Relief supplies arrive in Nassau as recovery efforts begin

UNTV News   •   September 5, 2019   •   506

Survivors of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas on Wednesday (September 4) thronged rescue helicopters as the United Nations said 70,000 people needed immediate humanitarian relief after one of the most powerful Caribbean storms on record devastated the island group.

The most damaging storm to strike the island nation, Dorian killed at least 20 people, the Miami Herald reported, citing Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands. But the toll was certain to rise as the scope of the destruction and the humanitarian crisis was still coming into focus with aerial video of the Abaco Islands in the northern Bahamas showing wide devastation.

A massive relief effort was underway with volunteers ferrying supplies to the islands in a flotilla of small boats.

As many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas may have been destroyed or severely damaged, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

Food may be required for 14,500 people in the Abaco Islands and for 45,700 people in Grand Bahama, the U.N. World Food Programme said.

U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection personnel have airlifted 61 people from the northern Bahamas to the capital Nassau over two days, the U.S. Embassy said. (REUTERS)

UN warns of global mental health crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic

UNTV News   •   May 14, 2020

A mental illness crisis is looming as millions of people worldwide are surrounded by death and disease and forced into isolation, poverty and anxiety by the pandemic of COVID-19, United Nations health experts said on Thursday (May 14).

“The isolation, the fear, the uncertainty, the economic turmoil – they all cause or could cause psychological distress,” said Devora Kestel, director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) mental health department.

Presenting a U.N. report and policy guidance on COVID-19 and mental health, Kestel said an upsurge in the number and severity of mental illnesses is likely, and governments should put the issue “front and centre” of their responses.

The mental health and wellbeing of whole societies have been severely impacted by this crisis and will be addressed urgently, she told reporters at a briefing.

The report highlighted several regions – such as China, Iran and the United States, and sections of societies as vulnerable to mental distress, including children and young people isolated from friends and school, healthcare workers who are seeing thousands of patients infected with and dying from the new coronavirus.

Emerging studies and surveys are already showing COVID-19’s impact on mental health globally. Psychologists say children are anxious and increases in cases of depression and anxiety have been recorded in several countries.

Domestic violence is rising, and health workers are reporting an increased need for psychological support.

Reuters last week reported from interviews with doctors and nurses in the United States who said either they or their colleagues had experienced a combination of panic, anxiety, grief, numbness, irritability, insomnia and nightmares.

Outside of the health sector, the WHO report said many people are distressed by the immediate health impacts and the consequences of physical isolation, while many others are afraid of infection, dying, and losing family members.

Millions of people are facing economic turmoil, having lost or being at risk of losing their income and livelihoods, it added. And frequent misinformation and rumours about the pandemic and deep uncertainty about how long it will last are making people feel anxious and hopeless about the future.

It outlined action points for policy-makers to aim “to reduce immense suffering among hundreds of millions of people and mitigate long-term social and economic costs to society”.

These included redressing historic under-investment in psychological services, providing “emergency mental health” via remote therapies such as tele-counselling for frontline health workers, and working proactively with people known to have depression and anxiety, and with those at high risk of domestic violence and acute impoverishment. (Reuters)

(Production: Cecile Mantovani)

Support for WHO vital in united fight against COVID-19: UN chief

UNTV News   •   April 15, 2020

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday that the World Health Organization (WHO) must be supported, shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump’ announcement of halting his country’s funding to the organization.

“It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19,” the secretary-general said in a statement issued by his spokesman.

It is “not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus,” the secretary-general said.

“Once we have finally turned the page on this epidemic, there must be a time to look back fully to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe, and how all those involved reacted to the crisis. The lessons learned will be essential to effectively address similar challenges, as they may arise in the future,” he said.

The UN chief noted that “now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences.”

Guterres also recalled his statement made on April 8 that said “the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most dangerous challenges this world has faced in our lifetime. It is above all a human crisis with severe health and socio-economic consequences” and the WHO is supporting member states and their societies, especially the most vulnerable among them, “with guidance, training , equipment and concrete life-saving services” as they fight the virus.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that his administration is halting the nation’s funding to WHO, a move experts have warned against. (Reuters)

Joma Sison concedes to UN’s call for a global ceasefire

Marje Pelayo   •   March 25, 2020

Jose Maria Sison

MANILA, Philippines – Communist leader Jose Maria Sison has taken a cue from the United Nations (UN) to agree on a ceasefire with the government at this time of health crisis due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“As Chief Political Consultant, I am advising the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to recommend to its principal, the NDFP National Council, the issuance of a unilateral ceasefire declaration by the Communist Party of the Philippines to the New People’s Army in order to respond to the call of UN secretary general Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire between warring parties for the common purpose of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic,” Sison said in a statement.

The founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines stressed, however, that their decision doesn’t mean they are putting their guards down against potential tactical offensives by government forces.

Prior to the UN’s call for a global ceasefire, President Rodrigo Duterte asked the communist group to agree with a ceasefire to give way for the national government to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Malacañang, meanwhile, welcomes the rebel group’s intention to likewise declare a unilateral ceasefire as it is much necessary at this trying times.

“It is about time they join the collective efforts of the nation to fight the spread of the coronavirus,” noted Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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