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Jun 30, 2013

Tobacco taxes, smoking bans set to save millions of lives -study

* Tobacco control measures studied in 41 countries

* Raising taxes on cigarettes, smoke-free areas save lives

* Measures are “win-win” for health, public coffers – WHO

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, July 1(Reuters) – Anti-smoking measures including
higher taxes on tobacco products, bans on adverts and controls
on lighting up in public places could prevent tens of millions
of premature deaths across the world, researchers said on

Similar steps taken by Turkey, Romania and 39 other
countries between 2007 and 2010 were already saving lives, the
independent study published by the World Health Organization
(WHO) said.

Jun 27, 2013

Syria war likely to drag on, Red Cross president says

GENEVA (Reuters) – The Red Cross said on Thursday it was planning humanitarian operations for an extended conflict in Syria in the absence of any sign of a political solution and military stalemate between rebels and government troops.

Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)led that the aid agency had urged major powers to try to stop all sides from committing violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes.

Jun 20, 2013

Palestinian children tortured, used as shields by Israel: U.N.

GENEVA (Reuters) – A United Nations human rights body accused Israeli forces on Thursday of mistreating Palestinian children, including by torturing those in custody and using others as human shields.

Palestinian children in the Gaza and the West Bank, captured by Israel in the 1967 war, are routinely denied registration of their birth and access to health care, decent schools and clean water, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said.

Jun 14, 2013

U.N. rights forum condemns Hezbollah role in Syria

GENEVA (Reuters) – The U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday condemned the use of all foreign fighters in Syria’s civil war, including Lebanese Hezbollah militants backing the government, but stopped short of calling for a halt to the flow of arms.

The Geneva forum adopted a resolution brought by Arab and Western powers, urging all parties to refrain from contributing to a further escalation of a conflict in which at least 93,000 people had been killed by the end of April.

Jun 13, 2013

U.N. says 93,000 killed in Syrian conflict, fears for Aleppo

GENEVA (Reuters) – The death toll in Syria reached at least 93,000 at the end of April, but the true number of victims from the violence now in its third year may be much higher, the United Nations human rights office said on Thursday.

Navi Pillay, U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights, voiced fears that the bloodshed in recent battles for the Syrian border town of Qusair would be repeated in the northern city of Aleppo.

Jun 11, 2013

Embattled U.N. rights envoy for Palestinian areas vows to stay on

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations human rights investigator for the Palestinian territories said on Tuesday he would not resign and accused critics of calling him as anti-Semitic to divert attention from his scrutiny of Israeli policies.

Richard Falk said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had “joined in the attacks”.

Jun 10, 2013

Gaza’s viability at stake, U.N. rights envoy says

GENEVA (Reuters) – A United Nations human rights investigator accused Israel on Monday of imposing collective punishment on 1.75 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and said that the enclave’s viability was at stake.

Both Israel and its close ally the United States boycotted the debate at the Human Rights Council where Richard Falk presented his latest report. It also calls for an inquiry into alleged torture of Palestinian detainees in Israel’s custody.

Jun 10, 2013

MERS coronavirus has potential to cause pandemic – WHO

GENEVA, June 10 (Reuters) – The World Health Organisation on
Monday urged health workers around the world to be on the alert
for symptoms of the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome
coronavirus (MERS), which has the potential to circle the globe
and cause a pandemic.

The United Nations agency, which issued new, long-awaited
guidance to countries on influenza pandemics, said the world was
also in the same “alert phase” for two human strains of bird flu
- H5N1, which emerged a decade ago, and H7N9, first detected in
China in March.

Jun 5, 2013

North Korean defector’s “impossible” dream of closing prison camps

GENEVA (Reuters) – North Korea’s best-known defector, Shin Dong-hyuk, dreams of making the “impossible” happen one day – ridding his secretive homeland of the kind of brutal prison camps he says he was born and raised in before a dramatic escape in 2005.

Shin met senior human rights officials in Geneva this week to discuss a United Nations investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in North Korea, and said he would bear witness to the horrors of his life in Camp 14 to help build an eventual criminal case against North Korea’s leadership.

Jun 5, 2013

Syria talks may be in July, work still to do: Brahimi

GENEVA (Reuters) – A conference on ending the Syrian war could take place in July but there is still a lot of work to do, international envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said on Wednesday after preparatory talks with U.S. and Russian officials.

“We have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to hold this conference in June. We will be continuing our consultations with Russia and the United States to see about windows of opportunity to hold the conference as soon as possible – hopefully in July,” he told reporters in Geneva.