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Syria: Thousands of children ‘hemmed in’ by ‘brutal and gratuitous’ spike in violence

A marked escalation in fighting has put tens of thousands of children in northwest Syria at “imminent risk of injury, death and displacement”, the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) chief warned on Thursday.

Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement that over the past few days, intensifying violence, had left children “hemmed in” especially in villages in northern Hama and southern Idleb, driving many families from their homes while “others are unable to move to safer areas”.

‘Save Tuvalu; save the world’; UN chief echoes rallying cry from front lines of global climate emergency

Further inaction on climate change is “simply not an option”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday in an opinion piece where he called for “rapid and deep change in how we do business, generate power, build cities and feed the world.” 
 

If the world is to prevail against climate change, “then we must find the political will to take transformative measures,” declared the UN chief. 

Don’t let smoking steal life’s breathtaking moments, urges UN health agency

Tobacco use continues to claim around eight million lives a year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, in a call for faster action from governments to tackle smoking and the “enormous” health, social, environmental and economic costs it entails.

Ahead of World No Tobacco Day, marked on Friday, 31 May, WHO’s Dr Vinayak Prasad, acting Director, Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, highlighted the damage that tobacco causes to the lungs of smokers and non-smokers alike.

Artificial intelligence summit focuses on fighting hunger, climate crisis and transition to ‘smart sustainable cities’

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is at the forefront of fighting hunger, mitigating the climate crisis and facilitating “the transition to smart sustainable cities", said the chief of the UN agency which specializes in information and communication technologies, Houlin Zhao, kicking off the third AI for Good Global Summit in Geneva.

Yemen update: UNICEF chief condemns attack in Taiz that claims lives of seven children

Nowhere is safe in Yemen, the head of the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said, after an attack in the city of Taiz claimed the lives of 12 civilians, including seven youngsters – the latest victims of the country’s more than four-year war. 

In a statement condemning reported airstrikes on a petrol station in the south-western city on Friday, Henrietta Fore said that the children who died were aged between four and 14. 

Social, cultural diversity ‘an enormous richness, not a threat’ Guterres declares calling on investment for a harmonious future

Like a well-tuned orchestra, successful modern societies have a balance of diversity and culture, that is a source of “enormous richness, not a threat” said the UN chief on Monday, speaking alongside UN Messenger of Peace, acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma in the Austrian capital, Vienna. 

He was speaking against the backdrop of European Parliamentary elections in recent days, which showed a surge in support away from political parties in the centre ground, towards those espousing more nationalist and anti-immigrant policy platforms. 

UN honours peacekeepers who ‘paid the ultimate price’, for the sake of others

Ever since the UN deployed the first of its 72 peacekeeping missions back in 1948, more than 3,800 peacekeepers have lost their lives, Secretary-General António Guterres said on Friday, at a wreath laying ceremony in honour of those “brave men and women” who serve.

Speaking of “the true cost of peacekeeping”, the UN chief called for a moment of silence for those who “paid the ultimate price” to protect others and “to give war-torn countries a chance for peace and hope”.

 

Preserving biodiversity vital to reverse tide of climate change, UN stresses on International Day

The food people eat around the world is becoming “alarmingly homogenous” according to UN data, even though access to a wide variety of nutritious food has never been greater. That warning comes as the world marks the International Day for Biological Diversity on Wednesday, which this year highlights the impact of environmental neglect on food security and public health.