June Digital News Recap

UN staffers were tweeting about a number of wide-ranging issues throughout June, from climate and environmental concerns to women’s empowerment and violence in Sudan.

World refugee day was also observed on the 20th day of the month, with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sending his thoughts for the 70 million-plus refugees around the world. The UN encouraged people to show their support for refugees by taking part in activities such as walks, dances and swims. Mr Guterres sent this message where he discussed the need for security and peace, in addition to investment and development to help those in need.

The UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, spent World Refugee Day in Jordan where he attended the UNHCR’s annual summer bazaar. There, 50 refugees displayed their artisan goods. Jordan has taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees from regional neighbours such as Syria and Iraq in recent years.

William Spindler, Spokesperson in Latin America for UNHCR, tweeted this video from Peru as more than 8000 refugees arrived from Venezuela in one day in June. The UN Refugee Agency has provided millions in Latin America with shelter, food and much more but lack of funding puts further strain on an already difficult job considering the great numbers of refugees in need of help. UNHCR sent extra teams to the border between Peru and Ecuador to support the authorities, as an unprecedented number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants (more than 15,000) entered Peru in mid-June alone. Resultantly, the total number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Peru now stands at around 800,000. Peruvian authorities, UNHCR and partner NGOs have been working around the clock on the ground, to process the arrivals, provide humanitarian assistance, medical care, information, and legal support to refugees and migrants on both sides of the border.

Sudan has experienced great violence throughout the last month as the country’s leader groups have resorted to repressive violence against the Sudanese public. Joe English shared this story wherein as many as 19 children were killed, detained and sexually abused among dozens killed in the capital Khartoum. A blackout on social media and wider internet has blocked many of those in Sudan from publicising the shocking events. However, global efforts in support of the Sudanese population have shone a light on the country, including a social media campaign to go ‘blue for Sudan’.

The unrest in Sudan transpired in December 2018 when the country’s President of 30 years, Omar al-Bashir, imposed emergency austerity measures. Cuts to basic subsidies like bread generated demonstrations in the east over living standards and the anger spread to Khartoum. Months later, after months of protests, the military announced in April that the president had been overthrown. A council of generals then assumed power but it has struggled to return normality to the country. Demonstrators argued that Mr Bashir’s regime is so entrenched that a long transition is needed to dismantle his political network and allow fair elections – a period of around 3 years – which the military agreed to, as well as for the structure of a new government – including a sovereign council, a cabinet and a legislative body. However, the military leaders later distanced themselves from the agreement and declared that elections would be held within nine months. As protests have continued, the military have resorted to violence, including many of those pronounced dead after clashes became increasingly brutal in the last month.

In Zimbabwe, Bishow Parajuli, Resident coordinator for the UN, showcased this woman’s drive to return to self-sufficiency after losing her family and house to Cyclone Idai a few months ago. The woman pictured has started raising chicks and grown vegetables whilst living in temporary aid accommodation. Those in such unfortunate positions need help and support but more importantly enabling them to produce for themselves and live independently and prosperously is the ultimate goal.

Phumzile Mlambo, Executive Director of , was cheering on players at the opening match of the Women’s Football World Cup that kicked off early last month. The tournament is being held in France and has provided an opportunity for women’s football to receive greater recognition and gaze from audiences around the world than is generally the case during the regular season. Record numbers have attended matches and watched on television. The tournament has showcased the best of women’s skill and tenacity; the final will conclude the proceedings on 7th July.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change , presented the UN’s Annual Climate Change Report last month. The package provides the operational framework for climate action and guidance on tracking and evaluating efforts at the national and international levels. It outlines how countries will report on their Nationally Determined Contributions, the actions they will take and how they can communicate their progress. Efforts include cutting greenhouse gas emissions and building resilience to the inevitable impacts of climate change such as storms and droughts, as well as financial support for climate action in developing countries.

The work of the United Nations is more easily achieved with widespread support and action. The use of social platforms, such as Twitter, by UN staffers to share their experiences, work and promote awareness is thus valuable to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and ultimately greater prosperity for all.