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MERS outbreak in Republic of Korea is ‘wake-up call’ for highly mobile world – WHO health agency says

INTERNATIONAL – The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today declared the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, outbreak that spread from the Middle East to the Republic of Korea does not constitute a ‘public health emergency of international concern’ but is nonetheless a “wake-up call” for all countries to be prepared for the unanticipated spread of serious infectious diseases.

TheEmergency Committee, convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations regardingMiddle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus(MERS-CoV) in regards to the outbreak in the Republic of Korea alsorecommendedagainst the application of any travel or trade restrictions and considers screening at points of entry to be unnecessary at this time.

WHO did recommend “raising awareness about MERS and its symptoms among those travelling to and from affected areas” as “good public health practice.”

At a press conference in Geneva following the meeting of the Emergency Committee, WHO Assistant Director-General, Dr. Keiji Fukuda, who took part in a joint WHO/Republic of Korea joint mission to look into the MERS outbreak described the current situation as “the largest outbreak that has occurred outside of the Middle East,” and as of today, there have been 162 cases of infections in the country, where 19 deaths have been officially reported.

Dr. Fukuda also said more than 6,500 people in the Republic of Korea are being monitored, and to date, 10,000 people have been monitored, which, he noted, are “quite high numbers” that had raised anxiety levels internationally.

He provided a briefing on the “major pieces of information” the Committee heard such as about the virus itself, current risk factors and status of transmissions.

“On the bases of this information and extensive discussion, the Emergency Committee unanimously agreed that the current situation was of concern but that it did not constitute a public health emergency of international concern,” Dr. Fukuda said. “This was transmitted to the Director General [Dr. Margaret Chan] and she has agreed with their guidance.”

The Committee, however, “expressed its assessment that this outbreak is a wakeup call and that in a highly mobile world, all countries should always be prepared for the unanticipated possibility of outbreaks of this, and other serious infectious diseases.”

The Committee noted that there are still many gaps in knowledge regarding the transmission of this virus between people, including the potential role of environmental contamination, poor ventilation and other factors, and indicated that continued research in these areas was critical.

According to WHO, MERS is a viral respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus (MERS-CoV) that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Typical MERS symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is common, but not always present. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported.

Approximately 36 per cent of reported patients with MERS have died. Globally, since September 2012, WHO has been notified of 1,321 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including at least 466 related deaths.


Palestinian refugee crisis a ‘time bomb’ for Middle East region, as warning is issued

INTERNATIONAL – The stark conditions afflicting millions of displaced Palestinians across the Middle East risk destabilizing the region and plunging it into a deeper humanitarian and security crisis, the head of the United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees has warned.

“The isolation, exclusion and dispossession of Palestine refugees in Syria, Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan and Lebanon represent a time-bomb for the Middle East region,” Pierre Krähenbühl, the Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), told a meeting of the agency's Advisory Commission of major donors and host governments, held yesterday in Amman, Jordan.

Amid an explosive conflict in Syria and ongoing tensions across Gaza and the West Bank, Mr. Krähenbühl told delegates in attendance that more than five million Palestinian refugees currently face “an existential crisis on many fronts,” ultimately resulting in “a denial of dignity and rights that must be addressed.”

The situation afflicting the Palestinians across the Middle East region is, in fact, quite dramatic, according to the latest UN data. Gaza today is home to the highest unemployment levels in the world, with more than 60 per cent of young people not working.

Meanwhile, some 60,000 Palestine refugees from Syria have fled to Lebanon and Jordan, putting pressure on host communities. From Syria's Yarmouk refugee settlement to the West Bank, the lives of Palestine refugees are constrained, with poverty and deprivation overflowing in overcrowded camps and the needs of the communities continuing to grow resources.

At the same time, a recent UNRWA situation report from mid-May warned that the vulnerability of civilians in Yarmouk remains of the highest severity. The UN agency has repeatedly voiced its deep concern that without access, the most basic humanitarian needs of up to 18,000 Palestinian and Syrian civilians, including 3,500 children, continue to be left unmet.

“Being a Palestine refugee in Gaza means being a victim of a blockade that affects every aspect of one's life and being dependent on food aid while being educated and wishing to be self-sufficient. Being a Palestine refugee in Aida camp near Bethlehem means living under the fear of daily incursions and detentions, as well as the anguish of denied access to opportunities. Being a Palestine refugee in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus means being a resident trapped by a merciless siege and bombardments and violence, deprived of regular access to water, food, electricity and basic health,” Mr. Krähenbühl declared.

Adding to the UNRWA head's list of concerns was the dire situation facing the agency's emergency funding which, for the Syria appeal, currently stands at only 27 per cent met. The Gaza reconstruction appeal is similarly underfunded with only $216 million in pledges received out of a total $720 million needed.

“Currently, UNRWA confronts a funding shortfall for core activities -- such as schools for half a million children -- to cover the year 2015 of $101 million,” he continued. “UNRWA at present could pay salaries and cover activities only into September.”

Mr. Krähenbühl explained that his agency would organize a special consultation with host governments within the next ten days to exchange further views on the critical situation facing UNRWA's efforts and the conditions of Palestinian refugees.


In Geneva, UN rights chief calls for ‘urgent measures’ in promoting girls’ education

INTERNATIONAL – Although the empowerment of women has been among the most significant achievements of the past century, the international community must “push further” in its struggle to ensure the right to education for all girls, the top UN human rights official declared today.

“Investing in girls’ education is not only the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said as headdressed a panel discussion on realizing the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl held at the UN Office at Geneva, Switzerland.

“As education expands girls’ horizons, opens up better earning opportunities, and improves women’s position in the family and society, it brings strong benefits to the entire community,” Mr. Zeid continued, noting that the benefits included “greater social stability, better health outcomes across generations, and a surge of economic growth.”

He explained that, according to a recent UN-backedStatistics on Womenstudy of 174 Member States, the best predictor of a country’s so-called “peacefulness” is not its wealth or political structure but the well-being and education of women and girls. This finding, coupled with the considerable progress made towards achieving the third Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on gender equality marked “a tremendous force for social change,” according to Mr. Zeid.

At the same time, he warned, almost one-third of countries today continue to lag in achieving gender parity in primary education while less than half see as many girls as boys in lower-secondary grades.

“In several countries, education is far from being a zone of gender-sensitivity and safety; a shocking number of girls face sexual violence and harassment inside schools, and on their way to schools,” added the High Commissioner. “One-third of girls in developing countries are married before they’re 18, and millions give birth while they are still in their teens; most of these young women are prevented from continuing their education.”

Gender parity in education is also under threat from the growing spread of extremists who seek to extinguish any attempt at changing their obscurantist views. A recent paper issued by the UN human rights office (OHCHR) covering the years spanning 2009 to 2014 reported thousands of attacks against schools in at least 70 different countries, many of which were targeted for advocating girls’ education.

The violence, Mr. Zeid said, ultimately stemmed from a fear of the power of girls’ education “to spark and sustain social, cultural, economic and political change.”

“Every State should take urgent measures to ensure that all girls can effectively and safely access education of quality, including teaching about human rights,” concluded the High Commissioner. “With an education of this nature, in line with human rights standards, future generations will be equipped to build and maintain societies based on equality and justice for all.”


Greek islands under ‘tremendous strain’ as hundreds of refugees arrive daily – UN

INTERNATIONAL – More than 55,000 refugees have arrived in the Greek islands so far this year, with hundreds arriving every day in inflatable dinghies and wooden boats, putting a “tremendous strain” on the communities that receive them and worsening conditions for the new arrivals, the United Nations refugee agency said today.

“The number of arrivals is expected to increase further during the summer, when weather conditions make the sea crossing from the Turkish mainland less hazardous,” William Spindler, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told a press briefing in Geneva.

“UNHCR is ready to continue working with the Greek authorities and civil society in order to address some of these challenges, but greater support from European Union Member states and institutions is urgently needed to avoid a humanitarian crisis,” Mr. Spindler said.

The spokesperson said initial reception conditions for refugees arriving in Greece's North Aegean and Dodecanese islands are worsening, despite the considerable efforts of local authorities and civil society.

Accordingto UNHCR, since the beginning of this year, more than 55,000 refugees have arrived in Greece by sea from Turkey. More than 90 per cent are from countries experiencing war and conflict, principally Syria, with over 60 per cent of arrivals this year followed by Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.

The main islands receiving them are Lesvos (some 21,600 arrivals), Chios (9,400), Kos (8,900), Leros (3,900) and Samos (3,500), the agency said.

Police, coast guard and local authorities have allocated additional personnel and resources but the response continues to fall short of needs and private citizens, local volunteers and non-governmental groups have all been distributing food, water, shoes and clothes to the refugees, Mr. Spindler said.

But UNHCR is particularly concerned that refugees with specific needs, such as unaccompanied children, the elderly, pregnant women, people with disabilities and victims of torture, may not be receiving appropriate care, he said.

For example on Lesvos, where most of the arrivals are being reported, the refugee agency said hundreds of men, women and children landing on the island's northern coast are having to walk up to 70 kilometres to the island capital, Mytilini, to be identified and registered.


Yemen: UN reports uptick in civilian deaths as fighting in country continues

INTERNATIONAL – The civilian cost of the Yemen crisis continues to grow amid the country's ongoing hostilities, according to the latest figures released today by the United Nations human rights office (OHCHR).

In the period spanning 11 to 15 June, a total of 50 civilians, including 18 children and 11 women, were killed, bringing the total number of civilian deaths in the Gulf state to 1,412, with another 3,423 confirmed as injured, OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva earlier this morning. The UN recently reported that the total casualty figures of the country's conflict have surpassed 2,600.

The OHCHR spokesperson noted that another 14 civilians were reportedly killed as a result of violent clashes between local armed groups and military forces acting together against Al Houthi-affiliated Popular Committees in Lahij, Taiz, Dhale and Aden Governorates. Meanwhile, at least 36 civilians were reportedly killed as a consequence of airstrikes carried out by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Sana'a, Hudaydah, Dhamar and Sada'a.

Adding to the scale of destruction, Mr. Colville today also observed that at least 13 civilian public buildings had been impacted during the five-day reporting period, bringing the total to 141 civilian public buildings partially or completely destroyed as a result of the armed conflict.

Yemen's hostilities – which began in mid-March – have only deepened the country's already existent humanitarian crisis, plunging civilians even further into despair. Already the poorest nation in the Gulf region prior to the fighting, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) recently stressed that more than 15 million Yemenis do not have access to basic healthcare, with 53 health facilities closed and malnutrition increasing. Eighty per cent of the country's population is currently in need of critical humanitarian aid.

In addition, the country's extensive archaeological and historic heritage has been increasingly under threat following a surge in aerial bombing raids in the Old City of Sana'a, Yemen's capital.


South Sudanese refugee influx in Sudan ‘an emergency within an emergency’ – UN

INTERNATIONAL – The United Nations refugee agency reported today that some 14,000 South Sudanese – mainly women and children – have fled into Sudan over the weekend, describing the situation as “an emergency within an emergency.”

“The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has registered close to 160,000 refugees in Sudan since fighting broke out in South Sudan in December 2013,” stated UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric during the daily briefing to the press at UN Headquarters in New York.

A key priority for the humanitarian community, he added, is to prepare for the upcoming rainy season, which is due to start in the coming weeks and will further complicate operations.

“Rapid scaling up of water, sanitation and hygiene interventions is critical as rains will also heighten the risk of water-borne diseases such as dysentery and cholera.”

So far only 10 per cent of the $152 million requested to assist South Sudanese refugees in Sudan has been contributed.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in their country has deteriorated significantly over the past two months with the intensification of military operations in Upper Nile and Unity states, reminded the Spokesperson.

It is estimated that by July some 4.6 million people could be severely food insecure - the highest number since the beginning of the crisis.

The security situation in South Sudan has deteriorated steadily over the past year since political in-fighting between President Salva Kiir and his former Vice-President, Riek Machar, and their respective factions erupted in December 2013. The hostilities subsequently turned into a full-fledged conflict that has caused more than 110,000 civilians to seek safety on bases belonging to the UN Mission in country (UNMISS).


General Assembly elects former Danish Foreign Minister as President of 70th session

INTERNATIONAL – The United Nations General Assembly has elected by acclamation Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark as President of its upcoming 70th session.

Addressing delegates immediately after his election today at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Lykketoft, who has served both as Denmark’s Foreign and Finance Ministers, declared that his Presidency would be marked by a “commitment to action” towards building “a more fair and stable world” in line with the objectives set out by the UN Millennium Development Goals.

“What is now in front of Member States is the final stretch towards adopting a universal, people-centred, transformative development agenda that addresses the struggle of our lifetime,” he affirmed. “When implemented, it will enable us to eradicate poverty while keeping climate change at bay, building resilience, and creating inclusive and sustainable economic growth.”

Mr. Lykketoft, who will celebrate his 70th birthday this year just as the UN marks its 70th anniversary, took care to point out the three priorities that, he said, would define his mandate, including a commitment to action, a surge in UN efforts to cement international peace and security, and a clear effort to support further progress for human rights.

“My goal is to seek pragmatic and action-oriented outcomes that can provide guidance on how to proceed with timely and effective implementation for all actors – the UN system, Member States, civil society, and private sector,” he continued, adding that his intention was to conduct the Presidency in “a transparent, inclusive and open manner.”

The President-elect further noted that he would take into consideration many Member States’ continuing interest in Security Council reform, particularly ahead of the selection process for the next Secretary-General.

Nonetheless, he stated, the focus must remain on rebooting the UN’s unique form of multilateralism which, in turn, fosters trust and hope in global solutions.

“Today’s decision-makers must acknowledge that 2015 is the time to make a new commitment to action for the sake of generations to come,” Mr. Lykketoft stated. “We will have to find ways to achieve sustainable growth, where the distance between rich and poor nations and peoples does not become larger but smaller. Where we not only create development and eradicate extreme poverty but also deliver a more equitable access to and distribution of global goods.”

Congratulating Mr. Lykketoft on his new role,Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-mooncelebratedthe former Danish politician for his “outstanding commitment” to development and his “great understanding of the major challenges of our times.”

Such aptitude, he noted, will prove to be critical as the UN and international community are propelled towards a series of target dates for the Millennium Development Goals, sustainable development initiatives and for the fight against climate change.

“This election is an annual event on the United Nations calendar – but this year offers an extraordinary opportunity to shape history,” Mr. Ban continued. “We could not have a better leader in His Excellency Mr. Lykketoft.”

The Secretary-General added that he counted on the new General Assembly President to celebrate the upcoming UN milestones – including the Organization’s 70th anniversary – with “an even stronger commitment” to multilateralism, international cooperation and global solidarity.

“Together,” he concluded, “we can act so the United Nations lives up to its historic ambitions for this year and helps secure the long-term future of our world.”

In his remarks, Sam Kutesa, current General Assembly President, said the world body’s 70th anniversary session will be historic, as member States are expected to adopt an ambitious and transformative post-2015 development agenda, as well as work towards a universal climate change agreement in December, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“With these important milestones approaching, we still have important preparatory work during this 69th session,” he said, noting in particular, the negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda and the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, to be held next month in Addis Ababa, have reached a critical stage. “We have to redouble our efforts in order to ensure successful outcomes,” he said.

Mr. Lykketoft will kick-off his Presidency in September at the commencement of the 70th General Assembly session.

Made up of all the 193 Member States of the United Nations, the General Assembly provides a forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the UN Charter. It meets in regular session intensively from September to December each year, and thereafter as required.


Welcoming progress on human rights, UN official urges action to bolster protections and end abuses

INTERNATIONAL – While 70 years of work by the United Nations has helped build a formidable system of rights protections, the nagging persistence of “everything else” – wars and ongoing deprivation – is deeply worrying, the top UN human rights official declared today, urging renewed action to promote economic and social rights for all and tackle pervasive discrimination and repression.

“Simply put, too many of us live among brutal conflicts, and are threatened by greed, ambition and contempt for human life,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stressed in hisopening remarksto the 29thsessionof the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

Decrying “unmistakeable signs of growing abandonment, of a headlong retreat, by too many States,” Mr. Zeid said too many people are still being denied their economic and social rights, and the result is suffering on a colossal scale. “Discrimination so severe and pervasive still, that it deprives too many people of the means of existence. Repression that stifles the human voice, and breaks the spirit, is also still too evident.”

Outlining the need to always be sensitive and act sensitively wherever rights have been violated, M. Al Hussein reminded that, in recent weeks, “there has been much criticism of the UN made by a number of observers, and specifically of my Office and its leadership, in respect of how we handled allegations of appalling child abuse in the Central African Republic (CAR) last year.”

The conduct which drew the criticisms deserves judgement, he added, expressing support for the Secretary-General’s decision to establish an external review. “I will accept the result, and abide by its findings, of course, whether they relate to my Office or my own conduct in this matter,” he stated.

On June 3rd, the Secretary-General hadannouncedhis intention to establish an independent panel to investigate the United Nations’ handling of sexual abuse allegations involving foreign troops in the CAR.

Reminding to Member States that they must show leadership too, the UN High Commissioner rejected the idea that, “in this chamber,” he should not “name and shame,” asserting that “the greatest factory of shame is the blanket denial of human rights.”

Saying that the conflict in Syria is the “most mind-numbing humanitarian crisis of our era”, and “a defining test of what we so often term the international community,” Mr. Zeid equally condemned “more than four years of a sustained campaign of terror directed by the Government against its own people, and the rise of non-State actors capable of the most appalling horror.”

“It has forced the largest movement of people since the Second World War, with well over 7 million people displaced within the country and 4 million fleeing it,” he underscored, expressing his growing concern towards the situation of migrants, many coming from Syria.

Hoping that the consultations between the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, with Syrian, regional and international actors, will “pave the way for peace,” he stressed that any agreement should be focused on the human rights of all the Syrian people, and the need to repair the fissures between ethnic and religious communities.

In addition to the situation in neighbouring Iraq, where the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continues to perpetrate the most “despicable abuses,” Zeid talked about Libya, where armed groups continue to engage in violent clashes using heavy weaponry, and indiscriminate shelling of residential neighbourhoods.

In his wide-ranging address, the High Commissioner also noted the human rights situations in a number of countries, including, among others, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, Mali, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Burundi, Russia, South Sudan, and Venezuela, as well as the persecution of the Rohingya community in Myanmar and the impact of Boko Haram activities in Northeast Nigeria and neighbouring countries bordering Lake Chad. He also expressed concern about the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Considering that the current context recalls the world’s situation at the turn of the 20th century, the UN rights Chief said 2015 is a year of “vast opportunity for development,” with the pivotal Financing for Development Conference to be held in July in Addis Ababa and a summit on the post-2015 development agenda in September in New York.

“The integration of human rights in that agenda can become a turning point. Sustainable development is about freedom from fear and freedom from want for all,” he concluded.


Remittances from Europe topping $109 billion provide lifeline to millions worldwide, says UN agency

INTERNATIONAL – According to a report released today by the Rome-based United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), migrant workers living in Europe last year provided a lifeline to more than 150 million people around the world by sending home $109.4 billion in remittances.

A key finding of the report on remittances from migrants based in Europe,Sending Money Home: European flows and markets, flags that benefits for families back home could be significantly higher if they had access to more competitive money transfer markets and targeted financial services to help save and/or invest their funds.

IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanzeunderscored: “We need to make sure that this hard-earned money is sent home cheaply, but more importantly that it helps families build a better future for themselves – particularly in the poorest rural communities where it counts the most.”

On the sending end, Western Europe and Russia accounted for 75 per cent of the flows. In 2014, the six top-ranked sending countries were the Russia ($20.6 billion); the United Kingdom ($17.1 billion); Germany ($14 billion); France ($10.5 billion); Italy ($10.4 billion); and Spain ($9.6 billion).

Despite these numbers, the report notes that remittances amounted to less than 0.7 per cent of individual country (gross domestic product) GDP – representing an insignificant outflow of wealth from the host countries.

On the receiving side, in 2014, about one third, or $36.5 billion, of European remittances went to 19 countries in the Balkans, the Baltics and Eastern Europe, including 10 European Union member States. The remaining two thirds, or $72.9 billion, went to some 50 developing countries outside of the continent.

Of the 19 European remittance-receiving countries, the report showed that nine agriculture-based economy States relied heavily on Europe flows – highlighting a GDP representation of 22 per cent in Moldova and 17 per cent in Kosovo. Beyond Europe, Northern Africa and Central Asia were the regions most reliant on European flows, largely from France and Russia, respectively.

As unprecedented numbers of refugees fleeing conflict enter Europe, the report also notes that the continent was a source of considerable remittances to fragile States – including Iraq, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – with the potential to help stabilize and rebuild, if better leveraged.

While the majority of remittances are used for basic goods, such as food, clothing, shelter, medicine and education, studies indicate that up to 20 per cent could be available for savings, investments or to repay loans for small businesses.

With 40 per cent going to rural areas – estimated to equal at least three times official development assistance to developing countries – the report suggests that remittances play a critical role in transforming vulnerable communities.

Mr. Nwanze emphasized that the immense potential of remittances for development is still largely underutilized but it is within our capacity to make every hard-earned euro, ruble, pound, krona, or Swiss franc sent home count even more.

If migrant workers and receiving families in rural areas had more options to utilize their funds, such as improved access to basic financial services – like savings and credit – and non-financial – including technical assistance for business development or financial education programmes – IFAD estimated that of the $80 billion globally that could be available for investment, about $34 billion could be for rural areas.

“Remittances offer a unique opportunity to bring millions into the formal financial sector,” said Pedro De Vasconcelos, co-author of the report and Coordinator of the Financing Facility for Remittances at IFAD. “Given the frequent interaction between remittance senders, receivers and the financial system, remittances could spark a long-term and life-changing relationship.”

While significant progress has been made over the last few years to lower transfer costs, Mr. De Vasconcelos added that more could be done through increased competition. By reducing transfer costs to 5 per cent, as per the G20 objective set in 2009, an additional $2.5 billion would be saved for migrant workers and their families back home.

The report will be presented in Milan from 16 to 19 June at the fifth Global Forum on Remittances and Development, where Heads of State, policymakers, private sector stakeholders and civil society leaders aim to map out the road ahead for enhanced remittances.

The Forum will open with the first observance of the International Day of Family Remittances.


On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, spotlight on once-taboo topic of elder abuse

INTERNATIONAL - The distressing crime of elder abuse often occurs in quiet, private settings, United NationsSecretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon said today on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, as he reminded people around the world of the importance of making “a vocal, public response” to support the rights of older persons to a life free of violence and abuse.

“It is a disturbing and tragic fact in our world that members of the older generations are too often neglected and abused,” the UN chief said in a message. “This painful reality generally goes ignored by mainstream society.”

“At the same time,” Mr. Ban said, “the ageing of the world's population has added urgency to promoting and defending the rights of older persons, who are expected to make up more than 20 per cent of the global population by 2050.”

In terms of numbers, that translates into the population of people aged 60 years and older more than doubling from 542 million in 1995 to about 1.2 billion in 2025, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Resolved to shed light on this injustice, the UN General Assembly designated 15 June as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The annual commemoration has helped to generate an emerging global discussion of a once-taboo issue as people come together to support the rights of older persons to a life free of violence and abuse.

Events marking the world day are scheduled around the world, including a commemoration in Geneva, Switzerland titled:“Falling between the Cracks: Abuse and violence against Older Women Marking World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.”

Mr. Ban said that for many, elder abuse “conjures an image of a heartless caregiver who is not well-known to the victim. While this deplorable problem does persist, more often it is family members who perpetrate the violations, which include neglect as well as psychological, financial and physical abuse.”

“Research shows that age, gender and dependency raise the risks of abuses, with women suffering the heaviest toll,” he added.

“The distressing crime of elder abuse often occurs in quiet, private settings, making a vocal, public response that much more important,” the Secretary-General concluded. “Let us strengthen our resolve to end this problem as part of our broader efforts to create a life of dignity for all.”

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