This is the News in Brief from the United Nations
UNESCO offers help in reconstruction of Notre Dame
Two-thirds of the roof of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris has “gone” after Monday night’s devastating fire, but UN cultural experts are standing by to offer help where it is needed in rebuilding the iconic structure.
That’s what UNESCO World Heritage Centre Director Mechtild Rössler told UN News after visiting the site on Tuesday.
She described seeing people praying outside the stricken monument, still trying to take in the scale of the disaster:
“I saw many, many people going from the Metro to the site of Notre Dame and I have to say many are still in a state of shock because it’s not only the Christian community because it’s a building for all of us and really it’s a universal symbol and it’s the centre of France …I think this is really shocking people profoundly and they lost something that is part of their identity.”
Dr. Rössler said that a team of UNESCO experts is on hand to investigate the stability of the stonework and potential damage to stained glass windows, echoing a statement by the UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, in which she announced that a “rapid damage assessment” would be carried out as soon as possible with the authorities.
One year into Nicaragua crisis, more than 60,000 flee country seeking refuge: UNHCR
Doctors, journalists, students and farmers are among more than 60,000 Nicaraguans who have fled the country, fearing for their lives, since anti-Government demonstrations began last April, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said on Tuesday.
The development coincides with an appeal from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who urged the Government to allow protests to take place without violence, on the anniversary of the start of the troubles, later this week.
According to Ms. Bachelet’s office, hundreds of activists have been arrested in recent months in Nicaragua and 300 people reportedly died between April and August last year alone.
The situation continues to deteriorate and UNHCR’s Elizabeth Throssell said that families with young children are now taking extreme measures to cross the border:
“The kinds of reasons that people have been giving for fleeing are the fear of losing their lives, being attacked or kidnapped by paramilitary groups. Some have received direct threats or have been persecuted; others fear for their lives because their communities have been a target of violence; or some, because their relatives are being sought…The people who are fleeing are coming from different parts of Nicaragua and they are travelling to the Costa Rican border, trying to avoid contact with the police and paramilitary groups. Some are travelling in trucks, hidden amongst sacks.”
Libya: WHO appeals for access amid fears ongoing hostilities may hamper medical supplies distribution
And finally to Libya, where ongoing violence has now displaced more than 18,000 people in the capital, Tripoli, and humanitarians remain concerned for some 3,600 migrants and refugees held in detention centres there.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), since clashes erupted between the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) 11 days ago, 174 people have died, including 14 civilians.
Several ambulances have also been hit by shrapnel, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told journalists in Geneva, in an appeal for the warring sides to respect international humanitarian law.
“WHO really urges all parties to exercise restraint and prevent collateral damage to civilians, hospitals …We also obviously call for access and we are concerned that hostilities could impede the movement of medical supplies that are currently in Tripoli sea port to hospitals throughout the city.”
According to UN Migration Agency IOM, there are 6,900 migrants in Government detention centres in Libya; far more are believed to remain in centres run by non-state armed groups.
After years of violent instability in Libya following the overthrow of President Muammar Gadaffi in 2011, more than 820,000 people need humanitarian assistance urgently.
Despite this, the UN’s $202 million appeal is only six per cent funded.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.