This is the News In Brief from the United Nations.
Bachelet condemns Venezuela killings, urges restraint lest situation ‘spirals out of control’
UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned on Friday that the situation in Venezuela could “spiral out of control”, amid deadly violence linked to Juan Guaidó’s (WHO-ANNE GER-WHY-DOH) self-appointment as interim President.
The UN refugee agency (UNCHR) meanwhile, has warned of “mounting tension”, as 5,000 people a day continue to leave the country; many are in “dire” need of protection.
Here’s Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“We have received information from credible local sources that at least 20 people have died after allegedly being shot by security forces or by members of pro-government groups during demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday with many other reported injured by bullets, buckshot and rubber bullets. The High Commissioner is extremely concerned, and I quote, ‘That the situation in Venezuela may rapidly spiral out of control with catastrophic consequences.’”
In her statement, Ms Bachelet insisted that it was vital to prevent a repetition of repression against protesters demonstrating against the Government of President Nicolas Maduro, who was officially sworn back into office two weeks ago.
In the last week OHCHR says that some 180 protests have taken place in some of the poorest areas of the country’s capital, Caracas.
It has also reported the large-scale detention of demonstrators, including 320 people on Wednesday alone.
DRC Ebola infections increase in two health zones as numbers decline in former hotspot
To the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo now, where deadly Ebola virus infections have increased in recent weeks and spread into a new area, authorities say.
According to the DRC’s Ministry of Health, there have been a total of 715 cases of Ebola, which causes high fever and bleeding; 443 people have died, the overall fatality rate is over 60 per cent.
New infections have been reported from 13 health zones and have increased notably in Katwa, where health workers have faced community mistrust.
The virus has also “extended southwards” to Kayina, which is described by the authorities as a “high security risk area”.
Despite some public hostility hampering the fight, the World Health Organization (WHO) maintains that the disease is being pushed back in former hotspots, where armed groups have hampered the work of health workers.
Here’s spokesperson Fadela Chaib:
“Even if there is an increase in cases in these two health zones, there is a decline in cases incidences in Beni, which was the former epicentre; this is strong indicator of how effective the response can be despite multiple challenges.”
Alarm over violent attacks in Malawi ahead of elections
In Malawi, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, has spoken of its alarm at increasing, horrific violence there, linked to upcoming elections.
Victims of violent attacks have included politicians, male and female party activists and persons with albinism.
In one recent incident in the north of the country, a 55-year-old man with albinism was repeatedly stabbed in front of his child, before his arms were amputated by his attackers.
UN spokesperson Rupert Colville told journalists in Geneva that Member of Parliament, Bon Kalindo, was also set upon after being arrested for insulting the Pres ident.
“Following his release on bail, on 16 January, Mr Kalindo was violently assaulted, allegedly by members of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) youth wing – commonly referred to as cadets – on the premises of the District Commissioner in the southern town of Mulanje, and required hospital treatment. And again, last Sunday, 20 January, Edward Govati, a supporter of another opposition party, Malawi Congress, was savagely attacked in Blantyre, also reportedly by DPP cadets. He was extremely badly beaten and also required hospital treatment. Mr Govati had previously been threatened because of his political activities.”
Mr Colville noted that women candidates have faced threats, harassment and intimidation ahead of national elections in May Daniel Johnson, UN News
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva