This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Italy proposal to fine migrant rescue boats condemned by human rights experts
An Italian government proposal to fine those who rescue migrants or refugees at sea should be rejected by lawmakers, UN independent human rights experts have said.
In a written statement condemning the draft decree, the six rights experts urge the authorities “to stop endangering the lives of migrants, including asylum seekers and victims of trafficking in persons”, in the name of national security.
The right to life and the principle of not sending vulnerable people back to places where they risk ill-treatment or worse “should always prevail over national legislation”, they said.
So far in 2019, 1,200 migrants and refugees have reached Italian shores, most after setting sail from the North African coastline.
In 2016, nearly 400,000 people arrived in Italy, according to UN migration agency IOM.
Under the Italian proposal, vessels would be fined for every person rescued at sea and taken to Italian territory.
Volunteer and other boats that rescued migrants could also have their licences revoked or suspended, the rights experts said, cautioning that the draft directive stigmatizes migrants as “possible terrorists, traffickers and smugglers”.
Ebola threat still ‘very high’ in DRC, warns WHO chief
The risk of Ebola spreading in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains “very high”, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), said on Monday.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s warning follows a recent spike in the number of infections owing to the virus in the unstable north-east of the country.
Since January, there have been dozens of attacks on health facilities in North Kivu, and on 19 April, 42-year-old Dr. Richard Valery from Cameroon was killed in Butembo.
Here’s Tedros telling the World Health Assembly in Geneva what Dr. Valery’s colleagues told him, when he visited them in DRC:
“They told me, and I quote, ‘We’re here to save lives. We will not be intimidated by violence. We will finish the job.’ Ebola does not take sides, it’s the enemy of everybody…Unless we unite to end this outbreak, we run the very (real) risk that it will become more widespread, more expensive and more aggressive….”
To date, WHO has vaccinated some 120,000 people against Ebola, which Tedros said was more than 97 per cent effective, and four experimental treatments have been given to 800 patients.
The outbreak has claimed more than 1,200 lives, since it began last August.
On World Bee day, human activity blamed for falling pollinator populations
And finally, if you think you’re busy, then spare a thought for the world’s bees; for they, along with many other insects and animals, are responsible for pollinating more than 75 per cent of the planet’s favourite food crops.
The problem is, pollinators are under threat, their numbers are falling because of human impact, and we are likely losing some species forever.
It’s a warning that the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO, is highlighting on World Bee Day, which is celebrated on 20 May.
Here’s FAO agriculture officer Abram Bicksler:
“It’s really a culmination of factors kind of all coming together, all of which are driven by human activity, so climate change is a factor, habitat loss is a factor, the overuse of pesticides is a big factor, but also there are many diseases and pests as well that are affecting our pollinators and so when those are taken together, yes, pollinators are really facing a hard time.”
Without bees and other pollinators, FAO says that we wouldn’t have coffee, apples, almonds, tomatoes and cocoa, among many other crops.
It recommends reducing the use of pesticides in farming and in the garden, planting a variety of bee-friendly flowers – and letting policy-makers know that you think the issue is important.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.
Duration : 3’49’’