This is the News in Brief, from the United Nations.
Tragic image of drowned father and child in Rio Grande spurs migration debate
The drowning of a father and his toddler daughter in the Rio Grande is a heartbreaking and preventable tragedy that countries should do all in their power to prevent happening in the future, the head of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Wednesday.
Filippo Grandi’s comments about Oscar Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria follow the publication of a photograph showing them lying face down in the shallows of the river that separates Mexico from the United States.
They had come from El Salvador and according to reports, were carried away by strong currents in the fast-flowing river on Sunday.
In a statement, High Commissioner Grandi said that their deaths represented “a failure to address the violence and desperation” that pushes people to take dangerous journeys in search of a life of safety and dignity.
A lack of safe pathways for migrants forces them to risk their lives, he said, before adding that UNHCR has suggested ways that the United States can improve and strengthen processing of asylum-seekers, including conditions in detention.
UN should lead criminal investigation into Khashoggi killing, says rights investigator
Calling once more for an international criminal probe into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Special Rapporteur Agnès Callamard told members of the global community - the United Nations included – that they should do more to protect human rights defenders and dissidents.
Presenting her report into the Saudi dissident’s killing last October in Istanbul, the UN-appointed independent rights expert told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that there was credible evidence supporting an additional investigation into the role of high officials in the kingdom, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“The evidence gathered by the inquiry suggests that the killing of Mr. Khashoggi constituted an extrajudicial execution, an enforced disappearance, and possibly an act of torture, for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible. There are numerous theories as to the circumstances of Mr. Khashoggi’s death, but none leads other than to the responsibility of the State.”
Highlighting that Mr. Khashoggi’s premeditated execution reflected an increasing global phenomenon, the Special Rapporteur insisted that if the international community ignored this fundamental rights abuse, it risked threatening all other human rights prerogatives.
In response to her claims, Abdulaziz Alwasil, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said that she had not acted within the terms of her mandate, and neither had she carried out her work professionally.
Two-thirds of global drug deaths now from opioids: UN drugs report
And finally, opioids, which include both heroin and legal pain relievers, were responsible for around two-thirds of drug-related deaths in 2017, a new UN report showed on Wednesday.
The number of global opioid users contained within the World Drug Report, some 585,000 people, is more than double the previous estimate.
The study, from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), also shows that the negative health consequences associated with drugs are more severe and widespread than previously thought, with around 35 million people suffering from drug use disorders and requiring treatment services.
Of 11 million people who injected drugs in 2017, 1.4 million live with HIV, and 5.6 million have hepatitis C.
The overall figure for drug use in 2017 is an estimated 271 million people.
That’s 30 per cent higher than in 2009.
This is partly attributed to a 10 per cent increase in the global population aged 15-64, but also increased opioid use in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, as well as higher cannabis consumption in North and South America, and Asia.
The manufacture of cocaine reached an all-time high in 2017, with an estimated production of 2,000 tons in 2017, up by a quarter on the previous year. At the same time, seizures of cocaine rose 13 per cent to 1,275 tons, another record figure.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.