#ProPalestinianDemonstrations, #GazaViolence; #Israel, #CIJA; #HolocaustSurvivors; #Ottawa
Ottawa/Canadian-Media: A virtual event was hosted on Sunday by a prominent Canadian Jewish advocacy group amid continued violence between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Gaza,
Image: Gaza violence. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) said that the event was attended by almost 1,000 people with prayers from students and Holocaust survivors as well as remarks from Ohad Kaynar, the deputy head of mission at Israel's embassy in Canada.
Large crowds were seen on Saturday particularly in Canada's cities including Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Vancouver amid a weekend of pro-Palestinian demonstrations.
According to the Palestinian medics, Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City on Sunday flattened three buildings and killed at least 42 people.
#Myanmar; #EconomicCollapse; #Covid19Pandemic; #FoodInsecurity
The turmoil following the military coup in Myanmar, coupled with the impact of COVID-19 could result in up to 25 million people – nearly half of the country’s population, living in poverty by early next year, a United Nations report said on Friday.
That level of impoverishment has not been seen in the country since 2005, and the economy is facing significant risks of a collapse, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said in its report, COVID-19, Coup d’état and Poverty: Compounding Negative Shocks and their Impact on Human Development in Myanmar.
“In the space of 12 years, from 2005 to 2017, Myanmar managed to nearly halve the number of people living in poverty. However, the challenges of the past 12 months have put all of these hard-won development gains at risk,” Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, said.
The study also noted that as economic, health and political crises affect people and communities differently, vulnerable groups are more likely to suffer, a fact particularly relevant for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and ethnic minorities, in particular, the Rohingya community.
According to the report, by the end of 2020, 83 per cent of Myanmar’s households reported that their incomes had been, on average, slashed almost in half due to the pandemic. As a result, the number of people living below the poverty line was estimated to have increased by 11 per cent points.
The situation worsened further with the 1 February military takeover and the ensuing security and human rights crisis, with projections indicating a further 12 per cent point increase in poverty as a result.
In the nearly three months since, over 750 people – including children – are reported to have been killed by security forces in a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protests, countless more have been wounded and thousands arrested.
Furthermore, clashes between Myanmar serity forces and regional armed groups have resulted in fresh displacements in several parts of the country, as well as forcing many to seek refuge outside its borders.
Prior to the latest crises, nearly a million people in Myanmar (identified at the start of 2021) are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection
#UN; #WFP; #DRC
UN/Canadian-Media: The World Food Program (WFP) has provided further information on the deadly convoy attack in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Monday in which Italy’s Ambassador to the country, his bodyguard, and a WFP driver were killed.
Goma, capital of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Image credit: MONUSCO/Abel Kavanagh
UN’s Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) will be leading a detailed review into the incident, the agency said in an update on Tuesday.
Forced to disembark Ambassador Luca Attanasio and his security escort, Vittorio Iacovacci, were among seven people travelling in two WFP vehicles from Goma, capital of North Kivu province, to visit one of the agency’s school feeding programmes in Rutshuru, approximately 40 kilometres away.
The group left Goma at approximately 9:00 AM, local time, on Monday. An armed group stopped the vehicles around 10:15 AM, forcing all the passengers to disembark. One of the drivers, Mustapha Milambo, was killed at this time.
“The remaining six passengers were then forced into the surrounding bush at gunpoint where there was an exchange of fire”, WFP said.
“During the exchange of fire, the Italian Ambassador, Luca Attanasio and his security escort, Vittorio Iacovacci, were mortally injured and subsequently died.”
The other passengers, all WFP staff, are safe and accounted for. They include the agency’s Deputy Country Director, Rocco Leone; School Feeding Programme Assistant, Fidele Zabandora; Security Officer, Mansour Rwagaza, and the second driver, Claude Mukata.
Tribute to a brave staff member Mr. Milambo, the WFP driver, was buried on Tuesday, according to the agency’s Executive Director, David Beasley, who commemorated the murdered staff member in a post on Twitter.
“Mustapha was laid to rest today in DRC, following yesterday's attack that took his life”, he wrote. “For 16 years, he served with commitment, dedication and bravery as a @WFP driver. He will be greatly missed by us all. Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers”.
The UN Secretary-General has strongly condemned the attack and has called on the Congolese authorities to swiftly investigate this “heinous targeting” of a UN joint field mission, according to a statement issued on Monday by his Spokesperson.
#ChallengingHistories; #Slvery; #BeyondLongShadow
UN/Canadian-Media: On Holocaust Remembrance Day Department of Global Communications presents Live Discussion Series.
Beyond the long shadow: engaging with difficult histories is a live discussion series organized by the United Nations Department of Global Communications.
The series is organized by the Remember Slavery Programme, the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, and the Outreach Programme on the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and the United Nations.
The aim of the collaborative series is to develop a deeper understanding of the legacies of these painful histories – and through examining the past, consider how best to build a world that is just, where all can live in dignity and peace.
Left to right: Shackles that bound the enslaved - a tragic reminder of the transatlantic slave trade (UN Photo/Mark Garten) Auschwitz-Birkenau German Nazi Extermination and Death Camp (UN Photo/Evan Schneider) Survivor Innocente Nyirahabimana, she was 12 when her family was murdered during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda Image credit: (Photo: Myriam Abdelaziz)
Remember Slavery Program
For over 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims of the tragic transatlantic slave trade, one of the darkest chapters in human history.
Every year on 25 March, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade offers the opportunity to honor and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system. The International Day also aims to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.
In order to more permanently honour the victims, a memorial has been erected at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The unveiling took place on 25 March 2015. The winning design for the memorial, The Ark of Return by Rodney Leon, an American architect of Haitian descent, was selected through an international competition and announced in September 2013.
The Ark of Return, the Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, located at the Visitors' Plaza of UN Headquarters in New York. Image credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
utreach Program on the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda and the United Nations 2020 marks the 26th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, one of the darkest chapters in human history. More than one million people – overwhelmingly Tutsi, but also moderate Hutu, Twa and others who opposed the genocide – were systematically killed in less than three months. On this Day, we honour those who were murdered and reflect on the suffering of those who survived.
26th Anniversary Commemoration
"We must say no to hate speech and xenophobia, and reject the forces of polarization, nationalism and protectionism. Only by recognizing that we are all one human family sharing the same planet will we be able to rise to the many global challenges that confront us – from COVID-19 to climate change, " said Secretary General in his message.
Due to COVID-19, the traditional commemorative meeting of the General Assembly to mark the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda was postponed. However, the public is invited to reflect on 7 April on one of the darkest chapters in human history when more than one million people – overwhelmingly Tutsi, but also moderate Hutu, Twa and others who opposed the genocide – were systematically killed in less than three months and to honour those who were murdered and reflect on the suffering of those who survived.
The public is also encouraged to join the virtual observance on 7 April, featuring messages by the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly, and to share United Nations social media cards along with their own messages of solidarity.
#UN; #HolocaustRecovery; #HolocaustReconstruction; #antisemitism; #Disinformation
UN/Canadian-Media: This year’s International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust (27 Jan) focuses on the measures taken in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust to begin the recovery and reconstitution of individuals, community, and systems of justice. Against a global context of rising antisemitism and increasing levels of disinformation and hate speech, Holocaust education and remembrance is even more urgent, as is the development of an historical literacy to counter repeated attempts to deny and distort the history of the Holocaust, UN reports said.
Image credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider
Secretary-General António Guterres visited the exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage for the commemoration of the 81st Anniversary of Kristallnacht.
Outreach Program on the Holocaust
The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme was established 15 years ago by United Nations Assembly Resolution 60/7, with a simple and stark aim: to remind the world of the perspective that the Holocaust provides relevant to preventing future genocides.
Over the years the Program has established a global network of partners and developed versatile initiatives including educational resources, professional development programs, a file series, panel discussions and exhibitions.
#UN; #GlobalCeasefire; #PoliticalStressTest; #CovidRepurcussions
UN/Canadian-Media: Since September, the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened, infecting close to 100 million people, costing more than $3 trillion in lost wages and intensifying obstacles for peace and security around the world, the UN political chief told the Security Council on Monday.
A woman and her daughter walk past the remains of destroyed homes during the March 2019 attack on Ogossagou village by armed Dogon men in which over 150 civilians were killed. Image credit: © UNICEF/Seyba Keïta
And while the pandemic has “hindered diplomatic action and complicated our peacemaking efforts”, Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs said via videoconference that it has “amplified the prevention challenge” and aggravated underlying dynamics of armed conflicts.
Moreover, “new strains of the virus are poised to unleash more severe waves of infection at a time when health systems and social safety networks are already on the brink”, she told the meeting on the implementation of the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire.
The pandemic’s impact on peace and security is a “pressing concern”, Ms. DiCarlo said.
By upending lives and economies, challenging community relations and undermining trust in the institutions meant to address its fallout, she maintained that “the pandemic has exacerbated inequality and corruption; bred misinformation, stigmatization, and hate speech; and created new flashpoints for tension and increased risks of instability”.
The situation is especially precarious for women, youth and marginalized populations, who are particularly vulnerable to income loss and escalating gender-based and domestic violence.
Global ceasefire call
In pointing to the momentum generated by the global ceasefire so nations can focus instead on fighting COVID-19, Ms. DiCarlo cited Libya as an example of how sustained political engagement, more unified support from the international community and commitment by the parties can lead to tangible progress.
She also spoke about the opportunity it has brought about for Afghan peace negotiations to “end decades of instability and conflict”, disarmament efforts underway in Mozambique, and hope for peace in eastern Ukraine.
Notwithstanding these positive developments, some situations have witnessed dangerous escalation, such as clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the South Caucasus.
‘Political stress test’
“One thing is clear: The pandemic has served as a political stress test as much as a structural and public health one. It has laid bare where acute crisis is seen as an opportunity to gain advantage on the battlefield or as a pretext to perpetuate or entrench oppressive practices”, said Ms. DiCarlo.
But she added, “it has also confirmed that where there is real political will to make and sustain peace, almost no barrier is insurmountable, especially if there is support from the global community”.
The pandemic has served as a political stress -- UN political chief
‘Tip of the iceberg’
To date, close to 99 million people are confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus around the world, according to World Health Organization (WHO) figures. Almost a quarter of them live in countries facing humanitarian or refugee crises, Humanitarian Affairst chief Mark Lowcock, said in his update.
“As the tip of the iceberg, most cases are still not in the figures”, he stated, noting that many poor countries are amidst a dangerous second wave and new and more infectious variants will make the situation worse.
Acknowledging that while vaccines “show the way out”, he said that “no one is safe until everyone is safe, and the risk that the most fragile countries are at the end of a long, slow moving queue for the vaccine imperils us all”.
Lethal secondary consequences
In assessing the economic effects of the pandemic, Mr. Lowcock highlighted a bleak picture for the most vulnerable, estimating that 235 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection, “almost entirely down to COVID”.
He painted a grim picture of the worst global economic contraction in 90 years; a decade of lost per capita income growth; looming sovereign debt defaults; extreme poverty rising for the first time in 20 years, triggering a steep upsurge in food insecurity and multiple famines; and disappearing public services.
“In more than 20 countries in which my office is present, disruption in routine immunization campaigns leaves millions of children vulnerable to killer diseases like measles and cholera”.
An appeal to the Council
While the humanitarian community has managed to scale up assistance, the effort has been outpaced by the growing scale of this crisis, according to Mr. Lowcock.
He appealed to the UN Ambassadors for $35 billion to support the Global Humanitarian Overview, which aims to reach 160 million people; strengthen international financial institutes that provide for their most vulnerable; and action for equitable vaccine distribution.
Today’s decisions will determine our course for years to come -- UN Humanitarian Coordinator
“The next six months will be crucial. Today’s decisions will determine our course for years to come”, he concluded.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, head of Peace Operations, told ambassadors that already complex political situations have continued to feel the strain of COVID-19 – delaying the peace process in South Sudan, limiting contacts between the two communities in Cyprus, exacerbating the political and economic situation in Lebanon and being used as a pretext to establish an unconstitutional presidential transition in the Central African Republic.
He noted that backlogs in peacekeeper rotations, due in large part to the pandemic, are now being loosened and described how UN peacekeeping has adapted to COVID, including during the drawdown in Sudan’s Darfur operation, patrols in Mali as well as in supporting host States.
Testing collective resolve
COVID-19 has also “put a spotlight on the importance of women’s leadership during crises”, said the UN peacekeeping chief, reminding that they are on the frontlines, coping with the fallout and helping to mitigate the political risk associated with the pandemic.
“The pandemic presents a test to our collective commitment to international peace and security”, spelled out Mr. Lacroix, as he saluted the “courage and tenacity” of the women and men serving in peace operations and the Council’s “strong and steadfast” support in addressing the “unprecedented challenges” to peace.
Meanwhile, Atul Khare, Under-Secretary for Operational Support, stressed the need to ensure that the necessary equipment and training modules to address COVID threats are made readily available for peacekeeping operations.
He lauded the States that have provided the capacity for “medical evacuations” and advocated for inclusive discussions on how to ensure that peacekeepers and UN police can receive COVID vaccinations in a timely manner.
#UN; #Peace, #Security; #Mali; #MINUSMA; #G5Sahel; #UNHCR; #Covid19Pandemic
UN/Canadian-Media: Against the backdrop of a rapidly deteriorating security situation in Mali and the wider Sahel region, the UN peacekeeping chief concluded a visit to the restive northwest African nation on Thursday.
UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix, in centre with sunglasses, visited Ménaka, Mali, where he met with the Governor, President of the Interim Authority, armed groups signatories to the peace agreement, civil society and the local commander, among otthers. Image credit: MINUSMA
With the country in the throes of a political transition, following a military coup and the establishment of an interim Government last year, the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, took, stock of recent political and security developments, and discussed progress on implementing the mandate of the UN Stabilization Mission there (MINUSMA), the most dangerous place to serve as a ‘blue helmet’ in the field.
Four peacekeepers were killed, and five others wounded in an attack on their convoy just over a week ago, in the vast Timbuktu region, although a robust response led the attackers to flee. As of December, MINUSMA had suffered 231 fatalities.
In a bid to strengthen the partnership between the UN and transitional authorities, he and MINUSMA Head Mahamat Saleh Annadif met in the capital, Bamako, with a number of senior Malian officials, including the President and Vice President of the transition, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and President of the National Transitional Council.
He also visited the new G5 Sahel Joint Force headquarters, which MINUSMA built with financial backing from the European Union.
Paying tribute The UN official then flew to Timbuktu and at the mission’s temporary operational base in Niafunké, where he was briefed by members of MINUSMA’s Western Sector on “Operation Winner 7”, which aims to protect civilians and support the redeployment of Malian Defense and Security Forces in the area.
Mr. Lacroix pledged through that operation to “support the return of State authority”.
The peacekeeping chief also took part in a ceremony to honour the memory of the four Côte d’Ivoire blue helmets killed on 13 January.
And while visiting Gao, he thanked UN peacekeepers for their service and critical work in support of the Mission’s mandate.
Before returning to Bamako, Mr. Lacroix met with the President of the Regional Youth Council and civil society members, including those representing the “Menaka Without Weapons” initiative and welcomed their efforts as being key to peace and security in the country.
‘Unrelenting’ violence in the Sahel Meanwhile, Boris Cheshirkov, spokesperson for the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, told journalists in Geneva on Friday that UNHCR was calling for an end to the “unrelenting violence in Africa’s Sahel”; the huge semi-arid region that takes in parts of more than a dozen nations, including Mali, bordering the Sahara Desert.
“It had now displaced more than two million people within the borders of their countries for the first time ever”, he said.
Needs were surging across the region as multiple crises converged, including armed conflict, extreme poverty, food insecurity, climatic changes and the COVID-19 pandemic.
With a “dangerously overstretched” humanitarian response, Mr. Cheshirkov urged the international community to “redouble its support” for the region.
In just two years, internal displacement in the region had quadrupled.
“States must act now to help Sahel countries address the root causes of this forced displacement, to boost strategic and sustainable development and to strengthen institutions, such as schools and hospitals, many of which have shut due to ongoing violence”, he elaborated.
The Sahel has also been hosting more than 850,000 refugees, mainly from Mali.
Across the region, UNHCR and its partners are working to provide critical assistance to hundreds of thousands of displaced people and their hosts, including shelter, aid items, and cash.
Violent attempt at US Capitol to ‘overturn’ election, shocking and incendiary: independent UN experts
#UN; #USCapitolBuilding; #PeaceAndSecurity; #ViolentRiots
UN/Canadian-Media: A group of independent UN rights experts released a statement on Monday condemning the violent storming of the United States Capitol building in Washington DC on 6 January, which they described as a shocking and incendiary attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election.
The US Capitol building in Washington D.C. Image credit: Unsplash
Twenty-three Special Rapporteurs and members of Working Groups – unpaid volunteers who are not UN staff – put their names to the statement, in which they strongly affirmed and expressed their “solidarity with the American people who stand for democracy, equality and the rule of law at this critical moment”.
De-escalate and unify
The group announced that they stand with the democratic outcomes of the 2020 US election, in which Joe Biden was elected the 46th President of the US. They called for those responsible for the attack, and those who incited the violence, to be held accountable, and for political leaders in the US to “de-escalate tensions, and unify the country in full respect for democracy and the rule of law”.
The storming of the Capitol marked one of the few times in the history of the country that the building which houses the US House of Representatives and Senate – a co-equal branch of government along with the Presidency and Supreme Court – has been attacked. It occurred on the day that the results of the election were being certified by Senators and House representatives, in line with their constitutional duty.
In the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol, and fears of further violence ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Biden on Wednesday, there has been a marked military build-up, with thousands of troops stationed in Washington DC, as well as many top government buildings across the 50 state capitals. Several major social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, have decided to close or limit accounts held or controlled by the current President, Donald Trump.
The group of experts called for the response to the violence, from the US Government, the private sector, civil society, and other groups, to be consistent with freedom of expression, international human rights standards, and legal due process.
The statement affirmed the experts’ hope that US democracy will emerge strengthened from the crisis, “without damage to its institutions and with renewed commitment to peaceful pluralism, rule of law and democratic governance”.
#FBI; Washington; #UnitedStates; #AttackOnCapitolBuilding; #JodBidenInauguraion
Washington/Canadian-Media: Armed protests ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's swearing-in ceremony on Jan 20 is being tracked by United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Director of FBI Chris Wray said on Jan 14.
FBI. Image credit: justice.gov
"We're looking at individuals who may have an eye towards repeating that same kind of violence that we saw last week," said Wray, in his first public remarks since pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, CBS News reported.
More than 200 suspects have been identified by the FBI since the attack on Capitol Building on Jan 6, Wray said and added, "If you're out there, an FBI agent is coming to find you."
Details about suspects are increasingly coming to light.
Some of them have been identified as current or former police or military.
CBS News learnt from a law enforcement official that a police officer in Washington D.C. saw rioters use military-style hand signals to communicate inside the Capitol building during the assault. Sedition Task Force run by the D.C. U.S. Attorney's office's highest priority would be to identify people using military, small unit tactics.
#Montreal; #AntiGovernmentWebsite; #ArmedProtestsinUS; #TreeOfLiberty; #BoogalooMovement
Montreal/Canadian-Media: An anti-government website 'Tree of Liberty' hosted by Montreal promoting armed protests in the United States ahead of the presidential inauguration was shut down on Jan 13 morning by the company after CBC News revealed its cloud servers were located in Montreal, media reports said.
Boogaloo Movement. Image credit: Wikipedia
The website, Tree of Liberty was claimed to be the "press platform" for the Boogaloo movement which is followed by radical pro-gun advocates who welcome the idea of a second American Civil War, and call it the boogaloo.
The Tree of Liberty website hosted by the Montreal servers of 'On Vous Héberge' (OVH), a multinational cloud computing company headquartered in France,
came online in September after Facebook in the summer took down several thousand accounts and blocked Boogaloo-related search words, saying it supported "violence against civilians, law enforcement, and government officials and institutions."
Boogalooers are among several groups planning to hold demonstrations ahead of the inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20, when Joe Biden will officially take over the presidency from Donald Trump.
The site is under investigation by OVH, said OVH on Tuesday, and issued a follow-up statement saying that the site had been suspended and "the contract with the client terminated."
"Any company that is hosting this type of content should absolutely take a hard look at what they are allowing to spread," said Alex Friedfeld, a researcher of extremist groups with the New York-based Anti-Defamation League prior to the website going dark.