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News in Brief 17 February 2020

News in Brief 17 February 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations. 

Pakistan’s solidarity and compassion for refugees is remarkable, says UN chief  

Pakistan’s solidarity and compassion for hosting Afghan refugees is a remarkable blueprint that the rest of the world should follow. 

That’s the message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who’s been speaking at an international conference in Islamabad - where he also called for a renewed push for peace in Afghanistan. 

“Working towards solutions for the Afghan people is not just a sign of solidarity; it is in the world’s best interest. Afghans now constitute the largest group of arrivals in Europe, exceeding for the first time the arrivals from Syria. Returns to Afghanistan, as we both said, have hit a historical low. Afghanistan and its people cannot be abandoned. Now is the time for the international community to act and to deliver.” 

Underlining the fact that Pakistan has hosted Afghan refugees for 40 years, the UN chief noted that since 1979, it has regularly been the world’s top refugee-hosting country. 

He highlighted Pakistan’s use of innovative technology in refugee protection, insisting that many initiatives are now recognized as a global model of good practice. 

These include biometric registration, access to the national education system, health care and inclusion in the economy. 

The UN has worked with the Pakistan authorities to support Afghan refugees, Mr. Guterres said, by implementing aid and development projects across the country – and also by helping Afghans return home. 

For them to be able to stay in Afghanistan, he appealed for peace, but also effective reconstruction that creates conditions for their successful return and reintegration. 

Yemen’s opposing sides agree to ‘large-scale’ prisoner exchange 

To Yemen now, and the first official large-scale exchange of prisoners since the beginning of the conflict has been agreed, it’s been announced. 

In a joint statement, UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths and the Red Cross, said that the deal was a “step” towards the phased release of all conflict-related detainees. 

It follows seven days of talks in Jordan – ending on Sunday – between the Government of Yemen President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Houthi opposition representatives, who have clashed since March 2015. 

In an appeal to the warring sides to stick to their deal, Mr. Griffiths asked them to move forward urgently. 

“The pain of the thousands awaiting reunion with their loved ones must end,” he said, adding that “even with the growing challenges on the ground”, there can still be positive results. 

The committee agreed to reconvene to discuss further exchanges in late March. 

Cameroon violence continues with killing of 22 villagers 

Finally, the reported killing of 22 people in Cameroon’s northwest English-speaking region has been condemned by UN humanitarians, who say that 14 children were among those who died. 

The killings last Friday follow local and parliamentary elections in the mainly French-speaking west African nation, where there’s been three years of separatist conflict. 

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the victims died in the village of Ntumbo. 

They included a pregnant woman and several children. 

It has been reported that the army said they were the unintended and unfortunate casualties of a gunfight with separatists. 

Amid clashes between non-state armed groups and Government forces, around 700,000 civilians have been displaced inside the volatile northwest and southwest.  

More than 50,000 have also sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria, according to OCHA. 

Daniel Johnson, UN News. 

Duration:  3’20” 

  • Pakistan’s solidarity and compassion for refugees is remarkable, says UN chief  

  • Yemen’s opposing sides agree to ‘large-scale’ prisoner exchange 

  • Cameroon violence continues with killing of 22 villagers 

Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson. UN News - Geneva
Photo Credit
UN Photo/Mark Garten