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News in Brief 8 April 2024

News in Brief 8 April 2024

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Gaza: Nicaragua seeks UN’s top court judgment to stop German weapons use

The UN’s top court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), on Monday began proceedings brought by Nicaragua to halt Germany’s military aid to Israel.

The Nicaragua delegation argued that Germany was “failing to honour its own obligation to prevent genocide”. 

The case follows South Africa’s petition to the ICJ in December to order Israel as a signatory of the Genocide Convention to protect Palestinians in Gaza, where more than 33,000 mainly women and children have been reported killed since 7 October.

The development came as top UN aid coordinator in the Occupied Palestinian Territory insisted that he remained deeply worried about an Israeli invasion of Rafah – and about providing assistance to people heading back to the nearby city of Khan Younis, after the Israeli military’s withdrawal.

Here’s Jamie McGoldrick now speaking exclusively to UN News:

“We have to be ready for the possibility of people leaving Rafah, because there's very few places for them to go. And for us, we really struggle to pre-position enough material, non-food items, shelter, material, and water, especially at this time of year when the weather is becoming so hot and the ability to have mobile health support and protection.”

To cover Gazans’ basic needs, more than 500 trucks with humanitarian aid should be coming to the enclave every day, Mr. McGoldrick said. 

Attacks on Ukrainian nuclear facilities ‘must cease immediately’: IAEA

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency has condemned what he’s called “reckless” drone strike attempts on Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine – the first since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that the development at the weekend marked a “major escalation” at the power plant, which is occupied by Russian troops.

The IAEA reported that soldiers stationed on the roof of one reactor “engaged what appeared to be an approaching drone”, before an explosion was heard nearby. 

“Such reckless attacks significantly increase the risk of a major nuclear accident and must cease immediately,” Mr. Grossi said.

He reiterated that no-one could “conceivably benefit” from attacking a nuclear facility and he appealed to military decision-makers to refrain from any actions that violate the laws of war that protect them.

Healthcare and education ‘inaccessible’ for displaced

Only one in two countries offer guaranteed healthcare and educational access to all migrants, UN migration experts said on Monday.

In a new report into migrants’ rights and opportunities, the International Organization for Migration - IOM - found that only 18 per cent of European countries provided access to healthcare and just 27 per cent offered free schooling.

That’s well below the 70 per cent of countries offering medical cover in the Americas, where primary and secondary education is available in 58 per cent of States.

Although the constitutions of many countries prohibit any discrimination based on nationality, race or place of birth, guaranteed access for migrants to health and education is rarely specified in other legislation – although IOM pointed out that The Gambia and Portugal have done so since 2008 and 2020 respectively.

All countries should explicitly guarantee essential services for all migrants, IOM said - just as Brazil did in 2020 - “for migrant children and adolescents, refugees, stateless people and asylum-seekers” wanting to go to school.

Portugal in 2019 also amended health laws to include “foreign permanent…and temporary residents, stateless persons, applicants for international protection and migrants”.

IOM’s findings came from surveying 100 countries including 37 from Africa, 27 from the Americas, 25 from Asia-Pacific and 11 from Europe.

Daniel Johnson, UN News. 

  • Palestine UN membership in spotlight amid Rafah invasion fears 
  • Attacks on Ukrainian nuclear facilities ‘must cease immediately’: UN atomic watchdog
  • Healthcare ‘inaccessible’ for displaced people, warns UN migration agency 
Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News
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Photo Credit
UN News/Ziad Taleb