Pacific 

Myanmar: Departing UN rights expert still hopeful for democratic transition

Yanghee Lee was speaking in Bangladesh on Thursday at the end of her last official visit to the region as the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar.   “I have lost my optimism”, she said. “How could I be optimistic with ongoing credible allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide having been committed in Myanmar, and with justice and accountability still not yet within reach?  “But I still hold out hope that the promised democratic transition will proceed, as it is not too late for the Government to change the course it is…

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Pacific 

Top UN court orders Myanmar to protect Rohingya from genocide

The International  Court of Justice  (ICJ) also ordered authorities to prevent the destruction of evidence related to genocide allegations.  The case against Myanmar was brought to the ICJ in November by The Gambia, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), arguing that the mainly-Muslim Rohingya had been subjected to genocide.  The Rohingya primarily reside in Rakhine state in northern Myanmar, a majority Buddhist country.   More than 700,000 members fled to neighbouring Bangladesh following a reported military crackdown in August 2017 during which numerous alleged human rights abuses were committed.  According to news reports, around 600,000 Rohingya remain inside the country, and remain…

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Middle East OP-ED 

The Real Deal on the War in Yemen

The latest war in Yemen, ongoing since 2015, started when the Houthi tribes in the north made a deal with former President Saleh (whose son remained head of the army under the agreement made with the Saudis to get him to vacate the Yemen Presidency) to work together to conquer all of Yemen militarily. The Houthis and the Yemen Army under Pres. Saleh’s government had over the years fought 4 wars against each other, each ended more by exhaustion on both sides rather that on the battlefield. Having most of…

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Pacific 

Philippines volcano: UN aid operation in place as thousands told to flee

 “The Government has officially requested the UN’s support in procuring face masks” to help against ash, dust and noxious sulfur dioxide, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.  In explosive eruptions last Sunday, the Taal Volcano, located on the island of Luzon, some 70 kilometres south of the capital city of Manila, began to violently spew magma, which has led to the evacuation of more than 38,000 people to 198 evacuation centres so far, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) tweeted on Wednesday.  A time-lapse video of Taal Volcano, located in Batangas province, taken on 12 January when volcanic activity intensified and generated a tall steam-laden column of…

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Europe 

UN moves to tackle ‘hidden abuse’ and violence against Europe’s children

And despite the magnitude of this figure, “it is well established that incidents of interpersonal violence are widely underreported”, according to the World Health Organization’s European Region office. Accounting for underreporting, WHO estimates that of the 204 million children under the age of 18 across the region, 9.6 per cent experience sexual exploitation, 22.9 per cent physical abuse and 29.1 per cent emotional harm. Moreover, 700 are murdered every year. High cost of violence “The cost of violence against children adds up”, WHO maintained, highlighting that an estimated $581 billion…

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Pacific 

UN health agency urges China to continue search for source of new virus, as Thailand case emerges

Coronaviruses are described by WHO as “a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases”. Probably the best known is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, commonly known as SARS, which broke out in Asia in 2003, and spread to countries in North America, South America and Europe, before being successfully contained later that year. Coronaviruses are transmitted between animals and people, and there are several known coronaviruses currently circulating in animals, that have not yet infected humans. Common signs of infection include respiratory…

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Malawi US 

Malania’s Trip to Malawi: White House staffer helps raise thousands for Chipala Primary School in Lilongwe

A White House staffer took matters into her own hands after visiting a Malawi primary school during a trip with first lady Melania Trump. White House specialty media director Carolina Hurley helped raise over $12,600 for an indoor classroom in the Chipala Primary School in Lilongwe, Malawi, after she saw the school during the first lady’s October 2018 trip. USA First Lady Melania Trump in Malawi; visits Chipala school, Lilongwe Hurley accompanied Trump on her four-country visit to Africa, which included a tour of several outdoor classrooms at the Malawi…

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Pacific 

Australia bushfire crisis: UNICEF offers help and support

While acknowledging “the selflessness, professionalism and dedication” of first responders and all organizations working on the ground, UNICEF issued a statement on Monday extending its condolences to the children and families affected by the fires that continue to devastate the country. Flagging its experience in providing crucial long-term support to children across the world through the three stages of relief, recovery and rehabilitation, UNICEF expressed it “very real desire” to assist Australia. “UNICEF has significant expertise and experience globally in responding to emergencies, including natural disasters”, the statement said. “From…

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Pacific 

UN chief ‘deeply concerned’ following end of DPRK nuclear test moratorium

Media reported that leader Kim Jong-un  had announced that his country, also known as North Korea, was no longer bound to the self-imposed ban. “The Secretary-General very much hopes that the tests will not resume, in line with relevant Security Council resolutions,” the statement said. “Non-proliferation remains a fundamental pillar of global nuclear security and must be preserved.” The statement added that UN chief António Guterres has also reiterated his support for the resumption of dialogue aimed at bringing about “the complete and verifiable” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. “Diplomatic engagement…

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Pacific 

FROM THE FIELD: Bangladesh’s bamboo boom

Beset by millions of bamboo-chomping beetles, almost every shelter in the vast Rohingya refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh, needs replacing. With just over four months to go until the beginning of the monsoon season, the race is on for IOM, the United Nations migration agency which is managing the camp, to provide families living in the worst-affected temporary dwellings, with new and more durable bamboo.

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