This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Protect all those fleeing Myanmar, UN offices urge countries in the region
The UN rights office (OHCHR) and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Thursday called on Myanmar’s neighbours to offer shelter to all those fleeing violence and persecution, amid ongoing strife following the 1 February coup.
The appeal comes as the Myanmar crisis enters its third month, with additional concerns raised about renewed fighting between State armed forces and ethnic armed groups in border areas, which have driven people to flee.
According to the UN rights office, OHCHR, at least 510 peaceful protesters have been killed by the security forces, and more than 2,600 are in detention, including many held incommunicado or forcibly disappeared.
“Night raids, mass arrests and killings have become daily occurrences throughout the country”, the OHCHR South-East Asia Regional Office said in a news release.
UNHCR urges greater protection for Sahel communities after deadly attack
Ten days after armed groups carried out a deadly attack on three villages near the western Niger town of Tillia, UN humanitarians have repeated their call for greater protection of civilians and all those displaced by violence in the Sahel.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR reported on Thursday that six refugees from nearby Mali were among the 137 people who were killed on 21 March by assailants on motorbikes.
Most of the victims had already fled violence in 2020, UNHCR said, adding that 1,400 survivors from the targeted villages are now on the move and many are “in shock and mourning”.
Highlighting the vulnerability of civilians in the region and the urgency of their situation, Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, encouraged efforts to address the growing insecurity, noting that it was clear that the attacks on displaced people and the communities hosting them “were targeted and deliberate”.
In addition to the unjustifiable violence meted out against civilians, shelters and granaries were also burned to the ground and cattle stolen or killed. “Survivors have nothing left”, Ms. Triggs said.
Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali in the Sahel are at the centre of one of the world’s fastest-growing displacement and protection crises. The region now hosts nearly three million refugees and people displaced inside their own country.
Rwanda massacre must not be forgotten amid today’s extremist threat: Guterres
Finally, to Rwanda, where it’s been 27 years since more than one million people were systematically murdered in less than three months there.
In comments marking the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 genocide, UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged all people to join in solidarity with the African nation – and to “take a hard look at today’s world” to ensure that the events of 1994 are not forgotten.
All around the world, people now face pressure and manipulation from extremists to join their ranks, Mr. Guterres said, describing the hardline groups as “the principal security threat in many countries”.
The UN chief condemned their “vile messages” that are now transmitted on social media platforms, as well as the “misinformation and hate speech” that are used to stoke violence.
Despite their divisive threat, there is hope, the Secretary-General insisted, describing Rwanda’s progress since overwhelmingly Tutsi victims were murdered, along with many Hutus and others who opposed the genocide:
“Rwanda experienced one of the most painful chapters in modern human history, but its people have rebuilt from the ashes. After suffering unspeakable gender-based violence and discrimination, Rwanda’s women now hold more than 60 per cent of parliamentary seats – making Rwanda a world leader. The people of Rwanda have shown us the power of justice and reconciliation, and the possibility of progress.”
To prevent history from repeating itself, the UN chief called on people to resist “these hate-driven movements” and to “redouble” their efforts to defend the rights of all members of society.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.