News in Brief 8 December 2017 - Geneva (AM)

8 December 2017

Aid resumes to Rohingya in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State

Food aid deliveries have resumed to thousands of people affected by violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State, the UN said on Friday.

Bettina Luescher from the World Food Programme (WFP) said that 32,000 individuals had received supplies, out of the 36,000 the agency planned to reach.

“We have been able over the last few weeks to bring food to 32,000 people in northern Rakhine. We work with the local government, with local NGOs, WFP staff on the ground doing its own distributions, and we are accompanying every convoy, every distribution to ensure that the food reaches t he people.”

The WFP spokesperson said that distributions are “ongoing” and the agency hopes to continue its work this month in northern Rakhine.

It’s there that a military sweep in response to attacks on police posts has led to the exodus of nearly 650,000 Rohingya Muslims since late August, according to UN migration agency IOM.

That exodus from Rakhine State is ongoing, according to UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, which said that more than 20,000 people arrived in camps in Bangladesh last month, with more arriving every day.

Inside refugee camps in Bangladesh, the World Health Organization (WHO) is working with authorities to counter a deadly diptheria outbreak.

The highly contagious respiratory disease has already claimed six lives and been linked to 110 suspected cases.

A two-week vaccination campaign is due to start this weekend, with 300,000 doses for vulnerable refugees.

Mass evacuation of migrants under way in Libya

The mass evacuation has begun of almost 4,000 migrants from Libya to Niger, the UN migration agency IOM said on Friday.

IOM is supporting the air charter operation, which has been organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Niger and the Niger Embassy in Tripoli, where the migrants registered for voluntary return.

Separately, IOM has also supported the return on Thursday of more than 160 Guinean migrants held in detention centres near the Libyan capital Tripoli.

They included seven unaccompanied children.

IOM spokesperson Leonard Doyle said that the challenge is to persuade others not to make the same journey in the mistaken belief that they will find work and a better life in Europe.

He called on social media companies to play a more active role in deterring potential victims of trafficking and abuse:

“It’s not by accident that the numbers coming through are so big, obviously people are in a tough place and we’re talking about economic migrants primarily, we’re not talking about refugees who are seeking asylum - that’s a very important category. We’re talking primarily about people who are unemployed, don’t have a job, feel they can get a job, and who are fooled by the Pied Piper of smugglers turbocharged on social media pages and then find they are tortured on Facebook Live so that their families pay extortion money, I mean it’s all documented.”

Under the scheme, the returnees are eligible for a small stipend for retraining and help setting up a small business.

Year-long campaign begins to raise rights awareness

Human rights belong to everyone but they are being challenged across the world, despite longstanding protections to people afforded by the Universal Declaration in 1948.

That’s the message from UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, ahead of Human Rights Day on Sunday 10 December.

“Human rights are essential to all of us, like the air we breathe. We may barely notice when our human rights are respected, but millions of people suffer acutely from their absence and cry out for them to be upheld. The Universal Declaration has helped countless people gain greater freedom and equality.”

The High Commissioner’s comments coincide with the start of a year-long campaign, #STANDUP4HUMANRIGHTS, to raise awareness about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The initiative will culminate in the 70th anniversary of the pledge in 2018.

Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all over the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the post-war UN General Assembly as a common standard for all peoples and all nations.

It is the most translated document in the world and available in more than 500 languages.

In 1948, when Eleanor Roosevelt presented the Declaration to the UN General Assembly, she spoke of her hope that it might become the “international Magna Carta” for all peoples.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 4'36"


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