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News in Brief 17 January 2020

News in Brief 17 January 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Libya: ‘Dire and untenable’ situation for children: UNICEF chief

The world should not accept the “dire and untenable” situation facing children in Libya, the head of the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said on Friday.

“Children in Libya, including refugee and migrant children, continue to suffer grievously amidst the violence and chaos unleashed by the country’s longstanding civil war”, Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement

Since last April, when hostilities broke out in Tripoli and western Libya, conditions for thousands of children and civilians deteriorated further with indiscriminate attacks in populated areas that have caused hundreds of deaths.

And UNICEF has received reports of children being maimed, killed and also recruited to fight.

Since the fall of President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been in the throes of ongoing instability and economic collapse, despite its large oil reserves.

Meanwhile, over the last eight months, more than 150,000 people – 90,000 of whom are children – have been forced to flee their homes and are now internally displaced.

Syria: Ceasefire fails to protect civilians

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has condemned the continued killing and displacement of civilians in north-western Syria despite a ceasefire announcement last Sunday.

Michelle Bachelet called for the immediate cessation of hostilities in and around the ‘de-escalation’ zone of Idlib, as well as the protection of all civilians and civilian infrastructure.   

The latest ceasefire – as with others in the past year – has yet again failed to protect civilians, who face the threat of being killed and maimed going about their everyday lives, she lamented.

“It is deeply distressing that civilians are still being killed on a daily basis in missile strikes from both the air and ground”, she elaborated.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the violence and forced to traverse conflict zones.

Some have fled to smaller territories in northern Idlib while others have crossed into areas in northern Aleppo, under the control of Turkish-backed armed groups.

Cambodia treason trial tainted, say UN experts

Independent UN human rights experts on Friday expressed concerns about the treason trial that opened this week against Cambodia opposition leader Kem Sokha, saying the entire process has been beset by irregularities.

Mr. Sokha was arrested, detained, and charged with treason for a 2013 speech he delivered in Australia that was broadcast by CBN, the Cambodian Broadcasting Network.

If convicted, he faces a custodial sentence of between 15 to 30 years.

They experts said they had “strong grounds” to believe that the treason charge is politically motivated and forms part of a larger pattern of misapplying laws to target political opponents and critics of the Government.

Following his arrest in September 2017, Mr. Sokha was denied bail and held in pre-trial detention for a year, then put under house arrest.

Allowed to leave home last year, he was then banned from travelling abroad and forbidden to conduct political activities.

The experts repeat their call for all restrictive bail conditions to be removed, and for all his political rights to be reinstated with compensation and reparations.

Liz Scaffidi, UN News.

  • Libya: ‘Dire and untenable’ situation for children: UNICEF chief

  • Syria: Ceasefire fails to protect civilians

  • Cambodia treason trial tainted, say UN experts

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