News in brief 5 September 2017 – Geneva (AM)

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Members of the Rohingya community crossing the border into Bangladesh. Photo: Azam Sheikh Ali Haider / UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

More than 5,000 civilians killed in Yemen as UN's Zeid renews call for international probe

The humanitarian crisis is the worst in the world in Yemen where there's little hope of a negotiated end to hostilities soon.

That's the view of Muhammad Ali Ansour, chief of the Middle East and North Africa section at the UN human rights office, OHCHR.

He was speaking in Geneva at the launch of new UN report listing serious rights violations by all parties to the conflict, which is well into its third year.

"The catastrophe is entirely man-made and a direct result of the behaviour of the parties to the conflict including indiscriminate attacks. We have seen attacks on markets, residential areas, hospitals, schools, funeral gatherings and even on fishermen and small civilian boats at sea."

This latest UN report into the Yemen conflict details ongoing rights violations in which civilians continue to be the target of attacks.

Since March 2015, at least 5,000 people have been killed; more than one in five of them was a child.

Mr Ansour also noted that the "leading cause of civilian casualties" were airstrikes by pro-government coalition forces.

Almost double the number of airstrikes were recorded in the first three months of 2017 in three governorates compared with the previous six months.

Coinciding with the report's publication, UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein repeated his call for an international independent body to investigate violations and punish those responsible.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights said that pressure was growing for justice against offenders and that the international community's "reticence" in acting was "shameful".

Of Yemen's 27 million people, almost 19 million are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Bangladesh/Rohingya situation “at breaking point” – UN agencies

Efforts to help more than 120,000 refugees who've fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh are at "breaking point" in places, the UN said on Tuesday.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said that two Bangladeshi camps had been overwhelmed by the number of people needing help.

Duniya Aslam Khan is a spokesperson for UNHCR in Geneva:

"With hundreds of new refugees streaming in every day, Kutupalong and Nayapara camps are at breaking point. The new arrivals are hosted by refugee families and in schools, community centres and madrassas, and we are running out of available space."

UN migration agency IOM is coordinating the relief effort with other UN agencies and partners.

It has appealed for US $18 million to help the many people living in makeshift shelters and without food.

The funding is needed to provide lifesaving services including clean water, sanitation, shelter, food and healthcare for the next three months.

Psycho-social support is also required for victims of sexual violence, UN Children's Fund UNICEF warned.

Before this latest influx of refugees, some 200,000 undocumented Myanmar nationals were already living in makeshift settlements in Cox's Bazar in south-east Bangladesh.

Suicide an increased risk in refugee groups – WHO

And staying with refugees, there's growing evidence to suggest that they are especially susceptible to suicide, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

The development comes ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday 10 September.

Dr Alessandra Fleischmann is a scientist with WHO's Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse: "In refugees populations you do have increased rates of suicide and in regard to moving to different territories, people have in these times of change, higher rates of suicide."

According to WHO data there are 800,000 suicides every year – one every 40 seconds.

Younger people are most affected in the 15-34 age range.

And among 15 to 29 year-olds, suicide is the second leading cause of death.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 4’00″

 

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