News in Brief 6 June 2017 (AM) – Geneva

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A camp for Mosul residents displaced by fighting in the northern Iraqi city. Photo: UNHCR/Ivor Prickett

Mosul civilians lie dead in street: Zeid tells Human Rights Council

The bodies of Iraqi men, women and children murdered by ISIL extremists lie in the streets of Western Mosul, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Tuesday.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein was addressing the Human Rights Council in Geneva, on the opening day of its 35th session.

He told Member States that responsibility for the deaths lay with ISIL – also known as Daesh – who are fighting Iraqi military forces.

"The brutality of Daesh and other terrorist groups seemingly knows no bounds. Yesterday, my staff reported to me that bodies of murdered Iraqi men, women and children are still lying on the streets of the al-Shira neighbourhood of western Mosul, after at least 163 people were shot and killed by Daesh on 1 June to prevent them from fleeing."

After condemning terrorist attacks on civilians in many part of the world, Zeid called for governments to eradicate the threat.

But he cautioned against trampling on people's rights:

"Please remember this: for every citizen wrongfully detained under a vague anti-terrorism law, and humiliated, abused, or tortured, it is not simply one individual who then nurses a grievance against the authorities, but most of their family too. Send one innocent person to prison, and you may deliver six or seven family members into the hands of those who oppose the government, with a few who may even go further than that."

The 47-member UN body is due to meet until 23 June.

In flood-damaged Sri Lanka, disease spiralling out of control

Disease is starting to "spiral out of control" in flood-hit Sri Lanka, the UN has warned, weeks after deadly flooding and landslides hit the country.

UN Children's Fund UNICEF says that more than 684,000 people in 15 provinces were affected by the aftermath of Tropical Storm Mora, which left nearly 300 dead or missing.

In the southern district of Matara, UNICEF country representative Tim Sutton said that flood waters have not receded, raising fears of mosquito-borne disease transmission.

"So far we have delivered water and sanitation supplies, we are working on education supplies, strengthening health systems and rehabilitating basic health services and working on disease control for both diarrhoea and dengue which is starting to spiral out of control."

So far this year there have already been more than 53,000 cases of dengue, which causes severe flu-like symptoms.

It is a leading cause of death among children and adults in Sri Lanka.

In many flood-hit districts, Mr Sutton said that the Sri Lankan government had found it difficult to assess the extent of the damage because many civil servants had been caught up in the disaster.

To help at least 21,000 people still living in emergency shelters, UNICEF is calling for US$ 3.5 million. One of its priorities is to keep vulnerable children safe.

You can hear an interview with UNICEF's Tim Sutton on our news website at unmultimedia.org.

Funding squeeze threatens 60,000 Syrian refugee families

A lack of funding is jeopardizing 60,000 Syrian refugee families living in Lebanon and Jordan, the UN warned on Tuesday.

Those at risk fled from their country's conflict, which is in its seventh year.

Seventy per cent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon live under the national poverty line, according to UN Refugee Agency UNHCR.

Spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told journalists in Geneva that for many, cash assistance is their only means of buying medicine and food:

"We are warning today that without urgent funding some 60,000 Syrian refugee families will be cut from monthly cash assistance programmes in Lebanon and Jordan as early as July. Vital parts of UNHCR's response to the needs of Syrian refugees are critically underfunded. Additional contributions are urgently required to avoid dramatic and deep cuts to both basic and life-saving services to Syrian refugees in the second half of the year."

UNHCR needs nearly US$ 190 million for its programmes in Lebanon and Jordan, where there are more than 1.6 million Syrian refugees.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 4’06″

 

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