News in Brief 22 July 2015 (AM)

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Staffan de Mistura. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré.

Syrian government urged to halt use of barrel bombs

The Syrian government has been urged by the UN to halt the use of improvised weapons, such as barrel bombs, on its own cities.

The call has come from the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, after the heavy bombardment of Zabadani, a town to the north-west of the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Media sources and contacts inside the town have reported the use of barrel bombs following the launch of a military campaign against opposition fighters by Syrian government forces and pro-government militias.

The Special Envoy said that reliable local sources confirmed unprecedented levels of destruction and many deaths among the civilian population.

Venezuela accused of intimidating human rights activists

Attempts to discredit and intimidate human rights activists on Venezuela's State-controlled television have been condemned by a group of UN independent experts.

The three experts have drawn attention to what they called "the systematic targeting of human rights defenders through a weekly TV programme which is hosted by the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly.

They said the host makes accusations against rights activists and civil society organisations with an apparent aim to intimidate them.

The experts have asked for the intimidation to stop.

HIV guidelines issued for transgender people

The first guidelines on HIV prevention and treatment exclusively focusing on the needs of transgender people have been issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).

It follows the UN health agency's decision to identify transgender people as a separate key population.

The new guidelines acknowledge that their "high vulnerability and specific health needs" necessitate distinct and independent treatment recommendations.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations

Duration: 1’55″


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