News in Brief 08 April 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

More children "are victims of torture and suffering", says UN rights chief

More and more children are victims of torture and suffering, the UN's top human rights official said Friday.

Speaking at an event hosted by the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNFVT), Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said that the crime was an "unbearable reality".

Many state and non-state actors continue to use torture, not least in Syria, he said.

"Even very young children are spared no suffering – including the use of specific machinery to inflict pain; mock executions; the obligation to witness pain being inflicted on other children or family members; and sexual mutilation and assault. Indeed, children are often targeted because they are children, as a way of intimidating entire communities, or to leverage additional pain onto their parents."

High Commissioner Zeid also highlighted the trauma and violence suffered by migrant and refugee children fleeing conflict, who are at high risk of violence from traffickers and criminal gangs.

Every year the UN voluntary fund helps more than 50,000 victims of torture.

Haiti's cocktail of problems triggers US$200 million appeal

In Haiti, a near US$ 200 million appeal has been announced by the UN to help well over one million people facing a dramatically worsening humanitarian situation.

More than six years after a catastrophic earthquake hit the Caribbean island, food insecurity is widespread and cholera is still a chronic problem.

Drought has also hit for the third year running, affecting most of the population.

Here's Jens Laerke from OCHA, the UN's coordinating agency for humanitarian aid:

"What we have seen since mid-2015 is a worsening of a humanitarian situation which has now triggered this humanitarian response plan for 2015. Basically what is happening is a convergence of different risk factors; we have a drought that is affecting most of the population… This combined means that at least one million people are food insecure."

In addition to the 62,000 people still living in camps after the 2010 earthquake, double that number of deportees from neighbouring Dominican Republic also need basic humanitarian assistance.

And you can hear the full interview with Jens Laerke on our website, forward slash radio.

Concern over death sentences for politicians in Bangladesh

The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) has voiced concern over the latest death sentences handed down against two opposition politicians in Bangladesh.

The Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal has sentenced to death opposition leader Motiur Rhaman Nizami, on charges of planning, ordering and committing murders during the 1971 war of independence.

His final appeal against the sentence will be heard on Sunday.

Another senior figure in the Jamaat-e-Islami party, Mir Quasem Ali, is also facing a death sentence, which was upheld by the tribunal last month.

OHCHR said it opposed the death penalty in all circumstances, and questioned whether the sentences were in accord with "international due process and fair trial standards".

Since its inception in 2010, the tribunal has delivered at least 17 verdicts, the majority of which have resulted in the death penalty, and four men have been executed.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’07″

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