Europe 

UN refugee agency calls for ‘new chapter for refugee protection’ across Europe

Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, UNHCR’s Representative for EU Affairs, also called for reform to be central during negotiations over a new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, and highlighted the importance of “an EU that saves lives, protects refugees in Europe and globally, and finds solutions to end forced displacement and build resilient societies is needed more than ever”.   To this end, the UN agency recommended that the EU Presidency propose predictable, principled and solidarity-focused measures for a rights-based and sustainable asylum system.   They also stressed the need to address root…

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Europe 

UN human rights expert ‘cautiously welcomes’ UK court’s refusal to extradite Julian Assange

In a news release on Tuesday, Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on torture, noted that such conditions would almost certainly cause Mr. Assange to commit suicide.  #UK: UN expert @NilsMelzer welcomes British court’s refusal to extradite Wikileaks founder #JulianAssange to US on basis that he would be exposed to “oppressive” conditions of imprisonment that would almost certainly cause him to commit suicide.Read 👉 https://t.co/oG2dMKMqBR — UN Special Procedures (@UN_SPExperts) January 5, 2021 “This ruling confirms my own assessment that, in the United States, Mr. Assange would be exposed to conditions…

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Europe 

FROM THE FIELD: Weathering a tourist downturn in Kyrgyzstan

In Sary-Mogol in Kyrgyzstan, breeding animals, like yaks, is one of the few traditional ways to make a living. , by UNDP/Danil Usmanov In 2019, more than 1,300 tourists passed through Sary-Mogol to enjoy amongst other attractions the village’s horse and yak games festival and fair; in 2020, the number dwindled to less than a dozen. According to the UN Development Programme (UNDP) the tourism sector has been one of the biggest economic causalities of the pandemic in Kyrgyzstan. Villagers in Sary-Mogol are used to long and harsh winters, but…

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Europe 

Netherlands violates nationality rights: UN rights committee 

“The right to nationality ensures concrete protection for individuals, in particular children”, said Committee member Shuichi Furuya.  In what they called “a ground-breaking decision”, the Committee’s first on the right of a child to acquire a nationality, the members referred to a petition by a boy named Denny, who in 2010 was born in the Dutch city of Utrecht to a 21-year-old mother from China.   The Human Rights Committee has asked the Dutch authorities to review their decision, as well as the legislation on eligibility to apply for citizenship.   The…

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Europe 

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Migrant lives at ‘immediate risk’, warn UN agencies

The migrants and asylum seekers lost shelter after the Lipa Emergency Tent Camp, located in the country’s north-west, was closed and subsequently destroyed in a fire on 23 December.  “With the recent heavy snowfalls and temperatures below freezing, up to 500 people currently stranded at the location of the former Lipa camp are at immediate safety, health and protection risk,” the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a joint statement on Saturday.  “With no heating at the…

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Europe 

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Thousands of migrants lose shelter, after camp destroyed in fire

Nearly all infrastructure at the Lipa Emergency Tent Camp, which housed about 1,400 migrants, has been destroyed or badly damaged. This number is in addition to some 1,500 migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees – including women and children – stranded in squats and forest camps nearby.  With the devastation, the overall number of people in dire need of assistance has swelled to almost 3,000, according to IOM.   “This is a nightmare scenario: these people should be inside in warm conditions, just as the rest of Europe is doing at this…

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Europe 

UN independent expert asks outgoing US president: Pardon Wikileaks’ Assange

“Mr. Assange has been arbitrarily deprived of his liberty for the past ten years”,  wrote Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. “This is a high price to pay for the courage to publish true information about government misconduct throughout the world”.  Incarcerated since the authorities arrested him inside London’s Ecuadorian Embassy in April, 2019, a British court is set to rule on 4 January as to whether or not Mr. Assange should be extradited to the US.   A respectful request  The…

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Europe 

Global challenges require global solutions, UN chief tells German parliament

The COVID-19 pandemic, a generational global economic crisis, and faltering progress on sustainable development and gender equality were some of the challenges the Secretary-General outlined in a speech, delivered in German.  “It is clear that the way to win the future is through an openness to the world. Yet in too many places, we see a closing of minds,” said Mr. Guterres.  The UN chief was invited to the Bundestag by the body’s President Wolfgang Schäuble, on the occasion of the UN’s 75th anniversary.   A people’s vaccine  In his speech,…

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Europe 

UN chief commends Germany’s commitment to multilateralism throughout ‘dramatic year’

During a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the Bundestag, Secretary-General António Guterres recalled a global UN survey of some 1.5 million participants, in which 99 per cent of Germans “affirmed their commitment to multilateralism, and international cooperation, to solve the problems of today’s world…by far, the largest percentage” of any one nation.  I am very pleased to be back in Germany to address the Bundestag and mark the 75th anniversary of the @UN. I am grateful for Germany’s staunch commitment to multilateralism, our strong and…

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Europe 

Independent UN expert calls for Julian Assange’s release, cites prison’s COVID outbreak

“Mr. Assange is not a criminal convict and poses no threat to anyone, so his prolonged solitary confinement in a high security prison is neither necessary nor proportionate and clearly lacks any legal basis”, said Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on torture.  The WikiLeaks founder has been detained since 2010 after his site published classified diplomatic information. A decision on extradition to the US is expected early in the new year.  Inhumane punishment  The UN expert made the call amidst reports that 65 of some 160 Belmarsh inmates have contracted…

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