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World News In Brief: Russia Vetoes DPR Korea Sanctions Resolution, Children Under Fire In Sudan, Drought Plagues Malawi

A United States resolution to extend the mandate of an expert panel which monitors sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was vetoed by Russia in the Security Council on Thursday.

This in effect abolishes the monitoring of UN sanctions against the country, more commonly known as North Korea, blocking the extension of the panel for another year.

Russia’s Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the sanctions regime adopted with the intention of preventing nuclear weapons proliferation was losing its relevance and also “to a great extent, detached from reality”.

He said that an “unprecedented” Western-led policy was in place to “strangle Pyongyang”, including harsh unilateral sanctions, “aggressive propaganda” and “direct personal threats”.

He said the “active militarisation” of the Korean Peninsula due to action by the NATO alliance was making matters worse and was directly threatening Russia’s interests in the region.

China abstains

The vote in the 15-member Council was 13 in favour, Russia against and China abstaining.

The resolution does not alter the sanctions in place and they remain in force.

The US Deputy Permanent Representative Robert Wood said that Russia’s veto was nothing more than an attempt “to silence the independent objective investigations into DPRK Security Council violations”.

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He said the veto had been used solely because the panel had in recent months begun reporting on “blatant violations” and persistent sanctions-busting “within Russia’s jurisdiction”.

He explained that today’s vote would only embolden North Korea to act with impunity.

The Republic of Korea’s Ambassador Hwang Joonkook told the Council before the vote that the panel of experts had been faithfully carrying out its duty for 15 years, and their work played a “crucial role” towards better sanctions implementation.

He said faced with DPRK’s continued provocations and sanctions evasion, the role of the panel was all the more essential.

Read a full account here later in the day on our Meetings Coverage pages.

Sudan’s 24 million children have a right to live in peace: UNICEF

Almost a year since war broke out in Sudan between rival militias, UN humanitarians warned on Thursday that hunger is everywhere, and people are resilient but desperate for assistance.

The alert from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) follows a recent mission to the city of Omdurman near Khartoum, where one hospital performed 300 amputations in a month and where two to three patients share a bed.

Jill Lawler, UNICEF chief of field operations in Sudan, said that millions of people have been affected and displaced across the country.

Listen to the full interview below where she describes the predicament of young mothers who are too weak to breastfeed their babies:

UNICEF says that 24 million children in Sudan have been exposed to conflict, and a staggering 730,000 are severely acutely malnourished.

Some women and girls who were raped in the first months of the war are now delivering babies, the UN agency has learned, while many young people can also be seen carrying arms.

Although humanitarian supplies are available in Port Sudan, the key challenge is securing safe aid access to affected populations, UNICEF said.

UN and partners support Malawi’s battle against severe drought

The UN and aid partners are assisting Malawi’s efforts to respond to a severe drought in the African nation which has prompted the government to declare a state of emergency.

So far, 23 out of 28 districts are on alert, amounting to around nine million people, or two million rural families.

More than 40 per cent of the country’s agricultural land has been impacted by the El Niño weather system, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York on Thursday, “with rains and prolonged dry spells as well as flooding severely damaging crops and food production”.

Scaling up

He said humanitarians are scaling up emergency assistance, including food and nutrition supplies as well as water, sanitation and hygiene support. They are also providing health, protection, education and livelihood assistance despite limited funding.

“Malawi, like other countries in southern Africa, is grappling with the effects of a severe droughts,” he said, as last month marked one of the driest Februarys in the region in more than 40 years, resulting in widespread crop failures in some areas.

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