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CAR: République centrafricaine. « Au procès, ces chefs de guerre ont baissé la tête ». La difficile quête de justice

Thu, 22 Oct 2020 05:01:03 +0000

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Country: Central African Republic
Source: Amnesty International

Please refer to the attached file.

République centrafricaine. Alors que de nombreuses personnes « ont soif de procès », certains chefs de guerre sont toujours en liberté

22 octobre 2020, 00:01 UTC

  • Un nouveau rapport d’Amnesty fait le point sur les derniers événements relatifs à la lutte contre l’impunité
  • Deux ans après son inauguration, la Cour pénale spéciale doit faire preuve de plus de transparence dans ses activités judiciaires
  • Le système judiciaire doit redoubler d’efforts pour poursuivre, dans le cadre de procès équitables, ceux qui ont tué, violé et enlevé des civils

Malgré quelques enquêtes et procès ces dernières années, de nombreux auteurs des terrifiantes violations et atteintes aux droits humains perpétrées en République centrafricaine (RCA) n’ont toujours pas été déférés à la justice deux ans après l’inauguration de la Cour pénale spéciale du pays (CPS), a déclaré Amnesty International le 22 octobre.

Plusieurs groupes armés et individus jouissent de l’impunité pour les crimes de droit international, notamment des meurtres et des violences sexuelles, commis au cours des décennies de conflit en RCA.

Dans un nouveau rapport intitulé République centrafricaine. « Au procès, ces chefs de guerre ont baissé la tête ». La difficile quête de justice, Amnesty International montre que le travail de la CPS a été entravé par des insuffisances concernant l'opérationnalisation de la Cour et un manque de transparence, et que le système judiciaire de la RCA n’a pas la capacité de faire face à l’ampleur de ces violations. Il attire également l’attention sur les efforts qui doivent encore être fournis pour garantir l’équité des procès devant les tribunaux ordinaires et devant la CPS.

« Ce sont les civils qui ont été les principales victimes des vagues de violence et conflits armés qui se sont succédé depuis 2002 en RCA. Des milliers d’entre eux ont été tués, violés, et plus d’un demi-million de personnes sont toujours déplacées. L’impunité est un affront aux victimes et un blanc-seing accordé aux criminels. L’inauguration de la CPS a représenté une lueur d’espoir pour les victimes, mais les progrès sont lents. Dix affaires sont en cours d’instruction, et la CPS a refusé de divulguer l’identité des 21 personnes arrêtées à l’issue des investigations qu’elle a menées, sans expliquer ce qui motive ce refus », a expliqué Samira Daoud, directrice pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest et l’Afrique centrale à Amnesty International.

« Le système judiciaire de la RCA manque cruellement de ressources. Alors que des groupes armés, y compris des ex-Séléka et des anti-Balaka, continuent d’attaquer régulièrement des civils, il est évident que des mesures supplémentaires sont nécessaires pour mettre fin au cycle de l’impunité qui continue de causer tant de souffrances. »

La CPS est un tribunal hybride qui bénéficie du soutien de l’ONU et qui a pour mission d’enquêter et de mener des poursuites judiciaires, sur une période de cinq ans renouvelable, sur les crimes de droit international et les autres graves violations des droits humains perpétrés en RCA depuis janvier 2003. Elle a été instaurée par une loi en juin 2015 et inaugurée le 22 octobre 2018. Son mandat est complémentaire de celui de la CPI et de ceux des tribunaux ordinaires de la RCA.

Manque de transparence et identité inconnue des suspects à la CPS Les chercheurs d’Amnesty International ont mené à distance des entretiens avec des juges, des procureurs, des avocats et des militant·e·s, et examiné plus de 100 documents juridiques.
Le bureau du Procureur spécial de la CPS a reçu au moins 122 plaintes, et dix affaires sont en cours d’instruction. Mais l’on sait peu de choses au sujet des événements et crimes concernés et de l’avancée de ces affaires. La procédure manque de transparence et le public n’a pas été informé de l’identité des suspects placés en détention provisoire.

Au moins 21 personnes ont été arrêtées dans le cadre de ces enquêtes et se trouvent actuellement en détention provisoire. Trois des personnes incarcérées ont été arrêtées à la suite d’homicides commis à Paoua (Nord-Ouest) en mai 2019. Neuf personnes ont été arrêtées le 19 mai 2020 pour des homicides commis à Ndele (Nord-Est) en 2019 et 2020, et neuf autres ont été arrêtées le 25 mai 2020 pour des attaques contre des civils commises à Bambouti, Obo et Zemio (Sud-Est) en 2020.

Les enquêtes ont débuté en 2019 et les procès devraient s’ouvrir en 2021, mais l’opérationnalisation de la CPS se heurte à de graves obstacles qui l’empêchent de fonctionner correctement. Figurent au nombre de ces difficultés le recrutement de juges internationaux et le retard qui a été pris dans la mise en place du système de représentation légale de la Cour.

Amnesty International a parlé avec des membres du personnel de la CPS et du personnel des Nations unies qui apportent leur soutien à la CPS, qui ont confirmé qu’il est difficile de recevoir des candidatures satisfaisantes pour les postes de juges internationaux en raison de la situation sécuritaire et politique en RCA, et de la nécessité d’avoir des francophones ayant de l’expérience dans le système romano-germanique.

Par exemple, le mandat d’une juge nommée à la chambre d’instruction de la CPS a expiré, mais elle n’a toujours pas été remplacée. Il ne reste donc plus à la chambre d’instruction qu’une seule juge internationale, qui doit s’impliquer sur toutes les affaires en cours. En conséquence, les affaires examinées par cette chambre subissent des retards.

« Nous saluons les mesures prises par les autorités pour combattre l’impunité à travers la mise en place de la CPS, mais le fait est que de nombreuses victimes attendent toujours que justice soit rendue pour des crimes qui ont été commis il y a presque 20 ans. Justice doit être rendue, et perçue comme rendue », a déclaré Samira Daoud.

« Nous demandons aux États membres des Nations unies d’envisager de faire des contributions financières à la CPS, afin qu’elle puisse remplir son mandat et rendre enfin justice, et nous appelons les États francophones à soumettre d’urgence des candidatures pour détacher des juges à la Cour. »

Reprise des sessions criminelles

Après une interruption de plusieurs années, les tribunaux ordinaires de la RCA ont repris en 2015 les sessions criminelles. Cela a représenté une avancée positive, mais le système judiciaire doit faire face à de nombreuses difficultés, notamment en raison du manque de personnel, d’infrastructures et de matériel. Sur les 24 tribunaux prévus par la loi, 16 seulement étaient opérationnels au moment où nous rédigions le rapport.

Le nombre de sessions criminelles organisées chaque année demeure également inférieur au minimum requis par la loi, et le nombre d’affaires qui passent en jugement est insuffisant au regard du nombre de crimes perpétrés depuis 2002. En 2019, 20 procès en assises ont eu lieu dans l’ensemble du pays.

De plus, la police et les autorités judiciaires de la RCA manquent d’indépendance vis-à-vis du pouvoir exécutif, et le conflit en cours ainsi que l’insécurité représentent des défis supplémentaires.

Une personne travaillant pour une organisation d’assistance juridique a dit à Amnesty International qu’en raison de la présence des groupes armés, certains juges ne peuvent pas se déplacer en toute sécurité dans leur propre juridiction.

Il est difficile de donner le nombre exact de poursuites pénales liées au conflit engagées devant les tribunaux en RCA et de savoir si ces procès étaient des procès équitables.

La grande majorité des poursuites qui ont été engagées contre des membres des anti-Balaka ou des ex-Séléka depuis 2015 concernent à notre connaissance des subalternes et des crimes contre l’État, plutôt que des crimes et violations des droits humains contre les civils.

Amnesty International a connaissance de deux cas où d’anciens membres des anti-Balaka ont été jugés par la cour criminelle de Bangui pour des crimes commis contre des civils.

Le 22 janvier 2018, un tribunal a déclaré le chef anti-balaka Général Andjilo coupable d’assassinat, d’association de malfaiteurs, de détention illégale d’armes de guerre, de vol à mains armées et de séquestration.

En février 2020, le tribunal a émis son premier jugement pour crimes de droit international en ce qui concerne une attaque menée le 13 mai 2017 par un groupe anti-Balaka à Bangassou (Sud-Est). Lors de cette attaque, 72 personnes ont été tuées, notamment des civils et 10 soldats de la paix de l'ONU, et des milliers d’autres ont été contraintes de fuir la ville.

Cinq ex-leaders de groupes anti-Balaka – Kevin Bere Bere, Romaric Mandago, Crepin Wakanam alias Pino Pino, Patrick Gbiako et Yembeline Mbenguia Alpha – ont été déclarés coupables de plusieurs chefs de crimes contre l’humanité et de crimes de guerre. Les audiences de ce procès ont été retransmises intégralement à la radio et à la télévision.

Un ancien juge a déclaré à Amnesty International : « … [D]es chefs de groupes armés qui étaient très puissants […] sont redevenus tout petits ! Les victimes durant l’audience ont pu s’adresser directement aux accusés, et les chefs de guerre ont baissé la tête [...] ! On a senti que la justice est en train de se faire. Ce sont vraiment des moments forts, appréciés par la population. »

En juillet 2020, des juges militaires ont été nommés pour la première fois depuis l’adoption du Code de justice militaire de 2017, ce qui a ouvert la voie à de futures poursuites devant des tribunaux militaires.

Amnesty International demande aux autorités centrafricaines de modifier la législation afin que le domaine de compétence des tribunaux militaires soit limité aux infractions strictement militaires commises par le personnel militaire. La loi doit explicitement exclure les crimes commis contre des civils du champ de compétence des tribunaux militaires, conformément aux normes internationales.

« La plupart des personnes suspectées d’être responsables de crimes perpétrés depuis 2012 dans les deux camps, ex-Séléka et anti-Balaka, demeurent en liberté dans le pays, et certaines d’entre elles continuent de commettre des violations », a déclaré Samira Daoud.

« Les droits des victimes à la vérité, à la justice et à des réparations dans un délai raisonnable ne doivent pas être sacrifiés au nom de calculs politiques, qui se sont souvent révélés contre-productifs. Le combat contre l’impunité doit donc rester la première des priorités. La justice qui vise les petits et qui ne respecte pas les règles de procédure n’est pas la vraie justice. »

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‘’On trial, these warlords lowered their eyes’’: The Central African Republic’s challenging pursuit of justice

Thu, 22 Oct 2020 04:56:35 +0000

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Country: Central African Republic
Source: Amnesty International

Please refer to the attached file.

Central African Republic: While many ‘people are hungry for trials’ some warlords still walk free

22 October 2020, 00:01 UTC

  • New Amnesty report takes stock of latest developments in the fight against impunity
  • Two years on, the Special Criminal Court needs to show more transparency in its judicial activities
  • Justice system needs stronger efforts to prosecute, in fair trials, those who have killed, raped and abducted civilians

Despite a few investigations and trials these past few years, many perpetrators of horrendous human rights violations and abuses in the Central African Republic (CAR) have not been brought to justice two years after the inauguration of the country’s Special Criminal Court (SCC), Amnesty International said today.

Throughout decades of conflict in CAR, various armed groups and individuals have enjoyed impunity for crimes under international law including unlawful killings and sexual violence.

In a new report, ‘’On trial, these warlords lowered their eyes’’: The Central African Republic’s challenging pursuit of justice, Amnesty International found that the SCC’s progress has been hampered by deficiencies in the Court’s operationalisation and a lack of transparency, while CAR’s national justice system is too weak to address the vast scale of the violations. It also highlights the remaining efforts to be made to ensure trials before ordinary courts and the SCC are fair.

“Civilians have borne the brunt of successive waves of violence and armed conflict since 2002 in CAR. Thousands have been killed, raped, and over half a million people are still displaced. Impunity is an affront for the victims and a blank check for perpetrators of crimes. The inauguration of the SCC provided a glimmer of hope for victims, but progress is slow. Ten cases are currently before investigating judges, and the SCC has refused to disclose the identities of the 21 individuals arrested following its investigations, without providing reasons for such refusal,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International West and Central Africa Director.

“CAR’s national justice system is severely under-resourced. With armed groups including ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka still carrying out regular attacks against civilians, it is clear that much more needs to be done to end the cycle of impunity that continues to cause so much suffering.”

The Special Criminal Court is an UN-backed hybrid tribunal mandated to investigate and prosecute, for a renewable five-year period, crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations committed in CAR since January 2003. It was established by a June 2015 law and was inaugurated on 22 October 2018. It is complementary to the mandate of the ICC and the ordinary courts of CAR.

Lack of transparency and unknown suspects at the SCCAmnesty International researchers conducted remote interviews with judges, prosecutors, lawyers and activists, as well as reviewed more than 100 legal documents. At least 122 complaints have been received by the Office of the Special Prosecutor of the SCC, and ten cases are now before the investigating judges. But little is known about the events and crimes concerned or the progress of these cases. These proceedings lack transparency and suspects held in pre-trial detention remain unknown to the public.

At least 21 individuals have been arrested in the context of these investigations and are currently in pre-trial detention. Three of those in detention were arrested following killings committed in Paoua (North West) in May 2019. Nine individuals were arrested on 19 May 2020, in connection with killings perpetrated in Ndele (North East) in 2019 and 2020; and nine were arrested on 25 May 2020 in relation to attacks against civilians committed in Bambouti, Obo and Zemio (South East) in 2020.

While investigations started in 2019 and trials are expected to start in 2021, the operationalisation of the SCC is facing some serious challenges, impeding its proper functioning. Among these challenges are the recruitment of international judges and the delay in the establishment of the Court’s legal aid system.

Amnesty International spoke to staff working at the SCC, and staff of the UN working in support of the SCC, who confirm difficulties to receive adequate applications for international judges due to the security and political situation in CAR, as well as the requirement to have French speakers having experience in the civil law system.

For example, the mandate of a judge appointed at the SCC Investigating Chamber has lapsed but she is yet to be replaced. This leaves the Chamber with only one international judge, to deal with all ongoing proceedings. Consequently, cases to be currently examined by the Chamber are suffering from delays.While we welcome authorities’ efforts to address impunity through the SCC, the fact remains that many victims are still waiting for justice for crimes committed almost two decades ago. Justice needs to be done and seen to be done,” said Samira Daoud.

“We call on UN member states to consider making contributions to the SCC, to ensure it can fulfil its mandate and deliver long-awaited justice, and we call on Francophone States to urgently submit applications to second judges to the Court.”

Resumption of criminal sessionsAfter years of interruption, CAR’s ordinary courts resumed criminal trial sessions in 2015. While this was a positive development, the justice system faces multiple challenges including lack of personnel, infrastructure and material. Out of the 24 tribunals required to be established by law, only 16 were operational at the time of writing of the report.

The number of criminal sessions organized per year also remains below the minimum required by law and the number of cases going on trial are insufficient with regards the scale of crimes committed since 2002. In 2019, just 20 criminal cases were concluded in the entire country.

In addition, CAR’s police and judicial authorities lack independence from the executive power, while ongoing conflict and insecurity present further challenges.One worker at a legal aid organization told Amnesty International that the prevalence of armed groups means some judges cannot travel safely within their own jurisdictions.

It is difficult to confirm the exact number of conflict-related criminal proceedings brought before ordinary criminal courts in CAR and whether they were compliant with international fair trial standards.

The vast majority of known criminal cases which have brought against members of anti-Balaka or ex-Seleka since 2015 appear to deal with low ranking individuals; and appear to relate to crimes against the state, rather than human rights violations and abuses.

Amnesty International is aware of two cases where former anti-Balaka members have been tried by the ordinary criminal court in Bangui over crimes against civilians.

On 22 January 2018, the court found anti-Balaka commander General Andjilo guilty of criminal conspiracy, assassination, illegal possession of weapons of war, aggravated theft and sequestration.

In February 2020, the court issued its first conviction on charges of crimes under international law, in relation to an attack on 13 May 2017 by the anti-Balaka group in Bangassou (South East). During the attack, 72 people were killed, including civilians and ten UN peacekeepers, and thousands were forced to flee the town.

Five individuals - Kevin Bere Bere, Romaric Mandago, Crepin Wakanam alias Pino Pino, Patrick Gbiako and Yembeline Mbenguia Alpha – who were identified as anti-Balaka leaders, were found guilty of several charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The trial hearings were broadcasted in their entirety via radio and television.

A former judge told Amnesty International:

“…Warlords who used to be very powerful […] became small people again. Victims directly spoke to the accused during hearings, and these warlords lowered their eyes! We could feel justice was being done. Those were really powerful moments, appreciated by the population.”

In July 2020, military judges were appointed. It was the first time since the adoption of the 2017 military justice code, opening the way to future proceedings before military courts.Amnesty International urges CAR authorities to amend the law to ensure that the jurisdiction of military courts is limited to purely military offenses committed by military personnel. The law must explicitly exclude crimes committed against civilians from the jurisdiction of military courts, in accordance with international standards.

“Most individuals who are alleged to be most responsible for crimes committed since 2012 on both sides, ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka, still live freely in the country and some continue to commit violations,” said Samira Daoud.

“Victims’ rights to obtain truth, justice and reparations in a reasonable time should not be sacrificed in the name of political calculations, often proven to be counterproductive too. Hence the fight against impunity should remain a top priority. Justice against the little and without due process will not be justice.”

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Nigeria: Killing of #EndSARS protesters by the military must be investigated

Thu, 22 Oct 2020 04:52:22 +0000

Country: Nigeria
Source: Amnesty International

21 October 2020, 18:21 UTC

  • At least 12 people killed at Alausa and Lekki Toll Gate Lagos
  • Hundreds severely injured
  • CCTV dismantled to cover murder

An on-the-ground investigation by Amnesty International has confirmed that the Nigerian army and police killed at least 12 peaceful protesters yesterday at two locations in Lagos. The killings took place in Lekki and Alausa, where thousands were protesting police brutality as part of the #EndSars movement.

Evidence gathered from eyewitnesses, video footage and hospital reports confirm that between 6:45pm and 9:00pm on Tuesday 20 October, the Nigerian military opened fire on thousands of people who were peacefully calling for good governance and an end to police brutality.

Witnesses at the Lekki protest grounds told Amnesty international that solders arrived at about 6:45pm local time on Tuesday evening, and opened fire on #EndSars protesters without warning. Eyewitnesses at Alausa protest ground said they were attacked by a team of soldiers and policemen from the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) Unit at about 8:00 pm, leaving at least two people dead and one critically injured.

Amnesty International received reports that shortly before the shootings, CCTV cameras at the Lekki toll gate, where #EndSARS protesters had been camped for two weeks, were removed by government officials and the electricity was cut – a clear attempt to hide evidence. As in previous cases documented by Amnesty International, some of those killed and injured at both grounds were allegedly taken away by the military.

Background

Amnesty International has been monitoring developments across Nigeria since the #EndSars protest began on 8 October 2020. At least 56 people have died across the country since the protest began, with about 38 killed on Tuesday alone. Victims include protesters and thugs who were allegedly hired by the authorities to confront the protesters. In many cases the security forces had used excessive force in an attempt to control or stop the protests.

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CAR: FSI : Anticiper les défis de sécurisation des centres et bureaux de vote

Thu, 22 Oct 2020 03:55:19 +0000

Country: Central African Republic
Source: UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic

GHISLAINE ATTA

La police et la gendarmerie centrafricaines se préparent à faire face aux nombreux défis auxquels elles pourraient être confrontées durant le processus électoral. La Composante Police de la MINUSCA et le PNUD ont organisé, du 19 au 21 octobre 2020, à cet effet, un ensemble d’activités en vue de les préparer à relever ces défis.

« Dans tous les pays, des élections mal organisées et mal sécurisées entrainent toujours du désordre. C’est dans ce contexte que le PNUD et la MINUSCA ont organisé cette formation pour outiller les policiers et gendarmes dans le cadre de la sécurisation des élections à venir aussi bien à Bangui que dans l’arrière-pays », a indiqué le directeur de la Sécurité et de l’ordre public (DSOP), le Commissaire Divisionnaire Elie Beboye Mbailao.

C’était lors de la session pratique sur la sécurisation des centres et bureaux de vote, organisée ce mardi 20 octobre 2020 à l’école de police à Bangui, à l’intention de 100 éléments des Forces de sécurité intérieure (FSI) dont 30 femmes. Ces derniers ont été instruits sur le fonctionnement et l’organisation d’un bureau de vote, le rôle des FSI, les risques et leur évaluation en période électorale, entre autres.

Selon les explications du chef de l’unité Formation de la composante Police de la MINUSCA, Alioune Badara Sow, l’exercice du jour consiste en la mise en place de dispositifs sécuritaires et la simulation de quelques incidents dans un centre ou bureau de vote : une femme vulnérable en état de grossesse, un votant arborant l’effigie de son candidat, la découverte d’un engin explosif, le saccage du bureau de vote, la tentative de vol d’urnes ou encore un FSI venant voter en possession de son arme.

« Cette formation vient à point nommé, car dans peu de temps nous irons aux élections et nous devons les outiller et faire de sorte qu’ils soient capables, partout où ils seront déployés, de sécuriser le scrutin », s’est également réjoui le commissaire Mbailao.

Il est à noter que les différentes sessions de formations seront assurées dans le cadre de la mise en œuvre du projet d’appui au renouvellement des FSI et du projet d’appui au processus électoral en Centrafrique (PAPEC).

Outre la sécurisation du vote (bureau de vote et escortes) en période électorale, le renforcement des capacités des policiers et gendarmes centrafricains s’étend à plusieurs autres domaines, notamment le renseignement, le maintien de l’ordre, la police de proximité et la protection des civils, la police judiciaire, la protection des hautes personnalités ainsi que la coordination et la supervision.

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DR Congo: La MONUSCO multiplie ses patrouilles pour faire face à l’insécurité à Bunia

Thu, 22 Oct 2020 03:49:37 +0000

Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Source: UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Dans la nuit du 14 au 15 octobre 2020, les policiers des Nations Unies (UNPOL) et le contingent militaire népalais de la MONUSCO ont procédé à une importante patrouille nocturne de sécurisation de la ville de Bunia, capitale provinciale de l’Ituri, qui fait face à une hausse de l’insécurité due à la présence de groupes armés dans la région.

Avant leur départ, les éléments ont reçu un briefing général du Chef de la patrouille, UNPOL Ide Amadou, qui a rappelé aux participants certaines mesures spécifiques de sécurité ainsi que les risques liés à l’état désastreux des routes et des ponts en cette saison des pluies.

Conduite par l’Officier de Police Individuel Abra Makandjo Ayefounin, du secteur UNPOL de Bunia et accompagné d’un détachement composé de 16 militaires onusiens, cette patrouille a visité de nombreux quartiers de la ville entre 20 heures et 05 heures du matin, à bord de véhicules légers et blindés.

Les casques bleus ont aussi patrouillé à pied ; ce qui leur a permis d’échanger avec la population afin de recueillir diverses informations utiles à la protection des civils dans ces quartiers.

Cette action de sécurisation conjointement menée par UNPOL et la force militaire démontre le souci de la MONUSCO pour la sécurisation de la ville de Bunia ainsi que l’appui apporté par la Police MONUSCO pour aider la Police Nationale Congolaise à mieux sécuriser les populations civiles.

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CAR: L’ONU note des progres significatifs en RCA et reitere son engagement a œuvrer pour le retour definitif de la paix

Thu, 22 Oct 2020 03:37:42 +0000

Country: Central African Republic
Source: UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic

Bangui, le 21 octobre 2020 – Le Représentant spécial des Nations unies en RCA et chef de la MINUSCA, Mankeur Ndiaye, s’est félicité, des « progrès notables » enregistrés en République centrafricaine et a réitéré l’engagement de la Mission onusienne à œuvrer, en appui aux autorités centrafricaines, pour le retour définitif de la paix dans le pays. Au cours de la conférence de presse hebdomadaire de la MINUSCA mercredi à Bangui, Mankeur Ndiaye a souligné que la « MINUSCA ne ménagera aucun effort pour la mise en œuvre de son mandat, conformément à la résolution du Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies qui l’autorise à œuvrer pour le retour de la paix dans le pays ».

Le chef de la MINUSCA, Mankeur Ndiaye, s’exprimait, à Bangui, quelques jours après avoir présenté, le 19 octobre dernier, devant le Conseil de sécurité, le troisième et dernier rapport de l’année du Secrétaire général des Nations unies sur le pays. « Ce rapport revient sur la situation politique en République centrafricaine, les conditions de sécurité, la concertation régionale, la situation humanitaire, la protection des civils, la restauration de l’autorité de l’Etat et de l’état de droit, les droits de l’homme et la lutte contre l’impunité, ainsi que la situation socio-économique. Le rapport considère aussi la configuration de la MINUSCA et ses efforts dans certains domaines, notamment son empreinte écologique. Il a aussi été question de la politique de tolérance zéro de la MINUSCA à l’égard des Abus et Exploitations Sexuels.», a-t-il énuméré.

Sur le plan politique, Mankeur Ndiaye salue « les progrès notables qui continuent d’être engrangés en particulier en termes de réformes politiques », depuis la signature de l’Accord politique pour la paix et la réconciliation signé par le Gouvernement centrafricain et 14 groupes armés actifs dans le pays. Saluant le soutien unanime des membres du Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies sur ce document qu’ils considèrent comme « la seule voie crédible et viable vers une paix durable », M. Ndiaye regrette toutefois que « beaucoup reste à faire et ce n’est qu’avec l’engagement ferme de toutes les Centrafricaines et de tous les Centrafricains que nous pourrions y parvenir ». Il a rassuré par ailleurs que « la MINUSCA continuera de promouvoir l’appropriation nationale de l’Accord et de soutenir sa mise en œuvre comme elle l’a fait dès le début et continue de le faire sans ménager ses efforts ».

En ce qui concerne le processus électoral, le Représentant spécial se dit satisfait du niveau d’avancement du processus tout en réitérant l’engagement de la MINUSCA et de la Communauté internationale pour la transparence du scrutin. Il a révélé que le pays dispose en ce moment d’un fichier électoral de 1 859 890 électeurs centrafricains des 16 préfectures du pays et de 13 pays de la diaspora. « Je me réjouis, que le taux d’inscription des femmes atteigne 46,5% de l’électorat. Il s’agit d’un signal fort d’inclusivité davantage renforcée par les manifestations d’intérêt de trois candidates à la candidature et l’application de la loi sur la parité pour les élections législatives », s’est-il félicité, invitant « les media et autres leaders d’opinion à s’abstenir de toute campagne de désinformation, de messages de haine ou d’incitation à la violence, qui risquent de remettre en cause les acquis âprement réalisés dans la stabilisation progressive du pays et la consolidation de la paix ».

Au sujet de la sécurisation des élections, Mankeur Ndiaye a rappelé que la responsabilité première incombe au gouvernement et que la MINUSCA vient en appui aux autorités nationales centrafricaines. Il a souligné que le gouvernement et la MINUSCA sont en train de travailler ensemble dans le cadre du plan de sécurisation intégrée des élections, signé le 2 octobre à Bangui. « Dans les zones où il y a les FACA et les FSI, c’est eux qui assurent et nous venons en appui. Dans les zones où il n’y a ni FACA, ni FSI, c’est nous avec notre logistique, nos moyens aériens, nos moyens terrestres. Et je rappelle que la MINUSCA ne couvre pas aussi toute l’étendue du territoire, mais nous sommes en train de tout faire pour que le plan de sécurisation puisse concerner l’ensemble du pays », a-t-il rassuré.

« Le chemin vers la paix est long et sinueux ; les défis restent immenses mais ils ne sont pas insurmontables », assène le chef de la MINUSCA, parlant de la situation sécuritaire dans le pays. Pour lui, « Malgré la situation sécuritaire encore fragile dans certaines régions, des résultats encourageants ont été obtenus notamment grâce aux opérations militaires lancées par la MINUSCA », citant entre autres le désarmement et la démobilisation de 2094 ex-combattants, la mise en place de deux Unités Spéciales Mixtes de Sécurité à l’Ouest du pays et le déploiement progressif des forces nationales de défense et de sécurité. « Ces développements sont réconfortants, ils constituent les premières étapes vers la dissolution des groupes armés, conformément aux exigences de l’Accord. Il nous faudra en accélérer le rythme pour mieux en optimiser l’impact positif sur la paix et la stabilité », dit-il.

Par ailleurs, le chef de la MINUSCA a exprimé sa satisfaction de l’installation de la nouvelle Mission de Conseil de l’Union Européenne en RCA (EUAM), dans le but de soutenir la réforme du secteur de la sécurité. Il a ajouté que cette mission renforcera le travail de la MINUSCA et des partenaires bilatéraux comme les Etats-Unis, la Fédération de Russie, la France et la République populaire de Chine, dans ledit domaine, tout en réitérant le soutien de la MINUSCA au gouvernement dans la mise en œuvre de la stratégie de restauration et d’extension de l’autorité de l’État.

Abordant le chapitre de la lutte contre l’impunité en Centrafrique, Mankeur Ndiaye a souligné que la MINUSCA travaille en ce moment avec le gouvernement et la Cour Pénale Spéciale afin de concrétiser l’aspiration légitime des victimes à la justice, à la vérité et à la réparation. « Les enquêtes vont se poursuivre et nous avons déjà procédé à beaucoup d’arrestations des gens qui ont commis des crimes, qu’on a remis à la disposition de la justice nationale et qui attendent le jugement. C’est une action que nous menons d’une manière permanente. Le 22 septembre dernier, j’ai reçu une demande du juge du cabinet de la Cour Pénale Spéciale pour l’arrestation de 5 dirigeants des groupes armés. Nous sommes en train d’y travailler pour les arrêter et les mettre à sa disposition», a souligné le chef de la MINUSCA, appelant à la patience en ce qui concerne la lenteur des procédures judiciaires.

En ce qui concerne l’action humanitaire, le Représentant spécial du Secrétaire général des Nations Unies en Centrafrique a rappelé que les élections et les activités politiques ne doivent pas faire oublier l’urgence humanitaire dans le pays au moment où la pandémie de la COVID-19 exacerbe les vulnérabilités socio-économiques du pays. Tout en condamnant avec la plus grande fermeté les attaques contre les humanitaires qui apportent une assistance vitale à plus de 1,3 millions d’individus chaque mois dans le pays, M. Ndiaye rassure que la MINUSCA continuera de prendre toutes mesures utiles afin de protéger non seulement les civils, mais aussi les infrastructures civiles et les travailleurs humanitaires. « Ceci est essentiel pour favoriser la création de conditions favorables à un accès sans entrave à l’assistance humanitaire, y compris dans les zones les plus reculées du pays », précise-t-il, appelant également à « la générosité des bailleurs de fonds pour continuer à financer le Plan de Réponse Humanitaire de 2020 ».

Le chef de la MINUSCA a rappelé qu’il a mis en exergue devant le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU, l’apport fécond du jeu des institutions et du dialogue politique dans la création d’un environnement jusque-là propice à la tenue d’élections présidentielle et législatives crédibles, dans les délais constitutionnels. Il a également salué la contribution des partenaires techniques et financiers de la RCA et de la sous-région dans la mise en œuvre du processus de paix dans le pays. Il a enfin annoncé la visite en Centrafrique, du 27 au 30 octobre 2020, du Commissaire à la paix de l’Union Africaine, Smaïl Chergui, et du Président de la Commission de la Communauté Economique des États d’Afrique centrale (CEEAC), Gilberto Verissimo et du Secrétaire général adjoint aux opérations de paix, Jean-Pierre Lacroix. Cette visite « contribuera, j’en suis s슩r, à sensibiliser tous les acteurs politiques et sociaux sur la nécessité de la création d’un environnement de paix et de sérénité propice au bon déroulement des élections présidentielle et législatives », a-t-il conclu.

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‘Digital’ and ‘mobile’ a new normal for resilient public service delivery in Tonga

Thu, 22 Oct 2020 03:31:33 +0000

Country: Tonga
Source: Government of Tonga

22nd October 2020 More citizens in Tonga will enjoy an efficient and resilient delivery of public services due to the increasing use of digital and mobile devices in the government’s operation. This will be a ‘new normal’ as Tonga prepares for potential threats to public health, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, but will also add to Tonga’s resilience to the impact of climate change. Tonga has experienced intensified cyclones – for example, Severe Tropical Cyclone Harold which occurred during the COVID-19 lockdown, severely impacting the government’s ability to function in a traditional office environment.

In a virtual handover ceremony today, equipment including laptop computers, conference speakerphone and external hard drives, was handed over to the Women’s Affairs and Gender Equality Division of Tonga’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The handover session was conducted online, using the online conferencing facilities supplied to MIA, connecting teams based in Tonga, Fiji and one of MIA’s Directors who has been stranded in the United States since March due to pandemic travel restrictions.

The partnership between the Tongan Government and UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji which enabled this digital step has been developed through the Australian funded pilot project, Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) for Rural and Urban Tongans, called Tonga REACH, implemented by UNDP in partnership with UN Women.

The REACH project has developed an ‘integrated mobile service delivery model’ that brings key government and non-government service providers and their services to people’s doorsteps, providing information on key rights and services available, then delivering them immediately on site. The REACH model began in Fiji in 2015 and has expanded to Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu in the pilot.

Since its rollout in Tonga in March 2019, staff from government agencies and civil society organizations (CSOs) have travelled to remote island communities and suburban residents delivering over 5,500 services to individuals – the majority of whom are women.

Dr Fotu K V. Fisii-ahi, Chief Executive Officer for Ministry of Internal Affairs, said, “Tonga has so far been blessed to avoid the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the face of current challenges posed by climate change and Tropical Cyclones, there is a new normal mode of communication for virtual. It is the government’s responsibility to be prepared to ensure the continuity of quality public service provision with a more resilient and inclusive manner. I thank the Government of Australia for its support and the partnership with UNDP and UN Women, which enabled us to meet this challenge on a timely basis, and to upgrade the initiative taken by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Women’s Affairs and Gender Equality Division.”

The services delivered to citizens have included information and registration of domestic violence cases by Tonga National Centre for Women and Children (CSO); health screening by the Ministry of Health; legal aid services including free legal advice and counselling for domestic violence survivors by the Ministry of Justice. People also benefitted from information sharing from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Fisheries, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Lands and Infrastructure, Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Police.

Another key partner in the REACH initiative is the Tonga Family Protection Legal Aid Centre (FPLAC), the nation’s first national legal aid institution providing free legal advice and representation to survivors of family violence. This primarily means for female survivors of family violence, but also open for children and men. FPLAC benefits from the contribution of ICT equipment which is already being built upon. UNDP is funding a digital transformation exercise with FPLAC. This will see the development of an online self-guided legal and rights information platform and versatile mobile application to increase FPLAC’s ability to reach out some of Tonga’s most vulnerable citizens. It will also increase their ability to connect with the FPLAC and national referral network that UN Women is supporting, helping to ensure survivors are able to receive the legal and physical protections and services they need.

His Excellency Mr Adrian Morrison, the Australian High Commissioner to Tonga said, “I am glad Australia is supporting the Government of Tonga deliver critical services to the public. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged governments around the world to re-think the way they deliver services to their citizens. REACH is an example of how initiatives are able to turn this challenge into an opportunity for progress and improved service delivery.”

Mr Levan Bouadze, Resident Representative of the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji said, “Our effort for progress in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and response to the COVID-19 pandemic are intertwined, as we are ‘building forward better’. I am grateful for the support provided by the Australian Government and the partnership with the Tongan Government and UN Women.”

Ms Sandra Bernklau, Representative for UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office, said “UN Women is proud to support the Women’s Affairs and Gender Equality Division in advancing our shared aim towards ensuring that all women have access to support and services for domestic violence. This has been especially important in the planning and response to a humanitarian crisis such as COVID-19 and TC Harold. The REACH model works because it helps to ensure direct access to services and support for women and girls who have difficulty accessing these services otherwise, and we are delighted to be able to further support the efforts with these additional resources.”

The REACH project aims to contribute to Tonga’s sustainable development path in which no one will be left behind. It focuses on SDG 5 – to achieve gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, and SDG 16 – to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

For media queries, please contact:

  • Tonga Ministry of Internal Affairs, Women’s Affairs and Gender Equality Division, Eleni Fausitina Fatiki Tu’i Acting/DCEO Officer | Email: kilikilitefua@gmail.com| Phone: +6767714298, ext. 29877 or Mobile: +6767714298
  • UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Tomoko Kashiwazaki, Advocacy and Outreach | Email: kashiwazaki@undp.org | Phone: +679 715 8051

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DR Congo: Lutter contre l’insécurité alimentaire en République démocratique du Congo

Thu, 22 Oct 2020 03:07:27 +0000

Countries: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Source: ACTED

Grâce à des distributions alimentaires, ACTED a aidé de nombreux réfugiés vulnérables et des communautés d'accueil vivant dans les provinces du Bas-Uélé et du Nord Ubangi.

Depuis la crise politique de 2013, de nombreux Centrafricains ont cherché refuge dans les pays voisins, notamment en RDC. En raison de l'afflux massif de réfugiés et de la fréquence des catastrophes naturelles (telles que les inondations ou vagues de chaleur), les communautés qui accueillent ces réfugiés sont confrontées de plus en plus au manque de ressources, ce qui met en péril leur économie locale.

Dans les territoires voisins de Bondo et Ango, déjà difficiles d'accès, la densité de population a considérablement augmenté depuis l'arrivée du dernier groupe de réfugiés en mai 2017. Leur arrivée a aussi eu un impact sur l'insécurité alimentaire des réfugiés et de leurs communautés d'accueil.

Depuis ao슩t 2019, un programme de sécurité alimentaire d'ACTED permet d'apporter une aide aux personnes les plus vulnérables de la région.

623,400 RÉFUGIÉS CENTRAFRICAINS VIVENT AU CAMEROUN, AU TCHAD ET EN RDC

684,004 PERSONNES DÉPLACÉES À L'INTÉRIEUR DU PAYS

Distribution de nourriture pour les réfugiés et les familles d'accueil

ACTED a fourni une aide alimentaire au groupe Angbunga sur le territoire d’Ango. Cette population est particulièrement difficile d’accès, car la zone est enclavée et des groupes armés sont stationnés le long des routes, ce qui a un impact négatif sur le secteur agricole et les autres sources de revenus des familles qui y vivent.

ACTED a permis à 3,347 ménages d’avoir accès à la nourriture.

Mère Lea, représentante des femmes réfugiées centrafricaines à Zapay, déclare: » Nos familles peuvent maintenant manger trois fois par jour grâce à cette assistance. »

L’objectif d’ACTED était de distribuer de la nourriture à ces communautés dans un contexte de paix, de sécurité et de coopération. Pour cela, ACTED a créé un taskforce qui recueille les réactions des populations, s’assurant que les distributions sont menées de manière transparente et efficace. Les autorités locales (telles que les représentants des réfugiés, les chefs de communautés…) jouent un rôle important dans la planification et le suivi des distributions, en contribuant leur soutien à la diffusion de l’information comme moyen de protéger les personnes contre le Covid-19, en traitant les plaintes et en s’assurant que les distributions sont accessibles aux personnes ayant des besoins spécifiques.

Pour soutenir la résilience de ces communautés, ACTED cherche à accompagner les distributions de nourriture par des activités génératrices de revenus, contribuant ainsi à réduire la dépendance à l’aide externe sur le long terme.

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Yemen Joint Market Monitoring Initiative: September Situation Overview 2020

Thu, 22 Oct 2020 02:20:30 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Yemen
Sources: UN Children's Fund, WASH Cluster, REACH Initiative

Please refer to the attached file.

Introduction

The Yemen Joint Market Monitoring Initiative (JMMI) was launched by REACH in collaboration with the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Cluster and the Cash and Market Working Group (CMWG) to support humanitarian actors with the harmonization of price monitoring among all cash actors in Yemen. The JMMI incorporates information on market systems including price levels and supply chains. The basket of goods to be assessed includes ten non-food items (NFIs), such as fuel, water, and hygiene products, reflecting the programmatic areas of the WASH Cluster. The JMMI tracks all components of the WASH and Food Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket (SMEB) as well as other food and non-food items. In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, REACH has adapted the JMMI to begin assessing the potential impact of the pandemic on markets and on respondents' businesses.

Methodology

Data was collected through interviews with vendor key informants (KIs), selected by partner organisations from markets of various sizes in both urban and rural areas. Following data collection, REACH compiles, cleans and analyzes all data, through detailed follow-ups with partners. Findings are indicative for the assessed locations and time frame in which the data was collected. From April to September 2020, data for the JMMI was collected on a bi-weekly basis to better track disruptions caused by COVID-19. COVIDspecific JMMI factsheets were produced bi-weekly, and a more comprehensive situation overview using data from both factsheets was produced monthly. After discussion with the CMWG, REACH resumed data collection on a monthly basis in September, and resumed producing one monthly situation overview. Please refer to the appendix for additional methodological details.

JMMI monthly figures

Data collection 20 September - 24 September

10 Participating partners

16 Governorates

40 Districts assessed

234 Vendor KIs surveyed

KEY FINDINGS

  • The reported number of business closures in the last 2 weeks within a 2 minute walk from KIs’ stalls decreased with 60% compared to last round in August.

  • Price inflation remains the most commonly reported constraint faced by the assessed vendors when obtaining fuel, WASH items, food items, and water trucking services.

  • The food SMEB cost was found to have increased by 8.2% since the last round of data collection in August, and the WASH SMEB cost also increased by 9.7%, contributing to a 8.6% increase in the overall SMEB cost.

  • Exchange rates considerably increased across the country: The lowest exchange rate was recorded in Ibb with 601 Yemeni Riyal (YER) to one US dollar (USD). The highest exchange rate was recorded in Lahj with 855 YER to one USD, Also, Hadramaut, Marib,Shabwah, Taizz, Abyan, Al Dhale'e and Aden have reported exchange rate values higher than 800 YER to USD

  • Overall, 24.3% (57/234) KIs reported that their supply routes changed in a way harmful to their business in the 30 days prior to data collection.

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China: Ground-ocean-space observation experiment of typhoon successfully carried out

Thu, 22 Oct 2020 01:42:12 +0000

Country: China
Source: Government of the People's Republic of China

On October 13, this year’s 16th typhoon Nangka made landfall in coastal Qionghai, South China's Hainan province. Targeted at the generation and development of Nangka, a ground-ocean-space multi-platform coordinated observation scientific experiment was successfully carried out from October 12 to 14 in coastal areas of central-northern South China Sea. Satellites, air planes, drones, and wind-chasing observation vehicles were flexing their muscles during the experiment, obtained a raft of valuable data, and showcased the feasibility of this scientific experiment. This is the largest scale typhoon scientific experiment with most observation facilities so far.

This experiment has harnessed multiple observation platforms to carry out observation of typhoon Nangka, and effectively addressed the problem of deficient observation data.

The researchers organized three planes to simultaneously observe the internal ventral structure of typhoon, and obtained high resolution meteorological data of different levels, regions and stages during typhoon made landfall; harnessed airborne laser radar to realize the observation of high resolution wind field structure in the ventral internal circulation.

During the typhoon landfall on October 13, rocket sounding and ozone sounding instruments were lifted off consecutively to detect typhoon circulation structure and atmospheric and physical features changes. On October 14, targeted at the rainstorm process in the wake of typhoon landfall, drones were employed to carry out direct observation combined with drop-down sounding observation experiment. During the experiment, Fengyun-4 satellites and Gaofen series satellites conducted intensive observation of the typhoon area, and drones successfully obtained complete observation data of offshore sea-atmosphere interface wind temperature, air pressure and humidity, as well as sea water temperature and salinity before and after the typhoon came along.

Tang Jie, Deputy Director of Shanghai Typhoon Institute of China Meteorological Administration (CMA) expressed that with the establishment and improvement of multi-platform typhoon coordinated observation mechanism, future typhoon scientific experiment will provide more accurate observation data support for China as well as countries in Asia-Pacific Region in terms of response to typhoon. (Oct. 20)

Author: Wan Xia, Tang Bi

Editor: Liu Shuqiao

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Flood death toll rises to 111 in central Viet Nam

Thu, 22 Oct 2020 01:39:23 +0000

Country: Viet Nam
Source: Government of Viet Nam

VGP – Floods caused by heavy rains have claimed 111 lives in 12 localities of central and central highlands regions, according to the Central Steering Committee for National Disaster Prevention and Control.

The deaths include two in Nghe An, three in Ha Tinh, nine in Quang Binh, 49 in Quang Tri, 28 in Thua Thien-Hue, three in Da Nang, 11 in Quang Nam, one in Quang Ngai, two in Kon Tim, one in Gia Lai, one in Dak Lak, and one in Lam Dong.

The Committee also said 22 others are still missing (one in Ha Tinh, four in Quang Tri, 15 in Thua Thien-Hue, one in Da Nang, and one in Gia Lai).

Nearly 124,570 houses are still submerged in floodwaters in Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces.

The central region has experienced a total rainfall of nearly 3,000 mm since early October, causing widespread flooding in 200 communes and wards of Thua Thien Hue-Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Quang Nam and Da Nang./.

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Philippines: Ozamiz City launches community support program to end armed conflict

Thu, 22 Oct 2020 01:36:42 +0000

Country: Philippines
Source: Government of the Philippines

By Shaine Mae R. Nagtalon

OZAMIZ CITY, Misamis Occidental, Oct. 22 (PIA)--As part of the government efforts to end the local communist armed conflict, Ozamiz City launched a service caravan in a remote village, here for the implementation of the Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP).

More than 100 residents of Barangay Stimson Abordo availed various government services during the Serbisyo Caravan-Medical and Dental Mission held at the barangay's covered court.

Ozamiz City Mayor Sancho Fernando Oaminal visited Barangay Stimson Abordo (Montol) together with Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), City Health Office, and Civil Relations Committee in the province of Misamis Occidental.

Oaminal cited ways to end the spread of local communist groups such as the CPP-NPA, and to further stop the latter from recruiting people especially those who reside on the highlands.

The mayor assured the residents that the city government will support the projects for such purpose and allocate funds with assistance from the national government.

“The Asenso Ozamiz administration will allocate an initial P5,000,000 for the rehabilitation of their barangay office, another P20,000,000 budget for the repair of the road leading to Tipan, and P300,00 for their cultural activities for the year 2021,” Oaminal said.

Receiving promising projects from the government, one of the residents said, “Dako kaayo among pasalamat ni Mayor Ando kay sementuhon niya among dalan, dugay na kaayong panahon nga nag-antos mi sa kalisud sa among dalan guba kaayo ug danlog kaayo ug mag-ulan.“

(We are very grateful to Mayor Ando for his plan in our road, we have been suffering for a long time because of the dangerous and slippery road especially during heavy rains.)

One of the highlights of RCSP launching is the burning of CPP/NPA flag and the pledge of commitment by the barangay officials and residents of Stimson Abordo.

RCSP is one of the national government’s mechanisms in implementing the whole-of-nation approach to successfully end local communist armed conflict (ELCAC) which was institutionalized by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70. (SMRN/PIA Misamis Occidental)

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Bangladesh: Dominic Raab urges world not to “turn away from Rohingya’s suffering” as the UK pledges life-saving support

Thu, 22 Oct 2020 00:00:20 +0000

Countries: Bangladesh, Myanmar, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Source: Government of the United Kingdom

Foreign Secretary announces £47.5million new UK aid to support 860,000 Rohingya refugees and help Bangladesh deal with coronavirus and natural disasters.

Dominic Raab urges world not to “turn away from Rohingya’s suffering” as the UK pledges life-saving support

  • Foreign Secretary announces £47.5million new UK aid to support 860,000 Rohingya refugees and help Bangladesh deal with coronavirus and natural disasters

  • This extra support comes ahead of a pledging conference co-hosted by the UK, US, EU and UNCHR today and follows UK sanctions on perpetrators of violence against the Rohingya people

  • Dominic Raab calls on the world not to “turn away from the Rohingya’s suffering”

The UK will today pledge £47.5 million to provide life-saving support for Rohingya refugees and to help Bangladesh with its response to the coronavirus pandemic and natural disasters.

This announcement comes as the UK co-hosts a major international summit on the Rohingya crisis, along with the US, EU and UNHCR, to bring together the international community to raise much-needed funds for the humanitarian response.

Some 860,000 Rohingya live in overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, without formal education or work opportunities. Coronavirus has made the situation in the packed and unsanitary camps even more desperate.

This new funding announced by the Foreign Secretary will provide hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people with food, healthcare, water and sanitation, as well as care and counselling for those traumatised by the violence they have experienced. It will also improve access to education for 50,000 young people, as well as create isolation and treatment centres for people suffering from coronavirus.

Alongside this, the UK aid package will support communities in Bangladesh, as the country hosting the highest number of Rohingya refugees. It will strengthen its health system to respond to COVID-19 and continue the UK’s support to help Bangladesh become more resilient to natural disasters such as flooding.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said:

"The people living in Cox’s Bazar face unimaginable hardship and many have been victims of violence. We have imposed sanctions on the perpetrators of this brutality, and this new funding will save lives in the camp and help Bangladesh become more resilient to disasters such as coronavirus."

"Today I urge the world not to turn away from the Rohingya’s suffering and to take the action necessary to allow them to safely return to the homes they fled in terror."

Today’s summit will bring countries together to show solidarity for the Rohingya people, express support for nations hosting them as refugees and urge countries to pledge funds to the humanitarian crisis which this year is critically underfunded. The UN has estimated it needs $1billion this year to help Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh but so far less than half of that has been raised.

At the conference, FCDO Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon will reiterate that steps must be taken to work towards the voluntary, safe and dignified return of the Rohingya to their homes in Myanmar. In August 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya left the country to escape brutal and systematic violence. Since then, the UK has sanctioned two generals in the Myanmar military, as recommended by a UN independent investigation, which found them responsible for atrocities which amount to ethnic cleansing.

In addition to the Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh, up to 150,000 are living in other countries in the region and an estimated 600,000 live in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

Notes to editors

  • Today’s announcement brings the total UK aid commitment to the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh, which began in 2017, to close to £300 million. It includes £37.5million to provide humanitarian assistance in Cox’s Bazar and £10million in support for Bangladesh to help the country respond to coronavirus and natural disasters like flooding.

  • This new funding will provide food, shelter, health, protection, water and sanitation, and support for traumatised and vulnerable women and girls. Including:

    • food for over 290,000 Rohingya refugees for four months

    • support for isolation and treatment centres for severe COVID-19 cases

    • support, especially for Rohingya women and girls, against violence, exploitation and abuse. This includes for child survivors of trafficking.

    • improved education for over 50,000 children and adolescents from the refugee and surrounding host community.

    • cooking gas for over 40,000 families for five months, helping prevent further deforestation.

    • The conference will run from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 pm (London time) on October 22, 2020 and will be live-streamed here

    • Funds raised at the conference will go to international organisations and non-governmental organisations working to alleviate the crisis on the ground in Myanmar, throughout the region, and as specified by the UN-led Joint Response Plan (JRP) in Bangladesh.

Media enquiries

Email newsdesk@fcdo.gov.uk

Telephone 020 7008 3100

Contact the FCDO Communication Team via email (monitored 24 hours a day) in the first instance, and we will respond as soon as possible.

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World: COVID-19 Could Push up to 175 Million People into Extreme Poverty, Expert Warns Third Committee, amid Calls for Repairing Entrenched Social Inequities

Wed, 21 Oct 2020 23:15:59 +0000

Country: World
Source: UN General Assembly

GA/SHC/4299

General Assembly
Third Committee

Between 150 million and 175 million more people will fall into extreme poverty, due to the epic fallout from COVID‑19, the Special Rapporteur on the topic told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today, as delegates raised concerns about the plight of the world’s most vulnerable in a series of interactive dialogues.

“We must rethink our development model,” said Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, stressing that most of those who will fall into extreme poverty will be workers in the informal sector or in precarious employment conditions — most of them women. To emerge from the worst crisis since the 1929 Great Depression, “we cannot count, as we did in the twentieth century, on economic growth as usual,” he said. Environmental sustainability and social justice must be considered prerequisites for shaping the economic recovery that countries envision.

Mr. De Schutter was one of five independent experts participating in virtual dialogues with delegates, which covered topics ranging from extreme poverty and internal displacement, to the human rights to education, safe drinking water and adequate housing. Experts described the interplay between conflict and climate change, and recommended ways to ensure that students can access water and sanitation in school during the pandemic.

Cecilia Jimenez‑Damary, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, said the intersecting risks of climate change and armed conflict can push people into displacement. She focused on the slow-onset effects of climate change — sea-level rise, desertification, glacial retreat and flood — which can have disastrous consequences. Most affected will be people whose livelihoods depend heavily on ecosystems: indigenous peoples, farmers, herders, pastoralists and fisherfolk. Displaced persons also risk being exposed to COVID‑19, due to their limited access to health care, water, sanitation and adequate housing.

In the ensuing virtual dialogue, many delegates echoed concerns that the pandemic will exacerbate displacement caused by climate and conflict, with the United Kingdom’s representative citing warnings by Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock that 1 billion people could be displaced by 2050.

Several also discussed the issue of displacement in their own countries. Myanmar’s representative described plans to address COVID‑19 outbreaks in several camps, while Mali’s representative detailed national policies for assisting displaced persons while it carries out its COVID‑19 response. Armenia’s representative drew attention to the causes of internal displacement, and citing military aggression by Azerbaijan, asked the Special Rapporteur whether her mandate covers displaced people residing in conflict areas.

Koumbou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education, described the impact of COVID‑19 on educational institutions, an issue that has taken on new urgency as 570 million children lack access to basic drinking water at school, 620 million lack access to basic sanitation facilities and 900 million lack access to handwashing services.

Also presenting their reports before the Third Committee were Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; and Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 22 October, to continue its consideration of the promotion and protection of human rights.

Interactive Dialogues — Internally Displaced Persons

The Committee began the day with interactive dialogues featuring presentations by: Cecilia Jimenez‑Damary, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; Koumbou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; and Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living.

Ms. JIMENEZ-DAMARY said human mobility linked to the adverse effects of climate change, including displacement, is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. She underscored the extensive impact of displacement on the enjoyment of human rights — notably on free movement, housing, food, water, sanitation, health care and education, as well as on cultural and religious rights. Presenting her report, which focuses on internal displacement and the slow-onset adverse effects of climate change, she said its aim is to raise awareness around the “less dramatic” effects of climate change that, in the long run, have tremendous effects on people’s lives. “The slow-onset adverse effects of climate change can turn into a disaster,” she asserted. Often, movement is not entirely voluntary or forced, but rather falls somewhere on a continuum between the two, she said, adding that movement can be an effective adaptation strategy and prevent arbitrary displacement. “People are displaced when they are obliged to leave because they can no longer adapt to the changing climate,” she said. Slow-onset processes, in turn, can compound other displacement drivers, such as violence and armed conflict. She pointed to communities in small island States and Arctic ecosystems, which are more exposed to slow-onset events and therefore at higher risk of disaster displacement. COVID‑19 also has exacerbated people’s vulnerability to disasters in hazard-prone zones and their risk of displacement. “Internally displaced persons are at heightened risk of exposure to COVID‑19 owing to limited access to health care, water, sanitation, food and adequate housing, and they often face discrimination,” she added.

When the floor opened for questions and comments, delegates raised several concerns, with the representative of the United Kingdom underscoring the interplay between conflict and climate change and pointing out that some of the world’s worst hunger crises stem from these phenomena. COVID‑19 only increases the risks for famine. Echoing warnings by Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock, he said 1 billion people could be displaced by 2050 and asked about the role the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement can play in better preventing displacement caused by climate and conflict.

Along similar lines, an observer for the European Union echoed the Special Rapporteur’s call for Member States to engage in disaster risk reduction and climate change mitigation in order to protect their populations from related displacement. He asked about best practices for the meaningful participation of indigenous communities in this context, and for setting up gender-responsive decision-making processes within prevention and response strategies.

The representative of Mexico meanwhile recalled that most people displaced due to climate change do not cross international borders. Mexico changed its approach to internal displacement in 2019, and since then has made considerable progress in protecting people who have been forced to leave their place of origin as a result of environmental disasters. He noted that the issue of internal displacement has been integrated into the national legislative framework, including legislation on climate change, describing these decisions as “norms” for internally displaced persons who now have legal status for the first time in Mexico’s history.

Several delegates discussed the pressing issue of displacement in their own countries, with the representative of Myanmar stressing that there are several camps for displaced people across the country. Despite the challenges, the Government is taking necessary measures to help these people rebuild their lives in a safe and dignified manner. He pointed to a national strategy that adheres to international standards and a disaster risk reduction plan, adopted in 2017. He also described efforts to address COVID‑19 outbreaks in camps, which require Myanmar to partner with United Nations agencies and non-governmental groups.

Similarly, the representative of Mali detailed national policies for assisting internally displaced persons as his country combats COVID‑19. Given this situation, the Government must restore its authority, through the peace agreement and throughout the territory. It must work to bring peace and stability back to affected areas in order to promote the return of displaced persons and refugees from neighbouring countries. He asked the Special Rapporteur for practical examples of how internally displaced persons are being helped during the COVID‑19 pandemic.

The representative of Armenia drew attention to causes of internal displacement, including conflicts, gross human rights violations and climate change. Noting that Armenia is doing its utmost to promote a human rights approach in assisting internally displaced persons, he said politicization of their plight is unacceptable. Citing military aggression by Azerbaijan and supported by Turkey, he asked how the Special Rapporteur can ensure her mandate covers displaced people residing in conflict areas.

Ms. JIMENEZ-DAMARY, in response to queries about internally displaced persons and other affected communities, recommended taking a comprehensive human rights‑based approach to their protection. Collaboration is essential, she said, stressing the importance of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, as well as participation by internally displaced persons in such efforts. “They not only have the right to participate, they are a great source of knowledge and resilience who can contribute to prevention and protection on this issue,” she explained. Indigenous peoples too possess traditional knowledge that all can learn from, she said, urging States to support the growing consensus around humanitarian-oriented approaches to peace. As for the High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement, she said she provides advice and recommendations to its members.

Also speaking in the dialogue were representatives of the Russian Federation, Norway, United States, Georgia, Ethiopia, Switzerland and Spain.

Education

Ms. BOLY BARRY presented her report on the links between the right to education, and the right to water and sanitation, including hygiene and menstrual health and hygiene — issues that have taken on new urgency, as COVID‑19 impacts educational institutions around the world. In too many situations, the right to water and sanitation are not fulfilled in educational institutions, hampering the freedom to learn. Noting that 570 million children lack access to basic drinking water at school, 620 million lack access to basic sanitation facilities and 900 million lack access to handwashing services, she pressed States to disseminate the guidelines outlined in her report. These guidelines apply to water access, toilets, hygiene, menstrual health and hygiene, waste disposal, food preparation and storage, as well as stakeholder accountability. She also urged them to focus on menstrual health and hygiene, which plays a crucial role in the ability of girls and young women to attend school.

When the floor opened for questions and comments, delegates explored the impact of COVID‑19 on education. The representative of the Czech Republic, speaking for the Group of Friends for Education and Lifelong Learning, asked about policies to safeguard the rights to education, water and sanitation, given the “historic” disruptions caused by COVID‑19. The representative of Bangladesh likewise said that, as children stay out of school, they are more exposed to violence and exploitation. Relevant policies and programmes prioritize this “lost generation”. The representative of Morocco meanwhile asked about the repercussions of COVID‑19 on the Special Rapporteur’s mandate.

Taking a broad perspective, an observer for the European Union said the pandemic has demonstrated that the right to education cannot be fulfilled in a vacuum. Access to water in schools can determine whether schools reopen safely, and efforts must be made to destigmatize menstruation in schools so that girls can enjoy their right to learn. She requested examples of how to ensure access to water and sanitation in school during the pandemic. The representative of Iran took issue with unilateral coercive measures, which have impacted Government revenues and spending on education and health. Yet, Iran continues to provide free and quality education for all during the pandemic.

Delegates also spoke about the importance of language in educational instruction, with the representative of the Russian Federation reminding the Special Rapporteur about discrimination faced by Russian-speaking people in Ukraine and the Baltics. In turn, the representative of Ukraine condemned attempts by the Russian Federation to change the demographic structure in Crimea and called for a greater focus on education in the temporarily occupied areas. The representative of Hungary added that protecting minority languages in education remains a top priority.

Ms. BOLY BARRY, responding briefly, said a report on the impact of COVID‑19 on education was presented to the Human Rights Council, outlining the inequalities within educational systems that have been made visible by the pandemic. Northern countries were able to rebuild using a remote education system, but countries in the global South were unable to do likewise. Stressing that 250 million young people do not have access to education — poor people, refugees, nomads, migrants, families in rural areas and people living with disabilities, among them — she said the pandemic offers an opportunity to build an education paradigm that is student-focused. Another crucial lesson is that countries must listen to teachers and their networks. Education has a crucial role to play in resolving conflicts, as it opens the door for discussion. In education, each community should be able to learn in its own language, she stressed.

Also speaking were representatives of Qatar, France, United States, Syria, Lebanon, Malaysia, Croatia and Austria.

Extreme Poverty

Mr. DE SCHUTTER presented his report, which outlines the “kind of economic recovery we should aim to achieve”, faced with the worst crisis since the Great Depression of 1929. Due to the COVID‑19 pandemic, between 150 million and 175 million more people will fall into extreme poverty, he said. Most of them are workers in the informal sector or in precarious employment conditions; most of them are women. A strong recovery is necessary, and up to $12 trillion has already been injected into the global economy, primarily by wealthy countries. Noting that an acute ongoing ecological crisis preceded the pandemic, he said rethinking the current development model is the only solution to the complex equation facing the world today: how to eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities, while at the same time remaining within planetary boundaries. He outlined two approaches: first, to foreground environmental sustainability and social justice in economic recovery efforts, with a view to reducing inequalities; second, investing in measures that provide a “triple dividend”, by reducing the ecological footprint, creating jobs for less qualified people, and ensuring affordable access to essential goods and services to low-income households. Finally, the report calls for financing an economic recovery that fosters a reduction in poverty and inequalities through progressive taxation schemes and combating tax avoidance, particularly by transnational corporations. These concerns must be considered while making choices in the coming months, as they will have a decisive impact on the next 10 to 15 years, due to the level of investments being made.

When the floor opened for comments and questions, several delegates enthusiastically endorsed the report’s message on sustainably alleviating poverty, with some focusing in particular on its recommendation to combat tax avoidance. In this regard, the representative of Luxembourg said profit maximizing remains the dominant model pursued by transnational companies and asked how recalcitrant transnational corporations can be made to “change course”, which is essential to combat poverty. On similar lines, France’s delegate asked how States can induce tech corporations, in particular, to pay taxes and play their role in combating poverty, given that 176 million people slipped into extreme poverty this year alone.

Meanwhile, a number of delegates focused on energy transition. The representative of Malaysia asked how green technology might be funded, given its prohibitive cost. An observer for the European Union touched on the bloc’s new long-term budget and recovery fund, launched in May, which focuses on sustainable recovery, and asked how information on a green transition can be disseminated to all population groups, in the face of “disinformation campaigns on fundamental matters”.

The representative of Mexico asked if the Special Rapporteur will cooperate with the Alliance for Poverty Eradication, of which her country is a part. The representative of Syria said unilateral coercive measures imposed on his country by the United States and the European Union are “the main factor” behind the poverty suffered by millions of Syrians, and asked about the impact of sanctions on targeted countries. China’s representative said his country has successfully lifted 815 million people out of extreme poverty. He asked the Special Rapporteur to share his views on the unjust situation in the United States, where the astronomical wealth concentrated in the hands of a few stands in stark contrast against the poverty suffered by many.

Mr. DE SCHUTTER, in response, said he shared the concerns of China’s representative about the disproportionate impact suffered by ethnic minorities and people living in poverty, who lack sanitation access, live in crowded dwellings, and have manual jobs that cannot be done remotely. Turning to ecological transition, he said it “must be perceived as legitimate by the population to succeed”. It is important to frame such a transition in positive terms, as a chance to overcome “our tendency to fear change”, he stressed, adding that people living in poverty must be involved in shaping the response, so they do not feel like “victims of decisions” taken to induce them to make greater sacrifices. On concerns about the high cost of green technology, he said economies of scale had in recent years driven down the cost of wind and solar power, adding that the delay in shifting to greener energy is attributable to the $120 billion spent annually to subsidize fossil energies. “This is completely unacceptable,” he stressed.

In response to the concerns about tax avoidance by transnational corporations, he said the tenth anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in June 2021 will be a good opportunity to address the issue. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is working to reach consensus among 137 countries in order to ensure digital companies pay income tax where they make their profits, a move that could generate up to €165 billion in revenue; unfortunately, certain Governments are causing delays in reaching an agreement.

He said he will cooperate with the Alliance for Poverty Eradication, to help bring about greater coherence in global governance, which is presently fragmented, and said he looked forward to upcoming visits to Kyrgyzstan and Nepal.

Also speaking were representatives of Morocco, Luxembourg, France, Ireland and Eritrea.

Safe Drinking Water, Sanitation

In the afternoon, the Committee continued its interactive dialogues on the broad theme of human rights, which featured presentations by: Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; and Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living.

Mr. HELLER introduced his report on human rights and the privatization of water and sanitation services, two activities that traditionally had been undertaken by Governments. However, since the 1980s, privatization has started to expand. The question has been around whether human rights concerns are neutral or agnostic regarding the type of water and sanitation provided. According to this narrative, what matters are the outcomes of service provision, and therefore, the human rights framework does not require States to adopt any particular type or delivery model. He said his report challenges this narrative, exploring the risks that are specific to privatization and identifying necessary safeguards.

The report looks at three factors, he said: profit maximization, the natural monopoly of services and power imbalances. Potential risks include not maximizing the use of available resources, unaffordable services, the deterioration of services, the neglect of sustainability and limited accountability. It highlights experiences from around the globe and provides guidelines to address and mitigate those risks. States delegating water supply to private entities have to rely on a third party to meet their legal obligation to achieve human rights. The report does not call for an end to privatization but calls on States to establish measures to limit any impact on human rights.

When the floor opened for questions, and comments, several delegates asked the Special Rapporteur about situations specific to their own countries. The representative of Brazil said he disagrees with the report’s findings that the private provision of water and sanitation services may threaten human rights. To achieve universal coverage of water and sanitation service by 2030, Brazil needs investment that the State cannot provide by itself. This calls for private capital, he said. The representative of Syria asked for the Special Rapporteur’s views on actions taken by Turkey, noting that 2 million inhabitants in Hasakah, Syria, have been deprived of water because Turkey has cut off supply. People are suffering from thirst, living in a hot climate and exposed to the risks of COVID‑19. This conduct is similarly criminal to the time when water was cut off from Damascus in 2019. The Russian Federation’s representative denounced the report for ignoring the water blockade of Crimea and asked about the reasoning behind such a biased approach.

The representative of Egypt meanwhile said water should not be viewed as a commodity subjected to market dynamics. It is a basic human need that is fundamental to the right to life, he said, noting that Egypt is a water scarce country. An observer for the European Union praised the report for providing interesting and controversial reflections on risks that might be specific to privatization. He noted that States have an obligation to respect and fulfil the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, regardless of whether they are privately or publicly provided. He asked the Special Rapporteur which of the risks identified by the report also affects the public provision of services.

Mr. HELLER, replying to Brazil’s representative, said that he understands the issue as a Brazilian himself. However, replacing the public with the private sector does not mean that the situation will improve. Usually, private companies do not bring new money. Rather, they often use money from public banks or collected through charges made to users.

To comments by the Russian Federation’s delegate on the situation in Crimea, he noted that the scope of the report did not cover this situation, as it is about the privatization of water and sanitation services. To the question raised by the observer for the European Union, he said the risks are specific to private provision, such as profit maximization and the challenge of regulating a natural monopoly. He added that his Office is aware of the situation referenced by Syria’s delegate and that the next Special Rapporteur may have an update on it.

Also speaking were representatives of Ethiopia, Germany and Spain.

Right to Housing

Mr. RAJAGOPAL, introducing his first thematic report (A/75/148), said it tackles the question of what States can do to ensure the right to adequate housing is realized for all, despite the adverse impact of COVID‑19. More than 3.9 billion people were ordered to stay at home at the peak of the pandemic. However, more than 1.8 billion people do not have decent habitation or live in informal settlements where physical distancing is difficult or impossible. Moreover, millions risk losing their home due to the economic impact of the pandemic. In this context, lacking access to adequate housing is also a health issue — even a life and death issue.

He touched on various “bleak” aspects of COVID‑19, including: its unequal distribution, which reflects existing inequalities; an expected spike in evictions, homelessness and mortality, as temporary mitigation measures wind down; and evictions proceeding unimpeded — or even accelerating. He outlined measures States can take to tackle such outcomes, calling on them to halt all eviction proceedings, to house people experiencing homelessness in hotels or vacant housing, and to consider rent caps and subsidies for tenants and small landlords. To ensure that those who are systemically discriminated against are included in recovery measures, data disaggregated by race, gender, caste, religion and gender identity must be collected and publicly shared. Low-income countries should receive adequate development financing to ensure they can recover from the economic contraction and address “grossly inadequate housing conditions” faced by many of their citizens.

In the ensuing dialogue, several delegates described various challenges and posed follow-up questions to the report.

An observer from the European Union asked about the long-term impacts of the pandemic on housing, requesting examples of special measures taken by States to mitigate violence against women and children, in light of the spike in domestic violence during lockdowns.

The representative of the Russian Federation expressed concern about possible overlap between the work of the Special Rapporteur and that of other mandate holders. He characterized calls for disaggregated data as “quite intrusive”, adding that such measures can foment tensions between groups. He also expressed discomfort with the recommendation to decongest prisons and provide alternate accommodation for incarcerated persons in light of the pandemic.

The representative of Algeria said his country, which is experiencing rapid urbanization, is gearing up to meet housing needs in line with 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development targets. It has successfully eliminated slums in its capital, Algiers. He expressed deep concern over the scale and frequency of natural disasters, for which Algeria is adhering to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015‑2030.

Meanwhile, the representative of Mexico asked for examples of good practices by States to strengthen coordination and partnerships with civil society.

Mr. RAJAGOPAL, responding briefly, said the pandemic has led to a semi-permanent reconfiguration of the boundary between work and housing, which are no longer separate. “We’re talking about enormous changes,” he said, recalling that in June, the International Labour Organization (ILO) had indicated that around 93 per cent of the global workforce was affected by shutdown measures and forced to stay home. Turning to violence against women, he said the data he had did not contain enough examples to demonstrate different ways in which States enacted proactive protective measures. However, his report commends a few instances of gender-sensitive response policies, as well as increased funding allocated specifically for such programming.

In response to comments by the Russian Federation’s delegate on the possibility of cooperation with other mandate holders, he agreed that many human rights issues overlap, and suggested issuing a joint questionnaire to States in order to reduce the burden on them during a difficult time. Disaggregated data is “critical” to understanding the impact of COVID‑19 on different communities and vulnerable groups. Decongesting prisons is a short-term recommendation, to be enacted when virus levels are “see-sawing”, he said, adding that it is backed by scientific evidence.

To the representative of Algeria, he said States must focus on links between the Sustainable Development Goals and the framework for achieving adequate housing. More cooperation and solidarity is needed among States, given the enormous economic impact of the pandemic. It is “remarkable” that it took a crisis such as the pandemic for some States to impose temporary eviction bans. Moreover, many States have undertaken rent caps, subsidies, and housing for the homeless, showing that when there is political will, fiscal tools do exist. States can see the disruptions of the pandemic as a window of opportunity for change, and grasp it before it closes, he stressed.

For information media. Not an official record.

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Serbia: Economic Agreement, Resumed Talks between Belgrade, Pristina, Mark Important Steps towards Reconciliation in Kosovo, Mission Head Tells Security Council

Wed, 21 Oct 2020 22:44:50 +0000

Country: Serbia
Source: UN Security Council

SC/14334

The recent United States-mediated agreement on Belgrade-Pristina economic cooperation and the resumption of European Union-facilitated talks between the two sides represent positive steps towards reconciliation and lasting peace, the top United Nations official in the Balkans told a Security Council video-teleconference meeting on 21 October.

“The recent meetings in Brussels and Washington, D.C., demonstrate the potential for progress when international resources are combined with leadership on the ground to move difficult issues forward,” said, Zahir Tanin, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

Briefing on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Mission (document S/2020/964), he highlighted that the removal of the reciprocity measures upon goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina by the government of Avdullah Hoti created an impetus for restarting the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. He added that this was accompanied by the appointment of the European Union’s new dedicated Special Representative, Miroslav Lajčák, and a high-level meeting hosted by the leaders of France and Germany on 10 July, leading to the official resumption of the European Union-facilitated dialogue.

The United States also launched new initiatives for improving Pristina‑Belgrade relations, which culminated in a meeting in Washington, D.C., in September, during which agreements were signed in the economic and other spheres, Mr. Tanin noted. “Of course, the most important conditions to be met for negotiations to succeed are political unity, strong commitment and goodwill among leaders, both in Pristina and Belgrade, and sustained international support,” he emphasized, also underscoring the importance of women’s participation in the peace process at all levels, particularly in the ongoing dialogue between the two sides.

Turning to the rule of law, he said important steps were made to advance the investigative and judicial processes of the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office and Kosovo Specialist Chambers. In June, the Special Prosecutor’s Office filed indictments against Hashim Thaçi and the leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, Kadri Veseli, alongside others whose names were not made public. Mr. Thaçi has indicated his intention to step down from office if his indictment is publicly confirmed by pretrial judges. In September, arrests were made, with three individuals now in pretrial detention, one facing war crimes charges and the two others being held on suspicion of intimidation, retaliation, violating the secrecy of proceedings and unlawful disclosure of protected information.

However, some public reactions to these higher profile indictments have been concerning, including attempts to question the legitimacy of the Specialist Chambers and accusations that it is politically motivated. The Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office are integral parts of Kosovo’s justice system, with mandates crucial to the rule of law there and to its future. Ruling by a slim majority, Mr. Hoti’s government faces significant parliamentary opposition, as well as widely diverging priorities among coalition partners. Having been in office for barely over 100 days, constant disagreements among its constituent parties, and difficulty reaching compromises, have hampered and delayed its responses in critical areas.

On the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the socioeconomic consequences have been severe and are not limited to the measurable macroeconomy. UNMIK, alongside the United Nations country team, have also significantly adapted their activities to help meet the unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mission’s focus has been on providing direct support to people, institutions and communities in the framework of its strategic support for dialogue and trust-building in Kosovo. Projects have been tailored to contribute to the response to the coronavirus.

For places such as Kosovo, still suffering the consequences of past conflict, the highest of priorities must be accorded to cooperation, unity of political voice and vision, dialogue and preventing extreme polarization. This solidarity, especially during the current pandemic, should focus intensively on attaining the difficult balance between public health, economic recovery and human rights. In the same spirit, leaders on both sides should move decisively towards a comprehensive agreement, long-term peace and reconciliation.

Ivica Dačić, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia, said UNMIK’s presence remains critical to building lasting peace on the ground. Spotlighting his country’s long-standing and responsible attitude to its dialogue with Pristina, he said it signed the 2013 Brussels Agreement following a series of difficult negotiations and major concessions on the part of Belgrade. In the years since, Serbia has asked the European Union — the agreement’s guarantors — the same question: Can such an agreement be considered valid if one side refused to uphold its commitments under it? To this day, Pristina’s statements reveal that it lacks the political will to engage in further negotiations, in contravention of the Brussels Agreement.

“Dialogue is the only true path to a sustainable solution to the issue of Kosovo,” he said. Thanking the United States Government for its efforts to facilitate an economic normalization agreement, he said such strides are critical to improving everyday life throughout the entire region. However, Pristina has already begun to violate that agreement. “It is high time they started to act in a serious and responsible manner,” he stressed. Noting that ethnic Serbs continue to be attacked and intimidated in Kosovo — with hatred spread over social media networks — he expressed concern that those incidents continue despite many direct appeals to local authorities — and even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regarding the fate of thousands of displaced ethnic Serbs, he said that while Pristina claims that they are welcome to return home, it is no wonder that only 1.9 per cent would choose to do so, as they would be unable to realize their safety or human rights in Kosovo. Spotlighting other examples of Pristina’s “cultural arrogance”, he said local authorities have not committed to cease construction in special protected zones. Agreeing that perpetrators for serious crimes must be held to account, he stressed that “this applies to everyone” — including the Kosovo Liberation Army, which has committed crimes against members of the Roma community and other civilians. The so-called president of Kosovo continues to attempt to destroy the very court which has brought indictments against that terrorist group.

UNMIK’s presence remains necessary, he stressed. Regarding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Kosovo Force — known as KFOR — he voiced concern over its joint patrols with Kosovo troops, which run counter to existing security frameworks. Pristina’s announced intention to institute mandatory military service is also cause for concern. Emphasizing that dialogue remains the only way to achieve better relations, he declared: “The road to political normalization is long.” Concluding, he said the recognition of Kosovo by 160 nations, as reported today by the Special Representative, is “fake news”. Pristina can only garner 92 votes in the General Assembly.

Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla of Kosovo said the sovereignty and independence of Kosovo is an irrefutable fact supported by a 2010 ruling of the International Court of Justice. “Acceptance of this reality is the only basis for a resolution of the issues that divide Serbia and Kosovo,” she said, adding that, once it has been fully acknowledged, the way forward can begin.

Recalling the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia’s ruling that the military and paramilitary forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia conducted a widespread and systematic armed attack on the ethnic Albanian civilian population of Kosovo — actions which constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes — she said 12,000 people were killed in those attacks, 20,000 women were raped and half the population became refugees. The leaders who perpetrated those crimes included Aleksandar Vučić and Ivica Dačić, respectively the current President and Foreign Minister of Serbia, she said, stressing that “Serbia has never acknowledged the past” and continues to perpetuate denials.

More recently, she said, Serbia has intensified its attempts to sabotage the republic of Kosovo, issuing spurious arrest warrants, lobbying small States to withdraw their recognition of Kosovo, manipulating their own media channels with a constant stream of racist propaganda and preventing Kosovo’s accession to international bodies such as the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL). “What happened to our families, to our lives, is not a dim or distant memory,” she stressed, adding that Kosovo’s trauma is also seen today in the context of its more than 1,700 missing persons. Calling for the return of their bodies, she said Serbia’s denials and campaigns of hatred — while they may harm Kosovo in the short-term — ultimately achieve “precisely nothing”.

“The only way forward is true reconciliation,” she said, calling for a future that embraces all nationalities and ethnicities and where trade, culture and human well-being can flourish. The principles of such a path are clear: Serbia must acknowledge the fact of Kosovo’s statehood, including its territorial integrity, unitary character and constitutional order. Crimes of the past must be accounted for in an agreed manner, and the bodies of the missing must be returned. As requested by international organizations, Kosovo has been patient and built a functioning State based on the rule of law. It protects all of its citizens equally. However, while Council resolution 1244 (1999) always envisaged that Kosovo would become an independent State, that text remains a “zombie that exists on paper only” due to the exercise of the veto by certain members.

In the ensuing discussion, Council members broadly welcomed the recent economic normalization agreement and the resumption of the European Union‑facilitated talks. Many delegations called for the greater participation of women and youth in the peace process, while urging unity of both sides to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. They also exchanged views on the role of UNMIK, with a few pushing for the review of the Mission, including an option for a drawdown.

China’s representative, noting several Belgrade-Pristina meetings that took place between July and September, welcomed the official resumption of European Union-facilitated dialogue after a two-year hiatus. Stressing the importance of respecting the sovereignty of Serbia, he urged a solution based on dialogue. He urged Pristina to enhance mutual trust among different communities, calling for progress on the establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo.

The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines commended the efforts of UNMIK and the United Nations country team to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, also welcoming the 4 September agreement in Washington, D.C., on economic cooperation. She also welcomed the European Union-facilitated dialogues, stressing the need to advance the participation of women in peace processes. Highlighting the nexus between development and security, she urged Kosovo to strengthen the rule of law and its fight against corruption.

Tunisia’s representative, welcoming the resumption of negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade, expressed his hope that the parties will harness such progress to make further headway towards a comprehensive political settlement based on compromise. He also voiced support for the full participation of women in future talks.

Germany’s representative voiced regret that the delegation of Serbia never includes references in their statements to the crimes committed against the Kosovar population in 1998 and 1999, including ethnic cleansing and mass deportation. “Our Serbian friends are shooting themselves in their own foot,” he said, pointing out that Belgrade is also trying to gain membership in the European Union. The International Court of Justice has ruled that Kosovo’s independence declaration did not violate international law, which implies that it should be fully recognized. He urged both sides to work towards a legally binding, comprehensive agreement that ensures stability and enables both parties to become members of the European Union.

Niger’s representative said that the resumption of European Union-facilitated dialogue in July is a decisive step in the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina. It is therefore crucial that regional and international actors support the parties in this process to create the conditions conducive to a comprehensive peaceful settlement of the conflict. In any peace process, confidence-building, partnership and cooperation are of paramount importance, he said, welcoming the launch of the platform for the strengthening of intercommunity trust, aimed at advancing the recommendations of the United Nations Kosovo Trust-building Forum.

Estonia’s representative said that the normalization of relations by the two sides is key to regional stability, expressing his delegation’s strong support for European Union-led facilitation. He also encouraged both parties to engage with civil society, especially women and youth. Estonia commended UNMIK for its work on Kosovo’s democratization and protection and promotion of human rights, as well as its work on increasing the participation of women in peace processes. Both parties must build trust and refrain from negative rhetoric.

South Africa’s representative noted the role of UNMIK in building trust amongst communities, and efforts to continue engagement between authorities in Belgrade and Pristina. He highlighted the importance of a Kosovo Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as “our own Truth and Reconciliation Commission was an integral part of the process that paved the way for our democratic transition”. Facing the past was crucial in realizing national unity, as hearing different views and versions of events of all communities can ultimately lead to a peaceful, inclusive political solution.

The representative of the United Kingdom said the Mission’s mandate should now be reviewed as the situation on the ground has shifted. Welcoming the resumption of dialogue and progress made recently towards greater economic cooperation between Pristina and Belgrade, he called on both parties to establish a “rational, calm atmosphere” and continue to negotiate in good faith. Calling for justice for war crimes committed in 1998 and 1999, he stressed that “we cannot allow impunity” and voiced support for Kosovo’s specialist courts. It is disturbing to hear provocative and harmful comments from senior ministers regarding the issue of missing persons, which are disrespectful to victims and harmful to the peace process, he said.

Indonesia’s representative said his country consistently upholds the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity and will not condone any acts that violate it. Welcoming Pristina’s decision to lift its 100 per cent tariff imposed on goods from Serbia — as well as recent economic normalization commitments agreed to by the parties — he said nothing is more important than dialogue. In that vein, he commended UNMIK’s multiple prongs of engagement and called on Belgrade and Pristina to demonstrate flexibility in overcoming their differences.

Belgium’s representative strongly condemned attempts to weaken the Kosovo Specialist Chambers or obstruct their action. This transitional justice mechanism makes it possible to bring the truth to victims. Establishing accountability for crimes of great gravity is essential to restore the confidence of the population and thus achieve lasting peace. In this regard, he expressed full support for the efforts of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and welcomed the recent adoption by the assembly of Kosovo of an amendment to the Constitution which makes directly applicable the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

The representative of the United States said that a briefing by the Special Representative of the European Union could have made this meeting more fulsome. The agreements signed at the White House on 4 September spanned a range of economic normalization issues. “They will bring growth, investments, and jobs to citizens in both countries and set a new tone of reconciliation in the pursuit of progress for the Western Balkans,” she said. Seeing the full normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina remains a shared goal, as well for the United States and the European Union. The United States-brokered agreements complement the European Union-facilitated talks. UNMIK’s role in Kosovo and the region as a peacekeeping mission has long since outlived its original purpose. The Security Council now has the responsibility to redirect limited peacekeeping resources to areas and issues where they are more needed. She urged Council members to think seriously about UNMIK’s transition and to begin taking the steps needed for a responsible drawdown.

Viet Nam’s representative joined other speakers in welcoming the resumption of talks between Belgrade and Pristina, as well as the recent agreement to normalize economic relations. However, he voiced regret over the continued lack of implementation on the ground, urging both sides to undertake confidence‑building measures in an effort to reach a sustainable negotiated settlement.

France’s representative recalled that a comprehensive, legally binding settlement between Belgrade and Serbia is a prerequisite for membership in the European Union. Welcoming the resumption of dialogue between the parties, she said it is essential that even the most sensitive issues be addressed. She also voiced support for EULEX — as well as the latter’s Specialist Chambers — while calling upon all parties to cooperate with them. “Serbia and Kosovo do have a common future,” she stressed, pledging that France will remain engaged in the European Union-led dialogue process.

The representative of the Dominican Republic urged both sides to seize an opportunity to leave their differences aside and focus on fighting the pandemic, urging donors to increase their official development assistance to the region. She strongly emphasized the need to include women and youth in peace processes. Kosovo has the youngest population in the region, she said, noting that all efforts must count on the full participation of young people in governance.

The representative of the Russian Federation, Council President for October, speaking in his national capacity, said that Pristina still sabotages the formation of the Community of Serbian Municipalities in Kosovo. On 14 October, Mr. Hoti once again ruled out the possibility of endowing such municipalities with executive powers. Expressing hope that the European Union mediation will lead to significant progress and noting the agreements signed by the parties in Washington, D.C., he stressed that Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) remains the international legal basis for a Kosovo settlement. There is no improvement in the situation in the rights of non-Albanian communities in the province. Ensuring protection of Orthodox sites in Kosovo requires special attention. Against this background, his delegation considers Kosovo’s accession to international organizations, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), erroneous. The return of former terrorist fighters to Kosovo poses a threat to peace and stability in the region. “This is a time bomb for security in the region,” he said.

For information media. Not an official record.

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USA: US, Australia Hit New Lows on Refugee Resettlement

Wed, 21 Oct 2020 22:22:04 +0000

Countries: Australia, Lebanon, Syrian Arab Republic, United States of America, World
Source: Human Rights Watch

Declining Numbers Leave Most Vulnerable at Risk

Bill Frelick
Director, Refugee and Migrant Rights Division

Two countries that historically have led the world in refugee resettlement, the United States and Australia, have dramatically lowered their annual admissions ceilings at a time when the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has identified 1,445,383 of the world’s 26 million refugees as being in need of resettlement.

The 11,814 refugees admitted to the US in fiscal year 2020, between October 1, 2019 and September 30, is the lowest annual admissions number on record and an 86 percent drop from the nearly 85,000 admitted in FY 2016. In Australia, the government’s 2020-21 budget shows a 5,000-place cut in refugee admissions.

The two countries have also taken inhumane measures to block the entry of people seeking asylum. Cutting resettlement places may compel desperate people to seek riskier migration alternatives.

Refugee resettlement is a tool of protection for refugees who can’t find safety in their region, including those at risk of being forcibly returned to their home countries. It provides solutions for refugees unable to repatriate or integrate locally, such as members of marginalized groups who are discriminated against and abused in both host country and country of origin. Resettlement is also an instrument for international responsibility sharing and solidarity that provides support to countries on the front lines of conflict that host the overwhelming majority of the world’s refugees.

UNHCR has identified nearly 600,000 Syrians needing to be resettled, more than 40 percent of the worldwide total. Yet in the fiscal year just ended, the US admitted just 481 Syrians, a 96 percent drop from FY 2016.

Recently, I talked with “Farid,” a Syrian refugee from Idlib who has been living in Lebanon. Too afraid to return to war-torn Idlib, and with an increasingly intolerable situation in Lebanon, Farid saw no safe and legal paths for refuge, so boarded an inflatable boat to seek asylum in Cyprus. His boat ran out of fuel and he drifted at sea for six days, near death. Farid was finally spotted by a fishing boat and rescued by the Lebanese navy. He told me he would get on another boat and try again as soon as he could.

UNHCR should be able to help resettle Farid and others like him. But with resettlement offers as low as they are in countries like the US and Australia, that option is virtually closed. Resettlement will never be the solution for the majority of the world’s refugees, but it should at least be available as a life-saving tool for those most vulnerable.

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Ethiopia: Access Snapshot - East and West Wellega (Oromia), Kamashi (Benishangul Gumuz) (As of 15 September 2020)

Wed, 21 Oct 2020 20:46:33 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Country: Ethiopia
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Please refer to the attached Infographic.

The humanitarian space in some areas has shrunk, violence is increasing, including frequent calls for market strikes, community tensions between Gumuz and Oromo remain, and civil unrest has intensified. The humanitarian situation is marked by the inter-ethnic violence and related forced-displacement that took place in Kamashi zone and boundary areas with Oromia of September 2018, and scaled up security operations against unidentified armed groups (UAGs).

In Western Oromia, the scale and scope of violence continue to evolve into new areas, i.e. East and Horo Gudru Wellega. Since April, over 240 armed incidents have been reported, plus four market strikes. Clashes are taking place almost daily, forcing partners to suspend critical activities. In East Wellega, programmes targeting 6,900 people in Ibantu (emergency shelter and non-food items, ESNFI) and 135,000 people in Sasiga and Haro Limu woredas (WASH, Education, Nutrition) have been delayed for several weeks. In West Wellega, ESNFI distribution to 12,000 people has been interrupted, and a measles vaccination campaign is postponed.

From January - March 2020, relief operations were impacted by the shutdown of phone and internet access by the government. Further, the arrival of COVID-19 and subsequent restrictions to avoid the disease's spread also impacted operations. The end of the state of emergency in early September brought to the end of those restrictions. Despite such challenges, partners continue to operate and deliver essential services to the population.

By mid-August, national media covered the situation of 58,000 IDPs (39,000 in West, 19,000 East Wellega) who had not accessed aid for one year. This population was among those returned to Kamashi in June 2019 (64,500 in total) and re-displaced back to Oromia due to insecurity and lack of services. They live in overcrowded conditions with host communities, have minimal income, and face many protection issues, e.g., SGBV. In September, authorities authorized relief activities with food (last distribution took place in April) and shelter as main priorities following intensive advocacy.

Despite a national policy to support the free access of persons affected by conflict/displacement to health care, the population lacks access to those services due to limited resources and service unavailability. In July, in Nedjo town, partners reported deaths among IDP returnees due to lack of money to pay for health care.

Aid actors are operating in a high-risk environment. In April, a vehicle from a religious organization was ambushed by UAG in Ganji woreda, two people were killed. In another incident, in May, an ambulance was attacked by UAG, also causing casualties. The increased use of explosive devices in urban settings threatens the safety of the civilian population and aid workers. In order to ensure the safety and security of relief workers, partners are ensuring appropriate visibility during road movements, including clear identifications signs in their vehicles, distinctive from security actors. Further, partners have noted an increased number of security checkpoints, some mobile and with low visibility. Partners are also concerned that security personnel in such check points are not adhering to COVID-19 protective measures.

While the security situation in Kamashi has improved, lingering tensions at the community level continue to hamper peace efforts. Secondary displaced IDPs in West Wellega denounced that local authorities in Agelometi and Kamashi woredas had excluded them from accessing aid, preventing them from claiming the return of properties and livestock stolen during the conflict. In Belojiganfo woreda community tensions continue, with ethnic Gumuz facing movement limitations to Oromia due to insecurity, losing access to services and markets, and Oromo IDP returnees fearing further attacks (only men have returned so far). Host communities and IDP returnees complained about corrupt practices in managing assistance by local authorities. The situation remains too fragile.

The rainy season has affected access to some kebeles with poor road infrastructure, i.e., Sedal, Agalometi, and Yaso woredas in Kamashi. The main route connecting Kamashi to Oromia through Nedjo (West Wellega) is frequently impassable during heavy rains and insecurity due to active fighting with UAGs. Overall, relief programmes targeting some 120,000 people in Kamashi (28,500 Agalometi, 82,200 in Yaso, 3,500 in Sedal, and 6,000 in Belojiganfo woreda) have been impacted/delayed for two months.

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World: Work to develop a COVID-19 vaccine is faster than ever but safety and efficacy processes remain unchanged, PAHO Director says

Wed, 21 Oct 2020 20:37:34 +0000

Country: World
Source: Pan American Health Organization

However, while spikes in cases continue in the Region, countries must ensure a sustained response until a vaccine arrives.

Washington D.C., October 21, 2020 (PAHO) – While the Americas urgently awaits a breakthrough, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) will only support the distribution of a vaccine that has proven to be safe and effective in clinical trials, reviewed by National Regulatory Authorities and recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), PAHO Director Carissa F Etienne, said today.

“It is important to emphasize that while we’re working to develop a vaccine faster than ever before, the process to guarantee its safety and efficacy is unchanged,” Etienne told a press briefing in Washington, DC. She noted that there is a pipeline of more than 180 vaccine candidates under study, with 11 in phase III clinical trials.

What has changed “is the unprecedented attention on the vaccine development process,” she added, highlighting the “over-abundance of information from a number of sources, some less reliable than others and not based on science, which has led to confusion and misinformation around vaccine safety.”

The PAHO Director emphasized that vaccines are designed and manufactured with safety in mind. Once a COVID-19 vaccine proves safe and effective in a clinical trial, regulatory agencies thoroughly evaluate the data prior to granting approvals and WHO will also oversee an independent review process before granting its own recommendation.

“How we communicate about COVID-19 will make our ability to control the pandemic,” she said, calling for countries, the media, regulatory authorities, the private sector and the scientific community to come together to provide the public with “clear, concise and science-based information about a future COVID-19 vaccine.”

Access to vaccines

An important factor to establish trust in the new vaccines is to ensure their accessibility to all countries, and PAHO is supporting countries to gain access to these vaccines through the COVAX facility, Etienne noted.

“Virtually every country in Latin America and the Caribbean has joined or is in the process of joining the facility,” she said, and countries are taking legal and budgetary steps needed to participate in this innovative global partnership. “We are actively collaborating with financial institutions, like the Inter-American Development Bank, to support countries in our region access the funding needed to purchase vaccines through the COVAX Facility when they are available. Etienne added.

“PAHO’s Revolving Fund, with more than 40 years of experience providing affordable and quality vaccines to countries in Latin American and the Caribbean, will be, along with UNICEF, the purchase mechanism for the COVAX facility,” she said.

In the Caribbean, 11 countries will receive financial support for initial payments to join the COVAX facility, she said, in collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Agency and the European Union.

COVID-19 in the Americas

The PAHO Director noted that there have been over 40 million cases and over 1.1 million deaths worldwide due to COVID-19, including 18.9 million cases in the Region of the Americas and over 610,000 deaths as of October 20. “Across our Region, around 100,000 people continue to test positive for COVID-19 every day,” Etienne said.

Trends show cases rising in the United States and Canada and plateauing across Central America, while most new cases in the Caribbean are related to non-essential international travel, Etienne noted.

These spikes show that while the region is “hard at work preparing for a vaccine, we must also keep a strong and steady course to continue fighting the virus without one.”

She urged all countries to “prioritize a transparent and proactive communications approach for COVID-19. The people of our region crave clear guidance. Communicating effectively and consistently about what they can do to protect themselves and avoid infection remains vital.”

Etienne added that “Testing, treating and isolating cases, as well as tracing contacts are all part of a good surveillance strategy and too few countries are doing this well in our region. It is as important now as it was in April. And it will be even more important once we have a vaccine.”

Contacts

Leticia Linn
Sebastian Oliel
Ashley Baldwin
Daniel Epstein
mediateam@paho.org

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Serbia: Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (S/2020/964)

Wed, 21 Oct 2020 20:21:05 +0000

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Country: Serbia
Source: UN Security Council

Please refer to the attached file.

I. Introduction and Mission priorities

  1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), by which the Council established the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and requested me to report at regular intervals on the implementation of its mandate. The report covers the activities of UNMIK, and developments related thereto, from 16 March to 15 September 2020.

  2. The priorities of the Mission remain to promote security, stability and respect for human rights in Kosovo and in the region. In furtherance of its goals, UNMIK continues its constructive engagement with Pristina and Belgrade, all communities in Kosovo, and regional and international actors. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Kosovo Force continue to perform their roles within the framework of resolution 1244 (1999). The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo continues its presence in Kosovo, in line with the statement by the President of the Security Council of 26 November 2008 (S/PRST/2008/44) and my report of 24 November 2008 (S/2008/692). The United Nations agencies, funds and programmes work closely with the Mission.

II. Key political and security developments

  1. Several overlapping and intersecting challenges confronted the people and institutions of Kosovo. Foremost among those was the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, which, beyond its impact on public health, carried serious economic, social and political repercussions. The spread of the virus accelerated during the latter half of the reporting period, causing loss of lives and livelihoods throughout Kosovo and putting a major strain on the capacity of public institutions to respond to the crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic was accompanied by a political crisis, as the government led by the Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, of the Movement for Self-Determination (Vetёvendosje), was voted out through a non-confidence motion initiated by its coalition partner, the Democratic League of Kosovo, just two months into its term of office. The announcement in June by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office that war crimes and crimes against humanity indictments had been filed in The Hague against the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, and the leader of his former party, the Democratic Party of Kosovo, Kadri Veseli, brought further complexities to the political scene in Pristina. These developments and challenges have rendered the political and security circumstances in Kosovo more fragile, at a time when the world is striving to combat and manage the pandemic.

  2. On 18 March, as Kosovo was reporting some of its earliest confirmed COVID-19 cases, the Democratic League of Kosovo withdrew from the coalition with Vetёvendosje, which had garnered the majority of votes in the October 2019 elections, and initiated an ultimately successful motion of non-confidence in the Vetёvendosjeled government of Albin Kurti. Inter-party tensions had been building and public differences aired, including on calls for the unconditional removal of the 100 per cent import tax on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina that had been put in place in 2018 by the former government led by the then Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj. After the dismissal by Mr. Kurti of the Minister of Interior and the Democratic League of Kosovo’s first Vice-President, whom he had accused of openly contradicting the government response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Democratic League of Kosovo left the coalition, calling it an unacceptable violation of its coalition agreement with Vetёvendosje.

  3. On 25 March, 82 of the 120 members of the Assembly voted in favour of the motion of non-confidence against the government of Albin Kurti. In response, Mr. Kurti and his party called for the immediate scheduling of new elections. However, President Thaçi, following consultations with most political parties, concluded that a majority of parties favoured the formation of a new government. On 30 April, following the lack of response of Vetёvendosje to the repeated requests made by President Thaçi to identify an alternate candidate for Prime Minister, he invited the Democratic League of Kosovo, given that the party had won the second-highest number of votes in the previous election, to form a new government. Vetёvendosje challenged that action in the Constitutional Court of Kosovo, which, on 28 May, upheld the decision of President Thaçi. Amid continuing protests from Vetёvendosje and widespread public dissatisfaction with the political upheavals during a public health emergency, on 3 June, the Assembly narrowly approved the new government to be led by the Vice-President of the Democratic League of Kosovo, Avdullah Hoti.

  4. The new government depends on a one-vote majority in the Assembly and is comprised of a mixture of smaller Kosovo Albanian-led parties, including the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo and the Socialist Democratic Initiative for Kosovo, along with the Kosovo Serb party Serbian List and parties representing other non-majority communities. The Cabinet of Prime Minister Hoti is slightly larger than that of the previous government, with four Deputy Prime Ministers and 16 ministries (formerly 15), including 3 women ministers, compared with 5 in the preceding government.

  5. Upon taking office, the new government prioritized addressing the pandemic, facilitating economic recovery, combating crime and corruption, advancing the dialogue with Belgrade and progressing on European integration. It also lifted the non-tariff restrictions, including reciprocity measures, on Serbian goods that had been imposed by the previous Vetёvendosje-led government, but indicated that they could be reinstated if necessary progress was not achieved in the dialogue with Belgrade. Continued political infighting, however, delayed the passage of legislation on managing the pandemic and mitigating its economic impact. A new law on “preventing and combating the COVID-19 pandemic” was eventually passed on 14 August, some three months after the Constitutional Court had recommended urgent legislative changes to support the measures introduced by the government to contain the virus. In July, following repeated unsuccessful attempts due to a lack of quorum, the Assembly also ratified five international financial agreements with the World Bank, the European Union and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in support of, among other things, modernizing the tax and customs administration of Kosovo and a supplementary budget law. In August, the Assembly ratified two other financial agreements of great importance for economic recovery, namely, an agreement with the World Bank and a loan agreement with the European Union for macro-financial assistance. In response to the pandemic, the government proposed a 1.2 billion euro economic recovery plan, which remains pending with the Assembly.

  6. On 24 June, the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office announced the 24 April filing at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers of a 10-count indictment against President Thaçi, Mr. Veseli and other individuals. They were charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution and torture. The indictment is pending a review and confirmation by a pre-trial judge of the Specialist Chambers, which is before the end of October, in accordance with the applicable rules of procedure and evidence. The Office stated that the charges were being disclosed in advance owing to “repeated efforts by both Hashim Thaçi and Kadri Veseli to obstruct and undermine the work of the KSC [Kosovo Specialist Chambers]”. Prime Minister Hoti, reacting to the announcement, called for respect for the procedures of the Specialist Chambers. Mr. Veseli said in a statement that the “true motives” of the Prosecutor were “entirely political”. President Thaçi described the allegations as “false”, while promising to resign if the indictment was officially confirmed by the Specialist Chambers.

  7. In a televised address on 18 July, President Thaçi characterized the process as “another one among 21 years of accusations, allegations and fabrications about the Kosovo Liberation Army and the struggle of the people of Kosovo for freedom and sovereignty”. Meanwhile, the Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution on political and civic unity in the protection of the values of the people of Kosovo calling, among others, “to protect the liberation war of the KLA” (Kosovo Liberation Army), addressing the issue of missing persons and ensuring justice for “all victims of Serbia’s crimes” and the impartiality of the Specialist Chambers. Some 20 million euros were approved within the 2020 Kosovo budget to support the potential indictees and their families. In addition, a debate was renewed on a previously submitted draft law on “the protection of Kosovo Liberation Army war values, which failed to be adopted on its first reading, on 13 August, owing to a lack of quorum. International actors and local human rights organizations have strongly criticized elements of this draft text, noting that they may violate freedom of expression and other fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution and international norms. On 14 August, the Kosovo Liberation Army Veterans Association petitioned the Assembly to amend the Law on the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and the Office to extend their jurisdiction to crimes committed by Serbian forces. On 24 August, President Thaçi submitted a request to the Assembly to amend the Constitution to provide clarification on the end of the mandate of the Specialist Chambers and the Office.

  8. Those developments took place against the backdrop of continuing public debate and speculation on the viability of the Democratic League of Kosovo-led coalition government. On 6 August, Vetёvendosje announced that it was in the process of collecting signatures in the Assembly to initiate a motion of non-confidence against the Hoti government. In addition, political actors have launched public discussions on the election of a new President in the event that President Thaçi resigns before the end of his mandate, in April 2021.

  9. The resumption of work by the municipality of Deçan/Dečani on a transit road to Montenegro through the special protective zone of the Visoki Dečani monastery, in contravention of applicable laws, sparked renewed political and security tensions during the reporting period. Following the resumption of the road upgrades within the special protective zone in mid-July, the Eparchy of Raška-Prizren appealed to the Kosovo government and the international community to prevent further encroachment into the special protective zone. Belgrade also decried the new construction works, with the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, requesting that the issue of the special protective zones be included in the agenda of the next session of the European Union-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina talks. On 16 August, following a visit to the municipality by Prime Minister Hoti, construction was halted. On 27 August, upon a fact-finding visit to the area, the Pristina-based representatives of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America, who were accompanied by officials from the European Union, OSCE and the Kosovo Force, called upon the Kosovo government to uphold the Law on Special Protective Zones and to ensure the implementation of the 19 May 2016 decision of the Constitutional Court upholding land ownership rights of the Serbian Orthodox Church. To date, however, the municipality has not committed itself to a permanent cessation of the unlawful road works.

  10. From mid-March until the end of May, when pandemic restriction measures were in force, the Kosovo Serb communities in Vushtrri/Vučitrn, Novak/Novakë, Prizren, Istog/Istok, Gjilan/Gnjilane and Obiliq/Obilić recorded an increase of criminal incidents directed against their property and livelihoods. On 1 May, my Special Representative, alongside other high-level international representatives in Kosovo, expressed concern over the increase in such incidents and urged Pristina authorities to prioritize law enforcement for those communities, to swiftly identify the perpetrators and publicly discourage such acts.

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Veto al Código Orgánico de Salud de Ecuador: oportunidad perdida para avanzar en la igualdad de género y la atención a la salud, dicen expertas y expertos de la ONU

Wed, 21 Oct 2020 20:13:37 +0000

Country: Ecuador
Source: UN Human Rights Council

GINEBRA (21 de octubre de 2020) – Las y los expertos en derechos humanos de la ONU* instaron hoy a Ecuador a que garantice la igualdad de acceso a la atención a la salud de mujeres y niñas, así como personas lesbianas, gays, bisexuales, transgénero (LGBT) e intersexuales, en particular a la atención de la salud sexual y reproductiva.

“La reciente decisión del gobierno de vetar el nuevo Código Orgánico de Salud, que fue aprobado por la Asamblea Nacional el 25 de agosto, es decepcionante y una oportunidad perdida para mejorar la legislación general sobre el derecho a la salud y avanzar en la igualdad de género”, afirmaron las expertas y expertos.

La alta prevalencia de la violencia contra mujeres y niñas y la discriminación contra ciertos grupos, dentro y fuera del sistema de salud, siguen presentando amenazas significativas en la realización del derecho a la salud en el país.

El Código Orgánico de Salud que fue vetado habría reformado el actual marco legal sanitario, que consta de unas 40 leyes relacionadas con la salud.

“Lagunas en la implementación de la legislación actual de salud llevan a menudo a que los proveedores de atención a la salud nieguen procedimientos confidenciales cuando una mujer o niña necesita recurrir a un aborto o anticoncepción de emergencia”, dijeron las expertas y expertos.

Ecuador tiene una de las tasas más altas de embarazo adolescente en América Latina, que resulta frecuentemente de la violencia de género, y el aborto es ilegal excepto en circunstancias muy limitadas. Según se informa, podría haber hasta 250 mujeres en prisión por haber solicitado un aborto o por haber interrumpido voluntariamente un embarazo.

“La violencia sexual sistémica combinada con un acceso mínimo a los servicios de salud sexual y reproductiva significa que las mujeres y niñas a menudo están expuestas a embarazos precoces, abortos inseguros y mortalidad materna”, dijeron.

“El proyecto de ley habría brindado mayor protección a las personas LGBT respecto de las llamadas prácticas de 'terapia de conversión' y a los niños y niñas intersexuales respecto de procedimientos médicamente innecesarios”, dijeron las y los expertos.

Ecuador debe promover el derecho a la salud abordando temas clave como la violencia de género y la discriminación, mientras invierte en un sistema de salud sostenible.

La relatora especial sobre la violencia contra la mujer, Dubravka Simonovic, y el anterior relator especial sobre el derecho de toda persona al disfrute del más alto nivel posible de salud física y mental, Dainius Pūras, realizaron visitas separadas a Ecuador en 2019 por invitación del Gobierno. Sus informes alentaron la adopción del Código Orgánico de la Salud de acuerdo con los estándares internacionales de derechos humanos.

FIN

*La(o)s experta(o)s: Dubravka Simonovic, Relatora Especial sobre la violencia contra la mujer, sus causas y consecuencias; Tlaleng Mofokeng, Relatora Especial sobre el derecho de toda persona al disfrute del más alto nivel posible de salud física y mental; miembros del Grupo de Trabajo sobre la discriminación contra mujeres y niñas: Elizabeth Broderick (Presidenta), Melissa Upreti (Vicepresidenta), Alda Facio, Ivana Radačić y Meskerem Geset Techane; y Victor Madrigal-Borloz, Experto Independiente sobre la protección contra la violencia y la discriminación por motivos de orientación sexual e identidad de género

Los Relatores Especiales forman parte de los Procedimientos Especiales del Consejo de Derechos Humanos. Los Procedimientos Especiales, el mayor órgano de expertos independientes en el sistema de la ONU para los Derechos Humanos, es el nombre general de los mecanismos independientes de investigación y monitoreo establecidos por el Consejo para hacer frente a situaciones concretas en países o a cuestiones temáticas en todo el mundo. Los expertos de los Procedimientos Especiales trabajan de manera voluntaria; no son personal de la ONU y no perciben un salario por su trabajo. Son independientes de cualquier gobierno u organización y actúan a título individual.

Para obtener más información y solicitudes de los medios de comunicación, póngase en contacto con: Orlagh McCann (+41 22 917 7900 / omccann@ohchr.org) o escriba a vaw@ohchr.org

Para consultas de prensa relacionadas con otros expertos independientes de la ONU, por favor contacte con Renato de Souza (+41 22 928 9855 / rrosariodesouza@ohchr.org) Jeremy Laurence (+ 41 22 917 7578 / jlaurence@ohchr.org) y Kitty McKinsey (kmckinsey@ohchr.org)

Siga las noticias relacionadas con los expertos independientes en derechos humanos de la ONU en Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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