News in Brief 20 January 2017 (AM) – Geneva

20 January 2017

45,000 people “have fled the Gambia” amid election uncertainty

At least 45,000 people have fled the Gambia amid uncertainty about who is to lead the country after former President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to step down.

Refugee agency UNHCR announced the figure on Friday in Geneva, saying that the displaced had sought shelter in Senegal, where Adama Barrow was sworn in as President of The Gambia on Thursday.

Here’s UNHCHR spokesperson Babar Baloch:

“Over 75 per cent of arrivals are children, accompanied mainly by women. They are staying with family members, host families or in hotels. Some families are hosting up to 40 to 50 people and will soon need support as they may quickly run out of resources.”

Senegal, which surrounds The Gambia, has put in place support for up to 100,000 displaced people.

UNHCR says it is ready to help register the arrivals and coordinate the humanitarian response with the authorities.

“Brutal” cold in Europe adds to plight of refugee children, says UNICEF

An appeal has been launched to help thousands of refugee and migrant children stranded in basic facilities in Europe as extreme cold weather and storms continue.

Almost 24,000 youngsters are stuck in bureaucratic “limbo” in Greece and the Balkans, according to UN Children’s Fund UNICEF.

This number includes infants and newborns, mostly from war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Talking to journalists in Geneva, agency spokesperson Sarah Crowe said that young children are more vulnerable to disease and infection.

She emphasised the psychological impact of overcrowded and ill-equipped conditions and called for the authorities to provide more appropriate accommodation.

“This is not just about clothes and socks and shoes for children who are left out in the cold. This is fundamentally about children being victims of this uncertainty, of this bureaucratic backlog which has put them in this state of limbo. And this has a huge impact as well on their mental health.”

New round of Cyprus talks focus on security guarantees

Renewed efforts to heal divisions in Cyprus with talks between all parties involved in the island’s future have been successful and will continue, the UN has announced.

The news comes from UN Special Advisor Espen Barthe Eide, who said in a statement that two days of discussions had taken place in Switzerland on Thursday.

He is due to brief the Security Council about the latest developments on Monday 23 January.

Key subjects were tackled at Mont Pelerin, the venue for the talks, where a working group of technical experts had gathered.

These included security and guarantees for the Mediterranean island, which has been split since 1974.

No further details of the discussions are available as per an agreement made by the participants, Mr Eide’s statement added.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 2'45"


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