News in Brief 11 March 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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There are now 166,000 severely malnourished children in South Sudan who need help, the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says. Photo: UNICEF/Christine Nesbitt

Alert over malnourished children in South Sudan as rights abuses unveiled

Tens of thousands of children are at risk in South Sudan because of ongoing conflict and a critical lack of funding, the UN has announced.

The alert follows the publication of a new UN report on Friday detailing horrific abuses sanctioned by the government.

According to the UN Human Rights Office probe, state-backed forces have operated a so-called "scorched earth policy", deliberately targeting civilians who they killed, raped and pillaged.

The UN Children's Fund UNICEF, meanwhile, has warned that the fighting has enveloped previously peaceful areas.

There are now more than 160,000 severely malnourished children who need help.

Despite an appeal for US$155 million to support more than five million children, just US$27 million has been received.

Here's UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac:

"For the first time children since this violent crisis began, children are being threatened, not by lack of access or capacity but by a lack of funds."

Thousands more people have also been displaced by civil war in the country since December 2013, fleeing to Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and even the volatile Central African Republic.

Teenagers and women most at risk in fight against HIV and AIDS

The global goal of beating the HIV and AIDS epidemic by 2030 will only be successful if stigma about the disease is overcome at the same time.

That's the view of Kate Gilmore, the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, who addressed the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Friday.

She warned that discrimination has left minorities overly exposed to the disease despite the concerted international push against HIV and AIDS as part of the Millennium Development Goals initiative – or MDGs – that ended in 2015.

The UN Deputy High Commissioner highlighted the particular dangers faced by teenagers:

"Globally, adolescents are the only age group for whom deaths due to AIDS have increased over the course of the MDGs – an increase of about 50 per cent – while every other age group has enjoyed a 32 per cent or so decrease over that same period."

Another challenge is ongoing discrimination against women who are denied adequate healthcare, the UN Deputy High Commissioner said.

Kate Gilmore also called for truly universal health coverage and fair access to life-saving medicines, saying that many have been "priced out of the market".

Displaced people in Iraq blocked in camps

In Iraq, rising numbers of displaced people have been forcibly transferred to camps which they are then blocked from leaving, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said Friday.

At least four camps in various locations across the war-torn country have implemented the practice, which the UN agency says is "disproportionate" to legitimate security concerns.

Here's UNHCR spokesperson Ariane Rummery in Geneva:

"The reason we're increasingly concerned about this developing trend is that freedom of movement is key to displaced people being able to exercise other rights, such as access to work, food, healthcare and legal assistance."

In one camp in Kirkuk governorate, some 2,000 residents have been confined, despite completing the security screening process and being Iraqi citizens.

UNHCR says it is important that the camps maintain their humanitarian character, especially with the prospect of further displacement in Iraq linked to forthcoming military operations against extremists.

There are believed to be well over four million internally displaced people in Iraq, according to latest UN data.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3'24"

 

 

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