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News in Brief 1 July 2020

News in Brief 1 July 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Activist, 14, tells UN Human Rights Council to protect environment 

At the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday, a teenager from Côte d’Ivoire has explained why protecting the environment matters so much.

The rare and refreshing intervention came from 14-year-old activist Junior, who spoke out against alleged industrial pollution, including from the cocoa sector in his home town of San Pedro.

At the child rights’ debate, Member States also heard from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who warned that environmental harm severely affects “the youngest children, indigenous children and those from low-income and marginalized communities”.

This damage was being done, despite the fact that the effects of environmental degradation on children and their rights were “completely preventable”, she insisted.

Echoing that concern, Junior explained that children made up between three and four in 10 of those suffering from respiratory and skin disease, according to data from his town’s health authority.

“I want the authorities to take this question of the environment to heart. Because we children are suffering a lot”, he said via video message. 

Also participating in the debate, at the Council, WHO’s Dr Maria Neira said that one in four children globally is dying because of environmental factors, at home or elsewhere, and 570,000 children under five are dying from respiratory infections every year.

By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas, Dr Neira warned.

Human rights haven’t improved in Eritrea, says independent expert

In Eritrea, there’s been “no tangible evidence” of rights improving for people there in the past year, UN-appointed independent investigator has told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In her latest report on the situation in the east African nation, Special Rapporteur Daniela Kravetz described a “steady flow” of people continuing to leave the country.

Of those crossing the border to Ethiopia every month, before COVID-19 movement restrictions were enforced in March, one in five were unaccompanied children.

It was hard to imagine a sustainable and prosperous future for Eritrea without its young people, Ms. Kravetz told Member States, as she urged the Government to reform the job market, education and national service.

The last year has also seen civic space shrink further in Eritrea, she warned.

People have been arrested at prayer meetings, she said, as have members of minority groups and others who had expressed dissent.

As a priority, the Special Rapporteur once again called on the Eritrean authorities to address the situation of all those arbitrarily and unlawfully detained - and those who have disappeared in the prison system.

They include conscientious objectors Paulos Eyasu, Isaac Mogos and Negede Teklemariam, who have been held for 26 years.

UNESCO urges caution over fraudulent African artefacts sold in its name

Finally to the clandestine world of art fraud and African artefacts, which are being sold to unsuspecting buyers, thanks to the fake UNESCO stamp they come with.

In a warning to those who have been conned in this way, on Wednesday, the UN cultural agency urged the “utmost vigilance” after receiving numerous reports of illicit trafficking in African cultural property.

The organization said that false documents claimed that UNESCO had authorized the transactions and certified the monetary value of collections, which is not true.

It said that most victims of the fraud live in France and many have links to French-speaking African countries.

More than one million euros’ worth of goods have been pilfered to date, UNESCO said, while Director-General Audrey Azoulay described cultural theft as a “lucrative global scourge” that was “in most cases connected to other forms of organized crime, including terrorism”. 

It is 50 years since an international Convention was adopted in 1970 to combat the illicit traffic in cultural property.

Although African cultural heritage has long been the victim of looting and destruction, the Middle East has become a recent target in connection with conflict in Iraq and Syria. 

The illicit trade is also growing on the internet, where tracing origins and intermediaries is difficult, UNESCO warned.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • Activist, 14, tells UN Human Rights Council to protect environment 

  • Human rights haven’t improved in Eritrea, says independent expert

  • UNESCO urges caution over fraudulent African artefacts sold in its name

Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Photo Credit
© UNICEF/UNI102762/Paterno