This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
UN chief rejects Guatemala decision to close impunity panel
Guatemala should reconsider its decision to withdraw support for an international panel to tackle impunity, United Nations chief António Guterres said on Tuesday.
The UN Secretary-General’s comments follow the Central American country’s announcement – via letter - that it intended to terminate an Agreement establishing the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, also known by its initials, CICIG.
Here’s UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.
“As you know, the Secretary-General has and continues to support the work of the Commission and expects the Guatemalan Government to provide the Commission all the assistance necessary for the discharge of its functions and activities including the freedom of movement of its staff and throughout Guatemala; as provided in the agreement.”
In September 2018, the head of the UN panel, Ivan Velasquez, was barred from re-entering Guatemala.
Mr Guterres recalled the important contribution to the fight against impunity made by the international commission.
It was set up in 2006 at the invitation of the Government and was seen as an effective way to help strengthen the rule of law following the country’s civil war, which ended in the 1990s.
Saudi national Rahaf Mohammed Al-qunun in “safe” place: UNHCR
Saudi national Rahaf Mohammed Al-qunun “cannot be sent back” to the Kingdom, UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday, adding that it was in contact “on a daily basis” with the 18-year-old who is in Thailand seeking asylum.
Speaking to journalists in Geneva, UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch confirmed that the agency intends to examine Ms Al-qunun’s request for protection.
“In terms of the claim and all of the details that she will be sharing with us in terms of what were the factors that she’s trying to run away from, we’ll be listening to all those. It will be premature, even in terms of confidentiality, from an individual who talked to us, we won’t be going into details what they have told us. The only thing I can say, we look carefully into all the claims in trying to find out what are the risk factors to validate the claims.”
Ahead of UNHCR’s involvement, Ms Al-qunun said that she had fled from her family in Kuwait to Bangkok airport, where her passport was taken away. She said she would be killed if sent back home.
Under international law, anyone who claims to need shelter outside their home country cannot be returned to a territory where their life or freedom are threatened, Mr Baloch said.
WHO welcomes $2.5 million US donation to improve health response for Syria refugees in Iraq
In Iraq, around a quarter of a million Syrian refugees and the communities that host them are to get better access to healthcare, thanks to a $2.5 million donation by the United States.
Welcoming the development, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the funding would provide urgently needed help to local authorities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, where the refugees live.
Health and other services in Iraq have been stretched since nearly six million people fled ISIL violence in 2014, with 2.6 million still displaced.
Major military operations to retake the country ended in late 2017 but the humanitarian crisis is far from over, UN humanitarians have warned.
The US contribution will support the provision of primary health care in Erbil, Dahuk, and Sulaymaniyah, as well as provide training for medical professionals to treat people with disabilities and mental illness.
‘2 Billion Kilometres to Safety’ campaign launched for refugees
And finally, an energetic campaign that goes a long way to raise awareness about refugees – two billion kilometres, in fact.
That’s the total distance the world’s 25.4 million refugees cover to reach safety each year, according to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.
Rohingyas from Myanmar travelled 80 kilometres on average to neighbouring Bangladesh, it said, while those leaving South Sudan travel 640 kilometres to reach Uganda.
People can participate in the campaign by walking, cycling or jogging; the aim is to reach a collective total of two billion kilometres this year.
For more information, there’s a campaign website where users can log the number of steps they take in support of the cause.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.