News in Brief 26 January 2018 – Geneva

26 January 2018

Gunfire reportedly used against migrants off Yemen

Outrage and sadness have been expressed by UN agencies, after 30 migrants and refugees drowned off the coast of Yemen.

Survivors reported that an over-crowded boat packed with at least 152 Somalis and Ethiopians left Yemen for Djibouti last Tuesday.

The vessel is believed to have been operated by “unscrupulous smugglers”, who were also trying to extort money from the passengers, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) spokesperson Joel Millman said on Friday.

He added that there were “reports of gunfire being used against the passengers”.

William Spindler, spokesman from the UN Refugee agency, also spoke about the circumstances of tens of thousands of migrants.

“With Yemen, a traditional transitory and migratory hub in the region, more than 87,000 migrants risked their lives on the high seas in 2017, seeking to reach Yemen from the Horn of Africa by boat, despite prevailing conflict and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian conditions.”

Food shortages leave millions in need of assistance in Ethiopia

Ethnic clashes between the Oromo and Somali communities along their border within Ethiopia have resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, who now require additional humanitarian support.

Today, millions of people need assistance to survive, for which US$900 million will be required this year.

At a press briefing in Geneva, Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Humanitarian Affairs Office, commented that Ethiopia has made “remarkable strides” in development over the past three decades, but that its susceptibility to drought has resulted in “recurring food insecurity”.

UN relief chief, Mark Lowcock and the head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Achim Steiner, will travel to Ethiopia this weekend, to highlight the challenges of persistent food shortages, and unveil a new aid strategy.

Here’s Jens Laerke:

“They will highlight the need to continue life-saving humanitarian assistance as an urgent priority, but at the same time, simultaneously laying the foundations for long-term resilience to future shocks and recovery.”

They will meet with Government officials and humanitarian partners, as well as people directly affected by drought, to assess programmes, and to coordinate the response.

Human Rights chief presents global standards for LGBTI workplace equality in Davos

On Friday, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, presented global standards designed to help businesses promote equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people.

He was speaking at a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, titled “Free and Equal: Standing Up for Diversity”.

The adopted standards include upholding respect and support for LGBTI human rights, while preventing discrimination against LGBTI employees, customers, suppliers and distributors.

Nineteen prominent companies have joined a list of early-adopters of the new standards.

Bronwen Cowley, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 3’03’’