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World News in Brief: Mass floggings in Afghanistan, refugee resettlement crisis, ‘greening education’

The waiting room of a maternity hospital in Herat Province, Afghanistan.
© UNICEF/Mukhtar Neikrawa
The waiting room of a maternity hospital in Herat Province, Afghanistan.

World News in Brief: Mass floggings in Afghanistan, refugee resettlement crisis, ‘greening education’

Human Rights

A spokesperson for the UN human rights office (OHCHR) on Wednesday said he was “deeply disturbed” over the widespread and continued use of corporal punishment in Afghanistan. 

Jeremy Laurence described how on 4 June, a group of 63 men and women were publicly subjected to mass flogging at a sports ground in the city of Sar-e-pul for a range of alleged crimes including “running away from home” and “moral crimes”.

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Close to 50 men and 15 women were reportedly lashed between 15 and 39 times before being returned to prison to complete their sentences. The punishment was reportedly carried out in front of members of Taliban authorities and hundreds of local residents, Mr. Laurence said. 

Clear violations

“Corporal punishment is a clear violation of international human rights law,” he said, adding that Afghanistan is party to both the Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“Under international law, all people have the right to be treated with respect for their inherent human dignity and equality.”

He urged Taliban authorities to immediately cease all forms of corporal punishment and to ensure full respect for due process and fair trial procedures, “in particular, access to legal representation, for anyone facing criminal charges”.

UNHCR: Almost three million refugees will need resettlement in 2025

More than 2.9 million refugees worldwide will need resettlement next year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Wednesday.

The estimate marks an increase of 20 per cent from 2024.

That is equivalent to half a million refugees. The alarming trend has been driven by ongoing mass displacement, new conflicts and the impacts of climate change, the UN agency said.

Needs highest in Syria

Projections from UNHCR indicate that for the ninth consecutive year, Syrian refugees uprooted by civil war have the highest resettlement needs, numbering more than 900,000.

Afghanistan refugees are next in line, at more than half a million, followed by South Sudan (242,000), the Rohingya from Myanmar (226,000), Sudan (172,000) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (158,000). 

Resettlement needs have also risen sharply in the Americas, owing to unprecedented levels of displacement there, the UN refugee agency said, appealing to more countries to take in vulnerable individuals who otherwise were likely to face exploitation by people smugglers and traffickers.

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UNESCO unveil tools to increase climate action education in schools

Marking World Environment Day, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched new tools for “greening education” in classrooms, emphasising the importance of involving young people in climate crisis solutions.

In 2021, UNESCO conducted an analysis that revealed about 47 per cent of 100 national curriculums discussed climate disruption. It also found that several of the surveyed youths could not explain climate disruption and were reportedly concerned about teaching surrounding the topic.

As a result, Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, ensured that environmental education was a “priority in terms of the support which the Organization provides to its Member States”.

“Greening schools and curricula is one of the best levers to tackle climate disruption in the long-term,” Ms. Azoulay said. “It’s time to mainstream environmental education across school subjects at all levels of education with an action-oriented approach that helps young people understand their power to make a difference.”

New roles

UNESCO says that a new report they co-published warns that educational settings have focused more on environmental issues than on how to address them, which the organization says is “failing to show learners the role they can play in tackling the climate crisis”.