspan also traveled to Washington to meet officials there.
– The U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine will make its first trip to the country June 7-16. The U.N. Office of Human Rights said Friday that the three commissioners plan to visit several cities, including Lviv, Kyiv, Kharkiv and Sumy, to gather “first-hand information on alleged human rights violations and abuses, and international humanitarian law violations, and to meet with victims, witnesses and internally displaced persons.”
– The U.N. Children’s Fund, UNICEF, warned Wednesday that nearly 100 days of war in Ukraine has left 3 million children inside the country and more than 2.2 million in refugee-hosting countries in need of humanitarian assistance. Verified reports from the U.N. Human Rights Office found that on average more than two children are killed and more than four injured everyday day in the conflict.
– Four U.N. peacekeepers from Jordan were injured, and one subsequently died of his wounds, when their logistics convoy was ambushed Wednesday near Kidal in northern Mali. On Friday, two peacekeepers from Egypt were killed when their armored personnel carrier hit an improvised explosive device on a road in the Mopti region. The mission, known by its acronym MINUSMA, has sustained six attacks since May 22.
– U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield traveled to the Syrian-Turkish border this week. She visited the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, which connects southern Turkey with northwestern Syria, and is the sole remaining international crossing that humanitarians can use to get vital aid to millions of civilians living in areas outside government control. Russia has wanted to shutter the crossing for some time, arguing that aid moved across lines of conflict inside the country and controlled by Damascus is sufficient. The U.N. Security Council will have to decide in early July whether to continue authorizing access via Bab al-Hawa or end it. Several countries, including the United States, would like to see cross-border access expanded.
What we are watching next week
On June 8, the U.N. General Assembly is scheduled to hold a meeting on the recent veto by China and Russia of a draft Security Council resolution sanctioning North Korea for a series of prohibited missile launches. It will be the first time a plenary is held on the use of the veto since the assembly adopted a resolution on April 26, calling for such meetings when one of the permanent five members of the council (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States) exercises its veto privilege. China and Russia’s envoys will have the opportunity to explain their governments’ decisions at the session.