News in Brief 04 October 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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Clare Nullis from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Photo: UN Photo/Daniel Johnson

Hurricane Matthew's impact on Haiti could be "catastrophic"

The impact of Hurricane Matthew could be "catastrophic" on Haiti and its neighbours, the UN said Tuesday.

Issuing the warning, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported wind speeds at the centre of the storm in excess of 230 kilometres per hour.

The agency's Clare Nullis also said that forecasted flash-floods and storm surges were a particular concern for Haiti; it's still reeling from the earthquake that claimed more than 230,000 lives in 2010.

"It's very powerful, it's very slow-moving which means as it moves slowly the potential impacts are bigger; there's more rainfall, the winds stay around for longer, and its impacts for Haiti in particular are potentially catastrophic is the word I've been seeing over and over again this morning."

More than 60,000 people are still living in camps after that earthquake, according to UN disaster resistance agency UNISDR.

Schools on the Caribbean island have been closed and are now being used for shelters, but there's concern that 300,000 people may not be able to get there in time as the storm hits Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Cuba.

No veto on Syria within UN Security Council, says human rights chief Zeid

Bold measures on Syria are needed within the UN Security Council, such as restraining Member States from using their veto, the organisation's human rights chief has said.

The appeal by Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein follows an intense escalation of fighting in the war-torn country, not least in the city of Aleppo, where some 270,000 people are trapped in the east of the city.

Until now, division on Syria between the five permanent members of the Security Council has held up efforts to halt the fighting.

Rupert Colville is spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:

"The High Commissioner firmly believes that the time has come for strong leadership and bold actions, and that the UN Security Council in particular should, without any further delay, adopt criteria to restrain members from using the veto when there are serious concerns that war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide may have been committed."

If adopted, the proposal would in theory make it possible for the Security Council to refer war crimes allegations to the International Criminal Court.

UN High Commissioner Zeid said such action is necessary after the use of incendiary weapons in heavily populated areas in eastern Aleppo, and so-called "hellfire cannons" fired into the government-held areas in the west of the city.

Key Yemen port "needs urgent repairs to deliver aid as crisis worsens"

And finally to Yemen, where the UN's humanitarian aid chief has warned that the situation faced by its people is one of the worst in the world amid ongoing conflict.

Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien issued his warning from the port of Hodeida, where he called for vital infrastructure repairs to handle desperately needed deliveries of food, fuel and medicine.

Even before fighting erupted a year and a half ago between forces loyal to president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Houthi-backed rebels, the Arabian peninsula country imported almost all of its daily needs, and most of it went through Hodeidah.

Jens Laerke is spokesperson for OCHA, the UN agency for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

"What is particularly urgent in the port is the rehabilitation and repair of five cranes which have been damaged in an airstrike in August 2015…which makes it very difficult and very slow to get, when there are shipments, to get that offloaded for further transportation in the country."

More than 12 million Yemenis are in need of lifesaving help according to OCHA; 1.5 million children under five have acute malnutrition and 375,000 more have the more acute form of the condition.

Latest UN figures show that since March 2015 the violence in Yemen has claimed more than 4,000 lives and injured another 7,000.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’55″

 

 

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