News in Brief 9 June 2017 – Geneva

40,000 Raqqa children in line of fire as Syria fighting intensifies � UNICEF

An estimated 100,000 people are trapped in the Syrian city of Raqqa, 40,000 of them children, the UN warned on Friday.

At least 25 children have been reportedly killed and dozens more hurt in the ISIL stronghold, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The extremists have been resisting Syrian opposition forces, which launched an attack on the north-eastern city this week.

Christophe Boulierac is a spokesperson for UNICEF:

"Hospitals and schools have reportedly come under attack. Those attempting to flee are at the danger of getting killed or injured. The fighting has resulted in massive displacement in and around the city, with some 80,000 children from Ar-Raqqa city now internally displaced and living in temporary shelters and camps."

The fight for Raqqa has resulted in massive displacement and reports of deteriorating health conditions and shortages of food and medicine.

UNICEF has responded by trucking in nearly one million litres of water a day to 120,000 people in camps in Raqqa and Hassakeh governorates.

It has also immunised nearly 60,000 children against polio, which has been identified in Deir Ez Zour governorate in the east.

Two children have so far been paralysed in the outbreak in Mayadin district, where the

the World Health Organization (WHO) said it would work with "whoever is on the ground" to vaccinate all children under five years old.

Rains not enough to spare millions from East, Horn of Africa drought

Millions of people in East Africa and Horn of Africa are suffering the worst drought in decades and their number is set to grow because the recent rains "are not good enough", the UN warned on Friday.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that the situation in Ethiopia is of particular concern, where 7.8 million people now need humanitarian aid.

That's more than in Somalia, where 6.7 million are in crisis from drought, which has also affected two million people in Kenya.

Here's Jeffrey Labovitz, IOM's Regional Director for East and Horn of Africa:

"It's widely believed that this crisis will be protracted because the rains are not good enough to mitigate against the bigger problems. We're happy that the rains are happening but it doesn't mean that the needs are fully addressed and in fact there's a lot of consideration that we're going to have to look at a much longer term of humanitarian assistance."

In the past six months, more than one million people have been displaced amid severe drought conditions in the Horn of Africa and East Africa.

IOM is appealing for US $ 60 million to help the worst affected communities and those hosting them.

Anti-trafficking plans need to be tougher, says rights expert

Far more businesses should commit to preventing labour abuses linked to human trafficking, a leading rights expert has said.

UN Special Rapporteur Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, who was due to address the Human Rights Council on Friday, said that existing voluntary measures needed to be "much more prescriptive and much more effective".

According to the International Labour Organization's most recent data (ILO), an estimated 21 million people are victims of trafficking worldwide.

Since 2012 in California, manufacturers turning over more than US $100 million in sales have been required to say what they are doing to ensure their goods are not linked to slavery and human trafficking.

Ms Giammarinaro said that many more States needed to adopt this kind of voluntary agreement.

Here she is speaking to journalists in Geneva:

"So actually these laws, this legislation are a first attempt, of course they must be much more prescriptive I would say and much more effective, but it is also true that the same business initiatives, they recognise that the business model cannot only change on the basis of voluntary schemes, something more binding is also needed."

Such agreements are needed to avoid work-place tragedies such as the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh.

More than 1,000 workers lost their lives when the building they were working in collapsed in 2013.

Source: United Nations Radio

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