This is the News in Brief, from the United Nations.
DR Congo: ‘No time to lose’ says newly appointed Ebola response coordinator
With the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s worst ever Ebola outbreak now in its tenth month, the UN on Thursday announced measures to strengthen its response, with the Organization’s newly appointed Emergency Coordinator declaring there is “no time to lose”.
Amidst a surge in new cases, the epidemic threatens to spread to other provinces in the east, as well as neighbouring countries.
Up to the middle of this month, the total number of cases – confirmed and probable - according to UN figures, stood at 1,847. There have been 1,223 deaths, while 487 people have survived the deadly virus.
“The Ebola response is working in an operating environment of unprecedented complexity for a public health emergency”, said emergency coordinator David Gressly, adding that “insecurity and political protests have led to periodic disruptions in our efforts to fight the disease.”
Mr. Gressly, also serves as the deputy chief of the UN Stabilization Mission for the DRC, MONUSCO, and he will be working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and DRC Government on the ground, who are leading the fight.
Draft El Salvador bill could give amnesty to serious human rights violators, Bachelet warns
The UN human rights chief on Thursday warned that a draft justice and reconciliation bill making its way through the legislature in El Salvador, could result in de facto amnesty for serious human rights violators.
High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said that if passed as it stands, the Transitional and Restorative Justice for National Reconciliation bill, “will unduly benefit” those who were “directly responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes” during the country’s long civil war of the 1980s and 1990s.
Crimes included “extrajudicial executions of children, women and the elderly, enforced disappearances, torture, sexual violence and other serious violations of international law,” the High Commissioner said.
She said the bill would also result in “impunity for the masterminds and military leaders who ordered such crimes or failed to adopt measures to prevent or stop them."
The bill seeks to suspend prison sentences for everyone who admits responsibility for crimes committed during the conflict, replacing these sentences with community service.
First ever UN conference on ending sexual and gender-based violence underway
The UN’s first ever global conference on ending the scourge of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) during humanitarian crises, has got underway in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.
The event runs over two days and aims to raise funds and awareness of the acute vulnerability of women and girls to SGBV in conflict and the crises that stem from it.
Attended by a range of countries, UN agencies, and leading NGOs, global leaders will be asked to commit to long-term and predictable funding mechanisms to protect women, following on from a landmark Security Council resolution last month on ending sexual violence in conflict.
In an editorial in the UK’s Guardian news outlet on Thursday, the head of UN reproductive health agency UNFPA, Natalia Kanem, and UN relief chief Mark Lowcock, called for an end to SGBV noting that one in three women experience physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime, a risk “greatly exacerbated during humanitarian crises caused by conflict or natural disasters.”
“When law and order collapse and food, water, shelter, education, and healthcare are scarce” they said, “millions of women and girls become more vulnerable, often resorting to negative ways of coping such as child marriage and survival sex.”
Matt Wells, UN News.