News in Brief 22 March 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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Boys holding a piece of twisted metal near homes that were destroyed in an air strike, in Okash Village, near Sana'a, the capital of Yemen. Photo: UNICEF/Mohammed Hamoud

Alarm over EU migrant deal with Turkey

In Europe, the lack of clarity on the European Union's migrant deal with Turkey is a cause for serious concern, UN agencies have said.

The new EU agreement, which involves sending refugees arriving in Greece back to Turkey, was criticised in Geneva on Tuesday by the UN Children's Fund, (UNICEF) and the UN Refugee Agency, (UNHCR).

UNICEF's Sarah Crowe warned of dangers to youngsters, highlighting that up to 40 per cent of all those seeking shelter in Europe are children, and many travel alone:

"Unaccompanied children must be given proper identification and taken into protective care not detention. No child should be detained simply for being a refugee or a migrant."

Meanwhile, UNHCR said that Greek authorities have accelerated the transfer to the mainland of some 8,000 people who had arrived on the islands before the 20 March.

This is to separate them from people arriving on after that date, who will be subject to the new returns policy.

"Blatant disregard" for Yemenis one year into conflict

Conflict in Yemen continues to rage one year after it escalated with a "blatant disregard" for people caught up by the fighting, the UN warned on Tuesday.

Detailing ongoing airstrikes and the dire humanitarian situation still playing out in the Arabian Peninsula state, UN aid coordinator for Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said all parties to the fighting have ignored their responsibilities under international law.

"It's been a terrible year for Yemen, in that year there's been a war that's been peppered with airstrikes, shelling and localised violence."

Fighting for control of the impoverished country is a Saudi-led coalition which supports president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against Houthi rebels.

According to latest UN figures, more than 6,000 people have been killed by the fighting in the last year, half of them civilians.

Central African Republic under pressure to reform

And finally to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, which has been hearing about what's been described as a "precarious" situation in the Central African Republic.

Speaking to the council, UN rights experts Marie-Therese Keita Bocoum said that security in the capital Bangui "is now improving", after clashes left 70 people dead and 400 injured late last year.

The country also held peaceful and democratic presidential elections in February, but "pockets of violence" remain, Special Rapporteur Bocoum said, before attributing them to the Ex-Selekas/UPC fighters and the Lord's Resistance Army.

Central African Republic's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Leopold Samba, echoed the UN investigator's appeal for reform, before saying that a special criminal tribunal had been set up to ensure accountability for past crimes.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 2’41″

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