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Jul 24, 2014

U.N. panel tells Japan to compensate ‘comfort women’

GENEVA (Reuters) – A United Nations human rights agency is calling on Japan to guarantee independent investigations of wartime sex slavery and provide a public apology and compensation to the women who were victims.

Some historians estimate that as many as 200,000 so-called comfort women, many from China and South Korea, were forced into the Imperial Japanese Army’s brothels before and during World War Two.

Jul 23, 2014

U.N. launches probe into alleged Israeli crimes in Gaza

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations on Wednesday launched an international inquiry into human rights violations and crimes that may have been committed by Israel during its military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The U.N. Human Rights Council condemned the Israeli assault which it said had involved “disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks”, including aerial bombing of civilian areas, collective punishment, and the killing of more than 650 Palestinians.At the end of an emergency session, the 47-member forum adopted a resolution presented by Palestinians by a vote of 29 states in favor, 1 against (the United States) with 17 abstentions (including all nine European Union members).

Jul 22, 2014

Polio still threatens Middle East after Syria, Iraq cases – UN

GENEVA, July 22 (Reuters) – Thirty-six children in Syria and
two in Iraq have been paralysed by polio since October, and the
risk of the virus spreading further in the Middle East remains
high, U.N. aid agencies said on Tuesday.

A crippling and incurable disease, polio erupted in October
in the northeast province of Deir al-Zor, marking Syria’s first
outbreak since 1999. The two cases recorded in Iraq this year
were in Iraqi children living in the Baghdad area.

Jul 22, 2014

‘No safe place for civilians’ in Gaza, U.N. says

GENEVA (Reuters) – Palestinian civilians in densely-populated Gaza have no place to hide from Israel’s military offensive and children are paying the heaviest price, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

“There is literally no safe place for civilians,” Jens Laerke, spokesman of the U.N. Office for Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA), told a news briefing in Geneva.

Jul 18, 2014

U.N. aid agencies step up emergency aid to Gaza

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations said on Friday it was stepping up emergency aid to Gaza, where Israel’s military offensive has made water shortages worse and stoked fears of more sewage contamination and water-borne diseases.

On Tuesday, U.N. aid agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross warned that after years of Gaza’s water system deteriorating, damage from the attacks meant the whole coastal strip was facing a water crisis within days.

Jul 17, 2014

Stevie Wonder blends hits at Montreux for Quincy Jones

MONTREUX Switzerland (Reuters) – Motown legend Stevie Wonder gave a soulful two-hour concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival on Wednesday night, blending his hits with covers of the Beatles and Michael Jackson for an audience that included producer Quincy Jones.

The African-American singer and songwriter, wearing lime green sunglasses and braids down to his waist, headlined the 48th edition of the prestigious Swiss festival, fulfilling a longtime wish of its late founder Claude “Funky” Nobs.

Jul 16, 2014

U.N.’s Pillay suggests Snowden should not face trial

GENEVA (Reuters) – The top U.N. human rights official suggested on Wednesday the United States should abandon its efforts to prosecute Edward Snowden, saying his revelations of massive state surveillance had been in the public interest.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay credited Snowden, a former U.S. National Security Agency contractor, with opening a global debate which has led to calls for the curtailing of state powers to snoop on citizens online and store their data.

Jul 15, 2014

Acute water crisis looms in Gaza, aid agencies warn

GENEVA (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of Gazans are without water after Israeli air strikes that have wrecked the water and sewage system and the whole strip is threatened with a water crisis within days, aid agencies warned on Tuesday.

The eight-day assault has caused massive damage to infrastructure and destroyed at least 560 homes, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) said.

Jul 9, 2014

IOC has to explain merits of Games better, says Bach

LAUSANNE Switzerland (Reuters) – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) must do a better job of explaining the merits of hosting the Games to cities considering an application, IOC President Thomas Bach said on Wednesday.

Only three cities – Oslo, Almaty in Kazakhstan and Beijing – were confirmed as official candidates to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games on Monday. Stockholm, Krakow and Lviv in Ukraine had also submitted bids but later withdrew.

Jul 9, 2014

IOC says Rio report encouraging but vigilance needed

LAUSANNE Switzerland (Reuters) – Brazil has presented an “encouraging report” about preparations for the 2016 Rio Games but vigilance is needed to ensure venues are ready, the International Olympic Committee said on Wednesday.

IOC President Thomas Bach, who was heading to Rio for the World Cup final and talks with officials including President Dilma Rousseff, also said the IOC would review its ticketing procedures in the light of an unfolding FIFA scandal.