U.S. Isolated at U.N. Over Its Concerns About Abortion, Refugees


The United States found itself isolated in the 193-member United Nations General Assembly on Monday over Washington’s concerns about the promotion of abortion and a voluntary plan to address the global refugee crisis.

Only Hungary backed the United States and voted against an annual resolution on the work of the U.N. refugee agency, while 181 countries voted in favor and three abstained. The resolution has generally been approved by consensus for more than 60 years.

However, this year the resolution included approval of a compact on refugees, which was produced by U.N. refugee chief Filippo Grandi after it was requested by the General Assembly in 2016. The resolution calls on countries to implement the plan.

The United States was the only country to oppose the draft resolution last month when it was first negotiated and agreed by the General Assembly human rights committee. It said elements of the text ran counter to its sovereign interests, citing the global approach to refugees and migrants.

General Assembly resolutions are non-binding but can carry political weight. U.S. President Donald Trump used his annual address to world leaders at the United Nations in September to tout protection of U.S. sovereignty.

The United States also failed in a campaign, which started last month during negotiations on several draft resolutions in the General Assembly human rights committee, against references to “sexual and reproductive health” and “sexual and reproductive health-care services.”

It has said the language has “accumulated connotations that suggest the promotion of abortion or a right to abortion that are unacceptable to our administration.”

On Monday, Washington unsuccessfully tried to remove two paragraphs from a General Assembly resolution on preventing violence and sexual harassment of women and girls. It was the only country to vote against the language, while 131 countries voted to keep it in the resolution and 31 abstained.

The United States also failed in trying to remove similar language in another resolution on child, early and forced marriage on Monday, saying: “We do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our reproductive health assistance.”

Only Nauru backed Washington in voting against the language, while 134 countries voted to keep it in the resolution and 32 abstained.

When Trump came to power last year he reinstated the so-called Mexico City Policy that withholds U.S. funding for international organizations that perform abortions or provide information about abortion.

Advertisements

Health scare in Denmark as refugees bring back diphtheria after 20yr absence


© Michael Dalder
Danish authorities have warned hospitals over possible outbreak of infectious diseases as several cases of diphtheria, tuberculosis and malaria carried by the refugees have already been registered.

“The infection can be very dangerous if one isn’t vaccinated against it. The dangerous type is very rare and we last saw it in Denmark in 1998,” Kurt Fuursted, spokesperson for the Danish State Serum Institute (SSI) told Metroxpress referring to the potential return of diphtheria. This disease was last diagnosed in Denmark about 20 years ago.

© Kacper Pempel

“There is no doubt that infectious diseases are coming in with the refugees that we aren’t used to. There have been discussions on whether all refugees who come to Denmark should be screened,” he added.

At present Denmark doesn’t follow the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation to vaccinate incoming migrants, unlike some other European countries.

“Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants should be vaccinated without unnecessary delay according to the immunization schedule of the country in which they intend to stay for more than a week,” reads a joint WHO-UNHCR-UNICEF guidance on general principles of vaccination of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in Europe, published on November 23 last year. It urges countries to provide migrants access to the “full vaccination schedule.”

The immigration officials and the Danish Health and Medicines Authority, a supreme healthcare authority in Denmark, are expected to review screening policy, according to Health Minister Sophie Lunde.

In recent months, Denmark has begun to tighten the screws in an effort to curb the refugee influx. On Thursday the Danish Parliament is set to vote on a bill proposing to strip refugees of valuables, including cash and jewelry, to cover the costs the country bears in connection with their stay. It would allow authorities to claim individual items valued at more than 10,000 kroner (US$1,450).

In the Danish cities of Thisted, Sonderborg and Haderslev, local club owners have started to introduce ‘language controls’, turning people away if they don’t speak Danish, English or German.

In 2015, some 18,000 refugees sought asylum in Denmark according to the migration agency, a far cry from almost 163,000 refugees in the neighboring Sweden.