Europe 

Ukrainian refugees arrive in Poland ‘in a state of distress and anxiety’

“Poland remains the main country of arrival for refugees from Ukraine,” UNHCR spokesperson Olga Sarrado told journalists at a regular press briefing in Geneva. And while the pace has slowed in comparison to early March – when over 100,000 people were arriving per day – May has continued to witness around 20,000 daily arrivals. Vulnerable refugees Although more people are going back and forth across the Ukraine border – for reasons including visiting family or returning to jobs – Ms. Sarrado said that given the ongoing hostilities, “Poland expects to continue receiving…

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Europe 

Cultural destruction in Ukraine by Russian forces will reverberate for years, UN rights expert warns

“As in other conflicts, we currently witness the unfolding of suffering in Ukraine that does not seem to end and we cannot stop,” said Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur on cultural rights. “The questioning and denial of the Ukrainian identity and history as a justification for war, is a violation of the Ukrainians’ right to self-determination and their cultural rights. “Self-identification is the paramount expression of these rights and all discussions, by States and in social media, should respect this.” She said that the considerable loss of cultural heritage already, and…

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Europe 

Climate change threatening access to water and sanitation

“Climate change is already posing serious challenges to water and sanitation systems in countries around the world,” said Thomas Croll-Knight, spokesperson for the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Rising risks According to UNECE and the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe), despite being a priority aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement, plans to make water access possible in the face of climate pressures, “are absent” in the pan-European region.  And “in most cases” throughout the region of 56 countries, there is also a lack of coordination on drinking…

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Europe 

Europe: WHO supporting countries affected by rare monkeypox outbreak

Monkeypox occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa, but outbreaks have emerged in other parts of the world in recent days. Symptoms include fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.  WHO said it was “working with the affected countries and others to expand disease surveillance to find and support people who may be affected, and to provide guidance on how to manage the disease.” The UN health agency stressed that monkeypox spreads differently from COVID-19, encouraging all people “to stay informed from reliable sources, such as national health authorities” on…

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Europe 

Ukraine: Support for war crimes investigations ‘of paramount importance’

Special Rapporteur Morris Tidball-Binz called on the international community to step up support for Ukraine’s own investigations, and welcomed progress made so far by the Office of the Prosecutor General in ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice.  He also commended the international community’s swift mobilization in establishing mechanisms and initiatives to collect, document and preserve evidence of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including unlawful killings, committed during the Russian invasion of the country.  Respect national ownership  Mr. Tidball-Binz said these mechanisms can play a key role in…

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Europe 

Ukraine: Amid fresh Russian claims, no trace of secret bioweapons programme 

“This remains the case today,” Thomas Markram said.  The Russian Federation, the United States and Ukraine are all States Parties to the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling and use of biological and toxin weapons.  Channels for recourse  Mr. Markram – who is also the Deputy to the High Representative – explained that the Convention does contain several measures which concerned States Parties can us to address concerns or suspicions about the activities of their peers.  For example, he said, pursuant to Article V, States…

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Europe 

Mariupol evacuations ‘a glimmer of hope’ in Ukraine war

“Our recent efforts to evacuate civilians in the east has shown us that there is good will and common ground for us to build on between the parties,” she told ambassadors.    Monumental feat Joint operations by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) resulted in more than 600 people being evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant and other areas of Mariupol, as well as nearby towns. This was “a truly monumental feat amid the shelling and destruction ongoing in the east”, she said, and “a glimmer…

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Europe 

Dialogue and cooperation needed for ‘interlinked global crises’ UN chief says in Austria

Expressing his “deep gratitude” for the country’s “unwavering commitment to multilateralism,” Secretary-General António Guterres said that support and commitment are “more critical today than ever”. “In our time – a time of conflicts, climate crisis and COVID-19 – there is simply no sustainable alternative to dialogue, international cooperation, and global solutions,” he said. Building a better world Amidst a proliferation of conflicts – including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Mr. Guterres flagged is a violation of its territorial integrity and of the UN Charter – he expressed his particular concern…

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Europe 

Another European war ‘not an impossibility’; Unity crucial in Bosnia and Herzegovina

High Representative Christian Schmidt said that more than 26 years after the signing of the General Framework Agreement for Peace – known as the Dayton Accords – citizens are once again talking about the possibility of another conflict, posing the risk of inflammatory incidents.  “The conflict in Ukraine, not so far away, is a sobering reminder that even in the 21st century, another war on European soil is not an impossibility,” he stressed. Undermining national laws Outlining the main challenges, Mr. Schmidt said that authorities in the ethnic Serb-dominated Republika…

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Europe 

UN launches joint appeal for Syria: ‘Apathy is not an option’

More than 90 per cent of Syrians live in poverty, gender-based violence and risks to children are on the rise, and potential exposure to explosive ordnance remains high. Moreover, food insecurity has soared to new records as 12 million Syrians go hungry every day and nearly one-in-two children are missing school – leaving them vulnerable to child labour, forced marriage, trafficking, and armed recruitment. “Over the past 11 years, we have witnessed suffering and abuses on an immense scale; terrible violent conflict that went beyond all norms; [and] a humanitarian…

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