The United Nations today announced it is working with Jordan and partners to open a second major refugee camp by the end of the month as the number of displaced Syrians continues to rise, with a record 30,000 people arriving to the neighbouring nation this month alone.“UNHCR is working with the Government of Jordan and partners to prepare a second major camp close to Za’atari, which will be known as Halabat camp,” the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Melissa Fleming, told reporters in Geneva. “Up to 5,000 people will be accommodated initially in the camp, with a plan to increase the capacity to 30,000 people.”The recent influx of refugees represents a significant contrast with previous months, when some 16,000 arrived to Za’atari camp in December, 13,000 in November and 10,000 in October. UNHCR estimates that the population in the camp currently stands at 65,000 people.Ms. Fleming reported that most refugees are families, female-headed households and elderly people. New arrivals report targeted violence, property loss, lack of medical treatment, high food and fuel prices and scarce water and electricity as reasons for their flight.“Staff at Za’atari are working day and night to respond to the new arrivals and the growing needs of the refugees in the camp,” Ms. Fleming said, adding that the agency is increasing its staffing for the camp and tens of thousands of tents are being delivered by truck along with relief items.Za’atari camp has three hospitals, as well as several healthcare facilities, with some 51 specialists and 70 nurses in addition to general practitioners and paramedics. However, resources are being strained with the recent increase in arrivals. Over the past month, between seven and 10 babies were born each day in the camp, Ms. Fleming said.In addition to people arriving to Za’atari, UNHCR is also registering refugees in Amman who are living in the city. “We hope to register over 50,000 refugees in urban settings by the end of February. A new registration centre in Irbid will open soon, further increasing our registration capacity,” Ms. Fleming said.To date UNHCR has registered, or issued appointments to register, 206,630 Syrians in Jordan. According to the Government, there are over 300,000 Syrian refugees in the country.During the same briefing, the Director of Emergency Programmes for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Ted Chaiban, said infrastructure inside Syria was being systematically destroyed, with restricted availability of water, and warned that many schools are now being used as shelters, leaving many children without education.
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AUDIO: In her call to the authorities on World Press Freedom Day, Sheila Keetharuth, a UN investigator, said the more than decade-and-a-half long detention of journalist Dawit Isaac in Eritrea must end. Credit: UN News In a “post-truth” world with “fake news” on the rise, and media accountability and credibility falling under question, free, independent and professional journalism has never been more important, the United Nations today said.“We need leaders to defend a free media. This is crucial to counter prevailing misinformation. And we need everyone to stand for our right to truth,” Secretary-General António Guterres said in a message to mark World Press Freedom Day. This year’s theme highlights media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies and builds on the theme ‘Critical Minds for Critical Times.’ The 2017 commemoration comes at a time when “free, independent and pluralistic media has never been so important to empower individual women and men, strengthen good governance and the rule of law, and take forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural (UNESCO) said in a statement.The agency is also tasked with defending press freedom and the safety of journalists, and is spearheading the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.“Far too often, murder remains the most tragic form of censorship,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in her message on the Day, noting that 102 journalists were killed in 2016. She noted that “facing a crisis of audience identity, journalism stands before a horizon where old challenges are merging with new threats,” which include the Internet’s blurring of the lines between advertising and editorial material, businesses pushing for profits and private censorship. RELATED: UNESCO award for Dawit Isaak ‘sign of hope’ to free imprisoned Eritrean journalistIn her message, Ms. Bokova cited Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist assassinated in 1986, whose name was lent to the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. He wrote: “Only the independence, the character, the objectivity and the good judgment of the journalist and the media can overcome the terrible storms of the new world that threaten freedom of information everywhere.” Ms. Bokova noted those words, written two years prior to his death, “continue to resonate today, 33 years later.” She called for “original, critical and well-researched journalism, guided by high professional, ethical standards and a quality media education” and for audiences who “have the right media and information literacy skills.” VIDEO: “Defend those that give voice to the voiceless” – UN Secretary-General António Guterres on World Press Freedom Day 2017.Press Freedom is marked annually on 3 May. UNESCO’s main celebration of this year’s edition of the Day will take place in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 1 to 4 May.The programme of the four-day conference has been designed to raise awareness of the importance of free and fact-based journalism in promoting peace and justice, and supporting the efficiency, accountability and inclusiveness of institutions, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs). The event is organized with the Government of Indonesia and the Indonesian Press Council.During the event, Ms. Bokova will award the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to Dawit Isaak, the imprisoned Eritrean-born journalist who will be represented by his daughter, Bethelem Isaak, during a ceremony hosted by Joko Widodo, the President of Indonesia. In Geneva, a UN human rights expert welcomed the granting of the prize to Mr. Isaak, and urged Eritrea to free him. “The Eritrean authorities should stop the practice of arrests and detention carried out without legal basis instantly,” said the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, in a new release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). A special event will be held at UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall attended the Prince’s Countryside Fund Raceday at Ascot on Friday.The royal couple met supporters of the fund and handed out trophies to the winners. The race featured 12 riders, including British model Rosie Tapner.Prince Charles founded the charity fund in 2010 to support British farmers and the countryside. The Prince of Wales also unveiled a 12ft-high bronze horse head statue, which he was presented as a belated 70th birthday gift from Ascot racecourse.