Thursday’s Daily Brief: impact of bad working conditions, Syria and Libya humanitarian news, human rights in Bahrain, families reunified in South Sudan

UNICEF/Hasen Nine-months-old twins, together with their mother and two siblings, fled violence in Susa village in northeastern Syria. The family made an arduous journey to Al-Hol camp (January 2019).

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Thursday’s top news include: a new report on the dangerous impact of stressful working conditions; the need to decongest Al Hol camp in Syria; a US$2 million allocation from the UN’s emergency fund to ramp up the humanitarian response in Libya; human rights concerns over a mass terrorism trial in Bahrain; and 6,000 children reunited with their parents and caregivers in South Sudan.

Stress, overtime, disease, contribute to 2.8 million workers’ deaths per year, reports UN labour agency

Stress, excessively-long working hours and disease, contribute to the deaths of nearly 2.8 million workers every year, while an additional 374 million people get injured or fall ill because of their jobs, the UN labour agency, ILO, said on Thursday.

In a new report underlining ILO’s message that no paid work should threaten your wellbeing, your safety or your life, the agency identifies several new or existing occupational risks of growing concern, that affect women more than men.

These include modern working practices overall, world population growth, increased digital connectivity and climate change, which are believed to account for losses of almost four per cent of the global economy.

More about the report here.

‘Foreign children’ in overwhelmed Syrian camp need urgent international help, says top UN official

Help is needed urgently from the international community to help some 2,500 apparently stateless “foreign children” at a camp for the displaced, in north-east Syria, a top UN official said on Thursday.

Panos Moumtzis, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis made the “special plea” to journalists in Geneva, noting that 75,000 people now shelter in Al Hol camp, after fleeing ISIL extremists.

The whole story here.

Libya: as death toll and humanitarian needs rise, UN releases $2 million for life-saving aid

The UN’s relief chief, Mark Lowcock, allocated on Friday $2 million from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to provide life-saving assistance to civilians caught up in the escalating fighting in Libya, including vulnerable migrants and refugees.

“I am deeply concerned by the escalation of fighting in Libya. In the past 24 hours, Tripoli witnessed the worst violence against civilians since 2014, with several densely populated neighbourhoods hit by indiscriminate shelling,” said Lowcock. “The impact of explosive weapons in populated areas is devastating. I urge all parties to refrain from the use of weapons that put more civilian lives and infrastructure at risk.”

According to the UN humanitarian coordination office (OCHA), 74 civilian casualties have been verified since the start of the current hostilities, including 18 deaths, over the past two weeks. First responders and medical staff doing their jobs have been among the casualties.

“The CERF funds will help hospitals and health clinics attending to the injured immediately get the emergency medical supplies they need, including surgical and trauma kits. The money will also allow aid agencies to provide food and relief items to displaced people and support the safe relocation of vulnerable migrants and refugees from detention centres in areas where airstrikes have been reported.”

UN human rights chief alarmed at mass terrorism trial in Bahrain, revoking citizenship

The UN human rights chief expressed alarm on Thursday at a decision by a court in Bahrain to revoke the nationalities of 138 people, following a mass terrorism trial.

High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, said her office (OHCHR) also had “serious concerns” that the court proceedings failed to comply with “international fair trial standards” as many of the defendants were tried in absentia. The 138 Bahrainis were all sentenced on Tuesday to between three years and life in prison, in addition to fines of up to $265,000.

All but one of the convicted men had their nationality revoked, bringing the total who have had lost their citizenship status since 2012, to about 980, said OHCHR.

“The UN Human Rights Office has long urged Bahrain to bring its overly broad counter-terrorism and counter-extremism legislation in line with its international human rights obligations”, said Ms. Bachelet.

This week’s convictions, she added, “give rise to serious concerns about the application of the law, particularly through a mass trial that reportedly lacked the procedural safeguards necessary to ensure a fair trial.” Arbitrary deprivation of nationality, put the individuals concerned and their family members at increased risk of human rights violations, said Ms. Bachelet.

In five years, 6,000 children reunified with their families in South Sudan

In the past five years of raging conflict in South Sudan, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the non-profit Save the Children, and other partners, have successfully reunited 6,000 children with their families after years of separation due to conflict.

A young 17-year-old teenager was reunited with her parents and her four siblings in Bentiu on Wednesday. She was the 6000th child to be reunified. During an armed attack in Bor in 2014, the members of the family ran in different directions and they hadn’t seen each other since then.

Since war broke out in December 2013, more than four million people have been uprooted and thousands of children were separated from their caregivers across the country. Today, almost 8,000 children in South Sudan are still missing or remain separated, in urgent need of family tracing. Separated and unaccompanied children are more susceptible to violence, abuse and exploitation, which makes returning them to their parents an urgent priority for child protection organisations.

The peace agreement signed in September 2018 has prompted refugees returning to South Sudan from neighboring countries and given access to areas previously inaccessible. If the peace holds, this can provide an opportunity to step up family tracing and reunification efforts, provided that adequate funding for the programme is secured.

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