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Friday’s Daily Brief: solidarity with Japan, call for DR Congo support, family-friendly workplaces, hottest June ever, Venezuela and Afghanistan updates

UN stands in solidarity with Japan following deadly arson attack at leading animation studio in Kyoto

UN chief António Guterres said on Friday he was “deeply saddened” at the death of at least 33 people inside a popular Japanese animation studio, in the city of Kyoto, following an arson attack that constitutes one of the worst mass-killings in the nation’s history. 

Japanese police have now identified the man suspected of carrying out the attack on Thursday morning, who reportedly entered the Kyoto Animation (KyoAni) building, carrying cans of flammable liquid, which he poured across different areas of the film and graphic novel media business, before setting it alight. 

Our full report here.

Don’t panic, support DRC in fight against deadly Ebola virus, UN health agency urges

Ebola virus is just one challenge among many facing communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, reiterating an appeal for the international community to show support and solidarity for its people.

Speaking in Geneva, spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris noted that measles has already killed more people this year than the Ebola outbreak, which began last August

According to WHO, more than 2,000 people have died from measles in 2019, while the Ebola outbreak in Ituri and Nord Kivu provinces in the country’s north-east has claimed 1,705 lives.

Read our full coverage here.

Listen to or download the full interview with WHO’s Dr. Margaret Harris, on SoundCloud

UNICEF urges ‘transformative shift’ in family-friendly work policies to reap ‘huge’ benefits

Because the “earliest years” of life are the most crucial, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) published a list of new family-friendly policy recommendations on Friday that will likely reap “huge” benefits.

“There is no other time more critical to children’s lives than their earliest years”, said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, “which is why we need a transformative shift in how businesses and governments invest in policies and practices that not only support healthy brain development, but also strengthen the bond between parents and their children – and reap huge economic and social benefits in return.”

Read the full story here.

Hottest June on record – it’s official

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), both land and sea surface temperatures were the highest yet recorded last month – 1.71 degrees Fahrenheit or 0.95 degrees Celsius above the global average, making last June the hottest on record.

These unprecedented temperatures  – which surpassed previous highs in June 2016 – happened across central and eastern Europe, northern Russia, Asia, Africa, South America, the north Indian Ocean and parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Using global data, WMO also says that nine of the 10 warmest Junes have occurred since 2010.

The impacts of these high temperatures include wildfires in the Arctic Circle and unprecedented shrinking sea ice, the UN agency says, while also pointing out that the northern-most permanent settlement on Earth – which is called Alert, in  Canada—reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s 21 degrees Celsius) for the first time in recorded history this week.

One in two Venezuelan families on the move face ‘drastic’ choices to survive

And finally, more than half of Venezuelan families who have left their country amid economic and political turmoil face what the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, calls “specific risks” while they are on the move.

After speaking to nearly 8,000 people this year in Latin American countries and the Caribbean, the agency says that more than six in 10 were unemployed or working informally, while four in 10 faced problems finding accommodation.

More than three in 10 also said they had no permit to stay in the country where they are sheltering, while UNCHR spokesperson Liz Throssell noted that the region’s asylum application system remains “overwhelmed”.

According to UNHCR, well over 3.3 million Venezuelans now live outside the country.

‘Indiscriminate blasts’ in civilian areas ‘must stop’, UN mission in Afghanistan stresses

The “deliberate targeting of educational facilities” during armed conflict is “a war crime”, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said on Friday after a bomb detonated near the entrance to Kabul University, in the country’s capital.

The University “was [the] intentional focus of attack”, UNAMA tweeted, saying that blast killed at least “eight civilians” and wounded 33 others.

For our full coverage, click here.

Listen to or download our audio News in Brief for 19 July on SoundCloud: 

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