UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on leaders and adults everywhere to do everything possible to enable the youth to enjoy lives of safety, dignity and opportunity and contribute to the fullest of their great potential.
"They (youth) are peacebuilders promoting social cohesion at a time of social distancing, advancing an end to violence globally and advocating harmony at a time of rising hatred," he said in message marking the International Youth Day that falls on August 12.
The theme of this year’s International Youth Day – “Youth Engagement for Global Action” -- spotlights the ways in which the voices and activism of young people are making a difference and moving the world closer to the values and vision of the United Nations Charter.
This year’s Youth Day occurs as the lives and aspirations of young people continue to be upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN chief said.
He said some have lost their lives, and many have seen family members and other loved ones perish.
"The vulnerabilities of young refugees, displaced persons, young women and girls and others caught up in conflict or disaster have grown more acute," Guterres said.
He said a generation’s very formation has been jeopardised, their steps towards adulthood, identity and self-sufficiency thrown off course.
Some have taken on care burdens or are suffering from increased risks of hunger, violence in the home or the prospect of never being able to resume their education, Guterres said.
But, he said, this generation is also resilient, resourceful and engaged.
They are the young people who have risen up to demand climate action, Guterres added.
"They are mobilizing for racial justice and gender equality and are the champions of a more sustainable world," said the UN Secretary General.
He said many are young women who have been on the frontlines in mobilizing for justice and climate action — while also serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response.
Realising the promise of this generation means investing far more in young people’s inclusion, participation, organizations and initiatives, Guterres said.
Highlighting the severe flooding in Asia, including Bangladesh and India, the United Nations on Tuesday expressed its willingness to help.
In Bangladesh, people are experiencing the worst and longest monsoon flooding in years. A quarter of the country is under water, said UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
At least 5.4 million people have been affected, with 11,000 households displaced and 135 people killed, it said, reports Xinhua.
Humanitarian partners are working with Bangladeshi authorities to assist people most in need with food, shelter, clean water, hygiene supplies and other requirements.
A $40 million response plan has been launched to help more than 1 million people most in need in Bangladesh, the OCHA said.
It includes support for children and women who are most at risk during natural disasters and who comprise more than 70 percent of those targeted for assistance, said OCHA.
Data released by the government show that 198 people have so far been killed in flooding – seven of them in the last 24 hours.
A latest report from Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) in Bangladesh said the flood situation may improve in Natore, Manikganj, Rajbari, Faridpur and low-lying areas adjacent to Dhaka in the next 24 hours.
In India, the southwest monsoon continues to affect most states, with more than 770 people reportedly killed due to heavy rainfall and flooding, said OCHA.
India's National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) reports that 568,000 people have been evacuated, with more than 210,000 hosted in over 1,000 relief centres.
On Friday, a massive landslide triggered by monsoon rainfall left at least 43 people dead and 27 others missing in Kerala, according to NIDM.
OCHA said the UN stands ready to provide humanitarian support to the most vulnerable and affected communities in India.
Former vice-president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, picked California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate on Tuesday.
Harris becomes the first Black woman on a major party’s presidential ticket and her selection acknowledges the vital role Black voters will play in the Democrats’ bid to defeat President Donald Trump, reports AP.
She will appear with Biden for the first time as his running mate at an event Wednesday near his home in Wilmington, Delaware.
The 55-year-old first-term senator of South Asian descent, is one of the party’s most prominent figures. She quickly became a top contender for the No. 2 spot after her own White House campaign ended.
In announcing the pick, Biden called Harris a “fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country's finest public servants.” She said Biden would “unify the American people" and “build an America that lives up to our ideals.”
Harris joins Biden at a moment of unprecedented national crisis.
The coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 160,000 people in the US, far more than the toll experienced in other countries. Business closures and disruptions resulting from the pandemic have caused severe economic problems. Unrest has emerged across the country as Americans protest racism and police brutality.
Trump’s uneven handling of the crises has given Biden an opening, and he enters the fall campaign in strong position against the president.
In adding Harris to the ticket, he can point to her relatively centrist record on issues such as health care and her background in law enforcement in the nation’s largest state.
The president told reporters Tuesday he was “a little surprised” that Biden picked Harris, pointing to their debate stage disputes during the primary. Trump, who had donated to her previous campaigns, argued she was “about the most liberal person in the US Senate.”
“I would have thought that Biden would have tried to stay away from that a little bit,” he said.
Harris’s record as California attorney general and district attorney in San Francisco was heavily scrutinised during the Democratic primary and turned away some liberals and younger Black voters who saw her as out of step on issues of racism in the legal system and police brutality. She declared herself a “progressive prosecutor” who backs law enforcement reforms.
Biden, who spent eight years as President Barack Obama’s vice president, has spent months weighing who would fill that same role in his White House.
He pledged in March to select a woman as his vice president, easing frustration among Democrats that the presidential race would centre on two white men in their 70s.
The vice presidential pick carries increased significance this year.
If elected, Biden would be 78 when inaugurated in January, the oldest man to ever assume the presidency. He’s spoken of himself as a transitional figure and hasn’t fully committed to seeking a second term in 2024.
Harris, born in 1964 to a Jamaican father and Indian mother, spent much of her formative years in Berkeley, California. She has often spoken of the deep bond she shared with her mother, whom she has called her single biggest influence.
Harris won her first election in 2003 when she became San Francisco’s district attorney. In that post, she created a reentry programme for low-level drug offenders and cracked down on student truancy.
She was elected California’s attorney general in 2010, the first woman and Black person to hold the job, and focused on issues including the foreclosure crisis. She declined to defend the state’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage and was later overturned by the US Supreme Court.
After being elected to the Senate in 2016, she quickly gained attention for her assertive questioning of Trump administration officials during congressional hearings.
Harris launched her presidential campaign in early 2019 with the slogan “Kamala Harris For the People,” a reference to her courtroom work. She was one of the highest-profile contenders in a crowded Democratic primary and attracted 20,000 people to her first campaign rally in Oakland.
But the early promise of her campaign eventually faded. Her law enforcement background prompted skepticism from some progressives, and she struggled to land on a consistent message that resonated with voters. Facing fundraising problems, she abruptly withdrew from the race in December 2019, two months before the first votes of the primary were cast.
One standout moment of her presidential campaign came at the expense of Biden. During a debate, she said Biden made “very hurtful” comments about his past work with segregationist senators and slammed his opposition to busing as schools began to integrate in the 1970s.
“There was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day,” she said. “And that little girl was me.”
Shaken by the attack, Biden called her comments “a mischaracterisation of my position.”
The exchange resurfaced recently with a report that one of Biden’s closest friends and a co-chair of his vice presidential vetting committee, former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, still harbors concerns about the debate and that Harris hadn’t expressed regret. The comments attributed to Dodd and first reported by Politico drew condemnation, especially from influential Democratic women who said Harris was being held to a standard that wouldn’t apply to a man running for president.
Biden and Harris have since returned to a warm relationship.
“Joe has empathy, he has a proven track record of leadership and more than ever before we need a president of the United States who understands who the people are, sees them where they are, and has a genuine desire to help and knows how to fight to get us where we need to be,” Harris said at an event for Biden earlier this summer.
Harris has taken a tougher stand on policing since Floyd’s killing. She co-sponsored legislation in June that would ban police from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants, set a national use-of-force standard and create a national police misconduct registry, among other things. It would also reform the qualified immunity system that shields officers from liability.
“We made progress, but clearly we are not at the place yet as a country where we need to be and California is no exception,” she told The Associated Press recently. The national focus on racial injustice now, she said, shows “there’s no reason that we have to continue to wait.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) says discussions are underway with Russia regarding a possible pre-qualification of the world's first COVID-19 vaccine.
"We’re in close contact with the Russian health authorities and discussions are underway regarding a possible pre-qualification of the vaccine by WHO," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told a virtual press briefing on Tuesday, reports Xinhua.
Jasarevic explained that the pre-qualification of any vaccine involves rigorous review and evaluation of all the data required for safety and efficacy in clinical trials and noted that at the WHO level, this process would be the same for any candidate.
He said each country has national regulatory bodies that approve the use of vaccines or drugs in its territory. "Manufacturers are asking for WHO pre-qualification because it is a kind of seal of quality," the WHO spokesman said.
‘First to register coronavirus vaccine’
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that his country is the first in the world to register vaccine against COVID-19.
"As far as I know, this morning for the first time in the world, a vaccine against the novel coronavirus infection was registered," TASS news agency quoted him as saying.
Putin said one of his daughters had tested the vaccine on herself and that she is feeling well.
He said the first Russian vaccine forms stable cell and antibody immunity.
Putin said he hoped that the mass production of the vaccine registered in Russia would begin in the near future and vaccination will be available to everyone in the country voluntarily.
Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said that she expected the production of the vaccine to start at the end of August or the beginning of September and health workers will be the first to be vaccinated
Russian vaccine greeted with some alarm
Though the announcement was welcome across the globe, some scientists in Russia and other countries expressed skepticism over the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety.
They said making the vaccine available in a hasty manner can result in a backfire, reports AP.
Some scientists expressed fear as the vaccine is yet to complete phase-3 trial. Besides, the vaccine was studied in only dozens of people for less than two months.
Health condition of former Indian president of Pranab Mukherjee, who was put on ventilator support after a surgery on Monday, has been worsened .
The Army's Research and Referral (R&R) Hospital made the disclosure on Tuesday, reports Times of India.
Mukharjee got admitted to the military hospital with critical health condition on Monday noon and tested positive for coronavirus.
Later, he was found with a large brain clot for which he underwent emergency life saving surgery.
In a statement, the hospital authority said "Shri Pranab Mukherjee's health condition continues to remain critical at Army Hospital (R&R) Delhi Cantonment. The former president, who underwent lifesaving emergency surgery for brain clot on 10 August 2020, has not shown any improvement and his health status has worsened. He remains on ventilator support."
A multidisciplinary team of doctors is constantly monitoring the health of the former president.
In a tweet on Monday, Mukherjee himself disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Covid-19 and urged people who had come in contact with him in the last week to isolate themselves and get tested for the novel coronavirus.
Soon after the news of his hospitalisation, wishes poured in from various quarters for his early recovery and a number of leaders sent their wishes on Twitter.
President Ram Nath Kovind also spoke to Mukherjee's daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee and enquired about his health on Monday evening.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also sent in his best wishes to the former president and wished him early recovery.
A powerful orator and scholar, Mukherjee had been a Congress stalwart before he was elected as India's 13th President and served from July 2012 to 2017 in the top post.