UNHCR alarm over deadly detention centre escape in Libya
More than a dozen people have been killed or wounded by traffickers as they attempted to flee a detention centre in Libya last month.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, which issued the alert on Friday, described it as the “latest horror story” to emerge from the war-torn country.
Many areas of the oil-rich State have been under the control of armed groups since the overthrow of the late President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Spokesperson William Spindler said that those who died on 23 May in Bani Walid — 180 kilometres south of the capital Tripoli — were from a group of around 200 Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis.
“It’s the latest horror story coming out of Libya where, as we all know, people are being held by traffickers in horrific conditions, often sold into modern-day slavery.”
Many children have been identified among the survivors, who have been transferred to an official detention facility closer to Tripoli.
Mr. Spindler told journalists in Geneva that some survivors described how “people were shot while trying to escape”.
Others spoke of “torture, abuse and exploitation at the hands of traffickers” and of being held for up to three years.
South Sudan faces dire hunger levels ahead of lean season: WFP
Ongoing conflict has made the humanitarian situation in South Sudan one of the “most dire” in the world as the country’s people prepare for the annual lean season, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.
The UN agency’s spokesperson Bettina Luescher warned that 7.1 million people — more than half the population — “wouldn’t know where their next meal is coming from” without humanitarian aid.
The term “lean season” is defined as the period from June to July between harvests when people have sold or eaten their food reserves.
It coincides with the start of the rainy season, which cuts access to 60 per cent of the country’s agricultural land.
Ms. Luescher warned that rising hunger may reach “catastrophic levels” without a concerted emergency response.
And she described how many people in South Sudan have already resorted to desperate measures to survive:
“Earlier this year when our teams were in some areas there were already survival tactics that are really bad for any human to go through. People were skipping meals, people were eating less, people were rationing and reducing the diversity of food, some people were foraging for wild foods and the situation has only worsened since then.”
WFP and partners aim to reach up to 4.8 million hungry people with assistance in the worst-affected areas of South Sudan: Southern Unity state and Pibor County in Jonglei state.
WHO chief backs call for world leaders to ‘redouble efforts’ on chronic diseases
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) urged the international community on Friday to back new measures that could reduce premature death from preventable diseases by one third by 2030.
In support of six key recommendations to address what WHO is calling “an epidemic” of non-communicable diseases, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement that they were “an important step” in providing universal health coverage.
Non-communicable diseases, or NCDs, are the world’s leading causes of death and ill health.
Collectively, cancer, diabetes, lung and heart diseases kill 41 million people annually, accounting for more than 7 in 10 deaths globally, and 15 million deaths occur between the ages of 30 and 70.
The WHO recommendations include a call for Heads of State to take responsibility for non-communicable diseases — rather than delegating to health ministers — and also for Governments to focus on growing but neglected challenges, including obesity and mental disorders.
Dr. Tedros’ comments followed an appeal from the President of Uruguay, Dr. Tabaré Vázquez, to world leaders to redouble efforts on preventable disease targets.