News in Brief 17 November 2017 (PM)

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Rohingya refugees are resorting to increasingly desperate measures such as makeshift rafts to cross the Naf River to Bangladesh. Photo: UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

“Density soaring” of refugee population in Bangladesh: UNHCR

The density of Rohingya refugees crowding into often makeshift camps in Bangladesh, is “soaring”, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warned on Friday.

Approximately 620,000 refugees have fled their homes and sought refuge across the border since late August, after ethnic violence erupted in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state.

The multi-agency Rohingya Crisis Response Plan has received nearly $140 million, which is just under a third of the total needed to meet humanitarian needs.

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said that donors had pledged a total of $360 milllion for the overall response, and urged governments to provide the money as soon as possible so it could be put to use.

“For its part, the UNHCR says that, over the past 10 days, it has received reports of some 30 improvised rafts, carrying more than 1,000 people, arriving in Bangladesh from Myanmar. As of today, more than 100 Rohingya refugees are known to have drowned in shipwrecks and boat incidents since the start of the crisis, with recent arrivals telling UNHCR that they had been waiting for more than a month in desperate conditions on Myanmar’ shores.”

El Salvador has “proven itself” a functioning democracy: UN human rights chief

El Salvador has proven itself a functioning democracy that honours freedom of expression, the UN human rights chief said on Friday, ending a fact-finding visit to the Central American country.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said that political discourse was “vibrant”, and by presiding over the UN Human Rights Council, the country has demonstrated its willingness to take a leadership role internationally.

But with respect to ongoing levels of gang activity and organized crime, Zeid condemned the violence which has driven some to leave the country, and attempt to reach the United States.

In concluding what is the first ever trip to the country by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, he acknowledged the government’s plan to curb and prevent violence, stressing that it needs to be implemented in a comprehensive way, in accordance with international human rights standards.

Concern over rising security incidents in Anglophone regions of Cameroon

The UN expressed concern on Friday at the increase in the number of security incidents in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon, where English is the main spoken language.

Tensions have been rising in the mainly French-speaking country with Anglophone communities, leading to clashes between government forces and separatists.

A statement from the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), reiterated that the best way to address the situation in the two regions was through a “genuine and inclusive dialogue”.

Here’s Stéphane Dujarric again.

“The Secretary-General reiterates the availability of his Special Representative, François Louncény Fall, to assist efforts in the search for a lasting peaceful solution to the crisis.”

Vibhu Mishra, United Nations.

Duration: 2’38”