News in Brief 19 September 2017 – Geneva (AM)

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Refugees from Myanmar’s Rakhine State including this mother-of-six shelter on a muddy embankment near a camp for the displaced in Cox’s Bazar, south-east Bangladesh. Photo: UNHCR

No let-up in misery of Myanmar refugees sheltering in Bangladesh

Efforts are under way to prevent the humanitarian crisis involving Myanmar refugees in Bangladesh from turning into a disaster, the UN said on Tuesday.

More than 420,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh since 25 August, following a security operation in Myanmar's Rakhine State.

UNICEF, the UN Children's Fund, said that a quarter of a million of them are children.

After an arduous journey across the border, UNICEF's Marixie Mercado said that the risks they face are becoming clearer:

"In Cox's Bazar people are literally living on top of each other, there's an acute shortage of safe water, it is raining again, there's anecdotal evidence of mothers breastfeeding less. And almost 20,000 latrines are needed just to provide basic emergency sanitation. The priority now is to prevent the humanitarian crisis from turning into a humanitarian disaster."

At the Human Rights Council in Geneva, a UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar said that the situation required urgent international attention.

In an update to the Council, chair of the panel Marzuki Darusman said that nearly 200 Rohingya villages had been "emptied" in the security operation in Rakhine State.

He added that there was evidence that landmines had been planted on the border with Bangladesh, "maiming and killing" those trying to escape the violence.

Myanmar, speaking as the concerned country, rejected the UN mission's mandate.

Nothing justified the attacks on 30 police posts in late August, the delegation said in Geneva, before likening the violence to acts of terrorism.

Indiscriminate attacks claim new victims in Yemen

Ongoing violence linked to all warring parties in Yemen has claimed the lives of at least eight children in the past week, the UN human rights office OHCHR said on Tuesday.

According to witnesses, three youngsters died in two apparently indiscriminate mortar attacks in Taizz on 15 September.

An airstrike the following day claimed the lives of five children and seven adults in Marib.

Here's OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville:

"All these incidents demonstrate the horrific impact on children and families, and all civilians, of the ongoing brutal war. Once again, we urge all sides to exercise restraint and to cease all indiscriminate attacks and take all possible precautions to properly distinguish military objectives from civilian objects and to ensure that their attacks are never directed either at civilians or civilian objects.”

Since March 2015, more than 5,100 civilians have been killed in the Arabian peninsula state, amid clashes between the internationally-recognised government of President Rabd Hadi and Houthi-backed rebels.

Cholera campaign in Nigeria's Borno State targets 900,000 people

A massive cholera vaccination campaign targeting more than 900,000 people has begun in north-east Nigeria, "buying valuable time" to restore essential services for people affected by violence, the UN and partners have said.

The campaign's target is to ensure that everyone over the age of one in Borno State is given one dose of cholera vaccine.

To date, at least 40 people have died from the disease since mid-August and there have been more than 2,600 suspected cases.

The sickness has been linked to heavy rains and a lack of access to clean water, and the majority of the cases come from a camp for people displaced by violence linked to Boko Haram militia.

Dr Seth Berkley from UN-partner GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, said that the lifesaving vaccines would help slow the spread of disease and buy time to restore clean water and sanitation access.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 3’30″

 

 

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