Our top stories for Friday: Day of the Girl Child celebrated around the world; city mayors lead on climate fight; humanitarian alarm rising over Turkey’s Syria offensive; history’s made as countries step forward to tackle global statelessness; Burkina Faso violence forces 500,000 from their homes; 'white extremist’ use of social media in attacks must be curbed.
Day of the Girl Child spotlights 25 years of progress, with more on the horizon
The world’s one billion young girls, were celebrated on Friday as an “unscripted and unstoppable” force for change, with 11 October designated each year the International Day of the Girl Child.
Every day, girls under-18 are challenging stereotypes, breaking barriers, and leading movements to tackle the issues that affect them, and beyond, Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for the Day.
“As the theme of this year’s observance underscores, they are proving to be unscripted and unstoppable” in their undertakings, from eliminating child marriage, to closing the education gap, addressing violence and standing strong against the climate crisis.
Full story here.
Climate emergency: City mayors are 'world's first responders', says UN chief
City bosses are “the world’s first responders to the climate emergency” UN chief António Guterres declared on Friday, at an international mayors’ summit in Copenhagen.
In his opening remarks to the C40 World Mayors Summit – a forum for member cities to present innovative actions to slow global warming – the Secretary-General noted that cities, which contain more than half the world’s population, and have an “enormous climate footprint”, are “on the frontlines of sustainable and inclusive development”.
Urban citizens, he continued, look to mayors to make cities havens for diversity, social cohesion and job creation.
Here’s our full coverage.
Turkey’s Syria offensive could spark another catastrophe, warn humanitarians
Airstrikes and a ground offensive by Turkey in northern Syria against Kurdish forces have left civilians dead and forced tens of thousands to flee, UN agencies said on Friday, amid fears of another “humanitarian catastrophe” in the war-torn country.
Expressing concern about the military campaign launched on Wednesday, the UN’s emergency relief chief Mark Lowcock noted that the Turkish Government had “assured me that they attach maximum importance to the protection of civilians and the avoidance of harm to them”.
Full story here.
‘Historic moment’ as countries step forward to tackle global statelessness
Describing it as a “historic moment in the global fight against statelessness”, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Friday that more than 85 governments, civil society and international and regional organizations have made 300 new pledges to end statelessness, a major cause of human rights deprivations for millions of people worldwide.
The commitments were received at a meeting in Geneva known as the High Level Segment on Statelessness, which has been in session all week, and was hosted by the agency.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said that the week “has shown that there is an unprecedented level of political will and commitment to resolve this issue and prevent it from arising in the first place”.
He added that “it is crucial that these commitments are now turned into action” and underscored UNHCR’s support “to help States work towards the goal or eradicating statelessness completely”.
There are about 3.9 million known stateless people, although UNCHR says the true global figure is estimated to be much higher. The agency aims to spearhead the eradication of statelessness by 2024.
Burkina Faso conflict and violence force 500,000 from homes
Hundreds of thousands of civilians in Burkina Faso, have fled insecurity and violence linked to armed groups in just the last three months.
On Friday, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said that central and northern regions of the country had seen 486,000 people become internally displaced – 267,000 since July.
A further 16,000 are now refugees in neighbouring countries of the Sahel, the agency said, while warning of “an unprecedented humanitarian emergency” in the making.
'White extremist’ use of social media in attacks must be curbed
As German authorities indicate that this week’s synagogue attack in Halle was almost certainly the work of a white nationalist, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, has called for much quicker action to stop the spread of extremism online.
Wednesday’s attempted attack on worshippers left two people dead and two others wounded. Copies of the live-streamed video were reportedly downloaded before their removal from the broadcasting platform it surfaced on, and they are still circulating online.
Highlighting the disturbing rise in violence directed at Jews, OHCHR warned that no society was immune from “viral hatred”, before echoing calls for greater protection for places of worship around the world.
Listen to or download our audio News in Brief for 11 October on Soundcloud: