By J Nastranis

NEW YORK (IDN) - In the midst of mounting political tension on the Korean peninsula, a new report from the United Nations human rights wing has drawn attention to more than 60 years of "involuntary" separation between families from the two Koreas and called for multifaceted steps in order to encourage reunion and alleviate the suffering of families.

The report, published on December 7 by the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR), documents the experiences of families who have been torn apart since the 1950-1953 Korean War through displacement, forced disappearance and abductions, and as a result of those fleeing the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), official name of North Korea.

- Photo: 2021

Make Peace with Nature — India’s COVID-19 Vaccines for UN Helmets — UNDP Preparing for Disaster in Nepal

By Radwan Jakeem

NEW YORK (IDN) — Earth Hour, India’s donation of 200,000 vaccines to protect UN blue helmets against the coronavirus, and the UN is scaling up its efforts to help Nepal, which faces numerous natural threats, are some of the notable events in the last days.

On March 27, the world began to ripple to darkness as countries globally dimmed their lights at 8:30 pm local time for Earth Hour—an event that, according to the UN, encourages individuals, communities, and businesses to turn off non-essential electric lights, for one hour.

Safeguard the planet

In his message to mark the event, Secretary-General António Guterres said that “we must all do our part to safeguard the planet”.

“We need to make peace with nature. Without nature’s help, we cannot thrive or even survive on this planet Earth”, he spelt out.

The Secretary-General upheld that solutions are “available, affordable, practical and realistic”.

“We can provide renewable energy and sustainable food systems for all. We can reduce emissions and use nature-based solutions to help us build a more resilient, carbon-neutral world”, he said. 

In short, together the world can “build a brighter and more prosperous future”.

The UN chief reminded that “small actions can make a big difference” and said that “the United Nations is proud to join in the global effort to mark Earth Hour”.

“In this ‘make-or-break’ year, let your actions and voices send a clear message to leaders everywhere: now is the time to be bold and ambitious”, he stated.

“Let’s show the world that we are determined to protect the one home we all share”, concluded the Secretary-General.

India donates vaccines

India shipped out 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines on March 27 to inoculate UN blue helmets serving in peacekeeping missions.

The donated AstraZeneca vaccines left Mumbai for the Danish capital of Copenhagen, where they will be safely stored and distributed to UN peacekeepers serving in various missions.

Lauding India as “a longstanding and steadfast supporter of peacekeeping”, UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said, “an effective roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine to all peacekeepers is a key priority for the United Nations in order to protect our personnel and their capacity to continue their crucial work, help protect vulnerable communities and deliver on their mandates”.

He thanked the Government and people of India for their generous donation to safeguard peacekeeping personnel and “enable them to continue their life-saving work in a safe manner.”

The head of UN Operational Support, Atul Khare, said the “important donation” will ensure that UN peacekeepers remain healthy and “deliver in some of the most difficult environments in the world without relying on already stretched national health systems or ongoing COVAX efforts”.

“We thank India…[and] remain engaged with our troop and police contributing countries to ensure that wherever possible, uniformed personnel are vaccinated through their national systems prior to deployment”.

At the same time, Mr. Khare’s department is leading UN system-wide arrangements to support national efforts in vaccinating UN civilian personnel and family members.

India has long played an important role in peacekeeping, particularly though its contribution of troops. Currently, more than 95,000 UN peacekeepers are deployed in 12 missions.

Meanwhile, the UN Resident Coordinator in India, Renata Desalien, “heartily” thanked India for its “generous gesture of solidarity and support”. 

“This step, especially for the United Nations, reflects India’s strong commitment to global peace and multilateralism”, she said.

Preparing for disaster in Nepal

The UN is scaling up its efforts to help Nepal, which faces numerous natural threats, to become more resilient, minimize human casualties and preserve livelihoods.

Floods, landslides and wildfires are regularly occurring threats in Nepal, and the climate crisis is making such extreme weather events more frequent, and unpredictable. 

Working closely with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Nepalese Government is ensuring that the voices of marginalized groups, such as women, people with disabilities, and indigenous communities, are heard and taken into consideration in their plans, which include early warning systems, off-grids clean energy solutions, and reforestation.

Read more on how Nepal is adapting to the challenges of climate change here. [IDN-InDepthNews – 28 March 2021]

Photo: The UN joins landmarks around the world by turning off the lights at its New York headquarters in observance of Earth Jour (file). Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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