This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
UN rights chief Bachelet condemns Tanzania election violence
The people of Tanzania should be allowed to express grievances “without fear of reprisals” after nationwide elections, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Tuesday.
Her comments come after the country’s main opposition parties called for peaceful demonstrations and fresh elections, after President John Magufuli was returned to office with more than 80 per cent of ballots cast.
In a statement, the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that she had been disturbed by reports of continued intimidation and harassment against leaders and members of the opposition before, during and after the election last month – along with internet restrictions and blocking of social media platforms.
“The tense situation in the country will not be defused by silencing those who challenge the outcome of the elections, but rather through a participatory dialogue,” Ms. Bachelet said, before urging the Tanzanian authorities “to respect and facilitate exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly”.
Ms. Bachelet highlighted reports that following vote-casting in the east African nation, at least 150 opposition leaders and members were arrested in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar.
While most have been subsequently released, at least 18 reportedly remain in custody, the UN rights chief said.
Ms Bachelet also urged action to investigate the killing of at least 10 people and the injuries sustained by more than 50 others in Zanzibar on 26 October – two days before the vote.
COVID will likely make millions more food insecure
There are fears that widespread hunger and displacement could surge as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact migrant workers, who can no longer find a job.
In a joint alert, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that the coronavirus crisis had increased vulnerability, particularly among migrant families who are reliant on remittances.
According to WFP, the number of acutely food insecure people in 79 countries where it operates could increase by 80 per cent by the end of the year, from 149 million before COVID-19 hit, to about 270 million.
Both agencies warned that even before COVID-19 struck, hunger and displacement were already at record levels.
Here’s IOM spokesperson Angela Wells:
“We are particularly concerned about the reality facing the more than 2.75 million migrants stranded on their journeys around the world. Many are now unable to return to their places of work, their communities, or their countries of origin. Stranded in precarious situations, many are reliant on humanitarian agencies for food support.”
Hunger and forced migration go together, the UN agencies said, with nine out of the 10 worst food crises occurring in countries which also had the largest numbers of internally displaced.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19 there are more than 94,000 travel restrictions in place in at least 220 countries, territories or areas.
The fear is that these have limited opportunities for people to move, work and buy food, and that without sustained income, many will be pushed to return home.
Remittances provide an essential lifeline for around 800 million, or one in nine people in the world, said WFP and IOM.
UNHCR expands aid as Ivorian refugee numbers top 8,000
Finally to Côte d’Ivoire, where more than 8,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries amid ongoing political tensions linked to the presidential elections, up from 3,200 in just one week.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said on Tuesday that it is ramping up support, but that it fears continuing violence will force more people out of the country.
More than 7,500 Ivorians have now fled to Liberia; at least 60 per cent are children and some are unaccompanied or separated from their parents.
Older people and pregnant women have also fled, most carrying just a few belongings and little food or money.
More than 500 Ivorians have also arrived in Ghana, Guinea, and Togo where they are receiving immediate assistance.
The UN agency is now preparing to airlift essential relief items for up to 10,000 refugees in Liberia, while teams on the ground are ready to distribute humanitarian aid, food, and cash assistance, along with water, sanitation, and shelter needs.
Following the country’s 2011 presidential election, violent unrest claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people and displaced more than one million inside the country.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.