News in Brief 12 October 2017 (PM)

12 October 2017

Libyan government urged to find alternatives to “horrific” detention centres

The Libyan government needs to establish alternatives to detention centres in the country, where human rights abuses of migrants and others have become “endemic”.

That’s one of the recommendations from UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein after visiting the country on Tuesday to meet government ministers and visit one of the country’s main prisons.

The Human Rights Commissioner also visited a camp for the displaced and met members of Libyan civil society and women human rights defenders.

In a statement, Zeid said he appreciated the magnitude of the challenges facing the country as it tries to unify and repair its shattered infrastructure and economy, following six years of conflict.

Despite “widespread abuses and violations” by all sides, he said the problems were not insurmountable, and he was optimistic for future improvements.

Arbitrary detention of thousands of prisoners must end, he said, and there needed to be accountability for years of abuses carried out against migrants.

Zeid said detainees needed to be moved to prisons under the control of the Ministry of Justice.

“It is crucial that the challenges are addressed and that there is a constant effort to make progress – no matter how small”, he said.

UN chief congratulates Palestinian President on Hamas agreement

UN Secretary-General António Guterres congratulated the Palestinian President on Thursday, following the announcement of a reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas.

Fatah, which is the elected authority in the West Bank, split with Hamas extremists who control the Gaza Strip, in 2007.

In a phone call to President Mahmoud Abbas, Mr Guterres said he was encouraged by the recent progress in allowing the Palestinian Government to resume its responsibilities in Gaza, and welcomed the role Egypt played in bringing the sides together in Cairo.

The UN chief emphasized the need to “urgently address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza”.

New latrines for 250,000 in Bangladesh to prevent disease outbreak: UNICEF

Agreement has been reached between the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Bangladeshi government to construct around 10,000 latrines for Rohingya refugees to prevent deadly outbreaks of water-borne disease.

More than 536,000 have now fled across the border from Myanmar to escape systemic violence and torching of their homes by government forces.

UNICEF said there had already been reports of disease outbreaks in the makeshift camps around the Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh.

More details from UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq.

“UNICEF and the Government of Bangladesh agreed yesterday to quickly construct 10,000 latrines in camps and settlements for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar to avert a major disease outbreak. Each latrine will cost just under US$150 and they will provide sanitation coverage to some 250,000 people.”

Lack of safe routes key problem facing disorderly migration

Safer and more reliable routes for migrants fleeing their homes is essential if a global compact on the issue is to be realized on the ground.

That’s the view of Louise Arbour, the UN Special Representative for International Migration, speaking at the opening of the final meeting leading up to the adoption of a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

Ms Arbour is chairing the Intergovernmental Conference that will adopt the compact, and she said it was important to understand what drove people to cross borders illegally, making themselves vulnerable to people traffickers.

She told the meeting in Geneva that “safe, orderly and regular access to jobs in the formal economy” in developed countries and fair work programmes would “go a long way” to reducing so-called irregular migration.

UNESCO to launch first ever guide on desalination and harmful algal blooms

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is turning its attention to some of the smallest life on earth, which is playing an outsized role in damaging marine environments.

The organization’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission is tackling the growing problem of harmful so-called algal blooms.

Scientists argue that due to climate change, warming seas are leading to the exponential growth of tiny algae, rising to toxic levels, that are wiping out marine life.

The first ever manual on desalination and these damaging algal epidemics is set to launch on 16 October at the International Desalination Association World Congress in São Paulo, Brazil.

In eleven chapters, the guidebook is set to highlight harmful species identification, features of algal blooms, and ways to maintain desalination plant operation in the face of toxic marine water.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 3'50"


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