Sharing good practices on addressing the COVID-19 impact on drug situation during the regional meetings of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs
CND subsidiary bodies

24 September 2021 – The extraordinary virtual sessions of the subsidiary bodies of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs this week sparked discussions about challenges, best practices and lessons learned with regard to the regional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world drug situation.

Practitioners and experts from Europe, Africa, Near and Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean exchanged views on the increasing links between drug trafficking and other forms of organized crime; proceeds of crime related to money laundering arising from drug trafficking; and the criminal misuse of information technologies for illicit drug-related activities, all with respect to COVID-19.

UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly underscored in her welcoming remarks that the “exchanges on the regional impacts of the pandemic will help the international community to better understand the new dynamics of illicit drug trafficking, to improve joint responses, and build resilience against future crises, in line with the statement adopted by the CND at its 64th session”.

The Chair of the Commission, Ambassador Dominika Krois, highlighted that the CND subsidiary bodies provided valuable input to the Commission, informing it about trends and concerns in the respective region.

Five online side events were held at the margins of the sessions, covering topics such as: cannabis cultivation survey in Nigeria; evidence- and human-rights based policing in Africa and Latin America during and after COVID-19; countering the linkages between organized crime, drug trafficking and other criminal activities during and beyond the pandemic; and research findings from interviews with drug traffickers.

UNODC supports Bosnia and Herzegovina in addressing violence against children

Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Vienna (Austria), 21 September 2021 – Millions of children throughout the world suffer from harm as a result of crime and sexual violence. Yet their rights have not been adequately recognized or respected everywhere, and they may suffer additional hardship during the justice process. The issues of child victims, witnesses of crime, and child sexual violence have been receiving increased national and international attention in recent years.

Addressing violence against children

Member States are increasingly facing challenges when attempting to combine effective prevention and responses to address these forms of violence against children, as well as when adopting and implementing a child- and gender-sensitive approach that upholds children’s rights and safeguards public security. These challenges are exacerbated due to a lack of collection and analysis of segregated data, which limits identifying and addressing gender dynamics, as well as a failure to acknowledge that children differ from adults in their physical, mental and psychological developmental needs and vulnerabilities, and subsequently, differentiated responses and treatment should be directed solely at children.

UNODC’s work

UNODC is supporting Member States in preventing and responding to violence and crime and ensures that children are better served and protected by justice systems.

A series of three webinars on “Ensuring Child-Sensitive Communication and Appropriate Approaches for Child Victims”, targeting professionals and practitioners across Bosnia and Herzegovina, strengthened their capacity to deal more effectively with cases involving sexual violence against children.

Over 30 participants tackled the topic of prevention and response to sexual violence against children and learned about approaches and practical guidance to support government efforts to better treat child victims in line with international law. The webinars also presented how practitioners can contribute to protecting children from re-traumatization and secondary victimization while in contact with child victims.

As a result, the participants were able to increase their understanding of child development, children’s rights, and the negative impact of violence on children, as well as how to engage children as active participants in their own protection process and rehabilitation experience. In addition, they gained knowledge on the relevant international legal framework applicable to child victims and on how to engage with children and build trust through child-, gender- and victim-sensitive communication, and how to improve professional-child relationships by establishing positive communication.

UNODC, through its Global Programme to End Violence against Children, is supporting Member States in preventing and responding to violence and crime and ensures that children are better served and protected by justice systems.

Afghanistan: Rapid decline in public health conditions, WHO warns
Afghanistan: Rapid decline in public health conditions, WHO warns
Healthcare provision is deteriorating fast in Afghanistan, the UN health agency warned on Wednesday, with cases of measles and diarrhoea shooting up, and polio becoming a “major risk”.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVID-19 response has also declined and almost half of the country’s children are at risk of malnutrition.

Moreover, the agency pointed out that only 17 per cent of the over 2,300 health facilities previously supported by the World Bank, are fully functional, two-thirds of which have run out of essential medicines.

Help on the ground

Despite the rapidly deteriorating health situation, WHO is working with donors to sustain health facilities to prevent outbreaks, and rising illness.

And as the coronavirus continues to be a significant challenge, the UN health agency is boosting surveillance and testing capacities within the country.

“Recently, we have airlifted 50,000 COVID-19 tests that are being distributed to 32 labs across the country”, WHO said, adding that 10 more labs are also being planned. 

Several humanitarian partners on the ground reiterated their commitment to continue working together with the UN to support the nation’s ailing health system. 

UN agencies stand firm

Speaking at a regular news briefing in New York, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists that the World Food Programme (WFP) and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will be scaling up their work in the country, with up to 100 new mobile health and nutrition teams. 

He also relayed that the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) said that midwives throughout Afghanistan are continuing to operate, bringing critical life-saving care to women and girls in need.

UNFPA’s midwifery helpline has been providing uninterrupted remote support to midwives facing complicated deliveries, dangerous pregnancies and other critical concerns.

Financial resources forthcoming

A Flash Appeal launched on 7 September by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) aims to help 11 million people survive as food is running out and the country’s basic services are on the verge of collapse.

Requesting $606 million in the remaining months of this year, Mr. Dujarric reminded that the appeal is only 22 per cent funded, which according to OCHA’s calculation, represents just $135 million.  

The UN is asking donors to fast-track funding to prevent avoidable deaths, prevent displacement and reduce suffering”, he said. “We are also asking our donors to ensure that funding is flexible enough to adapt to the fast-changing conditions on the ground”.  

Book World: Phoebe Robinson’s new essay collection is a sharp,…
Book World: Phoebe Robinson’s new essay collection is a sharp,…

Tiny Reparations Books. 352 pp. $27

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Phoebe Robinson’s “Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes” is everything, in both the “Girl, that outfit is everything!” sense and also in the fact that the free-flowing essay collection fits seamlessly into so many categories: earnest pandemic memoir, no-nonsense business guide, lovingly profane commentary on relationships, sex and race and unabashed celebration of Black culture, particularly Black women.

Robinson, an author (“You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain”), podcast host (“2 Dope Queens”), actress (“What Men Want”), stand-up comedian and producer, covers much ground, some light and comedic, some painfully frank, and all with the same warm intimacy.

“I am a funny person, and if I can make you laugh and forget your problems for a moment, then I did something,” Robinson writes in the introduction, wryly titled “2020 Was Gonna Be My Year! (LOL).”

Even the book’s occasional rambling feels relatable – 2020, as she notes, was reality-shaking and chaotic, so it’s appropriate. Robinson’s work effortlessly, reassuringly speaks into that chaos, hugging the reader while also shaking them gently, insisting they pull themselves together.

The introduction sets the tone, explaining that our first annus horribilis, now widely considered a universal dumpster fire, was actually astrologically predicted to be stellar, so the subsequent cosmic punch in the face made “the coronavirus [seem] like such a deeply personal attack.”

Her response to that affront is to create a fictional “2020 Was My Year” Award and acceptance speech, in which she thanks fellow nominees, including “Reset Passwords Because I Forgot the Old Ones,” “My Determination to Eat Cheese in Public Despite Being Lactose Intolerant” and “Meryl Streep (because when is she not nominated?).”

Then, just a few pages later, she’s plaintively acknowledging the compulsion to move on too quickly from trauma. “Beginning again can feel like yet another tiny death of who you are and what you knew,” she explains. “Perhaps by us spending so much time trying to forget [our] fragility, we are also forgetting that it’s what makes . . . us so special and worth living for.”

The book, which takes its name from a traditional Black parent’s admonishment to not sully pristine spaces with dirt, is a sharp, sweet-salty pleasure. It’s spun with many hashtags, myriad nods to her favorite band, U2, liberal use of the word “heaux” and pop-culture references. Robinson’s breakneck name checks include Betty Draper of “Mad Men,” Tiger Woods, Charlie Sheen and Peter Pan.

These references, particularly those to millennial or Black culture, are made without overexplanation that would dilute their power or slow down the rhythm. One of the best compares the trend of White people claiming to not know anyone racist despite copious evidence of systemic racism in America to the fact that the much-maligned Canadian band Nickelback “has sold more than 50 MILLION ALBUMS, but nobody owns a copy? . . . Somebody’s out here ‘racist-ing.’ ”

The rest of the book follows that sad/funny template as she considers the expectations of modern womanhood and Blackness. One of the most striking sections follows Robinson’s path to deciding not to have children (“Motherhood: How I Went From ‘I Wanna Be a Momma’ to ‘That’s Gonna Be a “No” From Me, Dawg’ “). Robinson must make peace with the curated perfection of other people’s Facebook family photos; she has to stop apologizing for finding happiness elsewhere while rejecting the notion that resistance to parenthood means resisting adulthood.

“I know the Peter Pan reference is meant to be taken as a slight, but Peter Pan is dope,” she writes. “He can fly, he encourages people to be adventurous and his tights never have a run in them, unlike mine.”

Elsewhere, Robinson details her efforts to form her own company, with a series of tips for would-be bosses titled “What Warren Buffett Should’ve Told Ya,” including accepting criticism from employees. “What? You’re infallible?” she writes. “Ya ain’t Black Jesus, walking on water or turning water into wine. At best, you’re turning water into Crystal Light, which no one asked for.”

“Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes” is both of the moment, with references to the exhaustion of performative allyship following the 2020 murder of George Floyd and to Netflix’s “Emily in Paris,” and a timeless entreaty to own one’s power, no matter what that looks like to anyone else.

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Leslie Gray Streeter is a journalist and the author of “Black Widow: A Sad-Funny Journey Through Grief for People Who Normally Avoid Books With Words Like ‘Journey’ in the Title.”

Three books to better educated yourself on Indigenous topics
Three books to better educated yourself on Indigenous topics

The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir


Named the fourth most important book of the year by the National Post in 2015, The Education of Augie Merasty became a national bestseller and instant classic after its front-page debut in the Globe and Mail. The Education of Augie Merasty is a courageous and intimate memoir detailing the story of a child who faced unthinkable conditions while attending residential school.

Augie Merasty was one of an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children who were taken from their families and sent to government-funded, church-run residential schools, where he and regrettably many other children were subjected to horrendous acts of violence and aggressive forced assimilation practices.

As Augie recounts, residential schools did more than attempt to mould First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children into mirror images of settler children but taught them instead to be ashamed of their heritage. Augie also recalls in his experience, disgusting stories of both physical and sexual abuse he and his cohort suffered. Evan as Augie looks back on this deeply painful part of childhood, his sense of humour and kind voice shine through. The Education of Augie Merasty is a must-read.

Night spirits: The story of the relocation of the Sayisi Dene


For over 1500 years, the Sayisi Dene led an independent life, following caribou herds and having little contact with white settler society. In 1956, an arbitrary government decision to relocate the Sayisi Dene changed the independent people’s lives forever. This relocation replaced their traditional nomadic life of hunting and fishing with a slum settlement lacking in basic needs on the outskirts of Churchill, Manitoba. After their relocation, the Sayisi Dene quickly lost their independence and self-determination due to inadequate housing, zero provided jobs, and an unfamiliarity with the local language and culture; because of these conditions, over time, their lives deteriorated into a tragic cycle of alcoholism, discrimination, poverty, and violent death.

In Night Spirits, the survivors, including those who were children at the time of the move as well as the few remaining elders, recount their stories. They offer a stark and brutally honest account of the near destruction of the Sayisi Dene, and their struggle to reclaim their lives. It is a dark story, told in hope.

Stolen Words


Within Stolen Words, a little girl helps her grandfather regain the language taken from him as a child. When the little girl asks her grandfather how to say something in his language, Cree, he admits his language was stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather find his language again.

This sensitive and beautifully illustrated picture book explores adult topics such as the intergenerational impact of the residential school system that separated young Indigenous children from their families and their culture back home.

The story recognizes the pain of those whose heritage and language was taken from them and explains how pain can be passed down as well as how healing can be a shared experience. Although geared toward children, Stolen Words is sure to warm hearts of any age.