This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Europe urged to show more solidarity with Mediterranean migrants: UNHCR
European countries have been urged to show more solidarity towards people risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea, as the UN refugee agency highlighted the large number of children now reaching European shores from northern Africa.
The appeal on Tuesday from UNHCR comes as it continued to help 1,500 people disembark a rescue ship at the Sicilian port of Trapani.
Here’s the agency’s senior spokesperson in Italy, Carlotta Sami:
“Most of the arrivals departed from Libya on board unseaworthy vessels and made repeated distress calls. UNHCR has been present at disembarkations. We have noticed the high presence of minors, many of whom are unaccompanied.
The majority of arrivals originated from Mali and the surrounding west Africa area, Eritrea and north Africa.”
Some 10,400 people have now reached Italy so far this year, Ms. Sami said, before welcoming Italy’s decision to keep its borders open to those in need of help during the pandemic.
So far in 2021, at least 500 people are known to have died attempting to cross the so-called Central Mediterranean route from north Africa.
This preventable loss of life “underscores once again the need to re-establish a system for search and rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean coordinated by States”, UNHCR said.
Ms. Sami added that the Sahel region, where many of those arriving in Italy’s ports originated, is home to 5.5 million refugees and internally displaced people, before insisting that solidarity from other European Union Member States “was urgently needed”.
Mass dismissal of top court judges sparks alarm in El Salvador
To El Salvador now, and an alert from UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet after the entire Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court was dismissed, along with the country’s Attorney General.
The development follows UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s call on Monday for respect of the rule of law and the division of powers.
It was needed, he said, to preserve “the democratic progress” achieved in El Salvador since a peace agreement was signed in 1992, ending more than a decade of civil war.
In a statement on Tuesday, Ms. Bachelet noted that the judges had been removed after ruling against COVID-19 measures, that had been passed by the Ministry of Health.
They should be protected “from undue interference and intimidation”, she said.
The magistrates and the Attorney General were replaced by Congress “within hours” of their dismissal, according to the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), while Ms. Bachelet warned of a “an alarming trend towards the concentration of power” in El Salvador.
Citing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which El Salvador has ratified, the High Commissioner underscored that “judges may be dismissed only on serious grounds of misconduct or incompetence”.
She also said that it was the obligation of the State to abide by judicial decisions, "whether or not they are to their liking”.
‘Joy’ in South Sudan as schools reopen across country after 14 months
Finally to South Sudan, where children have gone back to school after more than 14 months away, because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Welcoming the development, UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said that it was a step on the road to normalcy for two million youngsters across the country.
Mads Oyen, UNICEF’s chief of field operations described it as a moment of “joy” for humanitarians and children across the country:
“But going back to school is more than about learning especially in a country like South Sudan, where we’re also faced with humanitarian emergencies in many parts of the country. Schools are places for children to be safe and to be protected and also to access basic services; school feeding and so on.”
Despite this good news, the UNICEF official noted that many children had not been able to return to class, the backdrop being a humanitarian situation in South Sudan that remains extremely difficult, with two in every three children in need of assistance – the highest figure since 2018.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.