This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Turkey’s Syria offensive could spark another catastrophe, warn humanitarians
Airstrikes and a ground offensive by Turkey in northern Syria against Kurdish forces have left civilians dead and forced tens of thousands to flee, UN agencies said on Friday.
Speaking in Geneva, Jens Laerke from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that Thursday had seen “intense shelling all along” the north-eastern Syrian border with Turkey, from Jarablus, to the west of the Euphrates, to the Iraqi border.
He noted that the UN had not been involved in any reported attempts to set up a buffer zone between the two countries.
“When we talk about quote-unquote, safe zones, it’s not something that’s been set up by humanitarians, it is a zone that has been set up by military planners in Turkey. So we do not control it and we have not been involved in the planning of it.”
Amid fears of a new humanitarian catastrophe in the war-torn country, the UN’s emergency relief chief Mark Lowcock noted that the Turkish Government had given assurances “that they attach maximum importance to the protection of civilians and the avoidance of harm to them”.
His comments came as the UN human rights office, OHCHR, reported that seven civilians, including two women and a boy, had been killed in the first two days of the Turkish operation.
“Counter-attacks and ground strikes” by Kurdish non-State armed groups had also killed a civilian man in Jarablus on Wednesday, and injured a woman and a boy yesterday, it added.
Burkina Faso conflict and violence force 500,000 from homes
To Burkina Faso now, hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled insecurity and violence linked to armed groups in just the last three months.
On Friday, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said that central and northern regions of the country had seen 486,000 people become internally displaced – 267,000 since July.
A further 16,000 are now refugees in neighbouring countries of the Sahel, the agency said, while warning of “an unprecedented humanitarian emergency” in the making.
The development comes as armed groups have intensified attacks in Burkina Faso’s neighbouring countries, Mali and Niger.
The violence has also spilled over into Benin, meaning that overall, some 5.4 million people need urgent assistance in the region, including 3.2 million in Mali, and 700,000 people in western Niger.
At this week’s UNHCR annual Executive Committee meeting in Geneva, representatives from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania reaffirmed their commitment to work together to help people fleeing violence in their own country and across borders.
'White extremist’ use of social media in attacks must be curbed
And finally, as German authorities indicate that this week’s synagogue attack in Halle was almost certainly the work of a white nationalist, the UN human rights office has called for much quicker action to stop the spread of extremism online.
Wednesday’s attempted attack on worshippers left two people dead and two others wounded.
Copies of the live-streamed video were reportedly downloaded before their removal from the broadcasting platform it surfaced on, and they are still circulating online.
According to the UN office, OHCHR, the gunman was attempting to copy the actions of the man who killed 51 people in two mosques, in the New Zealand city of Christchurch last March.
Highlighting the disturbing rise in violence directed at Jews, it warned that no society was immune from “viral hatred”, before echoing calls for greater protection for places of worship around the world.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.