Friday’s Daily Brief: Afghan mosque killings, Syrians flee violence, South Sudan floods, Ukraine human trafficking, anti-Semitism rises, Guterres on Mozambique poll

A recap of Friday’s main stories: Afghanistan mosque killings condemned by UN chief, Syrian civilians flee violence, thousands affected by flooding in South Sudan, UN migration agency warns of pervasive human trafficking in Ukraine, UN expert calls for better education to combat growing anti-Semitism.

The attack on a mosque in Nangarhar province, eastern Afghanistan, which resulted in scores of civilians being killed, and dozens more injured, has been strongly condemned by UN chief Antonio Guterres.

In a statement released on Friday, Mr. Guterres declared that those responsible for the attack must be held accountable. He extended his deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, and wished a speedy recovery to those injured.

The Secretary-General reiterated the solidarity of the United Nations with the people and Government of Afghanistan.

The attack comes a day after the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan, UNAMA, released a report showing record numbers of civilian casualties in the third quarter of 2019, mainly as a result of violence between rival political party supporters.

Guterres ‘closely following’ Mozambique election dispute

Mr. Guterres also said on Friday night that he had been “closely following developments” related to the 15 October general elections in Mozambique.

Preliminary results from Tuesday’s election showed President Filipe Nyusi and the ruling Frelimo party on course for victory, but the voting process was beset by claims of fraud and irregularities, according to news reports.

“Mozambique has come a long way in its efforts to consolidate peace with the signing of the recent peace agreements. These elections are an important step in the country’s democratic process”, said the UN chief in a statement.

Civilians are still fleeing shelling and clashes in northern Syria on the border with Turkey, despite a ceasefire deal between Turkish forces and Syrian-backed Kurdish military, the UN said on Friday.

The agreement comes nine days into a military campaign launched by Turkey against Kurdish-held territory on its southern border, east of the Euphrates river. To date, more than 166,000 people have been displaced.

The World Health Organization reported that Tal Tamr hospital is now the main reception point for people wounded by the conflict in Ras al Ain, but that it is struggling to cope with the influx of patients. The World Food Programme (WFP), meanwhile, announced that it plans reach 580,000 people in affected areas this month.

Flooding not seen in 40 years in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state has affected nearly 200,000 people who urgently need support, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.

The inundated area, near Maban’s capital town of Bunj, is prone to flooding at this time of year because of heavy seasonal rains, but the situation has been getting worse because rainfall in neighbouring Ethiopia is becoming more intense and irregular, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR’s Andrej Mahecic told journalists in Geneva.

Mr. Mahecic said that with the help of local partners and the authorities, UNHCR plans to reach the area, which shelters more than 150,000 refugees from Sudan.

UNHCR has pre-positioned emergency shelter kits and material assistance to help more than 5,000 affected families rebuild and repair damaged shelters, but says that more support is needed.

The UN migration agency, IOM, is warning of the dangers posed by human traffickers in Ukraine, who prey on jobless people in order to turn them into modern-day slaves.

Marking EU Anti-Trafficking Day on 18 October, IOM highlighted a particularly shocking case, involving more than 80 people who were lured to work at a farm, with the promise of free accommodation and food.

This week the agency provided assistance to 22 of the victims, from Dnipropetrovsk Region, some of the more than 600 people it has helped this year.

IOM says that nearly all the people it helps in Ukraine are victims of forced labour linked to criminal gangs.

Growth of anti-Semitism a sign of more widespread hatred, says UN expert

The growth of anti-Semitism worldwide is a sign that other forms of hatred and xenophobia are becoming more destructive and widespread, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, warned on Friday.

Speaking to Conor Lennon from UN News, Mr. Shaheed, a former foreign minister for the Maldives, also explained what his role as a Special Rapporteur entails, what drives him to speak out about human rights abuses, and the recent elections to the Human Rights Council.

Source: UN News Centre