World News in Brief: ICJ to release emergency measures over Israel genocide allegations, Libya flood repair bill, leprosy stigma continues

The International Court of Justice hears the case of South Africa v. Israel.
ICJ-CIJ/ Frank van Beek
The International Court of Justice hears the case of South Africa v. Israel.
  • UN News

Since 7 October when Israel launched its military campaign to destroy Hamas in response to the militant group’s terror attacks in southern Israel that left some 1,200 dead and more than 250 taken hostage, Gaza health authorities have reported at least 25,700 killed and some 63,740 injured.

In its case, which began earlier this month in the Hague, South Africa asked the Court – a principal organ of the UN – to indicate provisional measures in order to “protect against further severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people under the Genocide Convention”.

Call for immediate end to fighting

Among the measures South Africa has asked for are the immediate suspension of military operations by Israel in the Strip, and that its forces take “all reasonable measures” to prevent genocide.

South Africa also asked the world court to order Israel to prevent forced displacement, allow adequate food and water to reach civilians and ensure that evidence of any potential genocide is preserved.

Provisional measures are a type of temporary injunction or holding measure ahead of a final decision on the dispute. It is likely to take years before a judgement is reached.

The measures are considered mandatory for implementation, but the Court has no means of enforcing them.

Israel argued in presenting its case that the war on Hamas was one purely of defence and “not against the Palestinian people”.

Lawyers for Israel said that provisional measures, if granted, would amount to “an attempt to deny Israel its ability to meet its obligations to the defence of its citizens, to the hostages and to over 110,000 displaced Israelis”.

$1.8 billion needed to restore Libyan communities after catastrophic flooding

To Libya, where the repair bill for catastrophic flooding last September that affected some 1.5 million people has been estimated at $1.8 billion, according to the UN team there.

More than 4,300 people died and thousands more were reported missing after Storm Daniel made landfall in Libya, bringing strong winds and sudden heavy rainfall that caused dams to burst and destroying thousands of buildings.

Building more resilient homes and public infrastructure is a critically important part of the post-disaster recovery process, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) insisted, in a joint report with the World Bank and the European Union.

Georgette Gagnon, the top UN official in the country, said that “time is of the essence for affected people” in the east, notably the coastal city of Derna, which satellite imagery showed had been all but washed out to sea by the disaster.

Ms. Gagnon noted that the report offered “a clear path forward” for reconstruction, including the creation of a coordinated national platform.

“Let’s channel our collective resources and expertise towards rebuilding, prioritizing the people, their livelihoods and wellbeing,” she said.

Stigma and shame still surround leprosy victims, warn top rights experts

Although leprosy is age-old and can be cured, the disease is still endemic in more than 120 countries, leaving an estimated one to two million people visibly disfigured and lacking support to cope with the stigma they face.

That’s the urgent message from top UN-appointed human rights experts on Thursday who said that some 200,000 new cases of leprosy are registered each year worldwide.

A trader affected by leprosy waits for customers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
ILO/Fiorente A.
A trader affected by leprosy waits for customers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

People suffering from leprosy, which is also known as Hansen’s disease, have a right to high-quality support and health care, the rights experts maintained, urging governments and international organizations to make sure their policies and procedures reflect this fundamental requirement.


In a statement endorsed by the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Women, the rights experts noted that leprosy patients and their families continue to be segregated in “ex-colonies”, kept away from public spaces and interaction with other people.

Ahead of World Leprosy Day on 28 January, the rights experts – who are known as Special Rapporteurs – stressed that affected persons had a right to early detection and treatment as well as rehabilitation and active support.

Children, the elderly and women are particularly affected by leprosy and judgmental attitudes and policies towards the disease, along with minorities and indigenous peoples, the rights experts said.

Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Human Rights Council. They do not receive a salary for their work and serve in their individual capacity.

© UN News (2024) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: UN News