Here is a fast take on what the international community has been up to this past week, as seen from the United Nations perch.
Omicron travel bans
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that South Africa and seven nations surrounding it were being collectively punished for having been transparent about detecting and reporting infections from a new COVID-19 variant called omicron.
The United Nations appealed Thursday for a record $41 billion to help 183 million of the world’s most vulnerable people suffering from multiple crises, including poverty, hunger, conflict and the impact of COVID-19.
Afghanistan, Myanmar representation
The nine countries who currently sit on the U.N. General Assembly committee that approves credentials for representatives at the world body decided Wednesday to postpone any action on competing claims for representatives for the Afghan and Myanmar seats. On December 6, the wider General Assembly is expected to approve their decision to let the current envoys stay put for now.
— Humanitarian assistance has started to trickle into northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region. The U.N. said Friday that from November 24 to November 30, four convoys with 157 trucks loaded with humanitarian supplies arrived in the regional capital, Mekelle. They were the first deliveries since October 18. Fuel shortages continue to hamper the aid response. The U.N. says no fuel has reached the region since August 2. More than 5.2 million people in Tigray are in urgent need of assistance after months of a de facto government blockade on the region.
— On Thursday, U.N. headquarters went on lockdown briefly as a man with a shotgun loaded with a single round of ammunition held to his chin caused a three-hour standoff with New York City police outside the gate. Later identified as William Tingler, 65, of Florida, he eventually surrendered peacefully to police when they agreed to take documents he wanted delivered to the United Nations. He was taken to an area hospital for psychiatric evaluation.
Quote of note
“Our concern is for a cease-fire. That absolutely must happen. Humanitarian aid needs to reach all those that have suffered from this conflict, and we absolutely need to resolve these problems through political discussions and through dialogue.” — Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission, in remarks to reporters at the U.N. Wednesday on the situation in Ethiopia.
The U.N. envoy for Sudan, Volker Perthes, is due to brief the Security Council on December 10.
On November 21, the military — which overthrew and jailed the civilian prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, in an October 25 coup — agreed to release him and allow him to return to his post in a new power-sharing deal. But the deal is unpopular with large portions of Sudanese society and protests have continued. Perthes said in a tweet on Thursday that while the U.N. cautiously welcomes the agreement, “it does not constitute a return to this [constitutional] order" and "other critical steps need to follow.”