This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Record number of people displaced by conflict and natural disaster
A record 41 million people remain displaced worldwide because of conflict and natural disasters, an increase of more than a million individuals in a single year.
The finding, by UN-partner the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), points to ongoing clashes in Syria, along with often under-reported tensions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia and Cameroon.
Here’s NRC head Jan Egeland, speaking in Geneva:
“Let me give the example of Cameroon, I was just there inside the west of the country. The southern and western anglophone parts of Cameroon, there is an armed conflict; nobody is talking about it, nobody is engaging to end (it) there’s no mediation, there’s no humanitarian programme commensurate to the scale of the suffering. But there’s hundreds of torched villages and there is now between four and five hundred thousand people displaced within the anglophone part of Cameroon.”
Apart from conflict, extreme weather events and natural disasters were also responsible for people fleeing their homes.
Some of the worst storms and tropical cyclones were in China, India and the Philippines, NRC’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre said, with 10 million people displaced in those three countries alone.
In many countries, conflict and natural disasters combined to create mass population shifts, not least in Afghanistan, where drought has triggered more displacement than armed conflict.
Similarly, the security crisis in north-east Nigeria has been aggravated by flooding that has affected 80 per cent of the country, NRC maintains.
Myanmar military alleged to have opened fire on men and boys held in school
To Myanmar now, where the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said on Friday that the State military – known as Tatmadaw - may be responsible for opening fire on hundreds of men and boys in Rakhine state, killing six of them.
According to Spokesperson Rupert Colville, the victims are believed to have been detained following attacks by an armed group, the Arakan Army, on two Tatmadaw army bases in April – the latest escalation in a long-running conflict.
“According to the Tatmadaw, soldiers opened fire when the group tried to seize their guns, but other sources dispute this account and offer a different version. They say the Tatmadaw opened fire indiscriminately after one of the detainees tried to escape.”
Since 2 May, most of the boys and men have been released in groups, Mr. Colville said.
However, up to 50 remain in “incommunicado” detention, without access to lawyers, doctors or any other form of protection.
They are reliant on family members for food, according to the UN human rights office, which says it is also concerned over an announcement that the episode will only be investigated by the military.
Nearly 900 children released by north-east Nigeria armed group
And finally, nearly 900 youngsters have been released by a pro-Government armed group in north-east Nigeria.
The development on Friday has been welcomed by UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, which warned that those freed will need long-term help if they are to lead a normal life.
Here’s UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac:
“The children and young people released today will benefit from reintegration programmes to help them return to civilian life and seize new opportunities for their own development. Without this support, many of the children released from armed groups struggle to fit into civilian life as most are not educated and have no vocational skills.”
Of the 894 children released in Maiduguri, 106 were girls.
They were all recruited by the Civilian Joint Taskforce (CJTF), which committed to ending the practice last September, under a UN-led action plan.
Since that deal was signed, more than 1,700 children and young people have been released.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.