June Digital News Recap

Following Africa Day’s celebration at the end of May, UN Secretary-General António Guterres relayed his support for the African continent.

The launch of the African Free Trade Area earlier this year is one of a series of steps promoting development in Africa through African-led initiatives. Africa is viewed by many as a rising continent with great potential thanks to its natural resources, 1.2 billion population and improving education. Consequently, the Chinese, the US and others have invested heavily across Africa. Moreover, the lack of success in recent decades of Western development agendas – implemented and undertaken by non-African organisations – has been replaced by African-led growth, supported (rather than controlled) by international organisations, including the UN. As a result, we are starting to see Africa’s well-talked about rise; child mortality is declining, school attendance is increasing and gender inequality is improving. With the support of the UN throughout the continent, Africa is expected to continue to grow into the future.

Erik Solheim congratulated Chile for approving a ban across the country on single-use plastic bags, making it the first country in South America to implement such a ban. Over 2,000,000,000,000 (Two thousand billion) of the bags have been produced worldwide just this year; many of which end up in oceans, majorly disrupting ecosystems and killing wildlife. Therefore, it will take more countries than Chile to significantly reduce this number and the harmful impacts the bag’s production generates, but a nation-wide ban is a ‘bold step’ forward according to Solheim. Chile alone uses more than 3.4 billon plastic bags annually.

Marta Santos Pais, an advocate for elimination of violence against children, tweeted on  her hope for children to be educated, rather than on the streets in dangerous conditions at work. Not only does child labour obstruct education, it can also lead to increased violence against children. Pais later tweeted a shocking fact: Every five minutes a child dies as a result of violence. The UN is working to prevent and ultimately eliminate all child-targeted violence.


June brought the US President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un together for the first time. The leaders met for a historic summit in Singapore. UN Secretary-General António Guterres tweeted his well wishes and declared the United Nation’s readiness for support. The meeting produced a signed statement by both parties, agreeing to security guarantees for North Korea, new peaceful relations and reaffirmation of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

On world refugee day, Filippo Grandi tweeted a reminder that refugees need help and protection after fleeing violence and war. Over 68 million people who have fled war, violence and persecution were forcibly displaced last year, a record for the fifth straight year. Of that, 16.2 million were newly displaced last year – an average of more than 44,000 people per day. Most have been displaced for longer – some forced to flee multiple times. Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, considers the rising number to be the result of drawn-out and new conflicts and lack of support for civilians in conflicted areas.

Gisella Lomax also exclaimed her support for the 68.5 million refugees displaced last year. Two-thirds of refugees have come from just five countries: Somalia, Myanmar, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria. These particular countries have experienced prolonged conflict, forcing many – 6.3 million last year in Syria alone – to leave family, friends and homes behind in the hope of a safer life.

Finally, the potential of refugees to do great things was showcased at an event in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, as Alvaro Rodriguez tweeted. Designs and various products made by refugees filled the room, illustrating the skills that refugees can bring.

UN staffers activity on social media allows the work of the UN and the important issues they are supporting to spread across the public, thereby increasing awareness and prompting support and action to address problems and increase prosperity.

Image credit: Larm Rmah