Wednesday’s Daily brief: Day 3 of anti-hatred summit, UNFPA turns 50, Ben Stiller #WithRefugees, updates on Abyei and Venezuela

1 May 2019

This Wednesday, our top stories cover: leaders gathered in Geneva to tackle hate speech; the 50th birthday of the UN sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA); Goodwill Ambassador Ben Stiller advocating for Syrian refugees in the USA; human rights issues in the Philippines and in Venezuela; and an update on the UN peacekeeping misson in Abyei.

End ‘political opportunism’ that’s letting hate speech flourish, urges top UN genocide official

With murderous attacks against religious institutions on the rise, leaders across the world need to do more to end “political opportunism” and policies which allow hate speech and violent extremism to flourish, said the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide on Wednesday.

Speaking at the end of the second Global Summit on Religion, Peace and Security, at UN headquarters in Geneva, Adama Dieng noted that in the wake of dozens killed inside Sri Lanka churches, a synagogue attack in California, and killings inside a church in Burkina Faso, the threat of another genocide somewhere, was only growing larger.

You can find our full coverage here, and download/listen to a short clip of Mr. Dieng's statement. 

 

UN sexual and reproductive health agency celebrates 50 years of saving women's lives

The UN agency mandated with protecting sexual and reproductive health (UNFPA) turned 50 this week, celebrating its role saving millions of women’s lives and protecting their futures.

In a message to mark this milestone, Secretary-General António Guterres congratulated UNFPA on its work, improving the well-being of people around the world, warning that “today, the world needs UNFPA more than ever”.

“Your efforts have been particularly instrumental in enabling women and couples to access the sexual and reproductive health care they need”, he said, and in preventing gender-based violence, tackling female genital mutilation and child marriage practices.

UNFPA supports reproductive health care for women and youth in more than 150 countries – home to more than 80 per cent of the world’s population.

Venezuela: UN human rights office calls for ‘maximum restraint’ by authorities in face of new demonstrations

With another day of mass protests taking place across Venezuela, the UN human rights office (OHCHRsaid on Wednesday it was “extremely worried by reports of the excessive use of force” by security forces, loyal to President Nicolás Maduro, a day after an opposition-led uprising appeared to stall. 

Opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, who declared himself interim leader in January, appeared on social media flanked by members of the armed forces on Tuesday, calling for action to remove Mr. Maduro from power. President Maduro accused his rival of an “attempted coup”. 

Read our full story here

Gains by Abyei interim force can help advance resolution of border issues between Sudan and South Sudan, UN peacekeeping chief says

The United Nations security force for Abyei remains essential to stability in the border regions between Sudan and South Sudan, the UN peacekeeping chief said on Tuesday, proposing the creation of a civilian unit to support progress towards political resolution of the dispute between the neighboring countries, and requesting a six-month extension of its mandate.

“This modest shift in the mission’s role is necessary to match the reality on the ground,” Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations said during a briefing to the Security Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the work of the UN Interim Security Force, known by the acronym UNISFA.   

Our full story can be found here.

UN refugee agency’s Goodwill Ambassador Ben Stiller shares stories of Syrian refugees

Actor and director Ben Stiller testified on the humanitarian impact of the eight-year war in Syria on Capitol Hill, in Washington DC, on Wednesday. The brutal conflict has displaced over 5.6 million people since 2011. The Hollywood star appeared before the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee in his capacity as Goodwill Ambassador for the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

Highlighting the desperate circumstances faced by Syrian families he had met in refugee camps, he reminded US politicians that behind the numbers there are “real stories, real people”.

Mr. Stiller shared the story of Syrian twins Razan and Yazan who left Syria when they were 4 months old. Eight years later, Yazan works selling vegetables in Lebanon, to help his family make ends meet. “We all want the same things, to see our children grow up and achieve their dreams”, he added.

Syria accounts for the world’s largest number of forcibly-displaced people according to UNHCR. Mr. Stiller has traveled on mission to Guatemala, Germany and Jordan to meet with refugees who have fled their war-torn homes.

UN rights experts call on Philippines Government to halt ‘unacceptable attacks’ on Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

False claims levelled at the UN expert on the rights of indigenous peoples by her own Government in the Philippines, “are without grounding in fact or law” and must cease immediately, said a statement issued by a group of her fellow experts on Wednesday.

In a joint statement, three UN Special Rapporteurs, or independent rights experts, said that “new accusations” against fellow rapporteur, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, had been made by officials in the Government of President Rodrigo Duterte, “clearly in retaliation for her invaluable work defending the human rights of indigenous people worldwide”.

Find our full story here

 

Listen and/or download our three-minute audio News In Brief from 1 May 2019:

 

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News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Ebola situation worsening in DR Congo, amidst growing ‘funding gap’ UN health agency warns

Strengthening both security and the Ebola response effort is essential to contain the growing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), UN health agency’s officials said on Tuesday, following a visit to the epicentre of what is already the worst outbreak in the country’s history.

Libya: UN mobilized to support thousands uprooted by Tripoli clashes, renews call for humanitarian truce

Since fighting broke out on the edge of Libya’s capital, Tripoli, earlier this month, over 42,000 people have been displaced and thousands are believed trapped in the city’s southern outskirts. As UN humanitarian teams work around the clock to provide life-saving assistance, human rights chief Michelle Bachelet stressed on Tuesday the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire, and humanitarian corridor for civilians.