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May 23, 2013

U.N. investigator seeks world moratorium on ‘killer robots’

GENEVA (Reuters) – A United Nations human rights investigator called on Thursday for all states to declare a moratorium to prevent so-called “killer robots” being deployed on the battlefield.

Christof Heyns, U.N. special rapporteur on executions, said that unmanned robotic weapons systems with varying degrees of autonomy and deadliness were being tested or used by the United States, Britain and Israel without debate on moraI and legal issues.

May 21, 2013

China’s bird flu outbreak cost $6.5 billion

GENEVA (Reuters) – The H7N9 virus appears to have been brought under control in China largely due to restrictions at bird markets, but caused some $6.5 billion in losses to the economy, U.N. experts said on Tuesday.

Health authorities worldwide must be on the lookout to detect the virus, the experts said, which could still develop the ability to spread easily among humans and cause a deadly influenza pandemic.

May 8, 2013

WHO experts to visit Saudi hospital where coronavirus spread

GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) – World Health Organization (WHO) experts and local officials will visit a Saudi hospital where the SARS-like coronavirus has spread, killing seven people, the U.N. agency said on Wednesday.

France reported its first case on Wednesday in a 65-year-old Frenchman who had recently returned from Dubai with the virus that has emerged from the Gulf and has also spread to Britain and Germany as well as Jordan, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.

May 7, 2013

(OFFICIAL)-Aid convoys roll slowly in Syria despite urgent need – U.N.

GENEVA, May 7 (Reuters) – Bureaucratic hurdles still hamper
delivery of aid in Syria where nearly one in three people need
help, half of them children, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

Aid requirements have risen dramatically in the past year as
the civil war has escalated, with some 6.8 million deemed in
need now compared with 1 million in March 2012, the U.N. Office
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

May 7, 2013

Aid convoys roll slowly in Syria despite urgent need – U.N.

GENEVA, May 7 (Reuters) – Bureaucratic hurdles still hamper
delivery of aid in Syria where nearly one in three people need
help, half of them children, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

Aid requirements have risen dramatically in the past year as
the civil war has escalated, with some 6.8 million deemed in
need now compared with 1 million in March 2012, the U.N. Office
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

May 7, 2013

U.N. names team to investigate torture, camps in North Korea

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations on Tuesday named a team of three human rights investigators who will look into allegations of torture and labor camps in North Korea that are believed to hold at least 200,000 people.

Pyongyang denies the existence of such camps and is not expected to cooperate with the investigation, having denounced it during a U.N. Human Rights Council debate, activists said.

May 6, 2013

U.N. distances self from report Syrian rebels used nerve gas

GENEVA (Reuters) – U.N. war crimes investigators have reached no conclusions on whether any side in the Syrian war has used chemical weapons, the inquiry commission said on Monday, playing down a suggestion from one of the team that rebel forces had done so.

Investigator Carla Del Ponte caught U.N. officials by surprise on Sunday when she said the commission had gathered testimony from casualties and medical staff indicating that rebel forces had used the banned nerve agent sarin.

May 6, 2013

Red Cross urges swift evacuation of Syria’s dead and wounded

GENEVA (Reuters) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) urged both sides in Syria’s civil war on Monday to allow swift evacuation of the dead and wounded, many of them civilians, who often lie abandoned for days or months in intense urban fighting.

The ICRC reminded the government and the rebels that international humanitarian law requires bodies to be removed promptly and respectfully, and the injured to be evacuated for treatment.

May 3, 2013

Cuba says will consider U.N. and Red Cross visits

GENEVA (Reuters) – Cuba said on Friday it would consider letting in U.N. human rights investigators to examine allegations of torture and repression and allowing Red Cross officials access its prisons after a gap of nearly 25 years.

Dissidents say security forces round up opponents of the Communist country for short-term detention and some are mistreated. Cuban officials deny allegations of arbitrary detention or torture.

May 3, 2013

U.S. calls for shutting down Iran, North Korea arms networks

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United States said on Friday that Iran and North Korea were trying to obtain high-tech materials linked to their nuclear programs in violation of U.N. sanctions.

Iran was also sending weapons and ammunition to Syrian government forces despite a ban, said Thomas Countryman, Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation.