News in Brief 22 December 2017 – Geneva (AM)

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Refugee children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo walk to school in Uganda’s Kyangwali Refugee settlement in Hoima District. Photo: UNHCR/Isaac Kasamani

DRC violence fuels new displacement

Violence in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has prompted a sharp rise in those fleeing to neighbouring Uganda, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said on Friday.

According to latest reports, more than 2,600 people had left Ituri province this week alone.

That's five times the usual number of arrivals, spokesperson Cécile Pouilly told journalists in Geneva:

"The new arrivals to Uganda are reportedly fleeing intercommunal violence at Djugu territory. Since Monday, there were reports of houses being scorched in the area, and people attacked with machetes."

Most refugees cross Lake Albert on rickety fishing vessels before heading to Sebagoro, a village 270 kilometres north-west of the Ugandan capital Kampala.

UNHCR is stepping up its help to the authorities and transferring the new arrivals to a settlement where the refugees can be registered, offered medical support and hot meals.

Data hub opens to help more people in crisis

A cutting-edge humanitarian aid hub has opened in the Netherlands which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed on Friday as a way to harness technology to better respond to people in crisis.

The UN chief was speaking at the new Centre for Humanitarian Data in The Hague.

It's where data and aid experts will work together to assess the needs of affected people and plan how to respond more quickly.

Mr Guterres said that there are 136 million vulnerable people around the world; the UN and its partners aim to reach more than 90 million of the most needy.

"The challenge is to connect innovation and harness it to help these millions of vulnerable people. And that is exactly what brings us here today, and putting data and technology to work for people in crisis. And that is the promise of the Centre for Humanitarian Data: to get people the support they need more quickly, more efficiently, by harnessing the power of data."

The centre will manage the Humanitarian Data Exchange, an open platform for accessing, sharing and using information from hundreds of organizations and dozens of humanitarian emergencies.

These include Yemen, Somalia and the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Mr Guterres called the centre a "signpost to the future".

But he stressed that while technological innovations flourish and spread, the world faces timeless challenges: war, famine, mass displacement, violations of basic rights and inequality and problems associated with climate change.

UN rights chief Zeid won't stop naming and shaming States

Outgoing UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein will continue to speak out against abuses until the end of his four-year term and not bow to potential pressure to stay silent, his office said on Friday.

The announcement by the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) follows Zeid's decision not to seek a renewal of his mandate next August.

There was "nothing unusual" about this, his spokesperson Rupert Colville said, as second terms for UN rights chiefs are rare:

"It's just the nature of the job, you know, we try very hard to come at the issues not from a political standpoint but from a human rights law standpoint, but realistically you are operating in a political arena and you see that obviously in the Human Rights Council so the second term is a tricky one…I think he said to do so in the current year political context might involve bending a knee in supplication…in other words he might have been put under political pressure to tone down or be quieter but he didn't want to play that game."

Mr Colville said that it was Zeid's view that a six-year term for the UN Human Rights Chief would be more appropriate than the existing four-year mandate.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 3’55″

 

 

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