News in Brief 8 September 2017 – Geneva (AM)

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Newborn twin babies at Myanmar Refugee Camp in Bangladesh, born to their mother nine days ago after she fled her home in Myanmar. Photo: UNHCR

Bangladesh camps for "desperate" Myanmar refugees are full to capacity

Bangladeshi camps and facilities for Myanmar refugees fleeing violence are "full to capacity", but there has been no let-up in the number of arrivals, the UN said on Friday.

IOM, the International Organization for Migration, is coordinating the international response by UN agencies and partners, amid an ongoing military clampdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

Spokesperson for IOM Leonard Doyle said that said that 270,000 Rohingya Muslims are now seeking shelter at Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh.

Overcrowding has left many people out in the open, he said:

"The new arrivals start by looking for space in the established makeshift settlements where there are some services, these are already full to capacity in terms of space and in terms of resources for them. A large number of people are living on the side of the road without any resources whatsoever. Humanitarian agencies are deploying mobile medical teams, installing emergency latrines, providing water, distributing tarpaulins for basic shelter and food rations to the new arrivals."

A surge in the number of arrivals on Wednesday came after at least 300 boats reached the Bangladesh coastline, braving rough seas in the Bay of Bengal.

UN Refugee Agency UNHCR warned that the "vast number" are women and children, and that one of the displaced was a nine-day-old baby.

Spokesperson Duniya Aslam Khan told journalists in Geneva that the Rohingya refugees have been a stateless minority in Myanmar who have faced discrimination and extreme poverty for decades.

 

UN: "All hands on deck" to assist victims of monster storm

Efforts are well under way to help the victims of hurricane Irma amid concerns that it is set to continue its destructive trail for many more days.

UN humanitarian coordinating agency OCHA said on Friday that specialists have been mobilized to go to Haiti, Barbados and Jamaica.

Supplies were pre-positioned before Irma – a maximum category five hurricane that has been downgraded to category four – struck the Caribbean.

But near 300 kilometre per hour winds have caused catastrophic damage.

To date, three people have been killed in Barbuda, where most buildings were destroyed, leaving islanders without power or basic services.

WFP, the World Food Programme, has sent enough food to Haiti to feed 150,000 people for a month, and 270,000 people in Cuba.

Irma did not make landfall on either island but flooding remains a threat in the event of storm surges.

Here's WFP spokesperson Bettina Luescher:

"To all the people who are in the path, who have the chance to get out, get out. Listen to the rescue teams, get out, this is a monster storm . Really heed the advice, this is a monster storm and we from the UN are all hands on deck to help the folks who are affected."

At the time of recording this bulletin, the latest update from WMO's Regional Specialized Meteorological Center Miami (the US National Hurricane Center) indicates life-threatening wind, storm surges and rainfall hazards to the low-lying Turks and Caicos Islands and parts of the Bahamas on Saturday.

 

We must turn turn page on sexual exploitation, says UN peacekeeping chief

Sexual abuse by peacekeepers is outrageous and it is time to make reforms so that that the UN can "turn the page" on the issue.

That's the message from Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, who's been talking to the Press in Geneva.

UN troops seconded from Member States have been accused of sexual abuse in places including Central African Republic, Haiti and Sudan.

"Sexual exploitation and abuse cases are not only outrageous and shocking, and of course the victims were the first affected, But also tens of thousands of colleagues and good peacekeepers who are doing this really dedicated and their good work is being tarnished by really what just a few people did and casts really a shadow over peacekeeping."

Turning to other priorities, Mr Lacroix stressed that one of them was getting more women involved in operations on the ground.

And amid a "much more difficult and dangerous security environment", the Under Secretary-General added that UN peacekeepers needed to be "better equipped and better trained" as well as perhaps smaller in number but quicker to respond to problems.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 4:25″

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UN Radio Daily News Programme
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