Tuesday, 31 October 2023 17:39

World News in Brief: Russia likely attacked Ukraine cafe, disease alert for Sudan, Taliban must release rights defenders

IOM/Alisa Kyrpychova
A building in central Borodianka remains heavily damaged following missile strikes.

A missile which struck a café in the village of Hroza in eastern Ukraine killing 59 people earlier this month was launched with no indication of any legitimate military targets at the site, according to a new report by the UN human rights office (OHCHR).

The report published on Tuesday and based on site inspections and witness interviews says that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that the missile was launched by Russian armed forces”.

It details the devastating impact of what has been one of the deadliest single incidents for Ukrainian civilians since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.

OHCHR quoted a resident recounting how her daughter’s friend “could only be identified by her manicure when rescue workers discovered her hand” and stressed that for many others, identification relied on DNA tests of bodily remains.

The report says that the Russian military “either failed to do everything feasible to verify that the target was a military objective, or deliberately targeted civilians or civilian objects”.

“Either scenario would be in violation of international humanitarian law,” OHCHR insisted.

Sudan: ‘lethal’ combination of diseases puts millions at risk: WHO

In war-torn Sudan, cholera, measles, dengue and malaria are circulating in several states and a combination of any of these diseases with malnutrition “can be lethal”.

UNOCHA_Sudan

That’s the message from UN health agency WHO, who said on Tuesday that 1,962 suspected cholera cases have been reported as of last week with 72 associated deaths. More than 3.1 million people are estimated to be at risk of the disease by the end of the year, WHO warned.

At the same time, the country has over 4,300 suspected measles cases, over 4,000 suspected cases of dengue and over 813,000 malaria cases, while some 4.6 million children, pregnant and nursing mothers are malnourished.

The country’s health system is “stretched to breaking point”, WHO said, with up to four in every five health facilities in conflict hotspots not functioning and limited access to healthcare across the country due to violence, mass displacement and shortages of medicines and medical supplies.

Meanwhile, health workers “who have done their best to keep facilities running despite personal risk” have not been paid for nearly seven months.

The UN health agency has been supporting the health authorities’ response to the crisis by providing supplies, staff and training to cholera treatment centres, enhancing disease surveillance and helping run measles vaccination campaigns.

Taliban must release women human rights defenders: top rights experts

In Afghanistan, women human rights defenders Neda Parwan and Zholia Parsi detained by the Taliban for over a month, must be released immediately, UN-appointed independent rights experts said on Tuesday.

The experts, who include Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan Richard Bennett, said that they were increasingly concerned about the physical and mental well-being of the two women and their family members, also detained while no reason was provided for the arrests.

They have yet to be charged with a crime or brought before a court and have not been granted access to legal representation.

“The Taliban seem to be continuing to intensify their restrictions on civic space, especially through silencing of the voices of women and girls,” the experts said.

They underscored the importance of upholding the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and warned that individuals must not be deprived of their liberty “merely for expressing dissenting views and for exercising their legitimate rights”.