News in Brief 09 March 2016 (PM)

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Human Rights Council. UN File Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

"How to guide" for peaceful protests presented by UN experts

A "how to guide" on avoiding an escalation or outbreak of violence between protesters and police forces during demonstrations has been issued by UN experts.

The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, were in Geneva to address the Human Rights Council.

The report contains input from over 50 States, 100 experts from civil society, academia, protest groups, national human rights institutions and police forces.

The two experts advise that proper precautions and preparations need to be taken to protect demonstrators, bystanders and the police.

They also stress the obligation of States to not only protect, but to facilitate the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, among other human rights.

"These rights should not be viewed or treated as a threat" the Special Rapporteurs told the Council, but rather "as a means of dialogue in which the State should engage."

Basic cell phones to help improve HIV services

Basic mobile phones with no access to internet will be used to improve HIV services for those living and affected with the virus, according to the UN Joint Programme on HIV and AIDS.

UNAIDS announced Wednesday that it was teaming up with telecommunications operator Orange to launch the new platform.

A four-month pilot phase will begin at the end of March this year in the capital of Côte d'Ivoire, Abidjan, involving 1000 people living with HIV who are enrolled in treatment programmes.

Healthcare workers will be able to communicate via text messages, calls and voice messages, with people who are being treated.

The web-based platform will also allow for the collection and analysis of data in order to identify gaps and improve the quality of care.

The information collected would remain anonymous and fully confidential, the agency confirmed.

Around 350,000 people still affected by cyclone in Fiji

Around 350,000 people in Fiji are still affected by cyclone Winston which stuck the Pacific nation on 20 February, killing 40 people, according to the UN humanitarian agency (OCHA).

That's roughly 40 per cent of the population.

Some 18,600 people remain sheltered in 555 evacuation centres, of which 23 are schools.

Hundreds of schools were damaged or destroyed during the storm. Health facilities were also severely damaged.

The cost of repairs to schools has been estimated at US$23.8 million.

The UN agency says that 30,000 people have received water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) supplies from government and humanitarian partners.

Ban appoints head of UN Mission in Colombia

A French national has been appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to lead a political mission in Colombia.

Back in January, the Security Council agreed to send a team of unarmed international observers to monitor disarmament for an initial period of 12 months.

The Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP) have yet to reach a final agreement to end Latin America's longest armed conflict.

Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq has more.

"The Secretary-General is announcing today the appointment of Jean Arnault of France as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission in Colombia.

Mr. Arnault has until now served as the Delegate of the Secretary-General to the Sub-Commission on End of Conflict Issues within the Colombia peace process. In this position, he has been working closely with the negotiating teams of the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP) in the context of the peace talks that take place in Havana."

The FARC rebels and the Colombian Government have been in discussions seeking to end a 51-year conflict that has affected 250,000 people.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 3'51''

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