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Tuesday’s Daily Brief: violence surges in Nigeria, anti-Semitism on the march, taxing pollution to tackle climate crisis, and more

Nigerian refugees begin new life at the Sayam Forage camp in Niger, after fleeing Boko Haram (May 2016).
© UNHCR/Hélène Caux
Nigerian refugees begin new life at the Sayam Forage camp in Niger, after fleeing Boko Haram (May 2016).

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: violence surges in Nigeria, anti-Semitism on the march, taxing pollution to tackle climate crisis, and more

Humanitarian Aid

Tuesday’s main stories include: thousands fleeing into Niger as violence surges in Nigeria; UN rights office condemns rise in anti-Semitic incidents; UN chief says tax pollution, not people for climate’s sake; North Koreans trapped in vicious cycle of corruption and bribery; Ebola latest from DR Congo.

Violent attacks in Nigeria drive thousands of refugees into Niger

Nigerian refugees at a refugee camp in south Niger.

An upsurge in violence in areas of north-west Nigeria beyond the reach of humanitarians, has forced thousands of people to flee to neighbouring Niger, UN refugee agency, UNHCRsaid on Tuesday.

Warning that some 20,000 people have been uprooted from their homes since April in Nigeria’s Sokoto and Zamfara states, the agency’s Babar Baloch told journalists in Geneva that UNHCR is working with authorities in Niger to help the new arrivals.

Today, Niger hosts more than 380,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Mali and Nigeria, in addition to its own internally displaced population.

Anti-Semitism spread is not isolated, warns UN human rights office

The exhibition Survivors, Victims and Perpetrators at UN Headquarters in NY in 2018.

The UN human rights office has condemned the rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Europe and the United States, and called on governments to “redouble their efforts” to protect people from incitement to hatred and violence.

The statement from OHCHR follows “a significant increase” of anti-Semitism in Germany, where Jews in some areas have been advised not to wear traditional dress, to avoid drawing attention to their race and religion.

In Austria, pictures of Holocaust survivors displayed in a street exhibition have also been vandalised “not once, but three times”, the human rights office said.

Initially, swastikas were daubed on the survivors’ faces, before large sections of the prints were then cut out at the weekend.

Most disturbing of all are acts of physical violence against Jews which have also increased in a number of countries in recent years, OHCHR said, noting a “particularly sharp” rise in Germany and France.

But it warns that the worst incidents have been in the United States, where 11 people were killed during an attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh last October, and where in April, a woman was killed and three others injured in another attack on a synagogue in California.

Here’s our report from earlier this year on the steps being taken by the UN to address xenophobia.   

‘Tax pollution, not people’, UN chief tells World Summit

Climate activist, Greta Thunberg (l), former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and the UN Secretary-General António Guterres (r) meet at the R20 Austria World Summit in Vienna. (28 May 2019)

“We need to tax pollution, not people” and “end subsidies for fossil fuels”, Secretary-General António Guterres told the World Summit of the R20 Coalition on Tuesday, a UN-supported environmental organization, founded by former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The idea that subsidizing fossil fuels is a way to improve people’s lives could not be more wrong, said the UN chief in the Austrian capital, Vienna, because it means spending taxpayers’ money to “boost hurricanes, to spread droughts, to melt glaciers, to bleach corals: to destroy the world.”

Mr. Guterres went on to call for the decarbonization of urban infrastructure, a halt to coal plants, and the promotion of sustainable consumption and production: “in short, we need a green economy, not a grey economy.”

Our full story is here.

Audio of the UN Secretary-General at the R20 Austrian World Summit, below:


North Korea traps people in deprivation, corruption, repression and bribery – UN rights office

Children in a newly built clinic in Musan County, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), are checked for malnutrition and given vaccines, Vitamin A and deworming tablets. Photo: UNICEF/Simon Nazer

Bribery is the main way people in North Korea get food, healthcare, shelter and work, a UN human rights office report said on Tuesday.

Based on more than 200 first-hand accounts of escapees from the country, which is officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the report says that the State-run public distribution system collapsed in the mid-1990s, forcing people to work in informal markets, where they have to bribe officials to avoid arrest.

It also highlights “appalling” levels of hunger that affects around 10.9 million people – that’s more than 43 per cent of the population – with north-eastern and rural provinces worst-affected. Our full story is here.

DR Congo: Strengthened effort against Ebola is paying off, but insecurity still major constraint

Health workers put on personal protective equipment (PPE) before entering an Ebola quarantine zone in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (file)

Although the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to make headway thanks to the determination of health workers on the ground, insecurity is still hampering the response, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday. This has led the UN to establish a new coordination structure in the hopes that access to at-risk areas can be improved.

Currently, the DRC’s worst ever outbreak of the deadly virus has seen 1,920 Ebola cases overall, including 1,281 deaths. Despite the risks, the more than 700 workers deployed by WHO remain in the area working alongside other health teams providing care.

Our full report is here and you can listen to an interview with the new emergency Ebola response chief in DRC here

Listen to, or download our audio News In Brief for 28 May, on SoundCloud: