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News in Brief 21 August 2020

News in Brief 21 August 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations. 

Yemen: 300,000 people lose homes, livelihoods in catastrophic flooding  

Torrential rains and flooding in Yemen have left an estimated 300,000 people homeless in the last three months, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Friday. 

The newly displaced include those already forced to flee by the more than five-year conflict between Government forces and the mainly Houthi-led opposition.  

Several governorates have been badly affected, with at least 148 people killed in the last two months across Marib, Amran, Hajjah, Al Hudaydah, Taizz, Lahj, Aden and Abyan. 

In Hababa, a sudden breach of the Al-Roone dam led to the uncontrolled release of 250,000 cubic metres of water, affecting thousands of people in Al-Tahseen, Souq al-Lill and elsewhere. 

Many of those affected were already living in overcrowded, makeshift shelters whose plastic sheeting has been washed away or sustained significant damage. 

One in two children show signs of trauma, stress after Beirut blast, says UN Children’s Fund 

One in two children in Beirut are showing signs of trauma and “extreme stress” since the massive blast that destroyed the city’s port earlier this month. 

In an alert, the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said that people’s needs are still “immense”. 

Spokesperson Marixie Mercado told journalists in Geneva that many youngsters now need “urgent and sustained psychosocial support”:  

“Half of respondents reported that children in their households were showing changes in behaviour or signs of trauma or extreme stress following the explosions. These behaviours and symptoms include severe anxiety; quietness or withdrawing from parents and family, nightmares and trouble sleeping; and aggressive behaviour”. 

To help, UNICEF has distributed psychosocial kits for children and parents, set up child-friendly spaces in affected areas and provided specialized, intensive, and longer-term support for those who need it. 

Mali coup leaders must release Government officials, says UN rights office 

To Mali now, where the UN human rights office, OHCHR, has repeated its call for the release of senior Government figures detained by the leaders of a military coup. 

UN rights office staff in the vast desert country have had access to those being held, including President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, said OHCHR spokesperson Liz Throssell:  

“We understand that 14 people in total have been detained. From the information there are no indications that these people have been ill-treated. There was an initial 19 people detained. But 14 detainees were moved to a place with better conditions of detention, so that’s the information we received from the team that is closely following the situation. I think what we would stress is absolutely is what the Secretary-General has called for, that the people who have been illegally detained should be unconditionally released.” 

The development follows weeks of protests at the Government’s handling of the economy, corruption, and progress in the counter-offensive against militant Islamists in the north and centre of the vast desert country. 

Russian dissident must get the care he needs after suspected poisoning: UN rights office 

Russian anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, whose supporters believe was poisoned, should receive the urgent medical care he needs, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said on Friday. 

Mr. Navalny, a leading opposition figure, fell gravely ill on Thursday, reportedly while flying from Tomsk to Moscow. 

OHCHR spokesperson Liz Throssell highlighted the gravity of the situation: 

“Obviously the reports of what has happened to Alexey Navalny are very concerning and very worrying. And I think our first ….consideration is that he is able to make a completely speedy and full recovery, and as part of that, we would absolutely stress that he gets all the adequate care that he needs in order to make a recovery.” 

According to reports, an air ambulance has been organised to take Mr. Navalny to Germany for treatment by a team specialising in treating coma patients. 

Daniel Johnson, UN News. 

  • Yemen: 300,000 people lose homes, livelihoods in catastrophic flooding  

  • One in two children show signs of trauma, stress after Beirut blast, says UN Children’s Fund 

  • Russian dissident must get the care he needs after suspected poisoning: UN rights office 

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Daniel Johnson, UN News, Geneva
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