“Only a binding global accord on cutting greenhouse gases will spare Africa, the world’s poorest continent, more devastating floods, droughts and famine, a senior African climate change official said on Tuesday” at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, Reuters reports. “The talks, bringing together nearly 200 nations, have repeatedly struggled to get a new deal to update the Kyoto Protocol, whose crucial clause on enforcing targets on carbon cuts expires at the end of next year,” the news service writes. Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, chair of the Africa Group, “said legal force was the only way to make polluters take the necessary action and states who failed to deliver should in effect be ‘named and shamed,’” according to the news service (Lewis, 12/7).
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that donors looking to fund the fight against AIDS “could raise funds through taxes,” according to the news agency. Speaking on the sidelines of the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sidibe said, “If we have a global financial transaction tax, say of 0.5 percent, we will have $226 billion. Ten percent of that resource is enough for financing the fight against HIV/AIDS, stopping the epidemic, because we can reduce by 96 percent the number of new infections by putting people early on treatment. We can have taxation on cigarettes and alcohol. We can find different ways to mobilize new resources,” according to Reuters (Maasho, 12/7).
“A report on the HIV epidemic in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) shows that while the overall HIV prevalence in the region is still low, the rise in new infections since 2001 has put the MENA region among the top two regions in the world with the fastest growing HIV epidemic,” UNAIDS reports (12/4). The regional report was released Monday in Cairo, Egypt, under the auspices of the League of Arab States, according to the Egypt Independent (Helmy, 12/6). “The report outlines many recommendations on how to strengthen the AIDS response in the MENA region,” according to UNAIDS, including “review of laws and policies that hinder access to HIV prevention and treatments services, to invest smartly using an evidence-informed and human rights based approach, and the importance of strong political leadership” (12/4).
Inter Press Service features excerpts from an interview with Jose Graziano da Silva, former Brazilian minister of food security, “who takes over as the new director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Jan. 1.” Graziano da Silva “believes it is possible to eradicate hunger in the world” and “says that what is needed is an increase in political commitment, the mobilization of even modest resources, and the adoption of absolute rather than relative targets,” according to IPS (Frayssinet, 12/8).
Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and under-secretary-general of the U.N., answers questions about his work from Forbes contributor Rahim Kanani in this interview excerpt. Osotimehin “discussed current trends in population growth, innovative approaches to tackling HIV/AIDS, leadership lessons in public health, challenges to safeguarding maternal health while encouraging family planning, and much more,” according to Forbes (12/8).
“The United Nations said on Friday it was seeking $268 million for aid efforts in Zimbabwe next year, with half the money to be used to buy food for more than 1.4 million people facing shortages” in 2012, Reuters reports. “The humanitarian situation in the country has continued to improve over the past couple of years. However, challenges still exist such as food insecurity” and lack of access to safe water, which has led to cholera and typhoid outbreaks, Alain Noudehou, country head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said, the news service notes (12/9).
“Malaria mortality rates have fallen by more than 25 percent globally since 2000, and by 33 percent in the WHO African Region, according to the World Malaria Report 2011, issued [Tuesday] by [the] WHO,” the organization reports in a press release. “This is the result of a significant scaling-up of malaria prevention and control measures in the last decade,” the press release adds. However, the press release notes, “WHO warns that a projected shortfall in funding threatens the fragile gains and that the double challenge of emerging drug and insecticide resistance needs to be proactively addressed” (12/13).
The U.N. on Tuesday issued its 2012 consolidated appeal process (CAP), or joint appeal, for $1.5 billion to fund 350 projects in Somalia, “where famine and conflict have already cost tens of thousands of lives,” the Guardian reports (Chonghaile, 12/13). “The $1.5 billion appeal is based on a realistic assessment of the emergency needs of four million people in crisis, tens of thousands of whom will die without assistance,” Mark Bowden, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said, Agence France-Presse notes.
“The question of who is responsible for Haiti’s cholera epidemic — the first that the Caribbean nation, the western hemisphere’s poorest, has seen in a century — has raised tempers since the first case was detected in October 2010,” TIME reports in an article examining a lawsuit filed against the U.N. claiming it is responsible for bringing the disease into the country and seeking damages for cholera victims and their families.
The U.N. on Sunday released its Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan 2012, asking for $447 million in humanitarian assistance targeted toward four million vulnerable people in the country, Reuters reports (Fuchs, 12/18). A statement from the U.N. Inter-Agency Standing Committee said more than half of those at risk will be “severely food insecure” in the coming year, Agence France-Presse notes.