This is the News in Brief from the United Nations in Geneva.
Vulnerable children on Greek islands must be transferred immediately – UNICEF
Overcrowding in Greek island reception centres for refugees and migrants has made conditions for children there increasingly “dire and dangerous”, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Friday.
At a press conference in Geneva, the agency’s Lucio Melandri warned that “severe emotional distress” affects many youngsters there and that self-harm is a “possibility”.
There’s particular concern about Moria centre on Lesvos and Vathu centre on Samos, Mr. Melandri said:
“With the capacity to host 3,100 people, the centre in Moria as of today hosts nearly 9,000 people, including more than 1,700 children. The centre in Samos that was built for 650 people, now has 680 children, with a total of more than 4,000 people… The directors of the centres, both in Moria and Vathi, repeatedly expressed to us the concern they have, due to the threat children face on daily basis. The staff are overwhelmed, services are overstretched.”
The UNICEF warning comes amid a one-third increase in the number of vulnerable children arriving on the Greek islands in 2018 compared with last year.
The majority are from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
DR Congo’s Ebola-hit communities still at risk, say WHO, UNICEF
To the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) now, where the UN health agency says that despite substantial progress in tackling Ebola, the risk of the virus spreading is still high.
To date, 97 people have died in the outbreak in north-eastern DRC, and there have been 142 cases in total.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the cities of Beni and Butembo have become the new hotspot for the disease.
Here’s spokesperson Fadela Chaib:
“Significant risks for further spread of the disease remain. Continued challenges include contacts lost to follow-up, delayed recognition of the disease in some health centres, poor infection prevention and control in health centres, and a reluctance among some cases to be treated in Ebola treatment centres.”
Ebola is endemic in the vast central African country which has seen 10 disease outbreaks in the last four decades.
Overcoming this latest outbreak in the North Kivus region is proving complicated because of mass displacement linked to dozens of armed groups, and other health threats, including polio and cholera.
According to UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund, more than 150 youngsters have been either orphaned or left unaccompanied after losing at least one parent or guardian to the disease.
One hundred and twelve of the children are school-aged and the UN agency is working to get them back into the classroom, it said in a statement, noting that minors who lose a parent to Ebola are at a higher risk of stigmatization and abandonment.
Harmful use of alcohol kills more than three million people each year – WHO
And finally, if you enjoy drinking alcohol, do you know the risks associated with your favourite tipple?
A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that harmful alcohol use kills more than 3 million people a year.
More than three quarters of these deaths were among men in 2016. Globally, some 2.3 billion people are drinkers, according to the UN health agency.
It says that alcohol is consumed by more than half the population in the Americas, Europe and the Western Pacific.
Of all deaths that are attributable to alcohol, 28 per cent came from self-inflicted injuries such as car-crashes, self-harm and brawling; 21 per cent were linked to digestive disorders and 19 per cent came from cardiovascular diseases.
Despite some positive global trends in reducing heavy drinking and the number of alcohol-related deaths since 2010, the overall burden of disease and injuries linked to alcohol is unacceptably high, WHO says.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.