News in Brief 19 January 2018 – Geneva

Increasing concern for women and children fleeing Cameroon � UNHCR

The number of women and children fleeing from English-speaking areas of Cameroon into Nigeria is growing, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is “increasingly concerned” about their plight.

That’s according to UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler, who said in Geneva on Friday that approximately 10,000 refugees are registered in eastern Nigeria’s Cross River state � 80 per cent of whom are women and children.

Thousands more Cameroonians in neighbouring states are unregistered. Some are unaccompanied minors, and therefore particularly vulnerable.

Mr. Spindler reported that some children have to work or beg to survive in order to help their families, which can severely hamper their education. Some children said that they had been out of school for the whole of the past academic year.

“Many children are unable to attend school, as they lack both the time and funds for education. Although schooling in Nigeria is free, there are still some basic costs, such as those for school materials.”

For women, the lack of work combined with over-stretched reception facilities, creates a higher risk of sexual and gender-based violence.

Concern about heightened unrest in Honduras � OHCHR

The risk of unrest in Honduras is growing, amid continuing tensions following the disputed November presidential election.

At a press briefing in Geneva, Liz Throssel, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called on all political parties, media and the civil society to “refrain from any statements that may be interpreted as an incitement to violence”.

According to the OHCHR spokesperson, the “vast majority” of fatalities resulting from protests thus far, were civilians.

“Between 29 November and 22 December, at least 22 people were reported killed in the context of post-electoral protests � among them 21 civilians and one police officer. We have verified information that 13 of these deaths were at the hands of the security forces.”

The opposition has announced nationwide protests starting from the 20 January till 27 January, when Juan Orlando Hernandez is due to be sworn in as President.

The OHCHR Office in Honduras has urged the authorities to undertake an assessment of the rules of engagement in policing demonstrations, including the use of force, and that the security forces use only necessary and proportionate force, in line with international law.

In particular, it has called for avoiding the use of military police or armed forces to police demonstrations, functions for which they are neither effectively trained nor equipped.

At least one in four children in Iraq impacted by conflict and poverty � UNICEF

More than 4 million children in Iraq have been impacted by extreme violence, poverty, and long-term lack of investment. But they are starting to look to their own recovery, and to cultivate hope.

The head of programmes in Iraq for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) highlighted the resilience of Iraqi children. Peter Hawkins said that they are eager to start playing together, to start learning, and to start looking forward to the future.

But while the fighting has come to an end in several areas, spikes of violence continue in others.

This violence, added to the lack of investment and services, has led to extreme poverty in many of the southern directorates, and children’s rights are not being met.

Many are involved in suboptimal education, which can mean a maximum of 10 contact hours a week of education.

Mr. Hawkins stressed that this is not going to allow them to aspire to a successful future in any concrete way.

“It’s not good enough to just get to the end of the humanitarian crisis and walk away. We must continue to support the Iraqi children, and Iraq as a whole, in this very strategic recovery period, so that they can find their own feet.”

Source: United Nations Radio