News in Brief 13 March 2017 (AM)

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A seven-year-old child stands in front of her damaged school in Idleb, Syria. October 2016. Photo: UNICEF

Suffering of Syria children "hit rock bottom" in 2016, UNICEF says

The suffering of children in war-torn Syria "hit rock bottom" in 2016, a report by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has found.

According to the agency, at least 652 children were killed last year; a 20 per cent increase compared to 2015.

Almost half of them were killed near a school. The maiming and recruitment of children also rose sharply as violence increased across the country.

The most vulnerable among Syria’s children are in the hard-to-reach areas, including those living under siege.

After six years of war, nearly six million children now depend on humanitarian assistance; a twelve-fold increase from 2012.

Millions of children have been displaced, some up to seven times.

Haitians affected by Hurricane Matthew still need help: UN expert

Haitians affected by Hurricane Matthew still need help, an independent UN expert said following a visit to the country.

Gustavo Gallón recently concluded his eighth official mission to Haiti to monitor the human rights situation in the country within the post-election context.

His comments came after a visit to the High School Nord Alexis in Jérémie, in the Grand’Anse department, where some 525 families affected by Matthew are staying.

Some communities in the south of Haiti have been totally destroyed as a result of the hurricane which swept over the Caribbean nation in early October last year.

The UN estimates that over 600 people died in the disaster.

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Robert Glasser, is urging countries to support a nearly US$3 billion plan to help Haiti recover from Hurricane Matthew.

UN expert warns about a proposed "homeless ban" in Australia

The city council in Melbourne, Australia is due to vote on a so-called "homeless ban" that would legitimize discriminatory stereotypes of an already marginalized population, a UN independent expert has said.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, Leilani Farha issued the warning on Monday.

The proposed measures include a ban on camping in Melbourne and the potential for penalties to be imposed on anyone who leaves items unattended in public.

Homeless people are not specifically referenced, but it is clear they are a target, Ms Farha stressed.

The amendment was put forward following the forcible removal of a homeless camp in the city centre in February, she added.

The Special Rapporteur released a report on homelessness as a global human rights crisis, last year.

There has been a 74 per cent increase in the homeless population in Melbourne over a two-year period prompting concern from residents and local advocates.

In 2016 it was estimated that 250 people were sleeping rough in the city.

Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation.

The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 3’02″

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