#UN; #Syria; #Geneva; #Peace; #Security
Syria/UN, Aug 29 (Canadian-Media): Syrian opponents meeting in Geneva as part of efforts to find a peaceful end to nearly a decade of conflict in their country have found common ground on which to pursue further discussions, UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen said on Saturday.
Image credit: Twitter handle
Speaking to journalists in the Swiss city after a week of “challenging” stop-start talks, interrupted by the discovery that four participants had tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, Mr. Pedersen insisted that “several areas of commonalities” had been found.
“There are still very strong disagreements and, you know, my Syrian friends are never afraid of expressing those disagreements. But I was also, you know, extremely pleased to hear the two co-chairs saying very clearly that they thought also there were quite a few areas of commonalities. And what I’m looking forward to is hopefully when we meet again, that we will be able to build on those commonalities and bring the process further forward.”
He added: “I am confident that we have been able to build a little bit of confidence, a little bit of trust, and that we can build on this and continue the work that we have started, we would see progress in the work of the committee. But as I have said, progress is happening, it’s of course up to the Syrians themselves within the Committee.”
Hoped-for trust-building gestures from the Syrian Government and the opposition, including progress on the release of abductees and detainees, had been elusive, he said. “The issue of abductees, detainees and missing persons, as you know, has been one of my so-called five priorities from when I started, and it’s an area where I’m afraid we haven’t seen enough progress. But of course, it is my hope that with the continued calm on the ground and with progress on the political track, that we could also see some progress on this front.”
Call for nationwide ceasefire
Highlighting the keen global interest in the Geneva process, given the presence of several major regional and international nations inside Syria, the Special Envoy reiterated his call for a nationwide ceasefire, beyond the fragile truce largely holding in Syria’s northwest.
“It is calmer and that is obviously conducive to the talks that we are having,” Mr. Pedersen insisted. “But at the same time, I think we have agreed the principle that the talks that are happening here in Geneva do not depend on the situation on the ground. We are, you know, in all my briefings to the Security Council, this is one of the key issues I am addressing, and appealing for the parties to make sure that we develop this calm into what we have called in line with Security Council Resolution 2254, a nationwide ceasefire.”
The third session of the UN-facilitated discussions of the Syria Constitutional Committee's small body convened in Geneva after a nine-month break caused by differences over the agenda, which were resolved by March, and then by COVID-19 restrictions.
Earlier negotiations to decide the make-up of the Committee' s larger body were held in Geneva at the end of October 2019.
The larger body comprises 150 participants: 50 each from the Syrian Government, 50 from the opposition, and 50 from civil society – the so-called “middle third” - who hail from different religious, ethnic and geographical backgrounds.
Under the Committee’s rules of procedure and terms of reference agreed by participants, the small group of 45 people is tasked with preparing and drafting proposals.
These are then discussed and adopted by the larger body, although the 75 per cent decision-making threshold means that no single bloc can dictate the Committee’s outcomes.
Up to the Syrian people
At the start of the week, Mr. Pedersen told journalists that meetings had been “constructive” and that a “clear agenda” for the session had been agreed.
Owing to the interruption caused by the COVID-19 development, Mr. Pedersen explained that he would continue discussing the agenda for the Committee’s next meeting separately with the two co-chairs, Ahmad Kuzbari from the Government and Hadi Albahra for the opposition.
But as the UN-facilitated process belonged to the Syrian people and their representatives, it was up to them set a new date for the next round of talks, the Special Envoy insisted.
He also reiterated his confidence that the process would result in a fair representation of the wishes of all Syrians, in line with its terms of reference agreed by the co-chairs.
“It is stated in the terms of reference that to be able to proceed, in the end we would need consensus or a 75 per cent majority,” he said. “And this is of course something in place exactly to be able so that we can move – that all the sides know that they cannot force their views upon the other – if we are to reach, you know a new constitutional reform, it will have to be built as I said either on a strong consensus or bringing people together with a 75 per cent majority.”
#UN; #violence; #ReligiousBelief; #Covid19; #HumanRights
In a message published on the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Violence Based on Religious Belief, which falls on 22 August, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned of a rise in racism since the spread of COVID-19 across the world.
Mr. Guterres noted that the pandemic has been accompanied by “a surge in stigma and racist discourse vilifying communities, spreading vile stereotypes and assigning blame.”
The UN Chief listed some of the disturbing examples of discrimination against religious minorities, such as attacks on people and religious sites, and hate crimes and atrocity crimes targeting populations because of their religion or belief.
In order to counter this discrimination, Mr. Guterres called for more action to address the root causes of intolerance and discrimination by promoting inclusion and respect for diversity, as well as for the perpetrators of crimes of this nature to be held accountable.
UN Photo/Mahmoud Abd ELLatiff
Secretary-General António Guterres speaks at the al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, expressing his solidarity and underscoring the need to fight the scourge of Islamophobia, as well as all forms of hatred and bigotry. 2 April, 2019.
Freedom of religion is a human right“The right to freedom of religion or belief is firmly entrenched in international human rights law”, said the Secretary-General, “and is a cornerstone for inclusive, prosperous and peaceful societies.”
States, he added, have the primary responsibility to protect the right to freedom of religion and belief. Initiatives set up by Mr. Guterres to support them include his Call to Action for Human Rights, a Strategy on Hate Speech and a Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites.
The International Day was created by a UN Resolution adopted in May 2019, in response to a rise of intolerance and violence based on religion or belief against individuals, which are often of a criminal nature. Launching his Strategy on Hate Speech in June 2019, Mr. Guterres said that “a groundswell of xenophobia, racism and intolerance, violent misogyny, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred” are being seen around the world, and noted that, in some places, Christian communities were also being systematically attacked.
The Strategy aims to enable the UN to respond to “the impact of hate speech on societies”, Mr. Guterres explained, by bringing individuals and groups together who have opposing views; working with traditional and social media platforms; and developing communications guidance.
#UnitedNations; Covid19; #Somalia; #Peace; #Security; #UNSOM
United Nations/Somalia, Aug 22 (Canadian-Media): With elections slated for November delayed due to COVID-19, Somalia is at a critical juncture, the top United Nations official in the country told the Security Council on Thursday, pressing federal and state leaders to agree on voting modalities, and bolster the capacity of forces which are meant to assume full control of national security, next year.
Somalia continues to suffer chronic humanitarian crises, with recurring cycles of floods and drought, compounded in 2020 by desert locusts and COVID-19. Image credit: UNSOM
We understand that there are strongly held divergent views among the leaders and political tensions are high in this pre-electoral period”, said James Swan, Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). “Yet, it is precisely during such moments that it is most necessary for the nation's leaders to engage in dialogue.”
He described the current dilemma to ambassadors, whereby Parliament must be elected through universal direct suffrage, according to the Provisional Federal Constitution.
However, the Constitution also stipulates that Parliamentary elections must be held every four years – meaning that elections are due by the end of this coming November. It is impossible to satisfy both of these requirements, he said. Broad agreement is needed.
In an effort to reach a compromise, Somali leaders convened in Dhusamareeb this week, he said, commending President Mohamed Abdillahi Mohamed "Farmajo" and the presidents of the Federal member states of Galmudug, Hirshabelle and South West for their participation. “It is incumbent on Somalia's leaders to rise to this moment in history and pursue agreement in the national interest”, he asserted.
Upsurge in al-Shabaab attacks
On the security front, he described a “worrying upsurge” in al-Shabaab attacks, particularly in Mogadishu, drawing attention to the 16 August assault on the Elite Hotel and an unquestionable need for "hard security" operations to counter the group.
Indeed, Somalia is to take the lead on its security matters in 2021, he said, and while Federal authorities have completed a concept note for updating the transition plan, force generation has faced setbacks in meeting 2020 projections, owing to COVID-19.
Floods, drought, locust swarms compound pressures
On the humanitarian front, he described recurring cycles of floods and drought, compounded by desert locusts and COVID-19, stressing that more than 5 million people – one third of Somalia's population — still require aid, and that the $1 billion Humanitarian Appeal is funded at around 50 per cent.
He expressed hope that the new Government and Prime Minister, once appointed, will accelerate the reform agenda for national development.
“Progress in Somalia requires a long-term commitment to governance, justice, respect for human rights, and inclusion of women, youth, and minorities to build the nation”, he said.
He also raised objections, in line with other senior UN rights officials, to a bill introduced in Parliament titled, “The Law on Sexual Intercourse Related Crimes”, which would violate protections against child marriage and forced marriage, as well as international human rights commitments to which Somalia is party.
#UN; #UNAMI; #Iraq; UNMission; #killings; #justice
United Nations/Iraq, Aug 22 (Canadian-Media): The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has strongly condemned the killing of two activists and attacks against others in the southern city of Basra, urging increased efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.
A woman carrying a toddler crosses a street in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. (file photo) Image credit: © UNICEF/UNI39964/Noorani
Riham Yacoub, a medical doctor, was killed on Wednesday. Her death came in the midst protests in the city, demanding accountability for the killing of another activist, Tahseen Oussama, who was murdered on 14 August.
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq and the head of the UN Mission, warned that the killings present a “serious threat to security and stability” in Basra, the nation’s largest port.
“Basrawis should not live in such an atmosphere of terror and intimidation. Greater action by the authorities is urgently required,” she said in a news release on Thursday.
“The full force of the law must be applied to find, apprehend and hold the perpetrators accountable, and to put an end to this cycle of violence,” added the UN envoy.
UNAMI said that its human rights office received “credible reports” of two attempted targeted killings in Basra on 17 August when unidentified armed elements shot at a vehicle carrying three activists – including one woman – injuring two, who have been admitted to a hospital for treatment.
A vehicle, driven by another woman, was also shot at, but the attackers missed.
UNAMI also said while it acknowledges positive steps taken by the Government in response to the incidents, it urges further action to deliver justice, accountability and security.
#UN; #Terrorisim; #VictimsOfTerrorism
UN, Aug 21 (Canadian-Media): The impact of terrorism on victims can “last a lifetime and reverberate across generations”, the UN chief said on Friday during a virtual commemoration for International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism.
In remembering and honouring all victims of terrorism, Secretary-General António Guterres said the UN stands by those who grieve and those who “continue to endure the physical and psychological wounds of terrorist atrocities”.
“Traumatic memories cannot be erased, but we can help victims and survivors by seeking truth, justice and reparation, amplifying their voices and upholding their human rights”, he stressed.
Keep spotlight on victims, even amid pandemic
This year’s commemoration takes place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, when vital services for victims, such as criminal justice processes and psychosocial support, have been interrupted, delayed or ended as Governments focus attention and resources on fighting the pandemic.
Moreover, many memorials and commemorations have been cancelled or moved online, hampering the ability of victims to find solace and comfort together.
And the current restrictions have also forced the first-ever UN Global Congress of Victims of Terrorism has to be postponed until next year.
“But it is important that we keep a spotlight on this important issue,” stressed the UN chief.
“Remembering the victims of terrorism and doing more to support them is essential to help them rebuild their lives and heal”, said Mr. Guterres, including work with parliamentarians and governments to draft and adopt legislation and national strategies to help victims.
The Secretary-General vowed that “the UN stands in solidarity with all victims of terrorism – today and every day” and underscored the need to “ensure that those who have suffered are always heard and never forgotten”.
General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande saluted the resilience of terrorist survivors and called the day “an opportunity to honour the memories of the innocent civilians who have lost their lives as a result of terrorist acts around the world”.
“Terrorism, in all forms and manifestations, can never be justified”, he stated. “Acts of terrorism everywhere must be strongly condemned”.
The UN commits to combating terrorism and the Assembly has adopted resolutions to curb the scourge while working to establish and maintain peace and security globally.
Mechanisms for survivors must be strengthened to safeguard a “full recovery, rehabilitation and re-integration into society through long-term multi-dimensional support”, stated the UN official.
“Together we can ensure that you live a full life defined by dignity and freedom. You are not alone in this journey. You are not forgotten”, concluded the Assembly president.
‘Human dimension’ Closing the event, Vladimir Voronkov, chief of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, maintained that victims represent “the very human dimension of terrorism”.
While terrorists try to depersonalize victims by reducing them to mere numbers or statistics, Mr. Voronkov maintained that “we have a responsibility to do the exact opposite”.
“We must see victims’ hopes, dreams and daily lives that have been shattered by terrorist violence – a shattering that carries on long after the attack is over”, he stated. “We must ensure their human rights are upheld and their needs are met”.
While acknowledging the “terrible reality of terrorism”, Mr. Voronkov flagged that the survivors shine as “examples of resilience, and beacons of hope, courage and solidarity in the face of adversity”.
In reaffirming “our common humanity”, he urged everyone to raise awareness of victims needs and rights.
“Let us commit to showing them that they are not alone and will never be forgotten”, concluded the Counter-Terrorism chief.
At the virtual event, survivors shared their stories while under lockdown, agreeing that the long-term impacts of surviving any kind of an attack is that the traumatic experience never really goes away.
Tahir from Pakistan lost his wife in attack against the UN World Food Programme (WFP) office in Islamabad.
“If you have an accident, you know how to cope with it. Terminal illness, you know how to cope with it. But there is no coping mechanism for a person who dies in an act of terror”, he said.
Meanwhile Nigeel’s father perished in the 1998 US Embassy attack in Kenya, when he was just months years old.
The 22 year-old shared: “When you are growing, it really doesn’t have a heavy impact on you, but as life starts to unfold, mostly I’ll find myself asking if I do this and my dad was around, would he be proud of me?”
And Julie, from Australia, lost her 21-year-old daughter in the 2017 London Bridge attack.
“The Australian police came to our house and said ‘we have a body, still not confirmed’, so they recommended that we fly to London”, she recalled. “I can’t describe how devastating as a parent to lose a child in these circumstances is for the rest of your life”.
#UN; #NuclearWeapons; #Peace&Security; #InternationalYouthDay
Geneva/UN, Aug 10 (Canadian-Media): Nuclear weapons are still one of the most serious threats to mankind, and the dangers are growing. Young people can play an important role in ensuring that they are eliminated once and for all, says the UN’s top disarmament official, ahead of International Youth Day on 12 August.
The UN Under-Secretary-General of Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu (centre) meets young people in Japan at an event focused on the 75th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and the establishment of the UN. Image credit: UN Office for Disarmament Affairs
This coming Wednesday, the world will highlight young people as essential partners in effecting change. The annual celebration of International Youth Day is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the problems facing youth, including the continued existence of nuclear weapons.
Seventy-five years ago last week, the only two nuclear bombs ever used in warfare were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, killing approximately 210,000 people within months and sickening tens of thousands more with cancer and lifelong diseases.
Nearly 14,000 nuclear warheads exist today, most of them many times more powerful than those two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The world has succeeded at reducing some of the risks, especially after the end of the Cold War, but Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, has said the danger is now “higher than it has been in generations.”
Ms. Nakamitsu talked to UN News about why, and how, young people are helping to tackle this crisis.
‘The memory stays with you’
Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, briefs members of the UN Security Council. Image credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe
“When catastrophes occur, they tend to turn into numbers, and it is important to remember that everyone who suffered the devastation from the atomic bombings 75 years ago has a story. They had lives, people they loved and who loved them.
When I was about 10 or 12 years old, I visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and once you have seen them the memory stays with you.
Eliminating these indiscriminate and inhumane weapons is the UN’s top disarmament priority – and one of its oldest goals.
But the world’s progress to rid the world of nuclear weapons has slowed down, and now we are actually starting to go backwards. This back-sliding increases the possibility that a nuclear weapon could be used– either intentionally, by accident or because of a misunderstanding.
In today’s complicated international environment – with priorities ranging from climate change to sustainable development, pandemics and migration – nuclear weapons are still one of the most urgent threats to tackle.
Here are three reasons why.
First, they are the most destructive weapons ever invented. Most that exist today are vastly more powerful than the bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Second, nuclear weapons are one of the two threats, along with climate change, that extend to all life on the planet. Any use of nuclear weapons could cause an environmental cataclysm.
Third, no country can adequately respond to the vast suffering and death that would follow any use of a nuclear weapon. Most countries, and international organisations like the ICRC, have voiced concern about this. Some countries have adopted a new treaty which prohibits nuclear weapons.
The power of youth
As part of the largest generation in history, today’s young people hold tremendous power – and responsibility.
Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth, stressed this during a visit to Japan earlier this year. She said, “The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki should always remind us, especially the younger generations, how important disarmament and denuclearization is. Young people under the age of 30 account for over half of the world’s population, and we can’t achieve world peace without their participation.
The Secretary-General’s Agenda for Disarmament recognizes youth as “the ultimate force for change”. When they are educated, engaged and empowered, they can have decisive influence on how their societies and governments view nuclear weapons.
We have seen their power before. Young campaigners, many of them women, helped lead successful global efforts to ban landmines and cluster munitions under international law, and they are rallying many countries to reduce nuclear threats.
Some of these campaigns have been awarded with a Nobel Peace Prize. Last year, the United Nations General Assembly reaffirmed the contributions that young people can make in sustaining peace and security.
Young people can contribute by starting discussion groups, hosting film screenings and planning informative events with fellow students and friends. I recommend reading the United Nations book, “Action for Disarmament: 10 Things You can Do!” to learn more about these and other outreach strategies.
How to get involved
At the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, we want to help create space for young people to meaningfully contribute to progress on disarmament. Through a new outreach initiative, called “#Youth4Disarmament”, we are working to engage, educate and empower young people by offering resources like e-newsletters, training programmes and an upcoming website dedicated to youth and disarmament.
We also recently announced our first group of “Youth Champions for Disarmament”. These 10 young people will receive training on general principles of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control through both online courses and a two-week in-person study tour in Vienna, Geneva, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They will exchange ideas with experts from think tanks, civil society organizations and the diplomatic field, and develop a plan to engage their communities on disarmament-related issues.
It is vital for countries to engage with their younger citizens. They have the power to effect change, and their ideas can help strengthen our collective peace and security—now and for the future. With their fresh ideas and perspectives, together we can find solutions to the world’s gravest dangers.”
Geneva (UN), Aug 9 (Canadian-Media): UN Secretary General António Guterres on Sunday marked 75 years since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki with praise for the hibakusha, the survivors, who transformed their decades-long plight into a warning about the perils of nuclear weapons and an example of the triumph of the human spirit.
Ruins of Nagasaki about 800 metres from the hypocenter in mid-October 1945. Image credit: UN Photo/Shigeo Hayashi
“Your example should provide the world with a daily motivation to eliminate all nuclear weapons. Sadly, three-quarters of a century after this city was incinerated by an atomic bomb,the nuclear menace is once again on the rise,” said Mr. Guterres in a statement delivered in Nagasaki by Izumi Nakamitsu, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.
In remarks delivered to the Peace Memorial Ceremony, the UN chief hailed Nagasaki as a true example of resilience, recovery and reconciliation.
“Citizens of Nagasaki are not defined by the atomic bombing, but they are dedicated to ensuring such a catastrophe never befalls another city or people,” he said, adding that the international community remains grateful for that dedication to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.
Yet while the resilience of the people of Nagasaki and the venerable, long-suffering hibakusha “should provide the world with a daily motivation to eliminate all nuclear weapons,” the Secretary-General warned that the prospect of nuclear weapons being used intentionally, by accident or miscalculation, is dangerously high.
He explained that while nuclear weapons are being modernized to become stealthier, more accurate, faster and more dangerous, the relationships between nuclear-armed States are precarious – defined by distrust, a lack of transparency and dearth of dialogue.
“Nuclear sabres are being rattled, with bellicose rhetoric not seen since the Cold War,” he stated.
Moreover, the historic progress in nuclear disarmament is in jeopardy, as the web of instruments and agreements designed to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and bring about their elimination is crumbling, he said, urging: “This alarming trend must be reversed.”
Calling on the international community to return to the understanding that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, Mr. Guterres stressed that there&is an urgent need to stop the erosion of the nuclear order.
“We must use the tenth review conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)to restart our joint efforts. We must continue to uphold the norm against nuclear testing. And we must protect and further strengthen the international nuclear disarmament regime,” said the Secretary-General, looking forward to the entry into force of Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as an “important” new element.
That treaty, known as the TPNW, is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons. It was adopted by a 2017 UN conference, where States undertook not to develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. The TPNW will enter into force 90 days after the 50th instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession has been deposited.
All countries possessing nuclear weapons have an obligation to lead – UN chief Guterres
Closing out his remarks on Sunday, the Secretary-General pledge that the United Nations will carry forward the message of the courageous hibakusha so that the entire world can see the human face of the cold logic of nuclear strategy.
“Connecting this history with the youth of today – tomorrow’s peacebuilders – must be our goal to help future generations move out from under the shadow of nuclear apocalypse,” he said.
Saturday’s ceremony follows the commemoration on 6 August of the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, which devastated that city in 1945.
The birth of the UN in that same year, is inextricably intertwined with the destruction wrought by the nuclear bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he told that ceremony.
“Since its earliest days and resolutions, the Organization has recognized the need to totally eliminate nuclear weapons”, Mr. Guterres said, adding that goal remains elusive.
#Hiroshima; #Japan; #Bombings; #75thanniversary; Survivors; #hibakusha
Hiroshima (Japan), Aug 6 (Canadian-Media): With passage of 75 years since the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings took place, and decline in the number of survivors, a new generation of present storytellers and advocates are considering to take on the task of preserving these memories as a way to illustrate the horror of nuclear war and push for change, media reports said.
Hiroshima Bombing. Image credit: Twitter handle
On Aug. 6, 1945, Toshiko Ishikawa, then aged 12, after seeing a blinding flash of light and hearing a "pop" before the ground started shaking and along with her friend was buried under the remains of nearby buildings in Hiroshima.
After being unconscious for a few moment, when she awoke to screaming, she realizing her friend was trapped beside her and her stepmother was above her. After she was dug out she saw that her house had collapsed.
"I looked to see my house, but it was gone," Ishikawa later told her daughter, Kathleen Burkinshaw. "Out of the corner of my eye, I could see fires and they looked like they were twirling. And ... I knew that's where my papa was," reported by CBC News.
Kathleen Burkinshaw. Image credit: Twitter handle
Ishikawa died five years ago at the age of 82, after witnessing the deaths of nearly all her immediate family members and could not witness the 75th anniversary of the tragic events.
According to official records there are fewer than 140,000 hibakusha, the name given to survivors of the atomic bombs the U.S. dropped.
More that 325,000 people had lost their lives as a result of the bombs and their aftermath, Hiroshima City says, including nearly 5,000 who died in the past year. The average age of the survivor is at least 83 years.
The reason that Burkinshaw continues to share her mother's story, an action that arms control experts say, to preserve the memory of portraying the true horror of nuclear destruction.
In 2017, Setsuko Thurlow, a hibakusha based in Toronto, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons for its work advocating for a UN treaty to ban the weapons.
Although the UN treaty to ban the weapons has been approved by 40 countries, none of the world's nuclear powers or major allies, like Canada and Japan, have signed on.
Ishikawa didn't speak much about the bombing to Burkinshaw, not even telling her daughter that she was from Hiroshima until she turned 11. "That was because of the nightmares she would have," Burkinshaw, 51, said from her home in Charlotte, N.C. "I remember being woken up with her screaming, every beginning of August," CBC News reported.
After the bomb was dropped, people in Hiroshima were told it would be at least 75 years until trees bloomed again.
Sachi Komura Rummel, now 83 and living in Vancouver, who barely spoke about her experiences with the bombing for most of her life, said when blossoms appeared the following spring, it will show the city that the people had a future, a message she hopes to have a small hand in passing on.
"I'm just planting seeds, small seeds, to peace. But that seed will grow in the future and then it will spread to create a peaceful world. That's my dream," said Rummel, CBC News reported.
#UN; #Lebanon, #BeirutExplosion; #Peace&Security
Lebanon/UN, Aug 5 (Canadian-Media): The United Nations is working closely with the authorities in Lebanon to support ongoing response in the aftermath of the massive deadly explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday, destroying large swathes of the capital.
Large swaths of Beirut were destroyed as a result of the explosion in the city's port. Image credit: UNIFIL
More than 130 people were killed in the blast, which ripped through the port and surrounding area, causing countless injuries and leaving thousands homeless. The Government has declared a two-week state of emergency.
Speaking on Wednesday, UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq told journalists that support for hospitals and trauma response is a top priority.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) is working closely with the Lebanese Ministry of Health to conduct an assessment of hospital facilities in Beirut, their functionality and needs for additional support, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic”, he said.
“Specialists are being dispatched to Beirut at the moment to assist in the emergency response, both from the United Nations and multiple Member States. Experts are en route to support urban search and rescue operations. Teams are also equipped to conduct rapid assessments about the situation on the ground and help coordinate emergency response activities.”
Critical role of Beirut port
Beirut’s port is the main port in Lebanon and is critical for both the country and UN activities in Syria, as Mr. Haq explained.
“We expect that the damage to the port will significantly exacerbate the economic and food security situation in Lebanon, which imports about 80-85 per cent of its food”, he said, responding to a journalist’s question.
“Our colleagues at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also expect that this will affect our ability to provide aid to Syria because the port in Beirut was one of the ways that we ship in aid, and of course we also use the airports, so we’ll need to find alternate plans.”
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) is undertaking an assessment of food needs. An assessment of shelter needs is also underway.
WFP said the explosion and the damage to the port will worsen “the grim economic and food security situation in Lebanon”, which was already facing its worst ever economic crisis, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A recent WFP survey on the impact of the economic crisis and COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown measures on livelihoods and food security, revealed that food has become a major source of concern with 50 percent of Lebanese saying over the past month they felt worried they would not have enough food to eat”, the agency said on Wednesday.
The UN is looking at all options to find ways to provide financial assistance for the ongoing response efforts.
The Organization has been heartened to see that governments across the world have declared their support for Lebanon, said Mr. Haq, who recalled that the country has been a haven for people fleeing war and persecution.
A home for refugees
Lebanon, which has a population of around six million, has taken in nearly 900,000 Syrians and more than 200,000 Palestinian refugees, as well as more than 18,000 other displaced people from nations such as Iraq and Sudan.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, expressed solidarity with the Lebanese people in the aftermath of the massive explosion.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, the agency’s chief, issued a statement saying “our heartfelt condolences go to the families who have lost their dear ones. Our thoughts are with those who are hurt and injured.”
UN staff in Lebanon and their dependents are among those affected by the explosion, with around 100 receiving treatment, according to Mr. Haq. He further reported that two family members of UN staff have died.
‘A state of shock’
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed the impact on its team in Lebanon.
“One of our colleagues lost his spouse, seven of our staff were mildly injured and dozens of colleagues’ homes were damaged”, said Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Representative for Lebanon, in a statement on Wednesday.
“Most of our staff – as are most people in Lebanon – are in a state of shock.”
UNICEF is coordinating with the Lebanese authorities and partners to respond to needs.
The agency has provided drinking water to staff at the Beirut port while assisting health officials in rescuing medicines and vaccines that remained in a warehouse there. Its partners on the ground are providing psychosocial support to children across the city.
“Yesterday’s catastrophe in Beirut adds to what has already been a terrible crisis for the people of Lebanon compounded by an economic collapse and a surge in COVID-19 cases. The pandemic already meant that hospitals are overwhelmed, and front-line workers are exhausted”, said Ms. Mokuo.
She added that UNICEF will be stepping up efforts to reach families in need over the coming days.
#UN; #Peace&Security; #Syria
UN, Aug 4 (Canadian-Media): The United Nations expressed concern on Tuesday for the safety and protection of more than four million civilians in north-western Syria, which has been hit with aerial bombardments over the past few days.
An internally displaced family lives in a damaged school in the town of Binish in Idlib, Syria. Image credit: © UNOCHA
Speaking at a virtual press briefing, Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq told journalists that in the wake of reports of air attacks and shelling over the past few days, 2.7 million people have been internally displaced.
“Yesterday”, he said, “local sources reported airstrikes impacting three communities in Idlib governorate as well as one community in northern Latakia governorate”.
As a result of the air raids, three people were reportedly killed and seven injured in Bennsh, in Idlib governorate.
“The UN calls on all parties to heed the calls by the Secretary-General for a full ceasefire as an essential measure to enable communities to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic”, Mr. Haq stressed.
‘Protect civilians’Since March 2011, the country has been in the throes of a conflict that has forced more than half of all Syrians to leave their homes.
With 5.6 million Syrian refugees, 6.6 million internally displaced and more than 12 million people in need of assistance, the crisis has caused untold suffering for Syrian women, children and men.
The UN spokesperson reminded all parties, and those with influence over them, of their obligation to “protect civilians and civilian infrastructure as required by International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law”.