This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
UN chief expresses deep concern over detention of Mali transition leaders
The UN Secretary-General has expressed his deep concern over the arrest of top civilian members of Mali’s transitional government, including the President and Prime Minister, and called for their “unconditional release”.
António Guterres said his Special Representative in the region was working closely with the regional economic community ECOWAS, the African Union and others, which are supporting the transition, following last August’s military coup.
The UN mission in Mali, MINUSMA, joined international partners monitoring the faltering transition in condemning Monday’s “attempted coup” which was sparked by the Prime Minister’s decision to appoint new government members.
They demanded their immediate and unconditional release and stressed that those “military elements” responsible for detaining civilian leaders will be held “personally responsible” for their safety.
The statement reiterated the international community’s firm support for the transition and called on leaders to stay on schedule for a full return to civilian rule.
Journalist’s arrest in Belarus constitutes ‘new phase’ of repression
The forcing down of a passenger jet over Belarus and detention of opposition journalist Roman Protasevich is an “astonishing episode” that heralds a new phase in the campaign of repression against journalists and civil society.
That’s according to the Spokesperson for the UN human rights office, OHCHR, Rupert Colville at the regular press briefing in Geneva.
He said the forcible diversion of the Ryanair plane by a Belarusian fighter jet to the capital Minsk, apparently under false pretences, was tantamount to an “extraordinary rendition”, as he had been abducted from the jurisdiction of another State.
“We fear for Roman Protasevich’s safety and wish to seek assurances that he is treated humanely and is not subjected to ill treatment or torture. His appearance on state TV last night was not reassuring, given the apparent bruising to his face, and the strong likelihood that his appearance was not voluntary, and his “confession” to serious crimes was forced. Information obtained under coercion cannot be used against Mr Protasevich in any legal proceedings. Such forced confessions are prohibited under the Convention against Torture.”
Mr. Colville said the forced landing of the passenger plane also terrorized passengers on board and exposed them to unnecessary danger, in violation of their human rights.
COVID-19: South Asia health systems on brink of collapse, warns UNICEF
And finally, health systems across many countries in South Asia are on the brink of collapse, warned the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF’s regional director on Tuesday.
George Laryea-Adjei said that the scenes being witnessed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising infection rates, are unlike anything the region has ever seen before.
He described the now routine sight of family members of patients, carrying oxygen cylinders inside hospitals, risking their own lives in the hopes of saving a loved one.
“And they’re doing so because in some instances if you don’t find this oxygen on the market, and go yourself, your loved one is going to pass away. Health workers are exhausted, they are working very long hours, 16-18 hours, and we are faced with the real possibility, of the health system collapsing.”
South Asia is home to almost two billion people and it accounts for half of all new infections globally, with over three being recorded every second.
The UNICEF director said one person was now dying every 17 seconds due to COVID in the region.
Matt Wells, UN News.