News in Brief 14 July 2017 (AM) – Geneva

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Shoppers wait in line for five hours to buy a ration of bread from a small bakery in Cumaná, Venezuela. Photo: Meridith Kohut/IRIN

Venezuela security forces urged to respect demonstrators' rights

Venezuela's government should ensure that the country's military avoids using excessive force against demonstrators amid reports of intimidation, the UN said on Friday.

The appeal from the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) comes as protests continue against the government of Nicolas Maduro.

Since April, 92 people have died in demonstrations.

Here's OHCHR spokesperson Liz Throssell:

"We have received accounts from several sources that some members of the Venezuelan security forces have used repressive tactics, intimidating and instilling fear, to try to deter people from demonstrating. In addition, thousands of demonstrators are reported to have been arbitrarily detained, and we are very concerned that more than 450 civilians have reportedly been brought before military tribunals.

This Sunday, the opposition-led National Assembly plans to hold a public meeting to question President Maduro's rewriting of the constitution.

The UN human rights office urged the authorities to respect the rights of those who wished to take part.

It also condemned all violence including an explosion in Caracas earlier this month that injured seven National Guards.

According to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, asylum applications by Venezuelans have "soared" amid ongoing demonstrations.

The agency says that more than 52,000 people have applied for shelter abroad so far this year – nearly twice as many as in 2016.

DRC Kasai displaced recount horrors after fleeing machetes, guns

Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) Kasai region has forced more than 1.3 million people to flee their homes.

That's according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Its latest warning follows clashes between government and local Kamuina Nsapo militia which flared last August in the vast central region, which is the size of Germany.

UNHCR's William Spindler told journalists in Geneva that some of the displaced had been attacked with machetes or suffered bullet wounds:

"Many said that they spent weeks fleeing through the dense forest without food, drinking water, medicine or clothes and saw people dying on the way, including women and children. Other vulnerable cases included civilians wounded or mutilated, with machete and gunshot wounds. Many new arrivals show signs of deep trauma after having experienced or witnessed atrocities, in a situation where no psycho-social support is available."

Most of the displaced have found shelter with host communities outside Kasai, but UNHCR says that delivering aid to them is difficult, because of poor road conditions and security concerns.

The agency also warns that other armed groups are "springing up" and targeting civilians as conflict with the government grows.

Mosul displaced pass one million mark

More than one million people have been displaced from the Iraqi city of Mosul.

The announcement from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) comes as the nine-month battle continues to drive out the last ISIL extremists from their stronghold in the west of the city.

Here's the UN migration agency's spokesperson Joel Millman:

"This was the week, in fact, yesterday was the day that total displacement from the activities in east and west Mosul reached over a million displaced, cumulatively since the activity last October began to retake Mosul."

Across Iraq, more than 3.3 million people have fled their homes since January 2014.

IOM has described the situation as "an enormous crisis" and said that it will continue to work with local and national authorities to help the vulnerable.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’39″

 

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