Aid teams respond to escalating south-west Syria conflict where 750,000 civilians are at risk
Vital humanitarian relief continues to reach Daraa in south-west Syria, where 750,000 people are at risk and at least 45,000 people have been displaced amid a government-led offensive to regain opposition-held areas, UN aid teams said on Tuesday.
Clashes between pro-Syrian government forces and armed opposition units have pushed most to flee from eastern Daraa to areas near the Jordan border, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The uptick in violence comes despite a ceasefire deal covering Daraa that was agreed by Turkey, Iran and Russia last year, OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke said:
“Civilian infrastructure has also reportedly been attacked and damaged including an air strike on Sunday, 24 June, that took a field hospital in the town of Al-Hrak out of function.”
To help those in need, “food, health, nutrition, education and other core relief items” have been transported via cross-border deliveries from Jordan, Laerke added.
Another contributor to the aid effort, the World Food Programme (WFP), has delivered ready-to-eat supplies to more than 30,000 people sheltering in villages and makeshift camps.
Those fleeing attacks have sought shelter to the west of Daraa in Quneitra governorate, WFP said in a statement, which also highlighted that “retaliatory shelling” had targeted Swaida governorate to the east.
Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic Congo is ‘largely contained’: WHO
Almost two months after the start of the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), UN health experts announced on Tuesday that the deadly disease has “largely been contained”.
There have been a total of 55 cases of Ebola in the current DRC virus outbreak and 28 people have died, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said that the development was an “important step” but “it is not the end”:
“We are cautiously confident regarding the situation, and know that the continued aggressive response is required. Experience has shown us that it only takes one case to set off again a fast-moving outbreak.”
Ahead of the WHO announcement, there were concerns that the disease could continue its spread from the rural north-western DRC to the capital Kinshasa, which is home to 10 million people.
The last confirmed case of Ebola in DRC was on 6 June.
Since the beginning of the current episode, WHO and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have traced contacts of those who are suspected of having the disease, administering more than 3,200 vaccinations.
The last 161 people to have come into contact with suspected Ebola virus carriers will finish their mandatory follow-up period on 27 June, at which point they will be declared virus-free.
Rights violations ‘persist’ in Eritrea: UN expert
Arbitrary and incommunicado detention and other severe restrictions on fundamental freedoms “persist” in Eritrea, a senior rights expert told the Human Rights Council.
Sheila Keetharuth, who’s the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, said that “patterns of violations” identified since she began her mandate in 2012 “remained unchanged”.
“When arrests and detention are used as a form of punishment for legitimate and peaceful exercise of fundamental rights, including freedom of expression and opinion, freedom of assembly and association, freedom of religion, they are arbitrary.”
The Special Rapporteur cited the example of a former school director in his nineties who had been detained for four months before dying in March this year, reportedly for refusing to apply a Government ban on wearing a veil.
In response to the presentation, the delegation for Eritrea rejected the findings and questioned the Special Rapporteur’s objectivity.