Europe 

UN sustainable energy project in Ukraine finds a new role: fighting COVID-19

Home Owners of Ukraine for Sustainable Energy Efficiency Solutions, also known as HOUSES, was initially designed to help Ukrainians lower their energy costs, better their livelihoods and reduce the country’s carbon footprint. Since its launch in October 2018, it has helped hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians in 24 oblasts (administrative regions) to manage their homeowners’ associations, develop energy efficiency projects and apply for subsidies under the Ukrainian Energy Efficiency Fund. “Little did we know at the time we set it up that we could use this same network to communicate…

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Europe 

UN rights office concerned over migrant boat pushbacks in the Mediterranean

The appeal follows reports of failure to assist, and even push back, vessels carrying desperate people in one of the world’s deadliest migration routes, amidst the fears and disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. These developments are occurring as departures from Libya during the first quarter of the year rose four-fold over the same period in 2019. “Reports that Maltese authorities requested commercial ships to push boats with migrants and refugees in distress back to the high seas are of particular concern”, said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN human…

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Europe 

Greece: COVID-19 pandemic a further risk to refugee child education, warns UN partner

The UN refugee agency UNHCR, and children’s agency UNICEF, which co-ordinate the refugee education response on the Greek islands – as well other services including safety, sanitation, health care and nutrition, in liaison with the Greek government – have appealed for emergency funds to extend remote learning for refugee children whose education has been severely disrupted by the coronavirus. “We are working on establishing remote channels of communication with children who were physically attending our learning centres before COVID-19, providing distance learning lessons through mobile phones and printed education materials”,…

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Europe 

Put aside political agendas ‘to save lives’, top UN official in Kosovo urges

Zahir Tanin, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), told the Security Council on Friday, that Kosovo is especially vulnerable to threat of a wider outbreak.    “Even as heroic efforts are being made by medical personnel, the healthcare resources of Kosovo are stretched thin”, he said, during his first regular briefing to the 15-member Council conducted under the organ’s new videoconference meeting procedure.  Anxiety, divisions and ‘no confidence’  The Special Representative commended the swift action taken by public health authorities to introduce measures…

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Europe 

First Person: The power of art in a time of coronavirus crisis

Aldo Sebastián Cicchini, a violinist at RAI orchestra works at the Teatro alla Scala theatre, Milan., by Margherita Bassani Aldo Sebastián Cicchini is a violinist from the Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI) orchestra in Milan, Italy.  When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in Italy, he was involved in a project at La Scala, one of the most historic opera houses in Italy. But, as he explains, work ended after positive cases of the virus were confirmed there in late February.   Everyone stopped: opera, cinema, theatre…everything. We are all worried about this, because…

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Europe 

First Person: ‘Fate’ of Italian nurse, and countless other health workers, depends on protective clothing

Laura Lupi works at a COVID-19 hospital in Teramo in the Abruzzo region of Italy to the east of the capital, Rome. On 6 April, Italy had recorded over 16,500 deaths from the virus, more than any other country in the world. On World Health Day marked annually on 7 April, which this year is focusing on the vital work that nurses are performing in the face of the global pandemic, Ms. Lupi explains why she is willing to put her health and life on the line to help the sick.…

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Europe 

COVID-19: from conflict to pandemic, migrants in Bosnia face a new challenge

“We fled from home to save our lives, to escape war, and now we are faced with this new coronavirus”, says Rozhan, Along with her husband, Ibrahim, and her three children, she made a long and arduous journey from Iraq, her home country, to Bosnia-Herzegovina in Europe. The family are hosted at the Borići reception centre in Bihać, managed by UN Migration (IOM) along with 315 other migrants and refugees, who have escaped conflict and violence in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria. En route, they have been stopped and…

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Europe 

COVID-19: Czech Roma community steps up to face mask challenge

“They said the face masks were desperately needed, and I did not hesitate, says Klara Pulova, from Tanvald, a small town in the north of the country. I have been a sewing professional in the past, I know the job.” They said the face masks were desperately needed, and I did not hesitate. Klara Pulova, member of Czech Roma community, Tanvald Ms. Pulova is a member of the region’s Roma community, and was responding to a widespread shortage of face masks, sorely needed in the country: as part of its…

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Europe 

UN expert raises alarm over migrant, asylum seeker ‘pushbacks’ at Turkey-Greece border 

“I am very concerned about the reported pushbacks of asylum seekers and migrants, which constitutes a violation of the prohibition of collective expulsions and the principle of non-refoulement,” said Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants. On 1 March, Greece suspended for 30 days, asylum applications for anyone who crossed the border irregularly, which prompted the Special Rapporteur to urge the country to “immediately reverse its decision”, saying it “has no legal basis in international human rights law”. Migrants who managed to cross into Greece were…

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