News in Brief 10 October 2017 - Geneva (AM)

10 October 2017

Aid agencies back on “full alert” amid new Myanmar refugee exodus

Aid workers in Bangladesh are on “full alert”, preparing for a potential new mass influx of refugees from Myanmar, after more than 11,000 people arrived in the south-east of the country in a single day.

New arrivals said they had fled killings and the burning of their homes in northern Rakhine state, according to reports from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Many of the new arrivals are Rohingya Muslims who had walked for up to 14 days, carrying their children and whatever they could pack at short notice.

Here’s agency spokesperson Adrian Edwards:

“We’re back in a situation of full alert as far as influxes are concerned. It is a big increase to see 11,000. We have had big numbers coming across by the day in the six weeks of this emergency, so we”’re approaching some of those peak levels. Clearly, we have to be prepared for more arrivals. Those who’ve come across, we’ve seen injuries among them, we’ve seen trauma among them, it’s half a million plus in just this six weeks into Bangladesh. It’s still a situation that has potential to worsen and as I’ve said and I think others have said repeatedly, the health needs cannot be overstated at this time.”

The violence that sparked the exodus began at the end of August, after militants attacked police posts in Myanmar, prompting military reprisals by the government.

New nuclear deal treaty “cannot be ignored” says UN General Assembly President

A new international treaty to ban nuclear weapons that has the support of two-thirds of UN Member States “cannot be ignored” by the rest of the world, the head of the UN General Assembly said on Tuesday.

Miroslav Lajčák was speaking to journalists in Geneva, where he outlined his priorities for the 72nd United Nations General Assembly, a forum for all 193 members of the organisation.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – the world’s first legally-binding treaty prohibiting the weapons of mass destruction – was adopted on 7 July.

Asked if he thought the agreement would reinvigorate discussions on nuclear non-proliferation as part of the NPT treaty, Mr Lajčák had this to say:

“One thing is clear, if your device is not working, then it will be bypassed. And this is exactly how the process that is not delivering results has been bypassed. And this cannot be ignored, you cannot ignore the will of 120-plus Member States of the United Nations. So it has no direct impact, it’s not binding on the NPT process. But to ignore it would be a big mistake, because it would also mean that you are ignoring two-thirds of the membership of the United Nations."

The General Assembly President added that he did not wish to see the new nuclear weapons treaty come into confrontation with existing disarmament discussions.

Among his other priorities, Mr Lajčák said that migration was a major focus, and that he was in Geneva to participate in the last intergovernmental discussion on the issue, later on this week.

1,000 volunteers train to fight Madagascar plague outbreak

More than 1,000 health workers and volunteers have been enlisted in Madagascar to fight an outbreak of plague, which is far more deadly than previous episodes on the island.

Seventeen people have died in the latest outbreak of pneumonic plague to date.

UN partner the Red Cross warned in a statement on Tuesday that this form of the disease is especially worrying because it passes through the air from person to person, unlike the bubonic strain, which is spread by animals to humans through flea bites.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has already shipped in more than one million doses of antibiotics to Madagascar - enough to treat 5,000 people and provide another 100,000 with protection.

Madagascar’s crowded urban areas, weak health systems and poor infrastructure are contributing to the rapid spread of plague in major cities, the Red Cross said.

After training, its volunteers will provide life-saving support in the form of community surveillance, contact tracing and awareness-raising.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3'58"


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