Tuesday, 04 June 2024 03:13

World News in Brief: Aid breakthrough for Haiti, police violence in Chicago, celebrating ‘pedal power’

© WFP/Luc Junior Segur
A WFP-chartered cargo plane being unloaded of its 15 MT of desperately needed medical supplies at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

UN humanitarians said on Monday that they have finally been able to deliver truckloads of food to highly vulnerable people in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, after gang violence prevented access for more than two months.

Jean-Martin Bauer, Country Director in Haiti for the UN World Food Programme (WFP), also said that the UN agency had managed to resume flights into Port-au-Prince international airport.

‘Exceptionally complex’

The security situation remains “exceptionally complex” but it has been possible to reach “the most difficult neighbourhoods” of the Haitian capital, Mr. Bauer said.


According to WFP, over a two-week period in May, 615 metric tonnes of rice, beans, and vegetable oil were distributed to nearly 93,000 people in Cité Soleil — including breastfeeding mothers and children.

The UN agency also said that “vital” medical supplies had landed in Port-au-Prince airport on Thursday. This marks the first UN humanitarian cargo flight to land in the capital since violence linked to the country’s political and economic crisis erupted in March 2024.

Further progress is needed to access the seaports in Port-au-Prince because without these vital supply routes, “people risk slipping even deeper into hunger”, WFP’s Mr. Bauer insisted.

Rights experts urge action to address systemic racist police violence in Chicago

Independent UN human rights experts on Monday called for action to remedy racialised police violence and misconduct within Chicago’s law enforcement and criminal justice system against people of African and Latino descent.

“Chicago has a long history of law enforcement officials reportedly using torture to extract confessions to serious crimes,” the experts said.

This resulted in wrongful convictions and incarceration — often for long periods of time without adequate access to healthcare.

“These heinous alleged human rights violations appear to a significant extent to be rooted in systemic racism and have disproportionately affected people of African and Latin American descent.”

“Lives have been stolen, with a significant ripple effect within communities,” the Human Rights Council-appointed experts continued.

Steps taken at City Hall

City authorities in Chicago have taken steps to address reported human rights violations, including the issuing of a public apology and the establishment of a Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission, to acknowledge, remedy and prevent police torture and misconduct, the Special Rapporteurs and Working Group members said.

While these initiatives are welcome, there is still a long way to go, they stated. They are concerned that reforms have been piecemeal with systemic barriers to rehabilitation.

Reports also indicate that alleged human rights violations have taken place largely without real accountability for perpetrators.

The UN rights experts issued a call for relevant federal, state and local officials to take immediate and comprehensive action in Chicago and have been in contact with the US Government to clarify its obligations under international law.

“A just society must address past wrongs and put in place all measures to prevent recurrence,” the experts said.

On World Bicycle Day, UN celebrates ‘power of the pedal’

And finally, the UN on Monday celebrated World Bicycle Day, applauding the simple, affordable, clean and environmentally sustainable means of two-wheeled transportation.

In addition to contributing to cleaner air and reducing gridlocks, bicycles make education, healthcare and other social services more accessible to the most vulnerable populations.


UN General Assembly President Dennis Francis, speaking in New York, emphasized the critical role of cycling and other non-motorized transport in achieving a sustainable future.

‘Sustainable mobility’

“There are countless ways the bicycle can create an entire ecosystem of sustainable mobility – connecting communities to practical solutions they need to surmount the myriad and daily inequities of poverty, conflict, disaster and emergency,” he said.

He urged everyone to take full advantage of the “power of the pedal”.

“Let us encourage all actors to cultivate a culture of cycling – and in turn, unleash progress across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to bring about a healthier, safer, greener and more inclusive future for all.”

The General Assembly, in 2018, designated 3 June as World Bicycle Day acknowledging the manual two-wheeler’s uniqueness, longevity and versatility. It encouraged stakeholders to promote bicycling to advance sustainable development, strengthen education, promote health and facilitate social inclusion.

This year, 147 UN staff members and delegates took the UN Bike Month Challenge and between them travelled over 16,500 miles on their bicycles – about the same distance as between New York and Hanoi.