News in Brief 21 March 2017 (AM) – Geneva

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Nigerian refugees register with UNHCR officials at Minawao Camp, northern Cameroon. Photo: UNHCR/ D Mbaiorem

UNHCR alarm over Cameroon forced returns to Nigeria

Thousands of refugees have been sent back against their will, from Cameroon to Nigeria’s conflict-ravaged north, the UN Refugee Agency said on Tuesday.

UNHCR‘s Babar Baloch told journalists in Geneva that more than 2,000 people have been returned since February to north-eastern Nigeria, where the threat from Boko Haram extremists remains:

“These forced returns are being carried out by the Cameroonian military and some of the reasons being cited is security; but those who become the target of these forced returns are refugees who are fleeing Boko Haram inside Nigeria.”

The returns, which are known as refoulement – are at odds with an agreement that Cameroon signed with Nigeria and UNHCR at the start of the month, in which it pledged to help only those refugees who wanted to go home.

In a statement the UN Refugee agency said it recognised Cameroon’s legitimate security concerns before calling for it to comply with international standards on the right to asylum and non-refoulement.

To date, the ongoing crisis in the Lake Chad region has displaced more than 2.7 million people; some 200,000 have so far sought shelter in the countries neighbouring Nigeria.

WHO opens new field hospital outside Mosul

A new field hospital has been opened outside the city of Mosul in Iraq to provide life-saving care to those wounded in the campaign to oust ISIL extremists.

The aim is to reduce the pressure on an existing facility near the city, which has treated more than 1,000 trauma patients since it opened in January.

The hospital is the result of a joint initiative involving the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, along with partner Aspen Medical.

Here’s WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic:

“We have equipped this hospital and provided essential life-saving medical supplies including trauma and surgical kits, anaesthetic, antibiotics, blood and all consumables needed to …our implementing partner, Aspen Medical, is deploying qualified and manage trauma cases…so this is the second one that we are opening today and it will fill this critical gap in ensuring patients receive the medical care they need without facing life-threatening delays.”

WHO – with help from the World Food Programme (WFP) – has also airlifted 15 ambulances to Iraq to provide additional frontline support.

Latest data indicates that more than 250,000 people have been displaced since the campaign began to retake the northern Iraqi city in October last year.

2017 set to be hot, but not as hot as last year

Weather forecasters are predicting that 2017 is likely to be one of the hottest – but probably not the hottest – year on record.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says that climate change is to blame for the expected warm temperatures – and not El Niño.

That weather phenomenon – which is linked to extreme conditions such as flash-floods in parts of the world and drought in others – is not expected to re-emerge this year, after a two-year run beginning in 2015.

WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis says that our warming planet has taken its toll on frozen ice floes:

“What we’ve seen this year is that the Arctic was hit by three successive –the equivalent of heatwaves, so rather than refreezing, there was actually a period of time when it was above the melting level.”

The forecast from the World Meteorological Organization comes after it released data showing that 2016 made history with a record global temperature and exceptionally low sea ice, along with an unabated rise in sea level and ocean heat.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’28″

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