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May 22, 2015

U.N. office outraged by ‘biased’ Hungarian survey on migration

GENEVA (Reuters) – Hungary’s survey of its citizens’ views on immigration is “extremely biased” and “absolutely shocking” because of questions that suggest a link between migrants and terrorism, the U.N. human rights office said on Friday.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban launched the consultation last month to sound out the public, sending a questionnaire to every Hungarian adult. He has decried a European Union plan to take in 20,000 refugees and distribute asylum-seekers more evenly among EU members as “bordering on insanity”.

May 21, 2015

Japan takes South Korea to WTO over Fukushima-related food import restrictions

GENEVA, May 21 (Reuters) – Japan launched a trade complaint
at the World Trade Organization on Thursday to challenge South
Korea’s import bans and additional testing requirements for
Japanese food after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the WTO

Japan says several measures taken by South Korea violate the
WTO’s sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) agreement and Seoul has
failed to justify its trade restrictions as required, the WTO
said in a statement.

May 19, 2015

Civilians in U.N. camps trapped by ‘staggering’ violence in South Sudan

GENEVA (Reuters) – About 100,000 people taking refuge in U.N.-protected camps in South Sudan have been trapped there by “staggering” violence in the north of the country, a U.N. official said on Tuesday.

People have been taking refuge in “protection of civilian” sites, or POCs, since December 2013, when fighting between supporters of President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar erupted. Thousands have been killed since then.

May 15, 2015

Meningitis cases triple in two weeks in Niger, more than 400 dead: WHO

GENEVA (Reuters) – An outbreak of meningitis with “unprecedented features” is spreading rapidly in Niger, with a tripling of cases in the past two weeks, hundreds of deaths so far this year and vaccines in short supply, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

The outbreak is predominantly caused by serogroup C, which is normally found in wealthy countries and has never been of high concern in Africa, where it has been seen only in sporadic cases and localized outbreaks, the U.N. health agency said.

May 15, 2015

Myanmar must protect Muslim minority to end migration: U.N.

GENEVA (Reuters) – The flow of desperate migrants across the Bay of Bengal will continue unless Myanmar ends discrimination against its Rohingya Muslim minority, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Friday.

“Until the Myanmar government addresses the institutional discrimination against the Rohingya population, including equal access to citizenship, this precarious migration will continue,” he said in a statement.

May 14, 2015

Syrian opposition says U.N. talks, Iran involvement harm Syria

GENEVA (Reuters) – Syria’s main political opposition told U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura on Thursday he was harming the Syrian people by holding wide-ranging consultations on Syria’s future, and especially by involving Iran.

In a letter seen by Reuters, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces said his plan to hear the views of more than 40 groups “would not lead to the desired objectives and may have a negative impact on your mission and the role and credibility of the United Nations.”

May 13, 2015

Syrian opposition armed groups reject UN invitation

GENEVA (Reuters) – Syrian armed groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad have rejected an invitation to U.N. consultations in Geneva, according to a letter seen by Reuters on Wednesday, dealing an blow to hopes of reviving talks to end the conflict.

The letter from 30 opposition armed groups to the U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, who is presiding over the consultations, accused him of abandoning his neutrality and “standing on the side of one party without the other”.

May 13, 2015

Congo rebels may have committed crimes against humanity: U.N.

GENEVA (Reuters) – A Ugandan Islamist rebel group committed human rights abuses in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo last year that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to a U.N. report published on Wednesday.

The Allied Democratic Forces killed at least 237 civilians in the last quarter of 2014, including 65 women and 35 children, the U.N. human rights office said in a statement.

May 12, 2015

EU should welcome migrants, labor and migration experts say

GENEVA (Reuters) – The European Union should recognize the potential benefit of migrants fleeing to its shores, not try to keep them out for fear of the burden they will place on Europe’s economy, labor and human rights say.

The European Commission will introduce a “European Agenda on Migration” on Wednesday, following criticism for what U.N human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has called its “callous” approach to the 219,000 migrants who sailed to Europe last year, and the 3,500 who died trying.

May 12, 2015

U.N. reports rape and killings in attacks on South Sudan towns

GENEVA (Reuters) – At least 28 towns and villages have been attacked in South Sudan’s oil-producing Unity State during almost two weeks of fighting, with reports of killings, rape, arson and looting, a U.N. human rights official in Geneva said on Tuesday.

The world’s newest state, which declared independence from Sudan in 2011, was plunged into conflict nearly 18 months ago between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebels allied with his former deputy, Riek Machar.