Thursday’s Daily Brief: dire living conditions in Idlib, migrants at US southern border, end in sight for trachoma, Human Rights Council

© UNICEF/UN0248372/Watad Children at a school tent in the northern Idlib, Syria. Humanitarian emergencies deprive children of health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and other basic needs.

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


This Thursday, we cover: the dire humanitarian situation in Syria’s Idlib; living conditions at the US-Mexico border denounced by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF); trachoma-related blindness on the verge of being eliminated; and updates from the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Syria’s Idlib ‘on the brink’ of a nightmare urge humanitarian chiefs, launching global solidarity campaign

The heads of 11 global humanitarian organizations warned on Thursday that the embattled rebel-held province of Idlib in Syria, stands on the brink of disaster, with three million civilian lives at risk, including one million children.

In a direct video address to launch a worldwide campaign in solidarity with civilians trapped there, dubbed #TheWorldIsWatching, the humanitarian leaders said that they face the constant threat of violence. “Too many have died already” and “even wars have laws” they declared, in the face of multiple attacks by Government forces and their allies on hospitals, schools and markets, together with fierce resistance from extremist fighters that have gained control of much of the territory.

Find our full story here.

After Rio Grande drownings, UNICEF chief highlights ‘dire’ detention centres on US-Mexico border

The shocking image of a drowned Central American migrant and his infant daughter on the banks of the river dividing Mexico and the United States, continues to evoke strong reactions, the latest from the head of the UN Children’s Fund.

“The heart-rending photo published just yesterday showing the lifeless bodies of Salvadoran toddler Valeria and her father Oscar on the bank of the Rio Grande is a stark reminder of the perils facing migrants trying to reach the US,” said Henrietta Fore. “It is a searing image that should shake each of us to our core.”

Read our complete story here.

Hundreds of millions of people no longer at risk of blindness infection trachoma: WHO

A disease that’s responsible for causing blindness in millions of people – trachoma – has moved a step closer to elimination, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. The bacterial infection is present in 44 countries and can be painful and debilitating in its later stages, often affecting the most disadvantaged people worldwide.

Latest data from WHO shows that the number of people at risk from trachoma has fallen from 1.5 billion in 2002 to just over 142 million in 2019, a 91 per cent reduction.

This has been made possible by sustained and generous donations of antibiotics from health partners, according to WHO, which has praised the efforts of hundreds of thousands of frontline workers and volunteers who brave the weather, bad roads, insecurity and yet deliver treatment to mostly rural communities.

UN panel appeals to Mexico to release two men held in arbitrary detention for years

UN-appointed independent rights experts have called on Mexican authorities to free two men who have been held in pre-trial detention for well over a decade and allegedly tortured. The appeal from the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is for the unconditional release of Daniel García, a former public official, and Reyes Alpízar, a trade union adviser.

They were denied a fair trial after being detained without an arrest warrant, according to the UN panel, which said that there was “no evidence” that reports of torture involving electric shocks, burns and injections had been investigated. Thursday’s statement by the Working Group follows official communications to the Government of Mexico in 2017 and 2018.

New global approach needed to eliminate violence against women and girls, says UN rights expert

“A new system-wide global approach is necessary to eliminate violence against women and girls,” said Dubravka Šimonović, the UN independent human rights expert on violence against women, in a report presented on Thursday to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

She proposed the establishment of a platform for cooperation between international and regional independent women’s human rights mechanisms to address the mounting push-back movements against women’s rights, adding it would demonstrate support for popular movements, such as #MeToo and #NiUnaMenos.

As the world approaches 25-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action in 2020, she said there is now an urgent need to address the significant implementation gap, and to accelerate the full incorporation and implementation of international, regional and national instruments on gender equality and violence against women.

“As we look to the future and, in order to address the chilling impact that violence has on women, I believe that urgent action must be taken, not only by States, but also by non-State actors, as well as international organisations and independent monitoring mechanisms to collect data on violence and femicide against women and to focus on their prevention.

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