Saint Petersburg (Russia), Jun 7 (CanadianMedia/UN): In a world where international relations have become "more chaotic," world leaders must avoid a new Cold War, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told delegates attending the International Economic Forum, in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg on Thursday, UN reports said.
Responding to questions in front of a live audience, Mr. Guterres called on leaders everywhere to show wisdom, and create the conditions in which the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development (the UN’s initiative to end poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change) can be achieved.
The UN chief said that he refuses to see international relations as simply a confrontation between the United States and China, and stated his preference for a multi-polar world: “What we need is the United States, China, the Russian Federation, India, the European Union and several other key partners to address their problems in a multilateral way.”
The UN chief reminded his audience that Europe consisted of several rival powers at the beginning of the Twentieth Century but, with an absence of multilateral organizations, or effective platforms to resolve disputes peaceably, the result was the First World War.
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the opening session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2019 (SPIEF) (6 June 2019)/ Credit of UN Russia/Yury Kochkin
Major powers, he said, need to play a relevant role, in a multipolar world with “multilateral forms of governance and international relations based on international law.”
A Secretary-General must be ‘an honest broker
’The UN chief’s appearance on stage ended with a question about his plans to remain in the post for a second term. Mr. Guterres responded by saying that, because the Secretary-General must be an “honest broker,” they office holder should never act in a way that could be seen as currying favour in order to secure a fresh mandate.
“My position has always been - in my life, in all things - the same,” said Mr. Guterres. “When I am here, I do my best as the Secretary-General of the United Nations. I do not think about what the future will bring. The day I will start thinking about the future I will start undermining my action today.”
#UnitedNations; #Houthiforces; #humanitarianaid; #UNMHA; #UNVIM
United Nations, May 14 (Canadian-Media/UN): The United Nations (UN) team set up to monitor the ceasefire agreement between warring parties in Yemen has formally verified the pullout of armed Ansar Allah, or Houthi forces, from port zones in the country that are crucial to the flow of humanitarian aid, describing cooperation they have received so far as “very good,” UN reports said.
Image Credit: UNMHA: The Chairman of the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC), Lieutenant General Michael Lollesgaard, visits the ports of Hudaydah, Salif and Ras Issa to verify the redeployment of Ansar Allah (Houthi) forces.
The Chair of the UN support mission (UNMHA), Lieutenant General Michael Lollesgaard, released a statement on Tuesday, confirming that the redeployment of forces from Hudaydah, Salif and Ras Issa ports, part of the deal struck between Houthi leaders and the Yemeni Government, went ahead as agreed, albeit with some exceptions: security of the ports was handed over to the coast guard, but, he said, “a lot of work needs to be done” to remove military hardware.
The Lt. Gen. reiterated that the actions of the Houthis forces are the first moves in the broader redeployments in Hudaydah, part of the UN-backed Agreement that both parties signed up to in December 2018.
The next steps in the UN’s implementation of the Hudaydah Agreement are expected to include a strengthened UN presence to support the management of Hudaydah, Salif and Ras Issa, and to strengthen UNVIM, the UN body responsible for monitoring ships attempting to dock in the ports.
Full implementation of the agreement is critical for returning peace and stability to Yemen, said Lt. Gen. Lollesgaard, and “ensuring effective humanitarian access into the country where millions continue to be in need of life-saving assistance.”
On Tuesday, Martin Griffiths, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, met the warring parties in the Jordanian capital of Amman, to begin discussing the implementation of the economic provisions of the Hudaydah Agreement.
Issues to be discussed included the management of revenues from the ports of Hudaydah, Ras Issa and Salif, and their use for the payment of public sector salaries throughout the country.
‘Hateful attacks’ pushing Sri Lanka backwards, UN advisers warn, urging an end to ‘discriminatory practices’ that feed intolerance
United Nations, May 14 (Canadian-Media/UN): Growing instances of religious-based violence in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka have prompted two United Nations (UN) Special Advisers to call for an end to “hateful attacks” directed towards the country’s Muslim minority, UN reports said.
Image Credit: UNICEF/UNI28581/Ron Haviv: During Sri Lanka's civil conflict, displaced Muslims take shelter in the ruins of Rasool Puthuveli Mosque in Mannar District, Northern Province. (File from 2007)
In retaliation for the deadly violence on Easter Sunday, against Christians churches and upscale hotels in various parts of the country that left more than 200 people dead and hundreds of others injured, revenge attacks reportedly took place against mosques and Muslims’ homes on Monday.
“It is in the interest of all ethnic and religious groups in Sri Lanka, as well as the Government, the opposition, civil society and the security sector, to work collaboratively in taking appropriate action and immediately stop these hateful attacks”, said Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, and Karen Smith, UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, in a joint statement. Since the 21 April suicide bombings, there has been a spate of attacks against Muslim and Christian communities in the Buddhist-majority country.
According to news reports, Sri Lanka declared a countrywide curfew on Tuesday after a man was killed by a sword-wielding mob on Monday in an escalating anti-Muslim backlash .
Recalling their recent statements against violent extremism and hate speech, the UN Advisors acknowledged and welcomed the swift response of the Government, including by deploying the security forces to protect affected communities and addressing the spread of false information and incitement to violence.
They also encouraged the Government to fully investigate these and other similar attacks and bring to justice those responsible for instigating or committing these violent acts.
“The country is trying to move forward from a traumatic period of inter-ethnic armed conflict, but these attacks are pushing Sri Lanka backwards”, the two Special Advisers warned. “If not adequately dealt with, the recent violence has the potential to escalate even further”.
Mr. Dieng and Ms. Smith urged the Government to show that it “will not tolerate the spread of prejudice and hate among groups within its population” at both the national and local levels, “by putting an end to local discriminatory practices that perpetuate religious intolerance and violence”.
They both offered their support to work with the Government on inter-faith, inter-religious harmony and inclusivity.
“Sri Lanka has a pluralistic society” they asserted. “To be a Sri Lankan is to be a Buddhist, to be Hindu, to be a Muslim, to be a Christian”.
Each of these communities are entitled to their identity and to practice their religion in peace and security, as recognized by the country’s Constitution.
“We call on all Sri Lankans to respect one another”, concluded the Special Advisers.
UN Special and Personal Representatives, Envoys and Advisers are appointed by the UN Secretary-General.
#UnitedNations; #JacindaArdern; #fighthatespeech, #protectionofholysites
United Nations, May 13 (Canadian-Media/UN): Speaking to media in the New Zealand capital Auckland on Sunday, alongside New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his solidarity with the victims and families of the March Christchurch mosque attacks, which killed 51 people, and praised Ms. Ardern’s leadership in the aftermath of the killings, UN reports said.
Mr. Guterres pointed out that he normally pays a “solidarity visit” to a Muslim country during Ramadan but, this year, he decided to visit the Muslim community in Christchurch, “to pay tribute to their courage, to their resilience, but also to pay tribute to the extraordinary unity and to the message of solidarity that was given by the people and the government of New Zealand.”
The UN chief also expressed his admiration for Ms. Ardern’s rapid and decisive response to the mass shootings, which saw the Government immediately take measures to significantly strengthen gun control legislation, and her call to prevent hate speech on social media and the Internet. Ms. Ardern’s appeals and leadership, he added, were extremely important in the context of the UN initiatives to fight hate speech, and to better support countries in the protection of holy sites.
#UnitedNations; #UNICEF; #ChildRightsViolations
United Nations, May 11 (Canadian-Media): The decision by a large armed group based in north-east Nigeria to release nearly 900 youngsters has been welcomed by United Nations (UN) Children’s Fund, UNICEF, which has warned that those freed will need long-term help if they are to lead a normal life in the future, UN reports said.
Image Credit: UNICEF: A total of 894 children, including 106 girls, have been released in Maiduguri, north-east Nigeria, from the ranks of the Civilian Joint Task Force, a local militia that helps the Nigerian security forces. (10 May 2019)
“Today, 894 children, including 106 girls, were released from the ranks of an armed group called (the) Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in Maiduguri, north-east Nigeria as part of this group’s commitment to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children,” said Spokesperson Christophe Boulierac.
According to the UN agency, the children of the troubled region “have borne the brunt of years of conflict”, linked to an insurgency led by armed extremist opposition groups.
Youngsters ‘witnessed horrors’
“They have been used by armed groups in combatant and non-combatant roles and witnessed death, killing and violence,” UNICEF said in a statement, noting that the CJTF was formed in 2013 to protect communities and help the Nigerian military fight against separatists.
Friday’s mass-release in regional capital Maiduguri, follows the CJTF’s commitment in September 2017 to end and prevent recruitment and use of children, as part of a UN-led action plan.
In total, 1,727 children and young people have now been released by the CJTF, and UNICEF says that it has not recruited any more children since then. Between 2013 and 2017, the UN agency believes that more than 3,500 children have been recruited and used by non-state armed groups in north-east Nigeria.
Others have been “abducted, maimed, raped and killed”, it says, amid ongoing clashes, mass displacement and alarming levels of food insecurity.
Highlighting the scale of need in a report released earlier this week, UN humanitarian coordinating office OCHA, said that the organization and its partners reached more than 1.2 million people with food security assistance across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in March.
Nearly 20,000 children under the age of five were treated for severe acute malnutrition, OCHA said in a statement, adding that humanitarians provided protection services to 87,000 people, while more than half a million people gained access to sanitation facilities.
Released youngsters need training, education to reintegrate
“The children and young people released today will benefit from reintegration programmes to help them return to civilian life and seize new opportunities for their own development,” Mr. Boulierac told journalists in Geneva. “Without this support, many of the children released from armed groups struggle to fit into civilian life as most are not educated and have no vocational skills.”
At least 9,800 people formerly associated with armed groups, as well as vulnerable children in communities, have accessed rehabilitation services between 2017 and 2018, the UNICEF spokesperson added.
Speaking in Nigeria, Mohamed Fall, UNICEF Representative and Co-chair of the UN Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Child Rights Violations (CTFMR) reaffirmed his commitment to liberating and helping youngsters caught up in the conflict.
“We cannot give up the fight for the children, as long as children are still affected by the fighting. We will continue until there is no child left in the ranks of all armed groups in Nigeria,” he said.
'Finally put an end to recruitment and use of children' - Gamba
The UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, welcomed the latest release from the CJTF.
“Today, hundreds of freed children will get to go home with their family and will begin a reintegration process that will enable them to fully regain their place into their communities", she said.
"I call on the CJTF to continue to take tangible measures to better protect children and to release all children from its ranks and finally put an end the recruitment and use of children, as per its commitment with the United Nations", she added.
Ms. Gamba also called on the international community to provide the necessary resources to UNICEF and its partners "for the reintegration of these children, so they can benefit from comprehensive reintegration services."
#UnitedNations; #WHO; #Tripoliclashes; #UNhealthagency
United Nations, May 9 (Canadian-Media/UN): An attack on an ambulance in Tripoli on Wednesday that has critically injured the head of emergency services in Libya’s war-torn capital, along with two paramedics, has been strongly condemned by United Nations (UN) humanitarians, UN reports said.
Image Credit: UNOCHA/Giles Clarke: In the streets of Tripoli, Libya, a UNOCHA staff member visits a Sudanese caregiver's house, before the recent clashes began. (February 2019)
Health workers and civilians have not been spared in heavy clashes that erupted in early April between the internationally recognized Government and eastern forces loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army, marking the latest episode in spiralling violence that followed the overthrow of President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
As the conflict continues into its second month, more than 400 people have died and some 2,000 have been wounded, in addition to the thousands of displaced civilians, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The “direct attack of a marked ambulance seriously injuring three health workers is absolutely abhorrent and should not be tolerated,” said UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Maria Ribeiro. “Those who ordered and carried out this attack must take legal and moral responsibility for this heinous act”, she insisted.
Echoing her comments, the WHO described the attack “on an ambulance with visible logos” as a “shocking and intolerable violation of international humanitarian law”.
“Not only did this attack injure key personnel, but the ambulance itself was taken away, thereby depriving patients of future care”, said Dr Syed Jaffar Hussain, WHO Representative in Libya.
Since conflict in the oil-rich North African nation escalated last month, 11 other ambulances have been either “impacted” or suffered “collateral damage”, according to the UN health agency.
In April, three medical workers were killed in Tripoli, and numerous first-line responders have struggled to reach the wounded without being hurt themselves, WHO said in a statement.
“This flagrant breach of the basic rules of warfare could jeopardize the operations of field hospitals and ambulance teams and deter dedicated health staff from performing their life-saving duties,” said Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean. “WHO cannot accept any actions that put health workers in harm’s way. Health staff in Libya are working to save lives and must be allowed to work without additional risk to their safety or well-being.”
Since the beginning of the Tripoli clashes, WHO has been supporting field hospitals and field ambulance teams, providing medical supplies that include trauma kits with medicines for war injuries.
It has also deployed emergency medical teams to key referral hospitals to perform surgery in and around Tripoli.
Geneva, May 9 (Canadian-Media/WHO): The World Health Organization (WHO) has condemned attacks on Syrian health facilities in the north-west of the country, which have affected close to 300,000 civilians, WHO reports said.
Since 29 April, over a period of nine days, twelve health structures have been hit: in a single day, May 05, two major hospitals were hit, killing three health care workers: there are now no functioning hospitals in northern Hama, and emergency care is provided by only three surgical units supported by WHO.
In a statement, Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, said the attacks were “a grave and totally unacceptable development,” adding that, according to the Geneva Convention, health facilities and civilians – especially the most vulnerable – must be protected: “parties to the conflict in northern Hama and in Idleb are flagrantly disregarding those rules; and it is women, children, the elderly and other vulnerable groups who are suffering as a result.”
WHO is particularly concerned about those who have had to flee their homes and now have no access to basic health services, increasing the risk for infectious disease outbreaks due to overcrowding in temporary settlements.
Arrest of three Libyans wanted for grave crimes ‘would send strong and necessary message’ to victims, urges top Prosecutor
#UnitedNations; #InternationalCriminalCourt; #UNSecurityCouncil; #RomeStatute; #migrants; #UNSMIL; #LibyanNationalArmy; #InternationalHumanitarianLaw
United Nations, May 9 (Canadian-Media/UN): The arrest and transfer of three men in Libya who are wanted on war crimes charges – including the son of former ruler Muammar Gadaffi - would “send a strong and necessary message” to victims, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) told the United Nations (UN) Security Council yesterday, UN reports said.
Image Credit: UN Photo / Loey Felipe: The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, addresses the Security Council on Libya. 8 May, 2019.
Fatou Bensouda was delivering her latest report on the progress being made to bring those charged with grave crimes in Libya to account, since the overthrow of the former president in 2011, acknowledging that “the path to justice is often long and the investigations undertaken by her office, “are complex and challenging”.
“Establishing the rule of law is essential to securing ongoing peace and stablity in Libya” she said. “The Council must demonstrate through concrete action its commitment to holding accountable, those responsible for violations of humanitarian law” and the other crimes listed in the Rome Statute.
"Establishing the rule of law is essential to securing ongoing peace and stablity in Libya" said ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda
She said ensuring that outstanding warrants issued for the arrest of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al-Werfalli, and Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled, are executed, with them transferring to the ICC for trial, was “the first and indispensible step”.
“Such a development would send a strong and necessary message to the victims of grave crimes in Libya, that the Council and the international community at large are serious about pursing justice...and committed to taking concrete action towards that end”, she told Council members.
Ms. Bensouda - who appeared before the Council in New York, despite the revocation of her visa by the United States on 4 April over her Office’s investigation of US military personnel in Afghanistan – said that the authorities in Libya remained “under and obligation to arrest and surrender Mr. Gaddafi to the ICC”, although he is appealing against the warrant on the grounds that he has already been tried for the same offences.
“In the present circumstances, given that Mr. Gaddafi is still at large, the pursuit of justice for his alleged crimes remains at an impasse, both in Libya and before the ICC”.
She said that as illustrated by the three cases, “the execution of arrest warrants remains one of the ICC’s greatest challenges”, leaving them wholly reliant on the cooperation of States. The commitment of the Council to urge States to act, was also key, she added.
Improving accountability for crimes against migrants
Turning to the victimization of migrants and refugees attempting to cross through Libya en route to Europe and other destinations, Ms. Bensouda said it was clear that “abuses against migrants start as soon as they cross the border into Libya and continue throughout the journey to the north coast.”
The allegations of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment implicate many different parties she said, noting that according to a report from UN Mission UNSMIL, and the UN human rights office OHCHR, based on 1,300 first hand accounts, “alleged crimes are being committed by all sides, including State officials, members of militia and armed groups, as well as smugglers and traffickers.”
er Office, has adopted a two-pronged approach of monitoring abuse and allegations of crimes in both official and unofficial detention centres, to determine whether the ICC has jurisdiction, and also cooperating with States and organizations to coordinate prosecutions and investigations aimed at “closing the impunity gap for Rome Statute and transnational crimes, as well as organized criminal activity”, she said.
UN ‘very concerned’ over airstrikes
The United Nations is “very concerned” over reports of airstrikes which took place on Tuesday, reportedly hitting a migrant detention centre in Tajoura, in Eastern Tripoli, where fighting in recent weeks following the advance of the self-styled Libyan National Army, has led to dozens of civilian deaths.
Two migrants were reportedly injured, and UNSMIL continues to remind all parties of their obligation under International Humanitarian Law to ensure the protection of civilians, including migrants and refugees, said the UN Deputy Spokesperson on Wednesday.
Farhan Haq told journalists in New York that the mission was also deeply concerned about “increased cases of arbitrary arrest and abduction of officials, activists and journalists. It calls on all parties to release immediately anyone arbitrarily arrested and detained and reminds all authorities to operate within the rule of law and ensure that arrests and detention fully comply with due process.”
#UNICEF; #violence; #NorthwesternSyria
New York, May 6 (Canadian-Media/UNICEF): UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore issued the following statement as violence in the demilitarized zone continues to escalate, UNICEF media reports said.
“At least 12 children have been killed in northwestern Syria since April 20 as violence in the demilitarized zone continues to escalate.
“More than 30,000 people have been forced to leave their homes to flee the violence during the month of April.
“Four health facilities are now reported to be out of service after being hit and destroyed recently, leaving thousands of people without access to life-saving medical support. Schools are also reported to have been hit and damaged in Idleb and Hama.
“The fighting intensified over the past two days, causing our partners on the ground to halt programmes to provide safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene to affected communities in northern Hama and southern Idlib. At least 5,500 people have been left with no water at all. Services can only resume once security conditions improve.
“UNICEF teams are working closely with partners to provide some basic support, but without an end to the fighting there is only so much we can do. We yet again urge all parties to the conflict and those with influence over them to protect children at all times. Killing and maiming children is a grave violation of children’s rights. Civilian infrastructure including health, water and education facilities, are not a target and must not come under attack.”
#UnitedNations; #deadlyViolence; #Gaza-Israeliborder
United Nations, May 6 (Canadian-Media/UN) The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, António Guterres, is following with “deep concern” the latest developments across the Gaza-Israeli border and urges all parties to exercise maximum restraint. Over the weekend, hundreds of rockets were launched from the Occupied Palestinian Territory into southern Israel, and Israel retaliated with hundreds of airstrikes and tank fire, UN media reports said.
Image Credit: UN chief António Guterres
According to news reports, several women, children and men on both have been killed and injured as a result of the violence.
Deploring the “risk of yet another dangerous escalation and further loss of life on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan,” on Sunday, the UN chief condemned “in the strongest terms the launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel, particularly the targeting of civilian population centres”.
He urged all parties to “exercise maximum restraint, immediately de-escalate and return to the understandings of the past few months,” referring to a fragile Egypt-brokered and UN-backed cease fire recently agreed upon.
The UN’s Special Coordinator for this conflict’s peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, issued a similar call for calm on Saturday and continues to work closely with Egypt and all concerned parties to restore calm.
Against a backdrop of longstanding shortages of basic goods and services in Gaza linked to a more than decade-long air, sea and land blockade by Israel, Palestinian protests began over a year ago in the Strip. In an ongoing cycle of violence, in over a year, close to 200 Palestinians have been killed, including more than 40 children and over 1,300 have been injure