This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Afghanistan: UN rights chief urges end to female discrimination
UN human rights chief Volker Türk called on Tuesday for the Taliban to immediately revoke a raft of policies that target women and girls.
He said that recent restrictions placed on women in Afghanistan were “unfathomable” – and would increase the suffering of all Afghans.
The High Commissioner’s call comes after the Taliban issued a decree on 24 December banning women from working for non-profit organizations.
The de facto authorities – who seized power in August 2021 – had already suspended university education for women and secondary schooling for girls.
This latest ban “will deprive [women] and their families of their incomes, and of their right to contribute positively to the development of their country”, said the UN rights chief.
Indonesia’s ‘act of humanity’ for migrants adrift at sea
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has hailed the actions of Indonesian fishing crews and local authorities who rescued more than 200 people adrift at sea.
The UN agency said that two groups of survivors were brought to shore off the coast of north-west Indonesia.
They are believed to have been at sea for more than a month.
UNHCR Representative in Indonesia, Ann Maymann, described the rescue operation as “an act of humanity”, as it had saved those at sea “from certain death”.
Urgent medical care has been provided, but 26 people reportedly died at sea owing to dire conditions onboard.
So far this year, more than 2,000 people have taken risky sea journeys in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal, and nearly 200 have reportedly perished.
Many are Rohingya men, women and children, who fled persecution in Myanmar for Bangladesh in 2017. UNHCR is also working to confirm reports that one additional boat with 180 people on board is still missing at sea, with all passengers presumed dead.
Ukraine: UN helps with vulnerable communities
To Ukraine, finally, where the UN has continued to help keep the most vulnerable communities warm and safe, amid ongoing attacks on critical infrastructure.
The UN migration agency, IOM, confirmed that millions of people still do not have reliable access to electricity, heating and water.
Despite “multiple attacks” on the country’s power supply and heating networks, an IOM survey indicated that only seven per cent of people in Ukraine are actively considering leaving the country.
Surviving has become harder for many, however, as the UN agency said that more than four families in 10 have exhausted their savings.
With humanitarian funding from the European Union, IOM plans to support over 700,000 people in Ukraine this winter.
Mobile teams will conduct repairs at 375 sites, improving insulation, fixing leaking roofs, replacing broken windows, non-functioning radiators, and installing additional showers.
Other priorities include improving water supplies and wastewater evacuation and distributing solid fuel and cash assistance so that people can support themselves this winter.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.