News in Brief 31 August 2017 – Geneva (AM)

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A child stands amid debris in Aleppo, Syria, where cluster munitions continue to be used, according to monitors. Photo: OCHA/Romenzi

Cluster munition casualties almost exclusively in Syria

Casualties from cluster munitions doubled in the last year and civilians accounted for nearly all of the victims, the UN and civil society partners said on Thursday.

Of nearly 1,000 victims identified in 10 countries, almost all were from Syria, according to the Cluster Munition Monitor 2017.

The real figure is much higher, according to overall editor Jeff Abramson.

He told journalists in Geneva that the cluster weapons continue to be used in Syria, causing an "extreme number of casualties".

Here's fellow report editor Loren Persi:

"The vast majority of those casualties occurred in Syria and mostly during attacks, there was really unrelenting use of cluster munitions in Syria and Syria has been the reason for the majority of cluster munition casualties since 2013, definitely. Actually in 2016 almost 90 per cent of the casualties occurred in Syria."

The threat from cluster munitions is rarely short-lived, according to the report, which records casualties in places where the weapons have not been used for decades – including in South-East Asian countries such as Lao People's Democratic Republic.

UK could do more on disability rights, say UN experts

Rights experts have urged the UK to do more to promote disability policy amid concerns that legislation is not being implemented adequately there.

The recommendation follows a dialogue on the issue at the UN in Geneva, which is home to the

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The UK was one of a number of countries whose disability rights were examined by the panel, as part of a regular review.

Committee expert Stig Langvad described the Member State's policy as "inconsistent".

He said that the UK had failed to secure the rights of persons with disabilities, notably their independence.

"Persons with disabilities are in our view are not able to choose where to live, with whom to live and how to live. The funding is closed down by the State party and is transferred to the decentralised part of the State party and without additional funding. So persons with disabilities are still facing the risk of institutionalisation and not being able to live within the community."

Many States considered the United Kingdom to be an example to follow, Mr Langvad added, which meant that that it had a "special obligation" to set high standards in accordance with international law.

Disabilities no barrier to Chinese performers at UN

And finally, staying with the theme of disabilities, a deaf and partially sighted musical dance act from China is putting the final touches to their performance at the UN.

The name of the troupe is My Dream.

They've toured the world and given more than 100 performances so far – but this is their first time at the UN in Geneva.

Here's Wang Jing, Vice President of My Dream, taking time out from rehearsals, which look like much like any other dance act – except for the use of sign language:

"I've been working with them for over 30 years so I'm a founding member of this armed troupe. Back in those days no-one expected that anyone with disabilities could create such a great miracle and they are turning the impossible into the possible. I love our artists very much and I'm very excited and proud to have worked with them for so long."

Wang Jing added that although people with disabilities face particular challenges, China was committed to improving their daily lives in education, employment, social security protection and human rights.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’49″

 

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