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Oct 22, 2013

China crackdown under scrutiny at U.N. rights review

GENEVA/BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s human rights record came under formal international scrutiny on Tuesday for the first time since Xi Jinping became president, with Western countries rebuking it for arresting dissidents and curtailing Internet use and Tibetan rights.

Hours before the United Nations Human Rights Council, which reviews all U.N. members every four years, began its session in Geneva, Tibetan activists scaled the building and unfurled a banner reading: “China fails human rights in Tibet – U.N. stand up for Tibet”.

Oct 21, 2013

S.Arabia under fire at UN over women’s, migrant worker rights

GENEVA, Oct 21 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s human rights
record came under fire at the United Nations on Monday with
critics accusing the kingdom of jailing activists without due
process and abusing the basic rights of Saudi women and foreign
workers.

At the U.N. Human Rights Council, Britain called for
abolition of the Saudi system of male guardianship for women,
already recommended when the watchdog last subjected the kingdom
to scrutiny in 2009.

Oct 21, 2013

Saudi Arabia under fire at U.N. over women’s, migrant workers rights

GENEVA (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s rights record came under fire at the United Nations on Monday, critics accusing the kingdom of jailing activists without due process and abusing the basic rights of Saudi women and foreign workers.

At the U.N. Human Rights Council, Britain called for abolition of the Saudi system of male guardianship for women and was joined by the United States in raising cases of forced labor imposed on migrant workers.

Oct 18, 2013

Syrian refugees need safe harbor beyond region: UNHCR

GENEVA (Reuters) – The U.N. refugee agency on Friday appealed to European and other states to grant asylum to more Syrians as increasing numbers flee their country in perilous journeys across the Mediterranean.

Syria’s immediate neighbors, as well as Libya and Egypt, are struggling to cope with an average daily exodus of 4,000 Syrian refugees and need support in sharing the burden, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.

Oct 17, 2013

Air pollution a leading cause of cancer – U.N. agency

LONDON/GENEVA, Oct 17 (Reuters) – The air we breathe is
laced with cancer-causing substances and is being officially
classified as carcinogenic to humans, the World Health
Organisation’s cancer agency said on Thursday.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) cited
data indicating that in 2010, 223,000 deaths from lung cancer
worldwide resulted from air pollution, and said there was also
convincing evidence it increases the risk of bladder cancer.

Oct 14, 2013

Some aid workers freed in Syria, risks to humanitarian effort grow

BEIRUT/GENEVA (Reuters) – Four of seven aid workers abducted in Syria have been freed, the Red Cross said on Monday, but there was no word on the fate of the other three whose kidnapping highlights the risk to continuing humanitarian work in a country fragmented by war.

Robert Mardini, head of ICRC operations for the Near and Middle East, said in a tweet the four were “safe and sound” after their abduction on Sunday.

Oct 10, 2013

U.S. shutdown forces delay in U.N. scrutiny of rights record

GENEVA (Reuters) – The U.S. government shutdown has forced the postponement of U.N. scrutiny of its rights record, including over accusations of suspected abuses by the National Security Agency, immigration reform and access to abortion, activists said on Thursday.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee, composed of 18 independent experts, had been due to examine U.S. compliance with a landmark political and civil rights treaty in Geneva on October 17-18.

Oct 10, 2013

Syrian child refugees face exploitation, UNICEF says

GENEVA (Reuters) – Child refugees who have fled Syria’s civil war are vulnerable to exploitation including early marriage, domestic violence and child labor, despite efforts to keep them in school, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday.

More than one million children, some without parents or close relatives, are among 2.1 million refugees who have crossed mainly into Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey since March 2011, the agency says.

Sep 25, 2013

“Pink Star” diamond could fetch record $60 million, Sotheby’s says

GENEVA (Reuters) – A huge and rare pink diamond could fetch more than $60 million at auction in November as collectors chase exceptional pieces in a strong international jewelry market, Sotheby’s said on Wednesday.

The “Pink Star”, which weighs 59.60 carats, is the most valuable diamond offered at auction, it said, showing the oval stone with the top grading of vivid pink amid tight security at a luxury hotel.

Sep 24, 2013

U.N. envoy for Somalia seeks more resources to combat al Shabaab

GENEVA, Sept 24 (Reuters) – African troops in Somalia
require helicopters and armoured vehicles to counter al Shabaab,
the Islamist group that has claimed responsibility for the
deadly attack on a Kenyan shopping mall, the U.N. envoy for
Somalia said on Tuesday.

Nicholas Kay, U.N. special representative for Somalia, said
more troops may also be necessary and called specifically for
targeting three ports along the Somali coast that he said were
operated by al Shabaab for illicit trade.