Mali facing ‘alarming’ rise in rights violations, warns UN expert
In Mali, a senior UN rights expert has described an “alarming” deterioration of the security, human rights and humanitarian situation in northern and eastern areas of the country.
Alioune Tine’s comments follow two deadly attacks in recent days on international forces in Mali, including one suicide bombing in Gao, that left at least two civilians dead and more than 15 injured.
In Menaka, to the east, more than 120 people were also allegedly murdered in a three-week period in April and May, he said, noting that that violent extremists had taken advantage of the lack of basic services “to exploit communities and pit them against each other”.
There have also been an increasing number of allegations against the Malian armed forces, Mr Tine noted in a statement.
Highlighting the humanitarian emergency in the country, the UN expert said that more than four million people need food aid.
And ahead of Presidential elections at the end of the month, he urged all those engaged in it “to ban hate speech and calls to violence”.
'Deep concern' over Chinese rights activist’s health
To China now, where UN rights experts say they’re “deeply concerned” over the mental health of civil activist Liu Xia, who’s been under house arrest since 2010.
Citing recent audio recordings of Ms Liu in which she is heard pleading for help, the four senior experts say that she is being held at an unknown location and “suffers from severe psychological distress”.
Ms Liu is a poet and the wife of deceased Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who died in detention last year.
She was last seen in public at his funeral, accompanied by Chinese government officials, who deny that she is being held against her will.
In 2011, her detention was deemed to be arbitrary by a UN Working Group.
The UN experts urged that immediate and unfettered access be granted to her, and that she be freely allowed to seek treatment wherever she wishes, including outside China.
Syria’s Yarmouk is a ‘hell-hole in utter ruins’: UNRWA
And finally, a Palestinian refugee camp near the Syrian capital Damascus that’s been levelled by war, has been described by the head of UN aid agency UNRWA as the scene of some of the worst destruction he’s ever witnessed.
The comments by Pierre Krahenbuhl of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, follow his visit this week to Yarmouk camp – the first senior UN official in years to gain access.
Here’s UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness with more details of the visit to Yarmouk; once home to 160,000 people:
“Yarmouk is a hell-hole, it’s completely destroyed, as our Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said, it now lies in utter ruins. As he said, wherever one looks, the horror experienced by inhabitants of Yarmouk is all to evident…. It was a highly successful community in which Palestinians of all economic backgrounds lived side by side with Syrians of all stripes…and sadly because of the war that’s been completely destroyed.”
While in Syria the UNRWA chief also visited Yalda where the agency has been distributing emergency aid to those displaced from Yarmouk.
Mr Krahenbuhl also travelled to Sbeineh in the south of Damascus where his agency has rehabilitated schools, clinics and community centres for returning Palestine refugees.
Of the more than half a million Palestinian refugees in Syria before the conflict began in 2011, around 60 per cent have been displaced internally or have left the country, UNRWA says.
Daniel Johnson, UN News