This is the news in brief from the United Nations
Syria’s Idlib risks becoming worst humanitarian tragedy of 21st century: OCHA
A major military offensive on Syria’s Idlib region risks creating the worst humanitarian tragedy of the 21st century, UN aid agencies have said, amid concerns that a funding shortfall threatens the “most vulnerable” victims of the fighting.
Here’s Jens Laerke from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):
“We as humanitarian advocates must raise our voice. We are saying that this has the potential to be the worst crisis - humanitarian crisis - in the 21st century, because that is frankly what it looks like, if it goes ahead with a full-scale military operation.”
According to the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, violence since 4 September has killed scores of civilians and displaced more than 30,000 people in and around Idlib, home to 2.9 million civilians.
Four hospitals have also been hit in less than a week in the south of the governorate and neighbouring Hama, and one of them despite the fact that the warring parties had been given its coordinates, to protect it from attack.
As UN agencies and their partners prepare to help those fleeing a full-scale military attack, UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has warned that $270 million is needed urgently to help Syria’s most vulnerable people inside and outside the war-torn country.
OHCHR on Myanmar freedom of expression violations
In Myanmar, it has become “impossible for journalists to do their job without fear or favour”, a UN human rights report has found.
In addition to detailing last week’s conviction of two Reuters news agency reporters, Kyaw Soe Oo and Thet Oo Maung, the report cites other detentions and prosecutions of journalists.
This is indicative of “wider trends of suppression of freedom of expression”, UN human rights office spokersperson Ravina Shamdasani said:
“When the new government came into being in 2015 there was a lot of hope, there was hope that press freedom, freedom of expression generally, there would be improvements in Myanmar. However, there is now a real sense of pessimism that this has not happened and this does not seem likely to happen.”
According to the UN report, laws on telecommunications, official secrets, unlawful associations, and electronic transactions have been used against journalists in cases.
Venezuela ready for “new cooperation” with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Venezuela has announced that it looks forward to a new era of cooperation with the UN Human Rights Council and the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza Montserrat told the Council on Friday that the country was “moving on” after what he alleged was “always biased” reports by Ms. Bachelet’s predecessor, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
“We fully trust that the new High Commissioner for Human Rights will always uphold her mandate and her independence. And we very much hope that as expressed by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela she will be able to begin a new cooperation stage to provide all necessary support in due time and real time to cooperate with the universal system of human rights, fully.”
Mr. Montserrat’s comments come after a meeting with the High Commissioner on Monday which her office described as “very cordial”.
Recent UN human rights reports on Venezuela have documented grave violations committed by the State linked to constitutional changes proposed by the government of Nicolas Maduro.
These include arbitrary detention, torture and alleged extra-judicial killings by security services last year.
Since then, the country has faced a spiralling economic crisis and a mass exodus of Venezuelans abroad, which the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has called “one of [the] largest population movements in history”.
Daniel Johnson, UN News