News in Brief 28 July 2017 (AM) - Geneva

28 July 2017

Syria reaches "low point" on aid deliveries: OCHA

Humanitarian deliveries to the most vulnerable communities in Syria are at a “low point”, the UN said on Friday.

Here’s Jens Laerke from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):

“In July there has been no inter-agency convoys to any besieged area, the deliveries to hard-to-reach areas is down to one per week.”

More than half a million people live in 11 besieged locations in the war-torn country and there are four million people in hard-to-reach areas.

Aid continues to be air-dropped into eastern Deir Ez Zour, Mr Laerke said.

So far in July the UN and its partners have reached just over a third of the one million people who were to receive aid.

Vietnam blogger should be released after “flawed” trial: OHCHR

The jailing in Vietnam of an internet blogger one month after the detention of another online activist known as Mother Mushroom signals an “intensifying crackdown” against rights defenders, the UN said on Friday.

The warning from the UN human rights office (OHCHR) comes after Tran Thi Nga was sentenced to nine years’ in prison and five years’ house arrest for so-called “anti-State propaganda” posted online.

Her trial lasted just one day, according to OHCHR spokesperson Liz Throssell, who said that Tran was kept “in incommunicado detention” for six months prior to going before a judge.

“Over the last six months, at least seven other human rights defenders have been arrested and face prosecution, several dozen are currently detained, and two have been deported or sent into exile abroad. Many others have been intimidated, harassed and brutally beaten. Human rights defenders should never be treated as criminals who are a threat to national security.”

In a statement the UN human rights agency called for the release of all those detained in similar circumstances, and to amend what it called “overly broad” laws to crack down on dissent on national security grounds.

Appeal over Venezuela ban on demonstrations ahead of key vote

The Venezuelan government’s ban on demonstrations ahead of a key vote on Sunday is concerning given the “hugely tense situation” there, the UN said on Friday.

OHCHR, the UN human rights office, called on Caracas to respect those who oppose this weekend’s election for a Constituent Assembly, to be set up in parallel to the National Assembly.

Liz Throssell is a spokesperson for OHCHR:

“The wishes of the Venezuelan people to participate or not in this election need to be respected. No one should be obliged to vote, while those willing to take part should be able to do so freely…

I think in view of the demonstrations that have been ongoing. It is a very tense and a very difficult situation, so I think with respect to that it has been very difficult and that’s why we are so concerned for example that there is a ban on demonstrations from today until 1 August. “We are speaking out now because given the hugely tense situation that Venezuela is in, we really want to repeat our call for calm and for peaceful protest, and we are calling on all sides, as we have repeatedly done, to use only peaceful means to make their views heard.”

It’s been reported that around 100 people have been killed in demonstrations against the authorities in the South American state since April.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 2'57"


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