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GENEVA, June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - More than 200 migrants are reported to have drowned off Libya in two days, bringing to at least 1,000 the number to die this year on the main migratory route linking Africa and Europe, the UN said recently.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement it was “shocked” by the deaths and called for urgent action to reduce the continuing loss of life.

“UNHCR is dismayed by the ever-growing number of refugees and migrants losing their lives at sea and is calling for urgent international action to strengthen rescue at sea efforts by all relevant and capable actors, including NGOs and commercial vessels, throughout the Mediterranean.

“At the same time, access to protection in countries of first asylum should be ensured, as well as alternative pathways for refugees in Libya trying to cross the sea in search of protection and safety. All these steps are crucial to ensure that no more lives are lost at sea,” it said.

According to the UNHCR, around 220 migrants drowned on Tuesday and Wednesday in three separate tragedies.

On Tuesday, a wooden boat carrying an unknown number of refugees and migrants capsized off the coast of Libya.

Of the estimated 100 passengers, only five survived. They were rescued by the Libyan coastguard, UNHCR said on the basis of survivors' testimony.

On the same day, a rubber dinghy with around 130 people on board sank at a different location off the Libyan coast.

Sixty survivors were rescued by local fishermen, who took them back to shore. Seventy people are believed to have drowned in the incident.

In the third incident on Wednesday, survivors reported that more than 50 people travelling with them perished before the Libyan coastguard mounted a rescue.

 

GENEVA, June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - The UN human rights office called on the Trump administration on Friday to overhaul its migration polices and find alternatives to detention, saying children should never be held in custody, even with their parents.

The United States has faced fierce criticism for separating more than 2,300 children from their families in order to prosecute their parents for crossing the border illegally.

US President Donald Trump backed down Wednesday, signing an executive order to keep families together in detention during immigration proceedings.

"While we acknowledge the US government's decision not to continue separating children from their parents, we understand that the practice now will be to detain the children with their parents," UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a Geneva briefing Friday.

"We have said time and again the children should never be detained in relation to their or their parents' migration status. It is never in the best interests of the child for them to be detained," she added.

Video footage of children sitting in cages and an audiotape of wailing children sparked worldwide anger.

The United States must revamp its migration policies and provide community-based solutions and other alternatives to detention, which uphold migrants' rights, Shamdasani said.

 

 

 

BERLIN, June 22, 2018 (News Wires) - A human rights expert is criticizing the US for failing to tackle poverty, days after Washington quit the United Nations body that appointed him.

New York-based law professor Philip Alston said Friday that high US income inequality "can only be made worse" by the Trump administration's policy of cutting taxes and restricting welfare.

A day before Alston presented his report to the Human Rights Council, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley branded it "misleading and politically motivated" in a letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Announcing the US pullout from the Geneva-based body Tuesday, Haley described the council as a "cesspool of bias."

No U.S. diplomats were present to respond Friday when Alston told the council of witnessing "raw sewage" pouring into poor residents' gardens in Alabama.

 

 

 

Staff report

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has condemned Saturday’s attacks in northeastern Nigeria by suspected Boko Haram insurgents targeting Eid al-Fitr celebrations.

A statement released by the spokesman of the Secretary General said that The Secretary-General condemns the killing in the Damboa Local Government area of Borno State, northeastern Nigeria, on 16 June by suspected Boko Haram insurgents targeting Eid al-Fitr celebrations.

"The Secretary-General expresses his condolences to the affected families and to the Government and people of Nigeria and wishes those injured a swift recovery," the statement read.

"The Secretary-General stresses that attacks targeting civilians violate international humanitarian law, and he calls for those responsible for this attack to be swiftly brought to justice," it added.

"The Secretary-General reiterates the United Nations’ solidarity and support with the affected Governments in their fight against terrorism and violent extremism in the Lake Chad Basin and the Greater Sahel region," the statement read.

 

DUBAI, June 18, 2018 (News Wires) - The UAE, a key player in the coalition battling Huthi rebels in Yemen, on Monday warned the insurgents to withdraw unconditionally from the flashpoint port city of Hodeida, after UN peace efforts fizzled.

"There can be no conditions in any offers to withdraw," the United Arab Emirates' minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash told a press conference in Dubai.

"If the rebels wanted to set conditions, they should have thought of that a year ago... Now is not the time to negotiate."

Huthi rebels have controlled Hodeida, a key entry point for desperately-needed aid, since 2014, when they drove the government out of the capital Sanaa and seized large swathes of the country.

Gargash's statement came hours before the UN's top Yemen envoy, Martin Griffiths, was due to brief the Security Council on his efforts to end the crisis over Hodeida, whose port handles over 70 percent of Yemen's imports.

Gargash said the Saudi and UAE-led offensive aimed "to help the UN envoy in his last chance to convince the Huthis to withdraw unconditionally from the city and avoid any confrontation."

ABU DHABI, June 17, 2018 (MENA) - The UAE welcomes the efforts exerted by UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths to persuade the Houthis to hand over Hodaidah city to the legitimate Yemeni government, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said.

In a series of tweets on Twitter quoted by Al Arabiya channel, Gargash asserted that the UAE supports the efforts of Griffiths to facilitate handing over Hodaidah to the Yemeni government.

The residents of Hodaidah desire to be liberated, Gargash said, asserting that the Arab coalition will continue stepping up their military and humanitarian reinforcements to reach this urgent goal.

 

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