Human Rights Council condemn Syria; South Sudan Border; Somalia; and more

Human Rights Resolution on Syria: The Human Rights Council adopted a resolution this morning on Syria, with 41 votes in favor, 3 against (China, Russia, and Cuba) and 2 abstentions (Ecuador and Uganda).  The resolution strongly condemns the use of force against civilians and requests that the commission of inquiry conduct an unfettered investigation into the events in Houla.  It also requests that joint special envoy Kofi Annan brief the Council at the 20th session later this month.

The UN High Commission for Human Rights Navi Pillay also called on the international community to make all efforts to end impunity in Syria for all perpetrators of atrocities that have occurred there, and warned that without immediate investigations the situation would descend into a full-fledged conflict putting the whole region in grave danger. The meeting was the Council’s fourth special session on Syria since the crisis began some 15 months ago.

South Sudan Border:
An estimated 20,000 refugees have amassed on the South Sudan border after fleeing conflict and lack of food, the UN refugee agency said today, adding that it is working to relocate them and provide them with emergency aid.

A spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees told reporters in Geneva that many of the refugees in South Sudan’s Elfoj border area had fled because of the ongoing bombing and ground fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North in the Sudanese state of Blue Nile. Refugees interviewed by UNHCR staff reported that up to 40,000 more people could be en route to South Sudan.

Since 19 May, UNCHR has transported several thousand refugees to its new camp, Yusuf Batil. Others have been relocated to Rum, a transit site where UNHCR and WFP are providing food rations and water.

The SG today called on the international community to provide support to Somalia in its next political phase, noting that the end of the transition period and the adoption of a new provisional constitution represent an “historic starting point” for the East African country.

“My message to this conference and the world is this: Commit to long-term assistance for Somalia,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks at the second Istanbul Conference on Somalia, adding that financial resources as well as engagement with the country are essential to help it tackle some of its major challenges, including terrorism, piracy and drought.

UNESCO/Press Freedom:
The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom today voiced alarm at the number of journalists being killed in Pakistan, and called on authorities to investigate the two most recent murders which occurred last month.

“The number of journalists who are paying with their lives for doing their job in Pakistan is alarming,” the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, said in a news release.

Abdul Razaq Gul, a journalist for Express News TV based in Balochistan province, was found dead on 19 May, according to UNESCO. He had been kidnapped while returning home the previous evening, and his body showed signs of torture.