News in Brief 02 November 2017 (AM)

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Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, addresses the Security Council. UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Political solution to conflicts key to ending displacement: UN refugee chief

World leaders have been urged to find a political solution to conflicts if the rising numbers of forcibly displaced people are ever to return home.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi made the appeal in a speech to the UN Security Council on Thursday.

Mr Grandi reported that the number of people globally who have been forced to abandon their homes is now approaching 66 million; up from 42 million in 2009.

He told ambassadors that this "sharp rise in forced displacement" reflects weaknesses in international cooperation, and declining capacity to prevent, contain and resolve conflicts.

"Have we become unable to broker peace? I ask this question here, in the Security Council – whose raisons d'être are peace and security – because I see the direct impact of these failures, every day, on the lives of tens of millions of people, forced to abandon their homes with grim prospects of being able to return for generations. When I meet refugees, their first question is not about food or shelter, but about peace and security – because it is security, and peace, that will convince them to return home."

The High Commissioner for Refugees urged ambassadors to support preventive measures "to address the causes of conflict and avoid deepening displacement crises".

He also called on UN peacekeepers and humanitarians to protect civilians affected by conflict while also remaining neutral and impartial.

Furthermore, he said international efforts to fight people trafficking need to be stepped up.

UN experts call for end to attacks on journalists

Hate speech, including by senior politicians, has spurred a "downward spiral of attacks" against journalists, two UN human rights experts have said.

Their comments came in a statement to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, observed this Thursday, 2 November.

So far this year, more than 30 journalists have been killed in attacks, according to the two UN Special Rapporteurs who are experts on the issues of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

They said assaults against investigative reporters, including independent journalists, freelancers and bloggers, "undermine official accountability and help entrench corruption and other abuses of power."

They said "The attacks need to stop. So too does the public demonization of reporting and specific media outlets and reporters by political leaders at the highest levels."

Despite drop in deaths, diarrhoea still deadly for Afghan children: UNICEF

The number of Afghan children under five dying from diarrhea each year has dropped below 10,000 for the first time, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported on Thursday.

However, the agency said the disease still claims the lives of 26 children every day.

UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan Adele Khodr said these deaths are "particularly tragic" as in most case they can be easily avoided.

"Using a toilet and washing your hands is literally a matter of life or death," she stated.

Ms Khodr said providing access to safe water and improved sanitation facilities in villages and towns across Afghanistan is critical.

She also highlighted the importance of community-led efforts to improve hygiene practices.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 3’37″

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