News in Brief 12 September 2017 – Geneva (AM)

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A refugee in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where camp capacity is stretched beyond capacity. Photo: UNHCR/Adam Dean

Myanmar refugee exodus reaches “unprecedented” levels

More than 370,000 refugees have now arrived in Bangladesh after fleeing violence in neighbouring Myanmar in recent days, the UN said on Tuesday.

Jean Lieby – Chief Child Protection officer for UNICEF in the country – said that 60 per cent of the arrivals are children.

Many have arrived exhausted and sick in Cox's Bazar in south-east Bangladesh.

"The scale of this influx and the speed as well is really unprecedented in Bangladesh. Just to give you an idea, 220,000 people entered Bangladesh in only six days between 4 and 10 September. We have no indication as for now that this influx will stop soon."

IOM, the UN migration agency, said that the refugees – who are Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine state – face "grave danger" in Myanmar.

A government security operation was launched in Rakhine state after coordinated attacks on police posts in August.

On Monday UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein described the operation as "textbook ethnic cleansing".

UN agencies and partners have already responded to meet urgent needs.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said that two emergency flights had landed in Bangladesh with essential items including blankets and tents – one from Dubai and the other from United Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme said that it has provided warm meals to nearly 80,000 people so far, along with high energy biscuits to nearly 70,000.

Most EU-bound migrant youths face direct abuse: IOM/UNICEF

Nearly eight in 10 migrant youths bound for Europe face abuse, exploitation and trafficking on one of the most commonly used routes via North Africa, UN agencies warned on Tuesday.

In a joint report from IOM – the UN migration agency – and UNHCR – the UN refugee agency – data suggests that many young migrants set out for Europe with no way of paying for their trip.

It's a sure sign that traffickers are involved, says IOM spokesperson Leonard Doyle:

"People willingly go there, they pay for the journey, but they do not realise they are stepping into a trap. The women are put into the sex slave trade or sold as slaves, the boys are hugely abused."

UNICEF's Sarah Crowe said that children from Sub-Saharan Africa are most at risk of being exploited, beaten and discriminated against.

In the report, one 16-year-old child from the Gambia described how he was forced into months of manual labour by traffickers in Libya.

Ms Crowe expressed concern that safe and legal migration routes should exist for children and they should never be detained.

She added that far less is now known about what happens to migrants travelling to Europe from Libya after many boats stopped coming in August.

Yemen's cholera toll is "appalling", says UN health agency

Yemen's deadly cholera epidemic is proving difficult to stop amid ongoing access problems linked to conflict between coalition forces loyal to President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Houthi-backed opposition fighters, the UN has said.

The warning from the World Health Organization (WHO) comes as the total number of those infected with cholera approaches 650,000.

The latest outbreak in Yemen began in April; it has claimed 2,065 lives so far.

WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said that although the fatality rate is low, it was still "appalling" that so many people have succumbed to the easily preventable disease.

"We just really want to remind everyone how difficult it is for all of us to respond to this because conflict is ongoing. We obviously know that only peace can really restore health systems, and if there is no peaceful solution then Yemenis will continue to face diseases and death."

Difficulties in accessing clean water continue to pose a major health threat in the Arabian peninsula country – already one of the poorest countries on earth before the conflict, which escalated in March 2015.

According to WHO, more than half of Yemen's health facilities are not open or only partially functioning, leaving at least 15 million people without access to basic care.

Disarmament efforts should proceed with "new urgency": top UN official

Efforts towards a nuclear weapons-free world at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament must continue urgently amid growing global tensions, the UN's senior disarmament official said on Tuesday.

Under Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, was speaking at the UN in Geneva, after new Security Council measures against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), following its nuclear test on 3 September.

She rejected the idea that some Member States were intent on going to war, and on forcing DPRK's leader Kim Jong-un to step down:

"No one is really asking for the collapse of the DPRK, no one is you know, talking about regime change, quite the contrary. I have messages stated by all the countries concerned that it is not their intentions… But we must make sure that there will be an entry point into a dialogue and negotiations leading to a peaceful solution."

The UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva is the only multilateral forum tasked with tackling the issue.

Ms Nakamitsu urged the forum to break free from its stalemate which had prevented it from making progress for more than 20 years.

She added that she believed a "common sense of urgency" was emerging among its members.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 5’37″

 

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