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News in Brief 14 July 2020

News in Brief 14 July 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Thousands of Ethiopian migrants stranded in Yemen: IOM

Tens of thousands of Ethiopian migrants have been stranded in war-ravaged Yemen where they continue to be subjected to arbitrary detention and exposure to COVID-19 infection, forcible relocation and abuse, the UN said on Tuesday.

The alert from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) follows reports that an airstrike on Sunday in northwest Hajjah Governorate killed seven children and two women.

The UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Lise Grande, said in a statement that it was “incomprehensible in the middle of the COVID pandemic…that civilians continue being killed”.

The country has long been a steppingstone for migrants seeking work in the oil-rich Arabian States to the north of Yemen.

But landing points across from the Horn of Africa have become increasingly dangerous since conflict escalated in March 2015 between the forces of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi - supported by a Saudi-led international coalition – and mainly Houthi militia, for control of the Arab nation.

Here’s IOM spokesperson Paul Dillon:

“For nearly six years, Yemen has been an extremely unsafe place to be a migrant. COVID-19 has made this situation worse; migrants are scapegoated as carriers of the virus and as a result, suffer exclusion and violence. In addition to the forced removals, fears about COVID-19 have led to migrants in Yemen experiencing verbal and physical harassment, increased detention and movement restrictions.”

Today, widely described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, fears that COVID-19 has already gained a strong foothold in Yemen have been compounded by a potential famine alert last week from the World Food Programme (WFP), as some 10 million people face acute food shortages.

Nearly 1,000 civilian conflict-related casualties have also been reported in Yemen in the first six months of 2020.

Burundi needs more than a new President to break cycle of violence

To the Human Rights Council, which has been hearing how the challenges facing Burundi have not gone away just because of the death of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Addressing Member States in Geneva, UN-appointed independent investigator Doudou Diene, said that “intimidation, threats and serious human rights violations” were still a feature of politics in the country.

Members of Burundi’s main opposition party, the National Freedom Council, CNL had even been executed, according to Mr. Diene, head of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi.

Although the Presidential, legislative and local elections in May had seen relatively strong participation by women, the investigator warned that Senate and other upcoming elections had been “marred by violent incidents and multiple human rights violations”.

Despite Mr Nkurunziza’s death on 8 June, the ruling party remains unchanged, the UN-appointed rights expert continued.

In an appeal to the new President and former general Evariste Ndayishimiye, the UN Commission of Inquiry urged him to “demonstrate his will for change” by cooperating with international human rights mechanisms or by reopening the UN Office for Human Rights in Burundi.

The immediate release of the four Iwacu journalists and human rights defenders such as Germain Rukuki and Nestor Nibitanga, would also be significant gestures, Mr Diene said.

Burundi rejected the UN panel’s findings which it claimed benefited the Burundian political opposition.

UN human rights office alarm at Bahrain death sentences

Bahrain should reconsider carrying out the death penalty on two men who were tortured before confessing to involvement in a bomb attack, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that Mohamed Ramadan and Husain Moosa Ali Moosa Mohamed, were reportedly arrested without a warrant after the February 2014 incident, in which a police officer was killed.

They were convicted in December 2014 and sentenced to death.

That decision was upheld by Bahrain’s highest court on Monday.

UN human rights office spokesperson Liz Throssell told journalists that it was “deeply concerned” by the development.

She urged the Bahraini authorities “to halt immediately any plans” to execute the men, quash their convictions and conduct a retrial “in accordance with international human rights norms and standards”.

While noting that those responsible for the attack were held to account, Ms. Throssell also urged Bahrain to ensure that its domestic laws were brought into line with international human rights law.

The Gulf State should also investigate all allegations of arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and the use of forced confessions, the UN human rights official added.

Daniel Johnson, UN News

  • Thousands of Ethiopian migrants stranded in Yemen: IOM

  • Burundi needs more than a new President to break cycle of violence

  • UN human rights office alarm at Bahrain death sentences


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Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
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