UN rights chief says Philippine President needs “psychiatric evaluation”
The UN human rights chief has severely criticized Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has launched profanity-laced attacks against rights’ experts, saying he needs “psychiatric evaluation”.
In Geneva on Friday, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that the Human Rights Council must take a strong position against the attacks, which as he put it, cannot go unanswered.
“This is absolutely disgraceful that the president of a country could speak in this way, using the foulest of language against a rapporteur that is highly respected. And really it makes one believe that the President of the Philippines needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation. This sort of comment really is unacceptable.”
The Philippines’ Justice Minister labelled the UN Special Rapporteur on indigenous rights, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz a “terrorist”, based on her alleged membership of the Communist party of the Philippines, and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.
Zeid also condemned President Duterte’s statement last week to élite police units that they should not cooperate with any UN rapporteurs “when it comes to human rights”.
He further criticized the “outrageous attacks” made by the President of the Philippines against Agnes Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, who has criticized his war on drugs policy.
UN and partners complete aid delivery to eastern Ghouta
An inter-agency aid convoy successfully delivered aid to the rebel-held Syrian suburb of eastern Ghouta on Friday, after being thwarted due to shelling the previous day.
The enclave has been besieged by Syrian government forces since 2013, and more than 400,000 desperate civilians are trapped by fighting on all sides.
The World Food Programme (WFP) confirmed to UN News that staff had offloaded lifesaving aid supplies they had been unable to deliver earlier in the week, including bags of wheat flour.
Food baskets from the International Red Cross were also successfully delivered to thousands of people stranded in the town of Douma.
Here’s Marwa Awad, WFP’s Communications Officer in the Syrian capital, Damascus.
“The World Food Programme and our partners, we look forward to our ability to enter again in the future to continue delivering much-needed humanitarian and food assistance to the people inside eastern Ghouta, and we call on all parties in this conflict to allow safe access to humanitarians to deliver this much-needed food assistance and humanitarian assistance.
Marked increase in violent attacks on health care in Syria
It’s been a tenet of international law that medical personnel and health-care facilities have special protection status, but that’s not the case in Syria, as the bloody civil war approaches its seventh year.
That’s according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which said that 43 assaults against facilities were reported in February, bringing the total of verified attacks to 67 in just the first two months of this year.
These attacks targeted 20 hospitals, 16 health facilities, two ambulance stations and a medical supplies warehouse, resulting in 47 casualties.
Four health workers were killed and 7 injured.
WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said the attacks had disrupted thousands of surgical procedures and health treatments.
“WHO calls on all parties in Syria to immediately halt attacks on medical and humanitarian personnel, their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities. Every attack on health represents a loss that shatters families and communities and ripples through health systems. Health workers and health facilities are not a target. It has to stop.”