This is the News in Brief, from the United Nations.   

WHO members mull ‘pandemic treaty’ as Omicron cases multiply 

The emergence of the threatening new Omicron variant shows how important it is for the world to end the current “cycle of panic and neglect” over the COVID-19 pandemic. 

That’s according to the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who told a special meeting of the organisation’s governing body in Geneva on Monday, that greater international cooperation is essential to preserve “hard won gains”. 

The World Health Assembly meeting was convened to decide on the issue of a so-called “pandemic treaty”. 

An international agreement is needed urgently, said Tedros, who insisted that global health security was too important to be left to chance, goodwill or shifting geopolitical currents, or the vested interests of companies and shareholders.  

“Omicron’s very emergence is another reminder that although many of us might think we are done with COVID-19, it is not done with us. We are living through a cycle of panic and neglect. Hard-won gains could vanish in an instant. Our most immediate task, therefore, is to end this pandemic.” 

In his call for a pandemic treaty, WHO’s Tedros highlighted unequal COVID vaccine distribution. 

In less than a year, almost eight billion vaccines have been administered around the world, Tedros said, making it the largest vaccination campaign in history.   

But despite warnings by the WHO that the poorest and most vulnerable countries would be trampled “in the global stampede for vaccines”, more than 80 per cent of jabs have gone to G20 countries. 

Low-income countries have received just 0.6 per cent of all vaccines, and most of these nations are in Africa, Tedros said. 

Status quo for Palestinians is not sufficient: Guterres 

Continued violations of the rights of Palestinian people imperil the chances of them ever living peacefully with Israeli communities, UN chief, António Guterres, said on Monday. 

The Secretary-General’s message – which comes ahead of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People – noted that the unresolved situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, continues to pose a significant challenge to international peace and security. 

Specifically, Mr. Guterres warned that persistent violations of the rights of Palestinians along with the expansion of settlements, risk eroding the prospect of a two-State solution.   

Despite being “encouraged” by recent engagements between senior officials on both sides, the UN chief said that “containing the situation is not sufficient”. 

Coronavirus pandemic could cost global tourism $2 trillion 

The coronavirus pandemic will cost the global tourism sector $2 trillion in lost revenue in 2021, the UN’s tourism body said Monday, calling the sector’s recovery “fragile” and “slow”. 

According to the latest forecast by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the same amount was lost in 2020, making it one of the sectors hit hardest by the health crisis. 

Demand for travel could be further affected by uneven vaccination rates and new COVID-19 strains, such as the new Omicron variant, which has caused dozens of countries to bring in new restrictions in recent days. 

Spikes in oil prices and the disruption of global supply chains have also had a negative effect.  

Although a 58 per cent increase in tourist arrivals was registered in July to September of this year compared to the same period in 2020, this remained 64 per cent below 2019 levels, the UN body noted. 

Katy Dartford, UN News.    

Source of original article: United Nations (news.un.org). Photo credit: UN. The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of Global Diaspora News (www.globaldiasporanews.com).

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