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Hello, this is Kasmira. Last year, the International Labour Organization finally ran out of patience with Belarus after adopting a resolution challenging its disregard over workers' rights and the arrest of dozens of trade unionists. At its annual labour conference this morning, members will hear what the country has to say.

In other news, a debate over proposed WHO recognition of the Centre for Reproductive Rights kicks up a storm. And a report by the UN Refugee Agency warns of the dangers migrants and refugees face through perilous journeys to get to Europe.

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Kasmira Jefford


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Law enforcement officers patrol the street in Minsk, on March 25, 2021. (Keystone/AFP/Stringer)

ILO to probe Belarus over worker’s rights amid relentless crackdown on dissent. The International Labour Organization (ILO) will take Belarus to task today over continuing violations of workers’ rights, including the imprisonment of dozens of trade unionists, in the latest intensification of a years-long crackdown on dissent in the country.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Straight from the Palais

Bringing you the latest from UN press briefings in Geneva.

🧳FROM AFRICA TO EUROPE. A new report by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, warns of the dangers migrants and refugees face through perilous journeys to get to Europe, often due to a dearth of basic services such as shelter and access to justice.

“As long as those gaps continue, people will continue to transit in all directions,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR special envoy for the Central Mediterranean Situation.

Backdrop. The report was issued days before Europeans head to the polls to pick a new parliament in elections where the far-right is poised to make significant gains and push for stricter border control.

Eyes on you. Europe has tried to stave off the migration wave coming through the Mediterranean by striking controversial deals with governments like Libya and Tunisia, accused of grave violations. While acknowledging the EU’s legitimate desire to secure its borders, Cochetel said those accords should come with conditions to at least improve the reception of migrants and refugees.

The envoy warned that Europe’s treatment of migrants “is watched” by others and it should care to act as a role model if it wanted countries in the south to continue with their generous refugee-hosting traditions.

💸DEBT BALLOON. Global public debt soared to $97 trillion in 2023, nearly doubling since 2010, according to new figures by UN Trade and Development, Unctad. Developing countries bear the brunt, with the debt growing twice as fast as developed economies. Some 49 countries spend more on interest rates than on health or education.

New rules in store. The findings come as countries negotiate a Pact of the Future to adopt in September, where states would commit to reform the global financial architecture, including by making it easier to restructure debt and shielding countries from economic shocks. A spokesperson for Unctad said addressing this issue was a matter of “political will” from all parties involved, including debtors themselves.

– By Michelle Langrand

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