This is the News in Brief, from the United Nations.
Human Rights Council appoints top rights investigator on Russia
The UN Human Rights Council voted to appoint a top rights investigator on Russia on Friday, although the vote was not unanimous.
Driven by concerns about the systematic oppression of rights defenders and journalists in Russia, several countries which supported the appointment of the independent rights expert, also condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In response, Russia rejected the result of the vote – 17 in favour, six against and 24 abstentions – and dismissed it as a political gesture that was an attempt to punish the country for pursuing an independent agenda.
Egypt: rights experts’ alarm at civil society restrictions ahead of COP27
Ahead of next month’s UN Climate Summit in Egypt, top human rights experts expressed concern on Friday at what they’ve called a “wave of restrictions” on activists wishing to take part.
The independent experts who report to the Human Rights Council said that the development follows years of sustained crackdowns on civil society and human rights defenders.
The Egyptian authorities have been “using security as a pretext to undermine the legitimate rights of civil society to participate in public affairs in Egypt”, the Special Rapporteurs maintained.
Non-governmental organizations have faced “arrests and detention…asset freezes and … travel restrictions, the rights experts explained in a statement.
They added that these measures had created “a climate of fear” for Egyptian civil society organisations to engage visibly at the COP27” – the UN climate conference taking place in Sharm El Sheikh from 6 to 18 November.
Aid relief reaches reclaimed towns and cities in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region
Urgently needed aid relief has reached areas of north-east Ukraine recently reclaimed from Russian control, UN humanitarians said on Friday.
More than 73,000 people in Kharkiv oblast have now received food assistance, which is nearly half of the population in the retaken areas.
Villages and settlements across the oblast that are back under Government control need almost everything just to survive, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Here’s spokesperson Jens Laerke now:
“Our access to these areas follows several months of intense fighting. Nearly 140,000 people are believed to remain in the towns, villages and settlement in areas where control has changed, but they have extremely limited access to food, water, gas, electricity and medical services.”
In the town of Izium, where markets and shops have been destroyed or are closed, families “gather in the main town square” to exchange possessions and supplies, Mr. Laerke said.
Global food prices fall but cereal prices remain high, linked to future of Black Sea ports deal
Global food commodity prices fell last month, although the cost of cereals rose by 1.5 per cent, linked to uncertainty over how long Black Sea ports will continue to stay open.
In its latest world food commodity prices update, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, noted that overall shopping basket prices fell for the sixth month in a row in September.
This was led by a sharp 6.6 per cent drop in vegetable oil quotations, which more than offset higher cereal prices, which rose by 1.5 per cent from their level in August.
Wheat saw a 2.2 per cent price increase, which was linked to concerns over dry conditions in Argentina and the US, along with high demand in the European Union.
FAO also cited “heightened uncertainty about the Black Sea Grain Initiative’s continuation beyond November” as a driver of higher cereal prices, in reference to the UN-partnered deal to keep Ukrainian and Russian ports open, despite the war.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.