This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
UN human rights office appeal to Egypt amid death row executions
Fifteen death row inmates have been executed in Egypt so far this month despite claims from many that they were tortured to secure a confession, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said on Friday.
According to OHCHR, nine people were executed on Wednesday and six others were subjected to the death penalty earlier in the month.
The sentences were handed down after the killing of Egypt’s top prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, as well as General Nabil Farrag and the son of a judge.
Here’s spokesperson Rupert Colville:
“They are all killings for which the death penalty is permissible under international law although we urge, as you know, our common position at the UN is to advocate the abolition of the death penalty. But the issue here is fair trial, use of torture, forced confessions and so on.”
A number of other individuals are on death row “and at imminent risk of execution” after being convicted despite similar torture allegations, Mr. Colville said.
In an appeal to the Egyptian authorities to halt all executions, he insisted that where capital punishment was still permitted, trials “must meet the highest standards of fairness and due process” to prevent miscarriages of justice.
Some 260,000 South Sudanese face food insecurity “catastrophe”, UN agencies warn
Almost seven million people in South Sudan could face acute food insecurity at the height of the lean season from May to July, three UN agencies have warned.
In an appeal for scaled-up humanitarian assistance and better access in the country, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) say that the number of people who are acutely food insecure has already increased by 13 per cent since January last year.
Harvests are worse than last year owing to years of conflict, displacement and economic crisis, and needs are greatest in Greater Upper Nile, Bahr el Ghazal and Equatoria.
According to the latest food security data, 30,000 people are already in a pre-famine situation. Without help, this number could rise to more than a quarter of a million, FAO has warned.
Here’s World Food Programme spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel:
“This year, WFP plan to procure and distribute 310,000 metric tons of food in South Sudan in 2019. Of this, we plan to pre-position 175,000 tons in more than 60 warehouses before the onset of the rains. Pre-positioning food by road will cut the cost for WFP by as much as $100 million because it will save us money by not having to carry out airdrops – as you know, airdrops are very expensive.”
$4.2 billion urgently needed to save Yemen’s families from ‘horrific’ plight
And finally, preparations are being finalized at the UN for a $4.2 billion appeal to scale up help to millions of people in Yemen, where years of war have created the world’s worst humanitarian emergency.
Next Tuesday’s appeal in Geneva coincides with an improved security situation in and around the key Red Sea port of Hudaydah – linked to the UN-led Stockholm Agreement, which was signed last December.
But the situation remains “horrific” for people everywhere in the war-torn country, according to Jens Laerke, spokesperson from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):
“It has really been a horrific year for millions and millions of people in Yemen who are literally balancing on the edge of starvation and indeed, famine. And they need massive amounts of other kinds of aid: in the health sector, water and sanitation, education for their children, and so on and so forth…We are really at a crossroads. As we hear, there are certainly movements on the political front: we need to address the root causes to find a political solution but meanwhile, while all this happens, people are suffering, and we have reached a scale that we have not seen in living memory.”
Last year, humanitarian programmes were scaled up to reach eight million people with direct assistance per month, up from 3.5 million in 2017.
This year’s plan aims to reach up to 19 million.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.