World News in Brief: Strikes in Ukraine condemned, surge in Rohingya deaths at sea, boost investment in decent jobs

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“I was having coffee at home this morning in Kyiv, my neighbours were getting ready for work, children preparing to go to school, when our homes started to shake because of a wave of airstrikes on the Ukrainian capital,” Denise Brown said in a statement.

The attacks damaged civilian buildings just next to the UN office in Kyiv, she said, adding that homes also were damaged, and civilians “who were only trying to continue with their lives despite the war are now hospitalized”. 

End ‘brutal’ attacks 

Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, also came under attack. Roughly 30 residential buildings were reportedly damaged and six people were killed.

Ms. Brown said the UN team on the ground reported that rescuers were trying to find people under the rubble of one of the buildings. The wave of aerial assaults also caused loss and destruction in the Dnipro region.

“These strikes are yet another bitter reminder of the devastation, suffering and distress that Russia’s invasion is causing for millions of people in Ukraine,” she said. “Brutal and indiscriminate attacks against civilians must stop.” 

UNHCR alarmed by surge in Rohingya deaths at sea 

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, on Tuesday called for urgent action to address the dramatic rise in deaths of Rohingya refugees at sea.

The Rohingya are a mainly Muslim community whose members have fled waves of persecution in Myanmar for neighbouring Bangladesh. In recent months, scores have been departing from Bangladesh and, to a lesser extent, Myanmar.

UNHCR said statistics reveal a surge in the number of people who reportedly are dying or going missing while taking risky boat journeys in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal.

Roughly 569 Rohingya refugees were reported to have died or disappeared in 2023 – the highest number since 2014, when the total reached 730, and 200 more than in 2022. 

Mostly women and children 

Additionally, nearly 4,500 embarked on deadly sea journeys in 2023, marking a significant increase from previous years. The majority of those making these crossings, around 66 per cent, are women and children.

Estimates show that one Rohingya was reported to have died or gone missing for every eight attempting the journey in 2023, making the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal one of the deadliest stretches of water in the world. 

“In a single deadly incident in November 2023, it is feared that some 200 Rohingya lost their lives when their boat was reported to have sunk in the Andaman Sea,” said UNHCR spokesperson Matthew Saltmarsh, speaking in Geneva.

UNHCR called on regional authorities to take urgent action to prevent future tragedies, reminding them of the international obligation to save lives and rescue those in distress at sea. 

Nancy Nuñez coordinates a marketing network for artisanal products in Mexico.

Nancy Nuñez coordinates a marketing network for artisanal products in Mexico.

ECOSOC meeting puts the world of work in the spotlight 

The rapid transformation of the world of work is the focus of a special meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that opened in Santiago, Chile, on Tuesday. 

Although factors such as emerging technologies, globalization and demographic trends offer exciting opportunities for enhanced productivity and innovation, they also present challenges – both for workers and policymakers. 

In her opening remarks, ECOSOC President Paula Narváez stressed how decent work, job creation, social protection, workers’ rights and social dialogue are crucial for sustainable development.

She appealed for increased investment to create more decent jobs.  

“Greater cooperation, additional international financing and technical assistance can complement national resources to expand decent work and access to social protection. A coordinated effort is needed to counter informality and create policies that require living wages, secure contracts and good working conditions,” she said. 

Ensuring future opportunities

Making the future of work one of opportunity is not automatic, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said in a video message to the meeting.

She warned that “the needle will not move in the direction of our ambitions” unless countries keep the promise to leave no one behind.

“This means acting on the stubbornly high rates of youth unemployment, on the persistent gender disparities in wages, labour market participation and access to social protection,” she said. 

She added that “unregulated digitalization” is also a driver of inequalities.  

“When properly harnessed, digital tools can accelerate job creation and help expand social protection, as seen in many countries during COVID-19, a time when we also came to realize the value of cultivating caring societies,” she said.

Commemorations and celebrations

The two-day special meeting is being held at the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which is based in the Chilean capital. 

It will feature plenary sessions, interactive roundtable discussions and a side event to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of both ECLAC and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as a special celebration of the legacy of Chilean lawyer and diplomat Hernán Santa Cruz, one of the Declaration’s original drafters. 



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