This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Rohingya emergency one year on: thousands of lives saved, but challenges remain
Significant progress has been made in protecting hundreds of thousands Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh in the 12 months since they fled violence in Myanmar, but enormous needs remain, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.
Dr. Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director-General of Emergency Preparedness and Response, told journalists in Geneva that thousands of lives had been saved, thanks to joint efforts of the Bangladesh Government, WHO and partners.
Deadly disease outbreaks have also been held at bay in Cox’s Bazar despite “all the conditions being in place for a massive epidemic”, he said, noting that measles and diphtheria outbreaks have been contained.
Here’s Dr. Salama now:
“We need to sustain the vigilance for early warning of infectious diseases. That is still a major risk due to the environmental situation, the poor sanitation, the massive overcrowding, the way these people are being housed and we need to maintain our ability to scale-up outbreak response as required.”
One key area of concern is the health of some 60,000 pregnant Rohingya women in the camps.
Many of them suffered gender-based violence “either prior or during the course of their flight” from Myanmar, Dr. Salama said, adding that only one fifth of them will give birth in a suitable health-care facility.
Partner agency UNHCR has underlined WHO’s call for the international community to step up support for the Rohingya, who are stateless and unable to return to Myanmar.
To date, the $950 million Rohingya 2018 appeal is only just over 30 per cent funded.
DRC Ebola outbreak latest: response scaling up, but threats remain
Staying with WHO’s Dr. Salama, the UN health official has said that the discovery of Ebola infection in a hard-to-reach part of Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) could mark a “pivotal” point in the response to the deadly disease.
His comments come after it emerged that one probable case of infection and one suspected case have been found in Oicha town, which is surrounded by armed groups.
Access to Oicha is extremely limited, Dr. Salama told journalists in Geneva:
“It really was the problem we were anticipating and the problem, at the same time, that we were dreading. Our teams have responded this week. They’ve had to reach Oicha with armed escorts... Once they reach Oicha, they are able to move within Oicha town more freely, because the town itself is a yellow zone from a security perspective.”
Nearly 100 contacts have been located in Oicha and vaccinations have already begun.
Twenty-four days since authorities in the DRC declared this latest Ebola outbreak, there are now 103 confirmed and probable cases of the disease, and 63 people have died.
The disease is present in North Kivu and Ituri province in six distinct locations, and more than 80 per cent of the cases are in and around Mangina town, which was identified early on as the epicentre of the outbreak.
That’s very important from a response perspective because WHO and the authorities have almost total access to populations within a 30- to 40-kilometre radius of Mangina, Dr. Salama said.
Venezuela exodus is stretching neighbours’ patience, warns UN migration agency IOM
The “patience” of Venezuela’s neighbours is running out amid the continued mass exodus of people from the country, amid long-term social and economic unrest there, UN agencies said on Friday.
UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said that some 130,000 Venezuelans have applied for asylum so far this year.
That marks a sharp spike since 2014-2015, when applications were in the low thousands.
According to the UN, close to half a million have fled from Venezuela to Ecuador in 2018 alone.
Peru is also expecting its tally of Venezuelans to pass the 500,000 mark in coming weeks, according to media reports.
There is particular concern that both countries are considering new entry requirements for Venezuelans, the UN migration agency, IOM, said.
Here’s spokesperson Joel Millman:
“Patience is running out, I think. It’s a big, big number to have to assimilate. So, when you see things, like countries contemplating passports only, we point out — as we did — that there are a lot of migrants, particularly teenagers and sometimes unaccompanied children, that may not have access to these documents.”
Echoing those comments, UNHCR’s Andrej Mahecic said that it was important to recognize the generosity and “commendable efforts” of Venezuela’s neighbours in taking in vulnerable people at the border.
But he condemned recent reports of violence against migrants and refugees.
A UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) report published in June spotlighted serious human rights violations in Venezuela linked to political demonstrations, and the failure of the authorities to hold perpetrators accountable.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.