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First Person: Cheese proves key to survival for Syrian refugee family amid pandemic

Syrian refugee Fatima Hussein Al Ahmad, a mother of four, lives on a farm with 50 other workers in Sahba, Jordan. COVID-19 travel restrictions meant that didn’t work for two months in 2020, and feeding her family became a daily struggle.

Ms. Al Ahmad and her husband pick peaches and tomatoes, alongside other Syrians, Jordanians and migrant workers. When she was unable to work due to the pandemic, she was forced to rely on her own resourcefulness to survive.

Fewer protections, lower wages, and higher health risks: Homeworking in the COVID era

The UN’s labour agency (ILO) called on Wednesday for greater recognition and protection for the hundreds of millions of people who work from home, accounting for almost eight per cent of the global workforce even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since movement restrictions linked to the global spread of the virus were implement in many countries, the number of people working from home has increased sharply, and that trend is expected to continue in coming years, despite the rollout of vaccines that began in late 2020.

Step up surveillance of emerging coronavirus variants, WHO urges

Efforts should be stepped up to quickly identify and study emerging variants of the COVID-19-causing SARS-CoV-2 virus, UN World Health Organization (WHO) scientists said on Tuesday. 

Alongside monitoring, virus and serum samples should be shared via globally agreed mechanisms so that critical research can be promptly initiated each time, according to the agency. 

UN counter-terrorism chief urges continued vigilance against ‘real’ ongoing threat

Despite important strikes against terrorism over the past two decades, including in bringing perpetrators to justice and disrupting additional attacks, countries cannot afford to let down their guard, the UN’s counter-terrorism chief told a virtual meeting of the Security Council on Tuesday. 

“Terrorist activity has shown that we must remain extremely vigilant: the threat remains real and even direct for many States”, Vladimir Voronkov said, speaking from New York. 

UNICEF chief: Closing schools should be ‘measure of last resort’

The head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) underscored on Tuesday that “no effort should be spared” to keep children in school, as the coronavirus pandemic continues into a second year. 

“Despite overwhelming evidence of the impact of school closures on children, and despite increasing evidence that schools are not drivers of the pandemic, too many countries have opted to keep schools closed, some for nearly a year”, Henrietta Fore said in a statement

UN chief calls for ‘urgent transition’ from fossil fuels to renewable energy

Building a global coalition for carbon neutrality by mid-century will be the UN’s “central objective”, the world body’s top official told a conference on climate action on Monday. 

“All countries need credible mid-term goals and plans that are aligned with this objective”, Secretary-General António Guterres said, addressing the virtual COP26 Roundtable on Clean Power Transition. “To achieve net zero emissions by 2050, we need an urgent transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy”. 

COVID-19 recovery offers ‘chance to change course’, Guterres tells One Planet Summit

The process of recovery from the coronavirus pandemic offers the chance to change course, and put humanity on a path on which it is not in conflict with nature, the United Nations Secretary-General said on Monday, urging greater efforts by everyone to protect biodiversity and step up climate action. 

Addressing world leaders at the One Planet Summit, Secretary-General António Guterres outlined the consequences of abusing Earth and its resources. 

Guterres to seek second five-year term as UN Secretary-General

António Guterres confirmed on Monday that he will be seeking a second five-year term as UN Secretary-General, which would begin in January 2022.

Briefing correspondents at UN Headquarters in New York, his Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, confirmed that the President of the General Assembly, had written to the UN chief, asking if he intended to run for the top job again.