News in Brief – 3 June 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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A Syrian family recovers after a rough crossing from Turkey. Photo: UNHCR/Ivor Prickett

Hundreds feared dead in shipwreck off Crete's shores

Hundreds of people may have drowned on Friday attempting to sail from Egypt to the Greek island of Crete according to media reports

A rescue operation is under way involving Greek vessels and helicopters, the UN-partner agency the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said.

If confirmed, the fatalities would be the first in Greece since April.

Here's IOM's Joel Millman.

"I understand that 250 people have been rescued, an unknown number, we were told 700 were on the boat when it left Alexandria; an unknown number are in the water now and Greek vessels and helicopters are participating in the rescue now…Crete in the last three days has become extremely active in recent days, and today active could also be tragic."

Data from IOM shows that Crete has become a new destination for migrants and refugees principally from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

Several hundred people are understood to have reached the island in recent days, after sailing from Turkey.

Sudan's displacement crisis passes five-year marker

In Sudan, five years after people started fleeing violence in South Kordofan State, the UN has warned that the crisis there is escalating.

Since fighting broke out in 2011 between government and rebel forces, nearly 250,000 Sudanese refugees have fled to South Sudan.

An estimated 3,000 people sought shelter in South Sudan's northern Unity State in May alone.

The area is home to 70,000 refugees already, while South Sudan has no less than 1.7 million internally displaced people.

Here's the UN Refugee Agency's Adrian Edwards:

"From the refugees we're hearing of escalating violence, talk of ground attacks and aerial bombings, the recent arrivals and also citing lack of food, no access to schools for their children."

The UN Refugee Agency has warned that the fighting has cut vital resources for the new arrivals in South Sudan, where one child refugee in every 10 is alone.

Ukraine separatists urged to stop curtailing rights of 2.7 million people

And finally to Ukraine, where the UN has called for the self-proclaimed authority in the east to stop depriving 2.7 million people of humanitarian help, two years after conflict began there.

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, made the appeal to representatives of the Donetsk People's Republic while visiting the country.

He warned that the situation remains "deeply worrying", with an increase of heavy weaponry near the so-called contact line with Russia.

More than 20,000 people attempt to cross this fortified zone every day, according to a new report by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR).

It indicates that in April four civilians were killed by shelling while they waited at a checkpoint in armed group-controlled territory.

According to the UN, fighting in the east of the country is estimated to have killed more than 9,300 people and injured over 21,500.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 2'54"


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