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News in Brief 16 July 2020

News in Brief 16 July 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Yemen: 11 dead in second airstrike in three days

In Yemen, at least 11 civilians including women and children have been killed in an apparent new airstrike in the north of the country.

The attack on Wednesday – the second in days – also injured five youngsters and a woman in Al Musaafah Al Maraziq, east of Al Hazm in Al Jawf.

The actual number of victims is likely to be higher, according to Lise Grande, UN humanitarian coordinator in the war-torn country, whose Office said that the injured have been taken to hospital in Sana’a.

“For the second time this week women and children have been wantonly killed and injured in an attack”, Ms Grande said in a statement.

Amid escalating violence in the country, the UN official reiterated the UN’s call for a comprehensive cease-fire, adding that “the only chance for Yemen is if the parties take that step”.

On 12 July, an air strike killed nine civilians and injured another four in Hajjah Governorate in northwest Yemen.

During the first six months of 2020, nearly 1,000 conflict-related casualties have been reported, according to Ms. Grande’s Office.

Nuclear testing legacy is ‘cruellest’ environmental injustice, warns rights expert

The dangerous legacy of nuclear weapons testing continues to affect many communities, a leading rights expert said on Thursday, on the 75th anniversary of testing in the United States that heralded the nuclear age.

In an appeal to Governments worldwide to get rid of weapons of mass destruction, UN Special Rapporteur on toxics, Baskut Tuncak, said that the Trinity tests in New Mexico on 16 July 1945 were the prelude to the “two horrific explosions suffered by (the) innocent people of Japan”, towards the end of the Second World War.

They were also followed by the detonation of hundreds of nuclear bombs over vulnerable communities in the Pacific, and the disposal of radioactive waste on lands and territories of indigenous peoples.

This has created a legacy of nuclear testing that “is one of the cruellest examples of environmental injustice witnessed”, said Mr Tuncak, an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council in Geneva. From 1946-58, 67 nuclear bombs were detonated on the Marshall Islands, he said, the equivalent of more than 1.5 “Hiroshima-sized explosions every day for 12 years”.

Communities “have suffered unimaginably” from radioactive contamination and this continues today “with a legacy of contamination, illness and anguish”, the expert insisted. In French Polynesia over 200 nuclear tests were conducted over a 30-year period from 1966 to 1996, subjecting inhabitants to associated health and environmental damage, the Special Rapporteur added.

And from Greenland to Alaska, he warned that people continued to suffer from the nuclear testing era.

This discrimination should be addressed by all States as part of the discussion on “systemic racism” and nuclear disarmament, Mr. Tuncak insisted.

Alarm over rise in women prisoners; mental health effects of COVID measures

More than 700,000 women are in prison around the world and their number is growing much faster than men, the Human Rights Council has heard.

In a debate about conditions in detention and how to do more to protect female detainees during the COVID-19 crisis, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, warned that overcrowding had led to serious harm.

Here’s Georgette Gagnon, head of field operations and technical cooperation at OHCHR, speaking on Wednesday: “Globally, women represent between two and 10 per cent of prison populations, but their numbers are increasing rapidly – more rapidly than the increase of male prisoners. Many women detainees face inhuman and degrading treatment during arrest, interrogation and in custody, including being stripped; invasive body searches; rape and threats of rape; so-called ‘virginity testing’; and other acts, insults and humiliations of a sexual nature.”

Speakers at the Geneva forum noted that the pandemic continued to represent a threat to inmates’ physical and mental health.

Measures to stop transmission were making their sentences “much harsher”, the Council heard, amid reports that only six per cent or less of the global prison population, had been released to reduce the risk of COVID transmission.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • Yemen: 11 dead in second airstrike in three days

  • Nuclear testing legacy is ‘cruellest’ environmental injustice, warns rights expert

  • Alarm over rise in women prisoners; mental health effects of COVID measures



Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News, Geneva
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© UNICEF/Sebastian Rich