UN human rights office appeals over Gaza demonstrations
Leaders in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories should do “all in their power” to prevent further loss of life in renewed demonstrations planned in Gaza, the UN human rights office said on Friday.
The appeal from the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) follows what it called the “deplorable” deaths of 16 people who had taken part in anti-Israeli protests in Gaza one week ago.
Hundreds were also reportedly hit by live ammunition — some of the thousands of Palestinians who had marched to Gaza’s border with Israel — also known as the green line — to protest at the long-standing blockade of the enclave.
UN human rights office spokesperson Liz Throssell said there were indications that the Israeli Defense Force had used “excessive force” on demonstrators — a claim denied by Israel:
“Given the large number of injuries and deaths, the ominous statements made by Israeli authorities in the days leading up to the protest, as well as indications that the individuals killed or wounded were unarmed or did not pose a serious threat to well-protected security forces — and in some cases, were actually running away from the green line fence — there are strong indications that security forces used excessive force.”
Venezuela refugees in Brazil need help from international community: UN Refugee Agency
The Brazilian Government’s open-border policy for thousands of Venezuelans has been welcomed by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), which on Friday urged the international community to provide further assistance.
Hundreds of Venezuelans continue to arrive in Brazil every day and 52,000 have done so since the beginning of last year — amid an economic crisis in Venezuela and past violent protests at constitutional reform.
UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler told journalists in Geneva that “people from all sectors of society are leaving” Venezuela:
“More than 800 Venezuelans are entering Brazil each day. As the complex political and socioeconomic situation in the country continues to worsen, arriving Venezuelans are in more desperate need of food, shelter and health care. Many also need international protection.”
Mr. Spindler expressed his agency’s gratitude to the Brazilian Government for keeping its borders open to Venezuelans — and for providing basic services and rights to all refugees and asylum seekers.
He added that a $46 million aid appeal for Venezuelans is only 4 per cent funded.
Earlier this month, UNHCR reported a 2,000 per cent increase in the number of Venezuelan nationals seeking asylum worldwide since 2014.
Prevention is key to avoid repeat of Rwanda genocide
Ahead of the 24th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, a leading UN official has urged the Organization’s Security Council — and the international community — to do more to prevent a repeat of such tragedies.
Adama Dieng, who is the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, witnessed events in Rwanda that led to the killing of 800,000 mainly Tutsi there.
Future massacres could be avoided of Myanmar’s Rohingya people and communities in South Sudan if States were prepared to take a firm line on hate speech and impunity, Mr. Dieng said:
“Genocide is a process. It requires resources. It requires planning and time. In Europe, the Holocaust did not start with the gas chambers, it started with hate speech. As well as in Rwanda, the genocide did not start with the machetes. So, that is why I should say that the world failed the Rwandan people, the world failed the Bosnian people, and I hope that world will not fail the Rohingya population.”
The International Day of Reflection on the Genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda is commemorated on 7 April.
It was on this day in 1994 that a 100-day killing spree began, mainly of ethnic Tutsi, but also of Hutu and others who opposed the genocide.
Global health agency prepares to turn 70 (also 7 April)
Another important date on Saturday, 7 April: World Health Day.
It has special significance this year because it marks the 70th anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Since it began work in 1948, the UN agency has contributed to huge health gains.
Life expectancy today has increased by 25 years since WHO was established, and 6 million fewer children die before their fifth birthday than they did in 1990.
Now, as ever, the UN agency’s goal remains universal health care access for all — a challenge that’s in the sights of WHO’s Dr. Edward Kelley:
“According to WHO statistics, our estimates are that around half the world lacks access to essential health services and that a major portion of the world spends more than 10 per cent of its income, which is a lot of money given the precarity of many of the world’s families, on basic health care for primary care, so being able to address that and do it in a much more accelerated way, it’s not just something that we do for people’s health, but it’s also an economic matter and it’s also a development matter.”
Under the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals agenda, all UN Member States have agreed to provide universal access to health care for all by 2030.