News in Brief 3 May 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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A social centre for refugees on Nauru. Photo: UNHCR / N. Wright

Refugees on the Pacific island of Nauru "need to be moved"

Asylum-seekers on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru should be moved to more humane conditions urgently, the UN said Tuesday, following the death of a refugee who sustained fatal burns there.

In its appeal, the UN Refugee Agency, (UNHCR), said it was deeply saddened by last week's incident on the island, which is used as an offshore processing location for people trying to get to Australia.

UNHCR staff are also seeking information about another incident on Nauru on Tuesday in which a Somali woman reportedly suffered serious burns.

Some 2,000 refugees and asylum-seekers are being housed on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, also off the Australian coast.

Kidnappers blamed for sending migrants to their deaths in Mediterranean

In Libya, worsening lawlessness has forced a new wave of migrants and refugees to make their way to Europe in dangerous conditions which have seen at least four deadly shipwrecks in recent days.

According to UN partner the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an estimated 113 men, women and children have died travelling from the North African coast to Italy since Friday.

And so far this year, the total number of fatalities from Mediterranean Sea crossings is estimated at more than 1,300.

IOM spokesperson Joel Millman said that people are often sent to their deaths unknowingly:

"A lot of times it's not a decision by them at all, it is coercion, they are kidnapped, ransoms are paid through wire transfers usually to banks outside Libya and then the kidnappers rather shrewdly deduce that kidnapping this person a second time is going to yield a very low likelihood of getting more money from these poor families, so we stick them on a boat, wish them luck and hope he doesn't drown getting to Europe…"

Latest data from IOM shows that arrivals by sea to Greece from Turkey are a fraction of what they were at the start of the year.

But numbers arriving in Italy are slightly up on 2015, at around 27,000 people.

Cartoonists call for more debate on World Press Freedom Day

Press freedom and a safe media environment are essential foundations of democracy but they continue to come under threat, Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday.

The UN chief's comments for World Press Freedom Day coincided with an event in Geneva that recognises the work of cartoonists who face personal and professional risks by doing their job.

The two prize-winning artists at this year's Cartooning For Peace event are Gado from Tanzania and Zunar from Malaysia.

Here's Zunar speaking on the controversial issue of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed:

"I'm not happy as a Muslim about the content of the cartoon, but I don't have a right to do violence against them, but I need to respect their right. The violent way is not part of the Prophet Mohammed's teaching. I'm not happy, yes, but is there any way I can go and debate with them?"

Technology gap “must be overcome for Sustainable Development Goals"

Information and Communications Technologies are the drivers of the global economy but many people still do not have access to ICTs that could help them.

That's the message from the World Summit on the Information Society Forum, or WSIS, which opened on Tuesday in Geneva.

According to ITU, the UN agency co-hosting the summit, the reach of modern technology has been phenomenal in the past decade.

By way of an example, no less than 95 per cent of the world's population is now covered by a mobile phone signal.

So-called 3G coverage has also made great progress and is available to 69 per cent of the world's population; but it is absent from many rural areas in low-income countries.

And although there are more than 3.2 billion internet users today, in the developing world, only 35 per cent of the population is online.

That's something that needs to change if information communication technology is to help drive the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the WSIS Forum heard.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3'46"

 

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