News in Brief 17 May 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Rupert Colville, who said that Crimean Tatars have faced increasing persecution. Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Fears that Crimean Tatars "even more exposed to collective punishment"

In Crimea, moves to ban political representation of the Tatar minority could leave them more exposed to human rights violations, the UN said Tuesday.

The warning, from the UN Human Rights Office OHCHR, follows the designation of the Tatars' Mejilis body as an extremist organisation.

Over the past two years OHCHR says there has been increasing persecution of members of the Mejilis and their supporters, who have been intimidated, harassed and jailed – often on dubious charges.

Here's OHCHR's Rupert Colville:

"We are deeply concerned by the ban imposed on the Mejlis by the so-called 'supreme court' of Crimea on 26 April. We fear that the designation of the Mejlis as an extremist organization by the 'court' will leave Crimean Tatars even more exposed to human rights violations and collective punishment.

The UN Human Rights Office has now appealed to the Russian Federation to lift the ban on the Tatar organisation.

OHCHR says Russia exercises de facto control over Crimea amid ongoing conflict with Ukraine.

The moves comes as Tatars prepare to commemorate the mass deportation of 200,000 men, women and children from Crimea on 18 May 1944 during the Second World War.

Zika "more worrying than ever" says UN health chief

Zika remains an extremely worrying health risk which requires a greater global effort to help women protect themselves from the mosquito-borne infection, the head of the UN's health agency has announced.

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO's Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), was speaking ahead of the UN health agency's annual World Health Assembly beginning in Geneva next week.

"The more we learn about Zika the more worried we get about it. I must say that once again, the risk profile of Zika has changed over the years. In the past (and) still pretty much relevant today, most of the people infected by Zika virus get mild diseases, some of them get Guillan Barré Syndrome, and the most important area we need to pay attention is pregnant women…"

At the upcoming World Health Assembly meeting, all 194 Member States are expected to decide whether to approve Dr Chan's call for a US$ 160 million funding increase to implement a speedier response to health emergencies.

So far nine countries have reported Zika infection in expectant mothers which has resulted in their babies being born with smaller than average heads and other neurological problems.

In reference to the upcoming Olympic Games in Brazil, Dr Chan said that WHO's advice has not changed: pregnant women are not advised to travel to countries where there is a risk of Zika, while men who go there should use a condom when they get home if their partner is expecting a baby and until it is born.

Soaring numbers of unaccompanied Egyptian minors arriving in Italy

And finally to the European migration crisis, where there's increasing concern about a sharp rise in the number of unaccompanied Egyptian minors arriving in Italy.

In April, well over 600 Egyptian youngsters reached the Italian coast, according to UN partner the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

More than one in five migrants from Egypt arriving in Europe are children, according to IOM.

It also says that the percentage of Egyptian youngsters and unaccompanied minors represents the highest proportion of irregular migrants arriving in Europe, pushed on by lack of access to education, training and opportunities at home.

Meanwhile, IOM reports the continued flow of migrants across the deadly west Mediterranean route from Libya, with more than 1,300 people rescued off the north African coast on Monday.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 3’46″

 

 

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