This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Refugee resettlement numbers are lowest in two decades: UNHCR
Refugee resettlement numbers are at a “record low” this year, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Wednesday, with only 15,425 people resettled in the first nine months of 2020, compared with more than four times that in 2019.
This is “one of the lowest levels of resettlement” in almost two decades and a “blow” for the ability to save lives and protect those most at risk,” said UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs.
Syrians affected by nearly a decade of fighting make up 41 per cent of all those resettled this year, and 16 per cent are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Other nationalities who have been given shelter in a third country include Iraqis, Burmese and Afghans.
UNHCR said that three in 10 are survivors of violence or torture and nearly two in 10 are women and girls at risk.
Although the COVID-19 crisis has delayed the movement of asylum-seekers to a third country, UNHCR said that the 50,000 global quota for the whole year was “disappointingly low” in the first place.
Whole generation of children at risk from impact of COVID, says UNICEF
The impacts of COVID-19 could have “dire” long-term consequences on children as the pandemic drags on.
That’s the warning from UN children’s fund UNICEF, which has unveiled research showing that while symptoms among youngsters infected with COVID-19 are mostly mild, the impact on their education, nutrition and wellbeing could be life-altering.
Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, rejected the “myth” that children are barely affected by the disease.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” she said, noting that disruptions to key services and soaring poverty rates caused by the pandemic were the biggest threats to a whole generation.
Although children can transmit the virus, the UN agency said that there is strong evidence that the net benefits of keeping schools open outweigh the costs of closing them.
Schools are not a main driver of community transmission and children are more likely to get the virus outside school settings, UNICEF maintained.
Based on data gathered from 87 countries, children and teens accounted for one in nine COVID infections, according to the UN agency’s report, “Averting a Lost COVID Generation”.
Probe call for ‘excessive’ violence used against Belarus demonstrators
To Belarus finally, and concerns expressed by UN-appointed rights experts at increased reports of “mass detentions, intimidation and torture” – and the alleged use of stun grenades and tear gas against peaceful protesters.
In a joint statement, the Special Rapporteurs urged the authorities in Minsk to conduct a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the excessive use of force and “unlawful retaliation” at peaceful protests.
Demonstrations have been continuing in the eastern European country since the disputed presidential election in Belarus in August.
Anaïs Marin, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus condemned what she called “large-scale violations of the rights of peaceful assembly, freedom of opinion and expression…by the Belarusian Government".
Ms. Marin added that the rights of peaceful protesters, rights activists, civil society and journalists remained unprotected from “disproportionately violent and apparently unlawful actions of security forces".
The development follows the reported arrest on 15 November of at least 1,200 protesters throughout Belarus.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.