News in Brief 23 February 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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Cécile Pouilly. UNIFEED Video Caption

Uganda still tense following new arrests of opposition politicians

Uganda remains tense after the re-election of President Yoweri Museveni last Thursday, with at least two people killed and opposition candidates arrested, the UN Human Rights Office, OHCHR, has warned.

Speaking in Geneva on Tuesday, OHCHR spokesperson Cécile Pouilly said that no less than four opposition politicians had been reportedly arrested in the capital, Kampala.

These include Kizza Besigye.

"Mr Kizza Besigye, leader of the FDC (Forum for Democratic Change), who was arrested and released on three different occasions last week, was placed under house arrest on Saturday without charge or judicial order.

Yesterday morning, he was taken to a police station in Nagalaama, a town located some 30 kilometres from the capital Kampala, after he tried to leave his home."

An unknown number of people have been injured following last Thursday's elections, which resulted in President Museveni securing a fifth consecutive term, Ms Pouilly said.

The UN Human Rights Office also expressed concern about the "intimidating display of force" by Ugandan police and military forces, which reportedly used tear gas and live ammunition against political activists.

Fiji still in need of “significant” help in wake of Cyclone Winston

Fiji urgently needs "significant" international assistance in the wake of Cyclone Winston which has swept away entire villages in the Pacific island nation, aid workers there said Tuesday.

Providing an update on the devastation caused by the category five tropical storm which hit at the weekend, UN Children's Agency, UNICEF, said that "multiple locations in multiple islands" need immediate help.

Here's UNICEF spokesperson Alice Clements, speaking from the Fijian capital, Suva:

"The aerial images at this point are increasingly distressing, because we're seeing photographs where there should be a village but there's simply a field of debris, and that's the case not just in the outer islands where the infrastructure may be a little weaker, but also on the Fiji's most populous island, which is Viti Levu, home to 70 per cent of the population."

To date, the cyclone has caused at least 28 deaths and affected hundreds of thousands of people, turning their lives upside down, UNICEF said.

And as the massive clear-up operation begins, the aid agency has warned that the cost of getting the country back on its feet is likely to be astronomical, with crops flooded and schools and essential services closed.

Bay of Bengal “three times more deadly” than refugee route to Europe: UNHCR

New data from the UN Refugee Agency shows that some sea crossings used by migrants in South-East Asia are three times more deadly than the Mediterranean route.

According to UNHCR, of the more than 33,000 people who crossed the Indian Ocean last year, 370 of them are believed to have died in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman sea.

But rather than drowning being the main cause of death, victims often died following mistreatment by smugglers or disease – and also after violent disputes over scarce food and water supplies.

The UN agency is raising the issue after the so-called "maritime ping pong" that last year saw smugglers abandon boats full of migrants on the high seas.

It's calling for action on the issue – which principally affects Rohingya and Bangladeshi nationals – from regional powers taking part in next month's high-level meeting in Bali.

Meanwhile, as the number of Mediterranean sea migrants tops 100,000, according to UN-partner the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UNHCR says that 94 per cent of the Syrians arriving in Greece made the journey to escape conflict and violence.

More than 70 per cent of the Afghans surveyed by the UN Refugee Agency also cited conflict and violence as the main reasons for leaving their country.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’37″

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