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News in Brief 4 March 2021

News in Brief 4 March 2021

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Migrants drown after being forced into sea in Gulf of Aden

At least 20 people have drowned after smugglers threw dozens of migrants overboard as they sailed from Djibouti to Yemen, UN migration agency IOM said on Thursday.

This is the third such incident in the Gulf of Aden in the last six months, according to the IOM, which said that survivors are receiving medical treatment in the port town of Obock, in Djibouti.

At least 200 migrants including children were crowded onto the vessel when it departed, according to reports.

Thirty minutes into the journey, smugglers forced around 80 people into the sea. Five bodies have already been recovered.

Every year, tens of thousands of mainly young east African migrants make the dangerous journey from countries such as Somalia and Ethiopia to Djibouti and on to Yemen, in search of work in Gulf countries.

Suspicion of Muslims at epidemic proportions, Human Rights Council hears

Institutional suspicion and fear of Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim has escalated to epidemic proportions, the Human Rights Council heard on Thursday.

Addressing the Council in Geneva, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, said that “numerous” States, regional and international bodies were to blame.

In a report to the Council, he cited European surveys in 2018 and 2019 that showed that nearly four in 10 people held unfavourable views about Muslims.

In 2017, 30 per cent of Americans viewed Muslims “in a negative light”, the Special Rapporteur added.

He said that States had responded to security threats “by adopting measures which disproportionately target Muslims and define Muslims as both high risk and at risk of radicalization”.

Mr Shaheed noted that these developments followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks and other acts of terrorism purportedly carried out in the name of Islam.

The result of this “Islamophobia” was misconceptions about Muslims that were used to “justify state-sponsored discrimination, hostility and violence” against them, said the rights expert, who added that this climate of “exclusion, fear and distrust” had left many , Muslims reporting that “they often feel stigma, shame and a sense that they are ‘suspect communities’, that are being forced to bear collective responsibility for the actions of a small minority”.

Mental health alert for 332 million children linked to COVID-19 stay-at-home policies: UNICEF

A mental health alert for hundreds of millions of children now, issued by UN Children’s Fund UNICEF.

Based on new research, it said on Thursday that more than 330 million youngsters have been stuck at home for at least nine months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

This has left them feeling isolated and anxious about their future, UNICEF said.

Here’s spokesperson James Elder:

“Tens and tens of millions of youngsters have been left feeling isolated and afraid and lonely and anxious because of these enforced lockdowns and isolations that have become as a result of this pandemic. So, we’ve got to emerge from this pandemic with a better approach, a better approach to child and adolescent mental health, and that probably starts just by giving the issue the attention it deserves.”

Half of all mental disorders develop before the age of 15, according to UNICEF and the majority of the 800,000 people who die by suicide annually, are under 18.

The UN agency also said that the pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93 per cent of countries worldwide.

To respond to growing needs, it has offered support to Governments and partners to prioritize services for children.

In Kazakhstan, this has led to the launch of a UNICEF platform for individual online counselling services, alongside distance training in schools for mental health specialists.

In China, the agency has also worked with social media company Kuaishou, to produce an online challenge to help reduce anxiety in children.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • Mental health alert for 330 million kids in COVID lockdown: UNICEF
  • Suspicion of Muslims at epidemic proportions, Human Rights Council hears
  • Migrants drown after being forced into the sea off Djibouti: IOM 
Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Photo Credit
© UNICEF/Aleksey Filippov