This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Condemnation as deadly Yemen airstrikes claim children’s lives in capital Sana’a
Thursday’s airstrikes on Yemen’s capital Sana’s that reportedly killed five children and injured dozens more have been strongly condemned by UN agencies, which have warned of the “brutal toll” on civilians of more than four years of conflict.
According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) several people were killed and dozens were injured when airstrikes hit Sana’a city.
Details of the attacks on Sana’a remain scant, OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke, told journalists in Geneva:
“Preliminary reports we have last night indicate that five children had died and 16 more were wounded. Additional casualties including healthworkers have been recorded….I have no indication yet of the exact locations where they hit. Several neighbourhoods hit in Sana’a city. That is close as I can get this morning.”
Also in Geneva, the World Food Programme (WFP) provided an update on the status of Hudaydah’s damaged Red Sea Mills grain facility.
Millions of tonnes of wheat stored there have been inaccessible until recently owing to the fighting, but WFP spokesperson Herve Verhoosel said that repairs to silos and machinery were nearing completion.
As long as WFP’s operations can continue, “we hope in the near future we will be able to start milling the wheat and then begin transporting it to the people who need it most,” Mr. Verhoosel said.
Justice for LGBTI people is still far from guaranteed, says UN on International day
Everyone has a right to fair treatment and protection from abuse, regardless of who they are and who they love – that’s the message of this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
On the day that Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage – becoming the first place in Asia to do so – it was reported that thousands of demonstrators welcomed the move outside parliament, by waving rainbow flags.
According to the United Nations Free & Equal campaign, more than a third of the world’s countries criminalize same-sex relationships, reinforcing prejudice and putting millions of people at risk of blackmail, arrest and imprisonment.
Many countries force transgender people to undergo medical treatment or sterilization, the campaign maintains, while intersex children are subjected to unnecessary surgery, causing physical and psychological pain and suffering.
On a more positive note, the Free & Equal organizers say that there has been progress globally on the issue – although it is far from guaranteed.
And it warns that homosexuality is still a crime in 70 countries and punishable by death in seven of them.
UK’s forced returns policy highlighted by UN anti-torture panel
And finally, to the UN Committee Against Torture, which has said it’s concerned about the United Kingdom’s policy of forcibly returning asylum-seekers to places where they face a risk of abuse.
In a series of observations issued after a scheduled meeting with UK Government representatives in Geneva this month, the panel highlighted that there were 43 enforced returns to Sri Lanka last year, and 50 more to Afghanistan.
UK Home Office caseworkers “arbitrarily reject credible evidence of past torture”, the independent experts maintained, which led to torture victims’ asylum claims being denied.
While noting that “a large proportion” of denied asylum claims were ultimately overturned on appeal, the Committee called for more training for caseworkers so that they could identify the risks the claimants faced.
In meetings with the UN panel, the UK delegation earlier said that the country did not seek to return anyone who demanded protection, if there was a risk of torture or persecution.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.