This is the news in brief from the United Nations.
Refugee health services on track despite new emergencies: UNHCR
Despite record numbers of people fleeing conflict and natural disasters globally, vital health services have been largely able to cope, UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has said.
One of the key findings of the agency’s annual review of health cover in dozens of emergencies and ongoing operations is that under-5 mortality remained stable last year, at 0.4 deaths per 1,000 refugee children each month.
2017 also saw improvements in reproductive health service cover.
Out of a total of nearly 97,000 births, 9 out of 10 deliveries were conducted by a skilled health worker — a 25 per increase from 2016.
Health facilities for refugees and displaced people also hosted more than 8 million clinical consultations last year in 21 countries – that’s a 10 per cent increase from 2016.
Nine in ten of the refugees who were treated suffered from at least one form of communicable disease, UNHCR said, highlighting the importance of investing in prevention.
Despite the largely positive results, there is still significant concern about continued high levels of stunting — or impaired growth — which, in children under 5, was found to be at an acceptable level in only one in four managed sites.
Extreme weather grips Scandinavian States, Arctic: WMO
To Scandinavia now, where an unusual high-pressure weather system is responsible for temperatures that have climbed to 10° Centigrade above normal, reflecting wider concerns over the effects of climate change.
Clare Nullis from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that the situation reflected extreme weather patterns across the Northern Hemisphere since May.
“So, Sweden at the moment is suffering from pretty extensive, very bad forest fires and this smoke can be seen from space, that’s how bad it is.”
The unusual weather has also reached Arctic latitudes, where thermometers registered 33° Celsius in Lapland, Finland.
Ms. Nullis also noted that a new record minimum-overnight temperature of 25° Celsius had been recorded on 18 July near the Arctic Circle.
Syria returnees must have safe passage home: UNHCR
And finally, an estimated 140,000 people are still homeless and in need of help in south-west Syria following a Government-led assault on opposition-held areas, the UN refugee agency (UNCHR) said on Friday, in a call for sustained access to displaced communities.
The appeal comes as tens of thousands of people forced to flee by years of war have begun to return home to areas now under Government control.
So far in 2018, nearly 13,000 refugees have arrived back in Syria, along with three quarters of a million people who are returning after being displaced inside the war-torn country.
UNHCR’s Andrej Mahecic told journalists in Geneva that the agency is aware of a joint Syrian and Russian initiative to help those wanting to head home.
“We have taken note of Wednesday’s announcement by the Syrian and Russian authorities concerning the setting up of a centre in Syria to help refugees who return home. UNHCR has not yet seen the details of this plan, but we are ready to engage in discussions about these plans with the Government of Syria and the Russian Federation.”
Refugees “always have a right to return”, UNHCR has said, adding that they should not be pressured, rushed or prematurely pushed into leaving the countries where they have found shelter.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.