News in Brief 22 August 2017 (AM)

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Yazidi refugees, including several children, go about their lives in Nawrouz refugee camp, approximately 40 kilometres from the Syrian border with Iraq. Photo: UNICEF/Razan Rashidi

Appeal for justice for ISIL's women victims in Iraq

Authorities in Iraq are being urged to ensure that thousands of women and girls who survived rape and other sexual violence committed by ISIL fighters receive care, protection and justice.

Furthermore, children born to them should not face a life of discrimination and abuse.

The appeal comes in a joint report launched on Tuesday by the UN human rights office, OHCHR, and the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI).

Women and girls victimized by the terrorist group, who include members of the Yazidi community, an ethnic and religious minority, have suffered rape, sexual assault, forced displacement, abduction, slavery, forced religious conversion and other human rights abuses.

Liz Throssell is a spokesperson with the UN human rights office, which is based in Geneva.

"The High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has said that the physical, mental, and emotional injuries inflicted by ISIL are “almost beyond comprehension,” and that if victims are to rebuild their lives, and those of their children, they need both justice and redress. The Iraqi Government has the obligation, under domestic law and international human rights law, to ensure all victims have access to justice and reparations. This obligation includes ensuring accountability of the alleged perpetrators through trials before independent and impartial tribunals, conducted in a gender-sensitive manner so as not to perpetuate victims' suffering.

The report contains several recommendations, for example regarding access to justice, provision of support and care for victims, and information and counselling services to reunite separated families.

 

UN rights chief welcomes rape law reform in three countries

UN Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has welcomed the decision by three countries to repeal laws allowing rapists to avoid prosecution by marrying their victims.

Lebanon, Tunisia and Jordan made the legislative changes over a recent three-week period.

"These are hard-won victories, thanks to the tireless campaigns over the years by human rights defenders – in particular women human rights defenders," according to a statement issued by Zeid's office.

The UN rights chief called on the three countries, and other countries in the region, to build on what he described as "this positive momentum," and work to repeal other legislation that condones sexual violence against women and girls or perpetuates discrimination against them.

As an example, he cited a law in Lebanon which grants freedom to those accused of having sex with a minor if they marry their victims.

 

UNICEF concerned about children affected by Gaza power crisis

Power shortages in the Gaza Strip have decreased people's access to water by one third over the past four months.

That information comes from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), in a statement issued on Tuesday.

UNICEF said Gaza's worsening electricity means that families have less than six hours of power supply each day.

Meanwhile, more than 450 water and water facilities have been affected, thus raising the risk of waterborne illnesses amid hot summer weather.

Children make up half of the two million people in Gaza, and UNICEF reports that diarrhoea cases among children under three have doubled in the past months.

The UN agency is urging all sides to work to resolve the water, sanitation and electricity crisis so that children there can have access to services that are essential for their well-being.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 3’32”

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