United Nations top envoy Stephen O’Brien said residents of Aleppo are at risk of being completely wiped out if fighting in the city continues.
O’Brien’s plea to the Security Council comes a day after 26 civilians were killed while trying to flee the city. Approximately 20,000 residents have fled Aleppo over the past three days as government-led forces advance into rebel-held parts of the city.
“For the sake of humanity, we call on – we plead – with the parties and those with influence to do everything in their power to protect civilians and enable access to the besieged part of eastern Aleppo before it becomes one giant graveyard,” O’Brien said.
The UN has described the situation in Aleppo as the “biggest refugee and displacement crisis of our time”. Four hundred thousand Syrians have died since the conflict began in 2011.
Audio shows Colombian plane ran out of fuel
The plane carrying the Brazilian Chapecoense football team ran out of fuel before it crashed, according to the plane’s audio recordings. In the leaked audio, the pilot is heard frantically warning of a “total electric failure” and “lack of fuel” minutes before the plane crashed into the Medellin mountains.
Six of the 77 people passengers on board survived the crash. It has not yet been determined if the plane had a fuel leak or simply had not loaded enough fuel. An investigation into the cause of the crash is under way.
Saudi prince says women should be allowed to drive
A Saudi Arabian prince has condemned the ban on women driving and called for it to be lifted, saying women should be allowed to drive as a matter of economic necessity. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a longtime advocate for women’s rights, issued a statement on women’s restrictions in Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world where women are banned from driving.
“Preventing a woman from driving a car is today an issue of rights similar to the one that forbade her from receiving an education or having an independent identity,” Alwaleed said. The prince’s statement detailed the economic cost of women not driving, averaging that families spend $1000 a month on drivers, money that could be used elsewhere. Sahar Hassan Nasief, a women’s rights activist, told AFP news agency his comments have given women in Saudi Arabia “a lot of hope”.
North Korea’s prison camps
Satellite images show a prison camp in North Korea, believed to hold more than 120,000 people, is expanding. The American group Human Rights in North Korea released the satellite images of the camp on North Korea’s east coast. This follows an Amnesty International analysis of the camp that stated the government is “continuing to maintain, and even invest, in these repressive facilities”.
Though human rights groups have documented the camps through satellites and testimonies from camp survivors, the North Korean government has denied such camps exist. A 2014 UN report said hundreds of thousand of political prisoners have been killed at North Korean camps in the past 50 years. Escapees who have reached South Korea have documented human rights abuses such as torture, forced labour, starvation, and death.
Trials begin for HIV vaccine in South Africa
A study of the effectiveness of an HIV vaccine has begun in South Africa, where about seven million people are living with the virus. It will be the first major study of an HIV vaccine since a 2009 study in Thailand.
Scientists hope the vaccine will be the “final nail in the coffin” for eradicating HIV. A UN report says that since HIV was first identified in 1983, it has killed more than 30 million people. – Compiled from web sources by Alicia Camilleri
Screen grab from Al Jazeera English YouTube video.