Tuesday’s Daily Brief: prizewinning journalists freed in Myanmar, new tracking tool for suspected terrorists, and a global bid to stop snakebite deaths

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


This Tuesday, we cover: the release of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar; how to detect and disrupt terrorist travel; escalation in Syria fighting; an update from the World Food Programme on Yemen; and how the UN is working to reduce snakebite deaths.

Release of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar welcomed by UN human rights office

The release of two Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar after reporting on the massacre of Rohingya Muslims has been welcomed by the UN human rights office, OHCHR , which has nonetheless said that Press freedom there remains “dire”.

Reuters journalists Wa Lone, who is 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, were convicted and sentenced to seven years in jail last September, after being convicted of breaking the Official Secrets Act. The two journalists were released along with more than 6,500 inmates on Tuesday, as part of an annual amnesty which has seen thousands of other prisoners pardoned since last month.

Read our full story here.

UN launches innovative programme to detect and disrupt terrorist travel

A new programme aimed at improving the tracking of suspected terrorists, using state-of-the-art software, has been launched by the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) at UN headquarters on Tuesday.

The launch of the United Nations Countering Terrorist Travel Programme comes at a time when, following the territorial defeat of ISIL, the so-called Islamic State terror group, thousands of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) are attempting to return home or relocate to safe havens or conflict zones, representing a major threat to international peace and security.

Speaking at the launch of the Programme, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that recent attacks, notably those in Kenya, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, are “tragic reminders of the global reach of the scourge of terrorism.”

Find our full story here and listen to an exclusive interview with UN News, Jelle Postma, chief of the Countering Terrorist Travel and Aviation Security Section in the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, here:

UN health agency targets 50 per cent reduction in snakebite deaths and disabilities

A global bid to stop snakebites killing or disabling hundreds of thousands of people a year was announced on Tuesday. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), which is leading the initiative, snakebites affect up to 2.7 million people annually – and 40 per cent of victims are children.

The UN agency wants to cut that number by half by targeting rural communities and ensuring that victims have access to safe, effective treatment.

Often, several anti-venom treatments are needed to cure snakebite victims, WHO’s Dr Bernadette Abela-Ridder told UN News.

Syria escalation being followed with “great concern” by UN Secretary-General

UN chief António Guterres has said that he’s following “with great concern” intensifying clashes in north-western Syria that have claimed yet more lives and displaced thousands in recent days.

The Secretary-General’s comments come amid reports of aerial attacks on population centres and civilian buildings within a demilitarized zone in southern rural Idlib and northern rural Hama that has been guaranteed since last September by Russia and Turkey.

In a call for all parties to uphold international humanitarian law and protect civilians as the holy month of Ramadan begins, he noted that three health facilities were reportedly hit by airstrikes on 5 May, “bringing the total to at least seven struck since 28 April”.

Echoing his concern, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) in Geneva said that nine schools have also reportedly been hit since 30 April.

Read our full story here.

Yemen: UN faces ‘race against time’, to salvage stranded food stores in key Red Sea port

Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, said on Tuesday, that she was relieved the UN has “finally been given the green light to use an existing corridor to gain access to the Red Sea Mills” food stores, in the crucial wartorn port of Hudaydah, “where food is urgently needed.”

“It is now a race against time to salvage supplies that can feed 3.7 million people for a month”, she said.

The statement follows a World Food Programme (WFP)-led mission, together with a technical team of Red Sea Mills Company employees, who managed the access the facility which has been largely cut off by fighting, on Sunday.

According to WFP, the plan is to leave the small team of Red Sea Mills employees at the Mills to begin cleaning and servicing the machinery and fumigating the wheat, to ensure it is fit for human consumption.

UN agencies continue to raise the alarm over the rising levels of need across Yemen.  In March, WFP distributed food to more than 10.6 million people, the largest number ever reached in a single month.

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