#UN; #UNPeace; #Conflict; #Covid19Crisis; #GunViolence
Geneva, May 30 (Canadian-Media): In countries suffering from conflict, readjusting to life in a peaceful society is a challenge, both for former fighters and the wider community. Since the spread of the COVID-19 crisis, the UN is having to refocus many of its programmes, aimed at reducing violence in communities, and rehabilitating combatants, UN reports said.
Handwashing station in Bria, CAR. Part of a CVR programme run by MINUSCA.
Image credit: MINUSCA
"Before I did not have a trade but, thanks to this training, I am becoming a valuable asset to my country", says Nassira Zakaria, from Kaga Bandoro, a northern market town in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Ms. Zakaria, a trainee seamstress in a Community Violence Reduction programme, run by the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR, MINUSCA, says that she is glad to be able to turn away from armed conflict, learn new skills and, above all, be of use to her community. "By making face masks, I can contribute to the fight against COVID-19".
Preventing a return to conflict
Just over a year ago, a peace agreement was signed by the CAR Government, and officially armed groups in the country. Since then, progress has been slow, and the situation in CAR, one of the world’s poorest countries, remains fragile.
Community Violence Reduction programmes are one of the tools used by the UN to prevent a return to conflict, and support communities. The peace process has been marred by a lack of political will from some of the armed groups, but MINUSCA has still managed to disarm and demobilize over 1,300 ex-combatants.
Projects involve vocational training in trades such as plumbing, electrical work and construction: in CAR, some 3,124 people have learned new skills. Today, the focus of these programmes has shifted to COVID-19 prevention: trainees are sewing masks for the local population, making soap, constructing handwashing facilities, converting buildings into COVID-19 isolation wards, and learning more about the virus.
"I now know a lot more about COVID-19, thanks to this training", says Nabayo Rosine, a member of a CVR programme in the south-eastern city of Bangassou. "Now I know how to protect myself and teach those around me about the pandemic. Health comes first: someone who is not healthy cannot be at peace".
For Pierre Ubalijoro, chief of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration initiatives in MINUSCA, the communities involved in CVR programmes are seeing life improving: "I think our presence really has an added value, because of the toll that the war has taken. I believe that our presence has contributed to the alleviation of the people’s suffering."
"And the projects that we're focusing on are designed to be sustainable, and make a long-term difference. For example, we're building wells in areas where there is less water available. A lack of water is often a source of inter-communal conflict, so these projects will make a positive impact on the community, long after the COVID-19 crisis is over".
Mali: rebuilding under fire
Similar efforts to improve life for civilians are underway in the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA), where the security situation is fraught, both for the local population and peacekeepers. The Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali has seen some 1,000 newly integrated soldiers deployed to Gao, Timbuktu, Kidal and Ménaka, as part of the first reconstituted Malian Defence and Security Forces in the North. Violence continues and, in May, three UN peacekeepers were killed in northern Mali when their convoy hit a roadside bomb.
Because of the security situation, not all parts of the country are accessible to the UN teams, as Tahir Ali – the head of a Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) team in Gao, northern Mali – explained.
"In the north, infrastructure is very bad, so it can take one and half hours to travel 15 kilometres, and an armed escort is needed. There is also the risk of improvised explosive devices, so you have to deal with a lot of challenges. We will have to visit the project site two or three times during implementation, and then revisit it after the project has been completed to see what impact it has made. So, accessibility has to be a top priority".
Meeting the needs of the population
Despite the uncertainty, Community Violence Reduction programmes are helping participants to gain vocational training in agriculture and gardening, electrification and security, construction, and other areas designed to meet the basic needs of the population.
Sam Howard, one of the UN officials running the programmes, told UN News that providing temporary job opportunities to young people, is helping them to stay out of trouble: "these jobs keep them busy, and help to prevent them from being recruited by criminal or armed groups. They also help our efforts to enhance dialogue and reconciliation in various communities".
Some projects are, literally, bearing fruit, and having a positive impact: "In the region, we successfully handed over a project, run by women and youth, to create a vegetable garden", said Mr. Ali, who explained that, to ensure that all parts of the community are involved, each initiative in the programme is managed by a representative of the local women, and a representative of the youth.
"We provided water, training and seeds in December of last year, and they began cultivating the land. When I went back in February, the land was full of vegetables. Thanks to this project, they are now able to meet their own needs, and earn money by selling the surplus".
Mr. Ali and Mr. Howard agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused problems for their projects, with some postponed until the next fiscal year. Others have been repurposed, as in CAR, to involve community members in improving hygiene measures (for example, the production of face masks). UN personnel are also distributing "anti-COVID kits", which include soap, hand sanitizer and masks.
As in many other regions where the UN has a presence, the effect is also being felt by the staff of MINUSMA. Regular UN flights in and out of regional bases have been suspended, said Mr. Ali, and many staff are working remotely. Despite these measures, positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the bases.
#UNMilitaryGenderAdvocateaward; #Brazil; #India
Geneva, May 25 (Canadian-Media): For the first time, the UN Military Gender Advocate award has been awarded to two UN peacekeepers: Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo, a Brazilian Naval officer, and Major Suman Gawani, of the Indian Army, UN reports said.
2020 Military Gender Advocte Awardees, Major Suman Gawani (left) of the Indian Army formerly depolyed with UNMISS, and Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo, a Brazilian Naval officer working in MINUSCA. Image credit: UNMISS/MINUSCA/Hervé Serefio
The award, created in 2016, recognizes the dedication and effort of individual military peacekeepers in promoting the UN principles on Women, Peace and Security in peace operations. Women peacekeepers are nominated by the heads and force commanders of peace operations.
Commander Monteiro de Castro Araujo serves as the military Gender and Protection Advisor in the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). During her tour of duty, she has conducted training on gender and protection, and was instrumental in seeing the number of gender-responsive patrols engaging with local communities increase from 574 to nearly 3,000 per month.
For the Brazilian officer, the award is recognition of a team effort: “It’s very gratifying for me and the Mission to see that our initiatives are bearing fruit”, she said.
Major Gawani – the first Indian peacekeeper to win the award – is a Military Observer, formerly deployed to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), where she mentored over 230 UN Military Observers on conflict-related sexual violence, and ensured the presence of women military observers in each of the Mission’s team sites. She also trained South Sudanese government forces, and helped them to launch their action plan on conflict-related sexual violence.
Expressing happiness at seeing her work recognized, Major Gawani noted that, “whatever our function, position or rank, it is our duty as peacekeepers to integrate an all-genders perspective into our daily work and own it, in our interactions with colleagues as well as with communities”.
Commending the two women peacekeepers, UN chief António Guterres described them as powerful role models: “Through their work, they have brought new perspectives and have helped to build trust and confidence among the communities we serve”, he said. “Through their commitment and innovative approaches, they embrace a standard of excellence that is an inspiration to all blue helmets everywhere. As we confront today’s challenges, their work has never been more important or relevant.”
#UNPolice; #UNPeace&Security; #Law&Order; #Covid19Pandemic
Geneva, May 23 (Canadian-Media): In several countries afflicted by years of armed conflict, The UN assists with law and order issues, including policing expertise. This work is being challenged, as never before, by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this interview with UN News, Luis Carrilho, head of the UN Police Division, describes how the virus is affecting the ability of his colleagues to keep the peace, UN reports said.
MONUSCO Police donate personal protective equipment, including face masks and hand sanitizer, to the provincial police commissariat of the Congolese National Police in South Kivu. Image credit: Rachel Rugarabura
The COVID-19 outbreak is posing unprecedented challenges to police and other law enforcement agencies worldwide, such as ensuring public safety, while taking care of police officer health and well-being. The challenge is even greater in peacekeeping contexts, where both police and public health systems are either weak, or wrecked by the years of armed conflict.
Luis Carrilho, whose official title is UN Police Advisor, started by explaining how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the work of his officers.
"Like medical staff, police officers can’t telecommute, so they are also on the frontline. Our first responsibility is to stay healthy and safe, so we need to have, not only the equipment, but also the attitude to protect ourselves.
This is because, by protecting ourselves, we can protect others. We need to make sure that we aren’t contaminating others and that we are protecting the most vulnerable, alongside the host police force.
If you think of the virus as a storm, not everyone is riding it out in the same kind of boat. Some people have better protection, access to better goods. The most vulnerable don’t. Our goal is to protect those people – children, the elderly, victims of crimes, ethnic minorities – who are always more affected by this kind of crisis. We also try to provide the space to act for other colleagues, particularly humanitarian workers, who are playing a key role in assisting communities in need.
With travel now restricted, our police officers are spending longer periods away from their family, and the risk to their safety has increased. Some officers have been infected, recovered, and returned to the frontline. This shows that, for them, it is an honour to serve under the flag of the United Nations and make a difference, particularly to the most vulnerable.
To what extent are UN Police officers enforcing lockdown restrictions?
In the countries where we work, we have a set of principles that we always abide by, and we respect the law: no one is above the law. We also implement measures that contribute to the protection of communities, whilst always respecting human rights.
We always take a strong community policing approach, and the populations we work with understand that the measures are being put in place for security reasons. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, United Nations Police work side by side with the Congolese police, on awareness raising campaigns, but also distributing masks, and sanitizers to those who are in need.
Sadly, this is not the first virulent disease that we have had to deal with. During the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we were part of the task force set up to cope with it, alongside the Congolese authorities and UN agencies. Of course, when the police are called, it is often because there is a conflict taking place, and there will always be someone who is not happy. But our job is to be prepared for these situations, and provide communities with the answers they need.
The pandemic is predicted to worsen in in Africa: are you concerned?We are all concerned, because if health systems are weak, there is the potential for more people, particularly the most vulnerable, to lose out on health care. That is why awareness and prevention are key: ensuring that people wash their hands, physically distance, wear masks and take other precautionary measures.
This is why we need to work closely with state authorities, UN agencies, funds and programs, and members of the international community, to prevent further spread of disease.
I believe that our work is contributing to slowing down, and ‘bending the curve’ of COVID-19. However, we continue to monitor the situation, and meet regularly with the police contributing countries, and our peace operations”.
#UN; #Somalia; #Election; #Covid19Crisis; #UNSOM; HIPC; #AMISOM
Africa, May 21 (Canadian-Media): The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are acute for Somalia, but the Horn of Africa nation is doing what it can with the resources it has, even as it looks ahead to its first direct elections in a half-century, the top UN official in the country said on Thursday, UN reports said.
James Swan, Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Somalia (UNSOM), told the Security Council that 2.6 million internally displaced persons are particularly at risk from the novel coronavirus.
Somalia coronavirus cases
In its latest situation report, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday put the number of confirmed cases in Somalia at 1,502, with 59 deaths.
Even before the outbreak, more than 5 million Somalis required humanitarian assistance, Mr. Swan said, as the country continued to deal with the al-Shabaab terrorist insurgency and a major locust invasion that is putting food production in peril.
COVID-19 is also having a severe economic impact, with remittances from the Somali diaspora dwindling and the federal Government projecting an 11 per cent drop in nominal GDP this year, he said.
Nevertheless, the Federal Government and Federal Member States have responded quickly to the crisis “within their means,” he said, with Prime Minister Hassan Khaire leading a National COVID Task Force and the six regional states participating in national-level coordination efforts.
UN aiding Government effort
“The UN family is working to reinforce the Government’s response”, he said, noting that the WHO is helping to expand Somali hospital and testing capacity, with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also providing electricity generators.
Somalia’s response is greatly aided by having achieved the so-called decision point under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative, on 25 March, enabling it to tap into additional budget support and grant financing from global institutions, he said.
Looking beyond the immediate health crisis, Mr. Swan – speaking from Mogadishu via video-teleconference – said the coming weeks will be decisive in determining how Somalia will proceed with its first direct elections since March 1969.
In the coming weeks, a parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee will make recommendations to resolve outstanding electoral issues, while the head of the National Independent Electoral Commission will report on plans to conduct the vote within a constitutional timeframe.
The pathway to a vote for all
“These Somali institutions will determine the pathway to elections,” said Mr. Swan, urging Somalia’s partners to be ready to mobilize the technical support and financial resources needed to make the landmark polls a success.
Turning to the security situation, he said that Somalia has made progress in recovering areas occupied by al-Shabaab, including the strategic town of Janaale, liberated by the Somali National Army and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on 16 March.
Al-Shabaab resists ceasefire call
“We regret that al-Shabaab has not embrace the Secretary-General’s appeal for a global ceasefire (in response to the pandemic) and that their terrorist operations continue unabated,” he said.
He added that regrettably, due to COVID-19, the pace of future military operations could be impacted by a slowdown in international partner training needed for the fight against the terrorist group.
Mr. Swan’s briefing to the Council followed the release of the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in Somalia. The Council is due to decide on renewing AMISOM’s mandate by 31 May and UNSOM’s mandate by 30 June.
#UN; #Libya; #PeaceAndSecurity; #UNSMIL; #Justice; #CovidImpact
Geneva, May 19 (Canadian-Media): The civil war in Libya is in danger of intensifying as foreign intervention grows and the spectre of the COVID-19 pandemic adds to a deepening sense of insecurity, the head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) told the Security Council on Tuesday, UN reports said.
A detainee mother, with sleeping baby on her back, feeds her other child some bread inside the female room of a detention centre in Benghazi, Libya. Image credit: CHA/Giles Clarke
Stephanie Williams, who is also Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, said on Tuesday that while the rest of the world adjusts to life with the novel coronavirus, Libyans have dealt with almost constant bombardment and frequent water and electricity outages during the holy month Ramadan.
At the same time, an “alarming” military build-up is underway as foreign backers send increasingly sophisticated and lethal weapons to the warring sides – the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and the so-called opposition Libyan National Army (LNA) led by General Khalifa Haftar. The General’s forces began laying siege to southern parts of the capital Tripoli, more than a year ago.
Justice must prevail
The vast majority of the 58 civilians killed and 190 injured since 1 April are attributed to forces affiliated with General Haftar, she said, adding that those guilty of crimes under international law must be brought to justice.
“From what we are witnessing in terms of the massive influx of weaponry, equipment and mercenaries to the two sides, the only conclusion that we can draw is that this war will intensify, broaden and deepen - with devastating consequences for the Libyan people”, she told the Council.
“As the foreign intervention increases, the Libyans themselves are getting lost in the mix, their voices crowded out. We must not let Libya slip away. We must enable responsible Libyans to write their own future.”
Apply ‘credible’ pressure
She urged Council members to come together and apply “consistent and credible pressure” on those regional and international actors that are fuelling the conflict, which has left one million civilians in need of humanitarian assistance.
“We can collectively write a different ending to this so far sad tale but only if we demonstrate a collective will to do so”, she added as she presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on UNSMIL.
Stephanie Turco Williams, Acting Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL)., by UNSMILDiscussing the impact of COVID-19 on Libya, she reported 65 confirmed cases and three COVID-related deaths across Libya up to Monday – a low count that reflects low testing capacity, limited contact tracing and fear of social stigmatization.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), however, the peak of the pandemic has yet to reach the country “and the risk of an intensification of the outbreak remains very high.”
She expressed particular concern about the situation of migrants and asylum-seekers, including at least 1,400 who have been expelled this year from eastern Libya in violation of the country’s international human rights obligations.
She went on to say that the fighting - compounded with the pandemic and an ongoing oil blockade that has cost Libya more than $4 billion – is aggravating an already fraught socioeconomic situation.
The weaponization of vital services is another worrying trend, she added, pointing to the cut-off of both water supplies from the Man-Made River and natural gas to electrical power plants.
#UN; #BurundiElections; #Peace; #Stability; #UNICEF; #WHO
Geneva, May 17 (Canadian-Media): Ahead of presidential and local elections in Burundi on Wednesday, the African Union (AU) Commission and the United Nations (UN) urged the authorities to provide a safe and secure environment for citizens to cast their votes, media reports said.
Children fill their cups at a water point built by UNICEF at Kanyosha III primary school in Bujumbura, Burundi. UNICEF/UNI180029/Colfs
In a joint statement issued on Sunday, the partners said they have been following the electoral campaign and remain concerned about reports of intimidation and violent clashes between supporters of opposing sides.
"The two Organizations encourage all entities involved in organizing the 20 May 2020 elections, the defense and security forces and state-owned media to fully contribute to preserving a stable and peaceful environment, pre-requisite for free, inclusive, fair, transparent and credible elections in Burundi," the statement said.
"They urge all political actors to refrain from all acts of violence and hate speech, and resort to dialogue, to enable the holding of consensual and peaceful elections. They also encourage the Burundian authorities to ensure and facilitate the full participation of women during this electoral process."
The AU Commission and the UN Secretariat also called on political parties to abide by the Code of Conduct which they had signed last December.
Authorities in the East African country were also urged to implement preventive measures to protect citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, a UN Commission of Inquiry also expressed alarm over violence and human rights abuses in the run-up to the vote.
Members also deeply regretted the government’s decision to expel four staff members of the World Health Organization (WHO) from the country.
#UN; #Nigeria; #UNHCR; #Violence; #Peace&Security
Nigeria, May 16 (Canadian-Media): Ongoing violence in parts of north-western Nigeria forced an estimated 23,000 people to seek safety and security in Niger last month (April). This takes the total number of refugees fleeing that part of Nigeria to take sanctuary in neighbouring Niger to more than 60,000 since the first influx, in April last year, UNHCR reports said.
Nigerian refugees in Niger, May 12, 2016. Image credit: © UNHCR/Hélène Caux
Since April 2019, people have fled relentless attacks by armed groups in the Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina states of Nigeria. Most found refuge in Niger’s Maradi region.
Fearing and fleeing the same insecurity in the border areas, an additional 19,000 Niger nationals have become displaced inside their own country.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is concerned about deteriorating security inside Nigeria and the risk of armed incursions spilling over into Niger.
The latest influx of refugees, mainly desperate women and children, follows attacks in Nigeria’s Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states during the month of April. Several villages in several Local Government Areas were attacked by gunmen. The deadliest attack claimed 47 lives in Kankara, Danmusa and Dusi-ma Local Government Areas in Katsina State and prompted air strikes by the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Those fleeing speak of extreme violence unleashed against civilians, murders, kidnappings for ransom and pillaging and looting of villages.
Refugees from Nigeria are being allowed to seek protection in Niger despite border closures due to COVID-19. New arrivals are in urgent need of water, food and access to health services, as well as shelter and clothing. Many were barely able to carry anything in the rush to save lives.
Many have also been caught up in the clashes reported being blamed on farmers and herders of different ethnic groups as well as vigilantism. Some 95 per cent of the refugees have come from Nigeria’s Sokoto state, rest from Kano, Zamfara and Katsina states.
We are working closely with authorities in Niger to relocate at least 7,000 refugees to safety, in villages 20 kilometres away from the border, where water, food, shelter, access to health and other essential assistance can be provided. This will also enable to ease the pressure on host communities in border areas, where basic infrastructure and services are lacking.
UNHCR has been present at the onset, and the emergency response focused on protection and life-saving activities, including registration, protection and border monitoring, education, health, shelter as well as water and sanitation.
UNHCR needs to continue biometric registration of refugees to better assess their needs and lead the humanitarian response. Discussions are also ongoing with the authorities to recognize on a prima facie basis the refugees fleeing Nigeria and arriving in the region.
The violence is not directly linked to armed groups operating in the Lake Chad and in the Sahel. It, however, adds Maradi to other areas in Niger struggling with insecurity including in Diffa, Tillaberi and Tahoua, further straining humanitarian actors’ financial resources and their capacity to respond.
#UN; #Yemen; #Peace&Security; #UNICEF; #Covid19Pandemic
Yemen (Arabian Peninsula), May 14 (Canadian-Media): UN Special Envoy for war-weary Yemen, Martin Griffiths, told the Security Council on Thursday, that he believed an end to the fighting “is within close reach”, but cautioning that he had come “yet again to express hope, instead of to report success", UN reports said.
In the Omar Bin Yasser camp in Aden families are in short supply of soap, they have to line up for clean water and schools are closed. To compound the threat of COVID-19 they are now dealing with flooding and an increased risk of cholera. Image credit: @UNICEF
Despite a looming COVID-19 pandemic and a global economic downturn threatening even more adversity, he maintained that the UN has provided “a feasible roadmap” that puts the onus on “those with arms and power”, to achieve it.
The UN has reported “significant progress” on negotiations, particularly regarding the ceasefire. However, he underscored that peace is part of a broader package of needs that must be agreed to, including humanitarian and economic measures.
He was “extremely encouraged” that both the Yemeni Government and opposition Houthi rebels, known formally as Ansar Allah, have positively engaged with UN proposals, calling them “important indications” of their willingness to make the needed compromises for peace.
The civil war escalated in 2013 when a Saudi-led coalition joined the internationally recognized Government effort to drive the Houthis and their supporters, out of the capital, and other areas under their control.
Recent clashes in Hudaydah, Ma’rib, Al Jawf, Al-Bayda and elsewhere show that peace remains elusive, said Mr. Griffiths.
Describing the situation in Aden where the UN envoy fears “a perfect storm is brewing”, he spoke about COVID-19, malaria and cholera causing deaths to rise daily – and a health system ill-equipped to diagnose and treat people – exceptionally heavy flooding has damaged infrastructure and homes; and long-deteriorating public services that are now at a breaking point.
The separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC), which was in alliance with the Government, based in Aden, has now taken control of the city, leading to the stalling of the Riyadh Agreement between the two. The STC has recently been taking steps to make local institutions answerable to them.
Thus, the top UN envoy underscored the urgency in implementing the Agreement, to ensure responsive governance and improved service delivery in Aden while also providing for the STC’s inclusion in a resumed UN-led political process to end the conflict.
I am coming to this Council yet again to express hope, instead of to report success -- UN envoy
Mr. Griffiths expressed confidence that upcoming negotiations would allow the parties to “swiftly resume the political process” to end the conflict and outline arrangements for a transition period before lasting peace can be established.
“The transitional period would give Yemen an opportunity to escape the misery of conflict”, he said. “It would allow for the focus to shift toward reconstruction, recovery and reconciliation”.
Once a political solution is found, He said a new Yemen could emerge, where essential needs would be met, families would be safe, institutions would serve citizens equitably, women would lead without repression, journalists would report freely, and differences would be resolved through partnership and dialogue.
“I insist that such a future for Yemen is eminently realistic…and this Council has a vital role to play in supporting them, and more importantly the Yemeni people, along the path toward peace”, the UN envoy concluded.
With a COVID-19 pandemic threatening the already fragile country, the UN’s acting Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ramesh Rajasingham, presented to the Council a bleak humanitarian outlook for Yemen.
During the first quarter of the month there was a threefold increase on attacks against health facilities, with one also reported in April.
“International humanitarian law requires all parties to take constant care to spare civilians and civilian objects throughout military operations”, he said, noting that that in light of COVID-19, it was even “more critical to respect and protect medical facilities”.
And amidst coronavirus fears, stigma surrounding asylum-seekers and people on the move is rising, with more refugees and migrants being forcibly deported or detained.
Mr. Rajasingham also noted “a disturbing increase” of harassment and incitement against the UN, which makes its work “more dangerous and sometimes forces partners to pause activities at the time when they are needed the most”.
Meanwhile, humanitarians are facing “enormous challenges”, including aid delivery restrictions and funding shortfalls.
Yet, the UN official said, “we’re still reaching more than 10 million people every month” with food, water, healthcare and other services and offering “some of the best chances for people to protect themselves against COVID-19”.
No funds to weather coronavirus
He said the World Health Organization (WHO) had been forced to scale back its operations due to lack of funding, including shuttering therapeutic feeding centres that treat the most severely malnourished children.
“Amidst a pandemic, this is shocking”, said the OCHA deputy chief, adding that preventing disease and feeding sick children are the kinds of programmes should be “protected at all costs”.
“We are urgently appealing to donors to release funds now to sustain principled aid operations”, said Mr. Rajasingham, requesting $2 billion to cover essential activities from June through December.
Spiraling economy “We need bold action to stabilize the economy and soften the blow of measures that may be necessary to protect public health”, he told the Council, including regular foreign exchange injections and steps to increase affordable food and other goods in markets across the country.
In closing, Mr. Rajasingham spelled out: “Peace is the best chance Yemen has to contain COVID-19, and we hope the parties will work with the Special Envoy to make it a reality”.
#UN; #Libya; #UNSMIL; #Tripoli; Deaths; #Peace; #Security; #Covid19Pandemic;
Geneva, May 10 (Canadian-Media): The UN Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has condemned several recent attacks on civilian areas of the Libyan Capital, Tripoli, which have reportedly caused deaths and injuries, UN reports said.
Tripoli school hit by an armed attack in January. Credit: UN Libya
Shelling near the Turkish embassy and the Italian ambassador’s residence in the city's Zawiat al-Dahmani neighbourhood on Thursday, described in an UNSMIL statement as “indiscriminate”, is thought to have killed at least two civilians and injured three others.
In the statement, UNSMIL expressed deep alarm at the intensification of such attacks, particularly at a time when Libyans Muslims are trying to peacefully observe Ramadan, and simultaneously battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These despicable actions are a direct challenge to calls by some Libyan leaders for an end to the protracted fighting and the resumption of the political dialogue”, the Mission declared.
The bloody month of MayMay has already been extremely dangerous for Libyan civilians: over the first eight days of the month, homes and other civilian property have been damaged, and at least 15 people reportedly killed, with some 50 injured. Several Libyan neighbourhoods suffered indiscriminate attacks, said the Mission, mostly attributable to forces affiliated to the opposition Libyan National Army (LNA), including Abu Salim, Tajoura, al-Hadba al-Bari, Zanata and Zawit al-Dahmani.
On 5 May, houses were shelled in the al-Hadba neighborhood of Tripoli, killing two civilians and injuring three others, including a child. The following day, 6 May, was particularly deadly: houses were shelled in Tripoli’s Abu Salim neighborhood of Tripoli, resulting in at least one death, and 27 individuals were injured. On the same day, rockets hit several homes in Tajoura, reportedly resulting in the killing of three individuals and injuring 10 others, including three children.
“Once again, these attacks display a blatant disregard for international humanitarian law and human rights law, and may amount to war crimes”, declared UNSMIL. “All parties to the conflict must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, including complying with the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attacks, to prevent civilian casualties”.
UNSMIL reiterated that those guilty of crimes under international law will be held to account, and committed to documenting violations and sharing them, where relevant, with the Panel of Experts and the International Criminal Court.
#UN; #NaziDefeat; #BirthOfUN; #Peace&Unity
New York, May 9 (Canadian-Media): On 8 and 9 May, the UN commemorates the millions who lost their lives during the Second World War, the tragic conflict that led to the birth of the United Nations (UN). In a video message released late on Friday, UN chief António Guterres warned that divisions still exist, and called for a world based on peace and unity, UN reports said.
Moscow, USSR. May 9, 1945. Fireworks on Red Square in honour of the end of WW2.
Image credit: TASS News Agency/Nikolai Sitnikov
In his message, Mr. Guterres paid tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the War. The victory over fascism and tyranny in May 1945, he said, marked the beginning of a new era, but “we must never forget the Holocaust and the other grave and horrendous crimes committed by the Nazis”.
The United Nations was created, that same year, out of a collective will to save succeeding generations from the horrors of war, with the devastation of the years between 1939 and 1945, bringing about an appreciation for the importance of international cooperation.
Division and hatred, as coronavirus spreads
Minsk, USSR. July,1945. Local people greet Soviet soldiers returned after the Second World War, by TASS News Agency/Vladimir Lupeiko75 years on, the UN chief noted that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, a worldwide health crisis that can only be defeated by an international community that is working closely together, there are those who are sowing division and spreading hatred.
On Friday, Mr. Guterres made a global appeal to address and counter what he called the “tsumani of hate and xenophobia” that has risen alongside the global tally of COVID-19 cases.
The UN chief referred to examples of hate speech that have surfaced during the crisis, ranging from anti-foreigner sentiment, to antisemitic conspiracy theories and attacks against Muslims, and called on civil society to strengthen outreach to vulnerable people, and religious actors to serve as models of mutual respect.
With this year marking the a milestone anniversary of the end of the Second World War, and the birth of the United Nations, Mr. Guterres urged the world to “remember the lessons of 1945 and work together to end the pandemic and build a future of peace, safety and dignity for all”.
‘Disturbing echoes of the past’
Speaking on Friday at an “Arria Formula” meeting of the Security Council (meetings at which non-governmental organizations have the opportunity to address the 15-member body outside the official Council meetings), Rosemary di Carlo, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, warned that, today, we are seeing “disturbing echoes of the past”.
“The voices of populism, authoritarianism, nationalism, and xenophobia are making themselves heard ever more loudly. We must confront those who would drag the world back to a violent and shameful past”, she said.
Recalling that, with international help, Europe was able to build a more prosperous and peaceful society after the war, Ms. Di Carlo declared that the current pandemic presents an opportunity for the international community to first “overcome the crisis and then create a more equitable and peaceful world”.