News in Brief 24 June 2016 – Geneva (AM)

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Bettina Luescher from the World Food Programme said that 40 tonnes of aid would be airlifted at a time from Damascus to Qamishli in north-east Syria. Photo: UN Photo/Daniel Johnson

Airlifted aid planned for 150,000 Syrians where supplies have run out

Desperately needed food aid for up to 150,000 people is to be airlifted into the north-eastern town of Qamishli in Syria where supplies have run out, the UN said Friday.

Announcing the development, the World Food Programme's Bettina Luescher said that conditions are "dire" on the ground in Hasakeh governorate.

It hasn't received help by land since early 2014, she said, adding that she hoped the Syrian government would agree to the mission in the next few days.

"Last week we were handing out the last ready-to-eat rations for over 5,300 people in Qamishli, so we're totally out of stocks for ready-to-eat parcels, and previously the stocks for general food rations ran out in March."

Though costly, the airlifts are taking place because Isis extremists control road access to Hasakeh from neighbouring Raqqa and Deir-Ez-Zour governorates.

The so-called air bridge will be organized by WFP and open to all agencies and UN partners to use.

Meanwhile, UN humanitarian coordinating agency OCHA said that it has submitted a request to the Syrian government to deliver aid to 1.2 million people in 35 besieged, hard-to-reach and other priority locations in July.

Brexit "changes nothing" for UK, says UN Refugee Agency

The UK decision to leave the European Union changes nothing with regard to the way it should shelter asylum-seekers, the UN Refugee Agency said Friday.

UNHCR's Adrian Edwards made the announcement following Thursday's national referendum in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, in which more than 52 per cent of Britons voted in favour of a so-called Brexit.

"There's no change, the 1951 Refugee Convention still applies. The outcome of this referendum doesn't have a bearing on that at the moment. The International Refugee Convention, its obligations, the UK's obligations to that, both domestically under its own laws and to international law, weren't part of this referendum."

The International Organization for Migration meanwhile, said it respected the UK electorate's sovereign decision, but wished to remind Britons of the need for safe, legal and secure managed migration.

19 Ethiopian migrants die in smuggler's lorry

At least 19 Ethiopians have been found dead in Zambia after suffocating in a lorry bound for South Africa, the suspected victims of a people-smuggling syndicate.

UN partner agency the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported on Friday that the victims were only found after survivors raised the alarm by banging on the container.

IOM's Joel Millman said the incident was the deadliest he's seen:

"It's the biggest we know of, but there have been some amazing, horrifying cases in that route in the past; I think it was last year or two years ago there was an incident of drowned migrants who were seen being eaten by crocodiles…but we haven't seen a container truck suffocation like this before."

According to IOM the 76 survivors, who include children, have been taken to a protective shelter.

The organization notes that there has been an increase in the number of irregular migrants entering Zambia, particularly from Horn of Africa countries.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’16″




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