Wednesday March 20, 2019

As Refugees Flee DR Congo, UN Steps Up to Reduce The Risk of Ebola

The UNHCR says refugees are at the same risk of contracting and transmitting the Ebola virus disease as local farmers, merchants, business people and others moving through the area.

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Ebola, WHO, UNICEF, congo, Uganda
A Congolese health worker checks the temperature of a man before the launch of vaccination campaign against the deadly Ebola virus near Mangina village, near the town of Beni in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

The U.N. refugee agency reports it is stepping up efforts to reduce the risk of the spread of the deadly Ebola virus as refugees flee DR Congo. Latest estimates put the number of confirmed and probable cases of Ebola in eastern DRC at 49, including 38 deaths.

The U.N. refugee agency is working closely with DRC authorities and other agencies on actions to contain Ebola on the national and regional level. But, its main focus is to monitor possible Ebola infections among refugees fleeing across the border, mainly to Uganda, from conflict ridden North Kivu and Ituri.

UNHCR spokesman, William Spindler says the number of newly arriving refugees into Uganda from these two Ebola affected provinces increased during July from 170 a day to 250 a day. He says the majority currently is crossing at the Kisoro border point.

A family sits outside in a neighborhood where three people died of Ebola last month, in Mbandaka, Congo, June 1, 2018. For the first time since the Ebola virus was identified more than 40 years ago, a vaccine has been dispatched to front line health workers.
A family sits outside in a neighborhood where three people died of Ebola last month, in Mbandaka, Congo,
VOA

“So UNHCR is working with WHO, UNICEF and other partners and with the Ministry of Health of Uganda to intensify screening for Ebola at all border entry points. And, additional health workers have been deployed in the border districts to improve response capacity,” he said.

Spindler notes the World Health Organization is not recommending any restriction on the movement of people. Therefore, he says UNHCR is urging countries neighboring DRC to allow refugees in need of protection to enter their territory and to include them into preparedness and response plans and activities.

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The UNHCR says refugees are at the same risk of contracting and transmitting the Ebola virus disease as local farmers, merchants, business people and others moving through the area. Therefore, it urges governments and local communities not to adopt measures that single out refugees. Those measures may not be scientifically sound and will only serve to stigmatize and restrict refugees’ freedom of movement. (VOA)

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Beijing Could Improve Human Rights As Part Of The Universal Periodic Review

All U.N. member states undergo such screening, generally every four to five years. Le said China had accepted 82 percent of the recommendations presented during the review last November. The council formally adopted the review of China without a vote Friday.

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Indian Muslims shout slogans during a protest against the Chinese government, in Mumbai, India, Sept. 14, 2018. Protesters demanded that China stop detaining ethnic Uighurs in detention and political indoctrination centers in Xinjiang region. VOA

A top Chinese diplomat claimed Friday that detention centers for Muslims in China’s western province of Xinjiang are “campuses, not camps” and said they are eventually going to be closed as a “training program” for ethnic Uighurs is downsized.

At the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Executive Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng reiterated China’s insistence that the detention centers are designed to provide training and fight regional terrorism. He also claimed that officials from around the world, including from the U.N., had visited the region and that the detention centers in Xinjiang are “actually boarding schools or campuses, not camps” as reported by critics.

The U.S. State Department said this week that China has “significantly intensified” a campaign of mass detentions of minority Uighurs over the last year, with between 800,000 and 2 million people from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region interned in camps. The centers have drawn condemnation from across the world.

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At the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Executive Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng reiterated China’s insistence that the detention centers are designed to provide training and fight regional terrorism. Pixabay

Le told reporters he had recently visited some Uighur centers in Xinjiang — and played ping pong and ate halal food there. He didn’t specify when the detention centers would be closed, other than telling reporters later that would happen “at the appropriate time.”

He also took aim at a U.S.-led event in Geneva on Xinjiang — calling that “unacceptable” interference in Chinese sovereignty.

Human Rights Council

The envoy’s comments came as China was responding to more than 200 recommendations by other countries on ways that Beijing could improve human rights as part of a Human Rights Council process known as the Universal Periodic Review.

U.S.
He also took aim at a U.S.-led event in Geneva on Xinjiang — calling that “unacceptable” interference in Chinese sovereignty. VOA

All U.N. member states undergo such screening, generally every four to five years. Le said China had accepted 82 percent of the recommendations presented during the review last November. The council formally adopted the review of China without a vote Friday.

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The United States, historically one of the few countries to confront China over its human rights records, pulled out of the 47-country Geneva-based U.N. body last year, alleging it has an anti-Israeli bias and other shortcomings.

Norway’s ambassador in Geneva voiced the most criticism among diplomats at the council on Friday. Hans Brattskar said Norway regretted that China did not accept any recommendations related to the Uighur detention situation in Xinjiang. (VOA)