News in Brief 30 May 2017 (AM) – Geneva

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Veronique and her children who spent 6 months hiding in the bush in Bohong after violence broke out in Central African Republic. Photo: UNICEF/ Logan

CAR rights violations chart 13 years of "violence and impunity" as 88,000 flee violence

Details of horrific rights violations amounting to war crimes in Central African Republic are to be handed over to a special court there tasked with fighting impunity.

The UN human rights office, OHCHR, said that it had details of more than 600 instances of abuse between 2003 and 2015 in CAR.

The mineral-rich country has suffered decades of instability and violence since declaring independence in 1960.

It has seen a spike in fighting in several parts of the country between rival groups and the targeted killing of civilians since November last year.

OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said that the report – carried out in collaboration with the UN Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) – documented "patterns" of serious rights violations by successive government forces, as well as local and foreign armed groups.

"The report, which was mandated by the UN Security Council, documents in detail 620 incidents including horrific accounts of entire villages being burnt to the ground in reprisal attacks, multiple accounts of gang rapes of girls as young as five."

The Central African Republic's Special Criminal Court was set up in 2015 by the CAR government to investigate rights crimes and to promote reconciliation.

News of the OHCHR report comes as the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said that nearly 90,000 people have fled surging violence between armed groups.

Hundreds have been reportedly killed in central Bria alone, the agency added, in a call for extra funding to help alleviate the crisis.

Disease fears follow Sri Lanka's deadly flooding

Fears are growing of a potential disease outbreak in Sri Lanka following deadly floods that have displaced well over half a million people.

IOM, the International Organization for Migration, reported on Tuesday that some 180 people had died in southern and central Sri Lanka, mainly from landslides in recent days.

A further 109 people are still missing, making the disaster the worst to hit the flood-prone country since 2003.

Here's IOM spokesperson Joel Millman:

"Drinking water is a huge concern, and so is non-food relief items and shelter, we're trying to get it to people as best they can with breaks in the rain."

UN-partner the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) said that it remained very concerned about disease spreading in a country where dengue is endemic.

Spokesperson Matthew Cochrane told journalists in Geneva that the improved national weather forecast was reassuring, but more bad weather was likely.

"There's standing and stagnating water and we're very concerned about the breeding of mosquitos. There has been some good news, the Sri Lanka Met Office has apparently just today changed its forecast of further bad weather this weekend. But as my colleague from Sri Lanka Red Cross reminded me, it's the monsoon season and there are tens of thousands of people who are now living outside their homes and there's more bad weather coming, not this weekend, but it is certainly coming."

Deadly bomb strike in Yemen condemned

A bomb attack in war-torn Yemen that killed three reporters has been condemned by UN agency UNESCO.

Photojournalists Taqi Al-Din Al-Huthaifi, Wael Al-Absi, and Sa'ad Al-Nadhari died while they were covering clashes in the south-western city of Taiz last Friday.

A statement from UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova reminded parties to the conflict that attacks on the media are a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.

According to UNESCO, 30 media professionals have died in the field since the beginning of 2017.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’49″

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