This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Alarm over reported ‘pushbacks’ from Greece at EU border with Turkey
Worrying reports of migrants facing arbitrary arrest in Greece and being “pushed back” to Turkey should be investigated by the Greek authorities promptly, the UN migration agency, IOM, said on Thursday.
The alert follows multiple testimonies of pushbacks and collective expulsions of migrants - in some cases violent - at the European Union (EU) border between the two countries.
IOM also said that it was especially disturbed by video footage showing the use of floating rescue equipment to expel migrants across the Eastern Aegean Sea.
In a statement the UN agency urged States “to refrain from securitizing borders and implementing migration practices which compromised the human rights of migrants”.
These included measures such as the construction of border walls, militarizing border patrols or increasing deportations.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, IOM also called for deportations to be suspended and for countries to promote voluntary returns when and where possible, particularly for those migrants who said they would feel safer going home.
108 million children forced to work in agriculture and rising, warns UN agency
The staggering number of children involved in illegal child labour around the world - 152 million - is set to rise because of COVID-19, the UN has warned.
Coinciding with the World Day Against Child Labour, on 12 June, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued its warning, saying that millions of families are already struggling because of restrictions linked to the pandemic.
While the coronavirus pandemic has hit global supply chains hard, the FAO pointed out that most children work on small family holdings, where food is not exported.
This means that any effort to tackle child labour by focusing on global supply chains does not help the millions of children “who are trapped” in unpaid family tasks.
According to the UN agency, 108 million children work in agriculture today.
On the African continent, one in five children is involved in child labour and more than four in five youngsters toil in the fields.
Progress in tackling child labour appears to have stalled in many African countries, the FAO said, despite targeted policies to combat it.
In an appeal to focus on better education opportunities for children after the pandemic to protect them from falling into child labour and poverty, the agency estimated that 1.6 billion youngsters are already out of school today.
Child labour endangers the health and education of children, FAO said, leaving them very likely to remain poor throughout their lives and perpetuating the cycle of poverty and hunger.
Iconic Lake Geneva fountain returns to live-streaming after COVID-19 stoppage
And finally to Geneva, where the mighty water fountain that’s often associated with the Swiss city is back up and running again after a near three-month stoppage because of the coronavirus.
Authorities took the decision to temporarily turn off the 140-metre jet on 20 March, to reinforce lockdown measures being implemented at the time, and to protect the staff who run the iconic monument that towers over Lake Geneva. World Health Organization (WHO) head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus turned on the spout on Thursday - along with UN Geneva chief Tatiana Valovaya - in a symbolic gesture to highlight the importance of international cooperation in the fight against the pandemic.
To date, Switzerland has confirmed almost 31,000 cases of infection and more than 1,600 deaths, according to latest WHO data.
The country is gradually easing restrictions linked to the disease and plans to reopen its borders with Austria, France and Germany on Monday 15 June. That’s the date when the Human Rights Council will also resume its work - in person - at the UN Palace of Nations close to the lake.
The final week of its last session was cut short on 13 March in line with COVID-19 social distancing directives issued by the Swiss authorities.
Now, deliberations can resume this coming Monday and voting on some 40 draft resolutions is expected towards the end of next week.
If you didn’t manage to see the water jet event as it live-streamed, you can see it again on the UN’s social media accounts; just search for UNGeneva and UNNews.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.