This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Rise in deadly boat journeys reflects Rohingyas’ desperation: UNHCR
The steep increase in the number of Rohingya refugees risking their lives to cross the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal last year reflects their growing desperation, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Tuesday.
More than 3,500 desperate Rohingya attempted deadly sea crossings in 39 boats in 2022, mainly from Myanmar and Bangladesh.
This represents a 360 per cent increase on 2021.
UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo told journalists in Geneva that there is still no comprehensive regional response among coastal South Asian nations to protect refugees from people smugglers who offer “false hope”.
And she said that more refugees would die, unless a solution is found.
“Calls by UNHCR to maritime authorities in the region to rescue and disembark people in distress have been ignored or have gone unheeded with many boats adrift for weeks.”
The UN agency’s latest warning about the situation comes amid an ongoing military crackdown in Myanmar by generals who seized power two years ago. In 2017, more than 700,000 ethnic Rohingya fled the country to seek shelter in Bangladesh.
US border policy expulsions in spotlight as families arrive in Mexico ‘distraught’
Staying with the UN refugee agency, which expressed concern on Tuesday for migrants expelled from the United States in line with border policy reforms recently introduced by the Biden Administration.
Young families have been arriving in Mexico “distraught and disorientated”, said UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo, who described the humanitarian situation at the border as “serious”.
She noted that from 6 to 10 January, an estimated 531 Cubans and 141 Nicaraguans had been deported from the United States, under the “Title 42” public health order.
Shelters for the new arrivals are overcrowded and many have been forced to sleep in tents without adequate clothing, Ms. Mantoo said, adding that there was an urgent need for food, hygiene kits and documentation advice.
The development follows last week’s warning from UN human rights chief Volker Türk that the US reform would permit the “fast-track expulsion to Mexico” of 30,000 Venezuelans, Haitians, Cubans and Nicaraguans each month.
As rains stop in Pakistan, millions of children fighting for survival: UNICEF
To Pakistan, where aid teams have warned that although the rains have now ended after causing last summer’s deadly floods, four million youngsters are fighting for survival.
In a call for long-term funding for the worst-hit regions Sindh and Baluchistan, UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said that one of the main problems is that water has been contaminated, while standing water is stagnant , making it the ideal breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitos.
Temperatures have also fallen and with so many homes destroyed in last summer’s deadly floods, many families lack decent shelter, the UN agency explained.
UNICEF underscored that some 1.6 million children were severely acutely malnourished before the flooding disaster, and that the situation is expected to worsen “exponentially” in weeks and months to come.
To date, the agency’s appeal for $173 million to help millions of children in Pakistan is less than half-funded.