UN refugee agency appeals for protection against sexual abuse of women and

“Refugee and migrant children moving in Europe are at heightened risk of violence and abuse, including sexual violence, especially in overcrowded reception sites, or in many locations where refugees and migrants gather, such as parks, train stations, bus stations and roadsides,” said Spokesperson Melissa Fleming for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).“Unaccompanied children can be particularly vulnerable as they lack the protection and care of an adult,” Ms. Fleming told the regular Friday press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.According to UNHCR, more than 644,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year, and of these, some 34 percent are women and children.“In addition to the reported risks and abuse they face during the journey before arriving on Europe’s shores, women and children are also confronted with numerous risks in their onward movement through Europe,” the spokesperson said.“From testimony and reports we have received there have been instances of children engaging in survival sex to pay smugglers to continue their journey, either because they have run out money, or because they have been robbed,” she said.“UNHCR appeals to all concerned national authorities in Europe to take measures to ensure the protection of women and girls, including through providing adequate and safe reception facilities,” Ms. Fleming said. On behalf of the refugee agency, she asked authorities, “as a matter of urgency,” to find alternatives to the detention of children. “Together with partners we are also working with authorities to ensure access to information, to enhance the identification of persons with specific needs, including unaccompanied children, and their referral to appropriate services, to provide psychosocial support and to enhance reception areas, including through the provision of safe spaces,” the agency official said. read more

Bus carrying U of Washington band rolls onto side on highway

GEORGE, Wash. — The Washington State Patrol says one of three charter buses carrying members of the University of Washington marching band to a football showdown at Washington State University rolled onto its side Thursday on Interstate 90, the Seattle Times reports.Trooper John Bryant tells that Times that no serious injuries had been reported from the accident that was reported at 5:26 p.m. Bryant says troopers, paramedics and deputies from the Grant County Sheriff’s Office responded to the accident.Bryant says the accident took place on eastbound I-90 at mile post 146, about 3 miles west of George.The trooper told the Times that road conditions were extremely slippery and icy in spots.The charter buses were headed to the Apple Cup in Pullman.The trooper says school officials were attempting to load students and equipment from the crashed bus onto the two other charter buses travelling together to continue the trip to Pullman.The Associated Press read more