The United States withdrew from a “hypocritical and self-serving” United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday over what it called chronic bias against Israel and a lack of reform, a move activists warned would make advancing human rights globally even more difficult.
Standing with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley slammed Russia, China, Cuba and Egypt for thwarting U.S. efforts to reform the council. She also criticized countries which shared U.S. values and encouraged Washington to remain, but “were unwilling to seriously challenge the status quo.”
Washington’s withdrawal is the latest U.S. rejection of multilateral engagement after it pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
It also comes as the United States faces intense criticism for detaining children separated from their immigrant parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein on Monday called on Washington to halt its “unconscionable” policy.
Twelve rights and aid groups, including Human Rights First, Save the Children and CARE, warned Pompeo the U.S. withdrawal would “make it more difficult to advance human rights priorities and aid victims of abuse around the world.”
Every two seconds, someone in the world was forcibly displaced in 2017, according to a new report by the U.N. Refugee Agency.
Due to wars, violence and persecution, 68.5 million people were forced to flee their homes by the end of 2017 — a record high and a trend that has continued for five years.
More than half of those displaced, which included refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people, were children, many unaccompanied or separated from their parents, the UNHCR’s Global Trends report found.
The crisis in Democratic Republic of the Congo, war in South Sudan and the plight of 700,000 Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh, were big contributors.
UNHCR dispelled several incorrect “perceptions” of the global refugee crisis. “Among these is the notion that the world’s displaced are mainly in countries of the Global North. The data shows the opposite to be true — with fully 85 per cent of refugees in developing countries.”
In 2017, Turkey remained the largest host nation, with a population of 3.5 million refugees, while Lebanon had the greatest number in comparison to its population.
A refugee mother looks out from the cement cylinder which has become her family’s home, while holding her seven-month-old baby, in Kutupalong, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
Sameera, 20, looks out from her temporary home where the family is living until a shelter is built. Over 700,000 such Rohingya refugees fled into Bangladesh during an outbreak of violence in the Rakhine state. Satellite images released by Amnesty International provided evidence that security forces of Myanmar were trying to push the minority Muslim group out of the country.
Refugee Week takes place every year across the world in the week around World Refugee Day on the 20th of June. In the UK, Refugee Week (June 18-24, 2018) is a nationwide program of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities.
Refugee Week started in 1998 as a direct reaction to hostility in the media and society in general towards refugees and asylum seekers and is now one of the leading national initiatives working to counter this negative climate.
The aims of Refugee Week are:
- To encourage a diverse range of events to be held throughout the UK, which facilitate positive encounters between refugees and the general public in order to encourage greater understanding and overcome hostility
- To showcase the talent and expertise that refugees bring with them to the UK
- To explore new and creative ways of addressing the relevant issues and reach beyond the refugee sector
- To provide information which educates and raises awareness of the reality of refugee experiences
Refugee Week is an umbrella festival, with events held by a wide range of arts, voluntary, faith and refugee community organizations, schools, student groups and more. Past events have included arts festivals, exhibitions, film screenings, theatre and dance performances, concerts, football tournaments and public talks, as well as creative and educational activities in schools.
The United Nations’ top human rights official on Monday added to the mounting furor over the Trump administration’s policy of separating undocumented immigrant children from their parents, calling for an immediate halt to a practice he condemned as abuse.
United States immigration authorities have detained almost 2,000 children in the past six weeks, which may cause them irreparable harm with lifelong consequences, said Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights. He cited an observation by the president of the American Association of Pediatrics that locking the children up separately from their parents constituted “government-sanctioned child abuse.”
“The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable,” Mr. al-Hussein said.
His intervention added to an escalating chorus of condemnation from people across the political spectrum in the United States, including the former first lady Laura Bush, who called the separations “cruel” and “immoral.”
The high commissioner’s office had already condemned the practice of separating children from their parents this month, calling it a serious violation of children’s rights and international law. That drew an angry rebuke from Nikki R. Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, who accused the agency of ignorance and hypocrisy.
[New York Times]
Pope Francis is pressing for negotiations involving the sides in the Yemen conflict so the humanitarian crisis doesn’t worsen. In public remarks Sunday, Francis said he was following “with worry the dramatic fate of the people of Yemen, already so exhausted from years of conflict.”
He appealed to the international community so that “no effort be spared to urgently bring to the negotiating table the sides in conflict and to avoid a worsening of the already tragic humanitarian situation.”
In Yemen, witnesses have reported that a Saudi-led coalition has carried out airstrikes on the airport in Yemen’s rebel-held port city of Hodeida. The port is the main entry point for food and aid to the country, which is already on the brink of famine.