News in brief 28 June 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, was speaking out after attacks on minorities in the UK after the EU referendum. Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Rights chief speaks out against racist attacks in UK

A series of attacks on minorities and ethnic groups in the United Kingdom in the wake of its decision to leave the European Union has been condemned by the UN Human Rights Commissioner.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein expressed deep concern at the reported violence in recent days.

He described racism and xenophobia as "completely, totally and utterly unacceptable in any circumstances".

Also condemning the attacks was the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, Mutuma Ruteere.

Mr Ruteere, who is in Geneva for the UN Human Rights Council, said that "playing up" to people's fears about migration was not confined to the UK.

"It is regrettable in my view, it is something in my view that ought to be tackled decisively by the authorities. And if the statement by the Prime Minister is anything to go by, the British authorities are very much aware of these challenges as well as the dangers of what the xenophobic movement can exploit in these kinds of situations."

In a new report to the Human Rights Council, Mr Ruteere expressed concern about the rising level of inflammatory comments on internet platforms, and called for legislation tackling hate crimes to be implemented at a local level, and not just nationally.

Syria aid convoy reaches Quidsaya, but not Arbin, Zamalka

An aid convoy has reached the Syrian town of Quidsaya with enough food for 30,000 people, the UN said Tuesday.

The town, which is in Rural Damascus, is on the UN's so-called "hard-to-reach" list of locations in the country.

Before Monday's delivery, Quidsaya last received aid in May.

Here's Jens Laerke from the UN humanitarian coordinating agency, OCHA.

"The convoy carried food, nutrition, health, water, sanitation and hygiene supplies to 30,000 people…Since the beginning of this year, we have been able to reach almost 57 per cent of people in besieged and 12 per cent of people in hard-to-reach areas through inter-agency operations."

OCHA confirmed that aid convoys have still not been given access to the besieged towns of Arbin and Zamalka, also in Rural Damascus, where it's believed up to 40,000 people are in need of help.

Next UN chief must be "someone outstanding", says first female Under Secretary-General

A growing number of conflicts, a lack of will by Member States to act together and political disillusionment are hampering the work of the United Nations, while much depends on the next Secretary General being "someone outstanding".

That's according to Dame Margaret Anstee, the first woman to be appointed UN Under Secretary-General in 1987, and the first female head of a military peacekeeping operation, in Angola in the early 1990s.

Here she is speaking on Tuesday from her home in Wales, shortly after celebrating her 90th birthday:

"I hope we don't have to have another really global conflict to bring people and governments to their senses and realise that we have to pull together. I think a lot will depend too on who's the next (UN) Secretary-General, it's very important that that person has clout and that that clout should be recognised by countries. I would be delighted if that person was a woman but it must be somebody outstanding."

Regarding reforms to the UN chief's role, Dame Margaret said it should involve a longer term than the current five years, possibly seven.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3'30"




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