News in Brief 30 September 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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Thousands of internally displaced people gather at Emmanuel Church Compound in Yei, South Sudan. Photo: UNHCR/Rocco Nuri

100,000 people trapped and in South Sudan town

In South Sudan, a humanitarian and security alert has been issued for 100,000 people trapped in the town of Yei, which has until now been largely spared from an upsurge in fighting.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, deadly and direct attacks on civilians and looting has forced tens of thousands of people to seek shelter in the town in recent weeks.

Here's the UN agency's William Spindler:

"Terrorized men and women spoke of horrific violence against civilians before and during their flight, including assault, targeted killing, mutilation, looting and burning of property. Several civilians have been hacked to death, including women and children."

All of those in Yei town, which is located about 150 kilometres south-west of the capital Juba, are now in as much need as those displaced by almost three years of internal conflict, UNHCR has warned.

The fighting has its roots in a political row between two leaders serving in the same government; it's led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people and forced some 2.6 million to flee their homes.

Syria evacuation call from WHO chief

The head of the UN health agency, Dr Margaret Chan, has added her voice to the call for the evacuation of sick and wounded people from war-torn Syria.

In a statement delivered on Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) chief said that the situation in the country after more than five years of war was "heart-rending and enraging".

In Geneva, WHO's Dr Rick Brennan briefed journalists on the dire health situation in eastern Aleppo.

"When we look at what's going on in Aleppo, and we are in regular contact with health officials, the situation really is unfathomable. According to health officials there, there have been 338 deaths in the last couple of weeks due to the bombardment, including 106 children; 846 other individuals have been injured, again, almost a third children; 261 children."

Dr Rick Brennan said that eastern Aleppo has only six partially functioning hospitals of the city, and fewer than 30 doctors who were "exhausted, drained physically and mentally".

At least 270,000 people are trapped in eastern Aleppo with dwindling supplies of food, water, medicines and fuel.

WHO reports that along with its partners, it has medical supplies at the ready outside the city – but they have not been granted access.

Human Rights Council 33rd session draws to an end

And finally, Friday sees the 33rd session of the UN's Human Rights Council draw to an end, with a renewed call by Member States for action against abuse – and accountability for perpetrators.

Among the resolutions passed was a vote to set up a high-level probe on Burundi, following a report to the Council on ongoing violence linked to President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to stand for a third term in office.

For UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore, the Geneva-based body reflects the wishes of its global membership:

"It is in and of the world, so everything you would expect to see in terms of a variety of positions on issues to do with indigenous people, on issues to do with sexual orientation, on issues to do with women, on issues to do with freedom of religion, and so on, all those dynamics are in the chamber of the Council and it makes it important that we keep reminding and make available for Member States the advice on what the international law standards are, so that we don't find ourselves arbitrarily inventing standards that are in contradiction with international law; that's an important thing that our office does."

In addition to voting on 30-or-so resolutions on countries experiencing conflict, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Yemen, the Council is also set to appoint five new independent rights investigators.

For the first time, this includes a new Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

You can hear the full interview with Deputy High Commissioner Gilmore at unmultimedia.org

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’59″

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