7242 Thursday, 15 September 2016

For updates and e-mail alerts, visit UN NEWS CENTRE at www.un.org/news UN Daily News Thursday, 15 September 2016 Issue DH/7242 In the headlines: •...
Author: Bertina Cooper
4 downloads 1 Views 940KB Size
For updates and e-mail alerts, visit UN NEWS CENTRE at


UN Daily News Thursday, 15 September 2016

Issue DH/7242

In the headlines: • Syria: UN says aid convoys unable to reach

besieged areas despite US-Russia deal on ceasefire

• New UN report reveals millions of refugee children ‘missing out’ on education

• Two-state solution to Israel-Palestine conflict at

risk of giving way to ‘one-state reality,’ warns Ban

• Democratic principles at core of UN 2030

sustainability agenda, Ban says on International Day

• Ahead of major health meeting, senior UN official sheds light on growing threat of antibiotic resistance

• UN health agency provides emergency support as

• UN relief chief allocates $10 million in emergency

• Nearly 47 per cent of global population now online

• Belarus: Smooth-looking polls ‘lipstick measures on

floods and landslides cause havoc in DPRK – UN report

funds to bolster aid response in southern Chad face of violations,’ says UN rights expert

• Civilian casualties up 66 per cent in eastern Ukraine during summer – UN report

Syria: UN says aid convoys unable to reach besieged areas despite US-Russia deal on ceasefire 15 September – The United Nations Special Envoy for Syria today said the ceasefire following last Friday’s Russian-American agreement is largely holding but that desperately-awaited humanitarian convoys are unable to move due to a delay in getting permits from the Syrian Government. “It is particularly regrettable because […] we are losing time,” Staffan de Mistura told a press briefing in Geneva. “These are days which we should have used for convoys to move with the permit to go because there is no fighting,” he stressed. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Syria is one of the most complex and dynamic humanitarian crises in the world today. Since March 2011, more than a quarter of a million Syrians have been killed and over one million have been injured. 4.8 million Syrians have been forced to leave the country, and 6.5 million are internally displaced, making Syria the largest displacement crisis globally. On 13 September 2016 in the western part of Aleppo city, Syria, UNICEF representatives speak with displaced mothers and children living in make-shift tents and shelters in the neighbourhood of Majabel. Photo: UNICEF/Ourfali

In 2016, an estimated 13.5 million people, including six million children, are in need of humanitarian assistance. Of these 5.47 million people are in hard-to-reach areas, including close to 600,000 people in 18 besieged areas. The US and Russia are the co-chairs of the diplomatic grouping known as the International Syria Support Group (ISSG),

For information media not an official record

UN Daily News


15 September 2016

which comprises the UN, the Arab League, the European Union and 16 other countries. In Geneva, the taskforces on humanitarian aid delivery and a ceasefire – created by the ISSG – have been meeting separately since early this year on a way forward in the crisis. At today’s briefing, Mr. de Mistura said that the agreement between the US and Russia on the cessation of hostilities in Syria last Friday was a “game-changer” because violence has been reduced substantially. “The reduction of violence, and you will be having further reports we will get after we verify today, is by and large […] holding; in fact it has been substantial,” he said. The “second dividend” of the Russian-American agreement has been humanitarian access, he said. Apart from seeing no more bombs or mortar shelling taking place, the agreement allows for humanitarian access. But the Syrian Government has not issued permits for the five areas the UN is ready to reach. “We cannot let days of this reduction of violence to be wasted by not moving forward on that,” Mr. de Mistura stated. Meanwhile, Jan Egeland, the Advisor to the Special Envoy, reiterated “the good news is that our people on the ground confirmed that the cessation of hostilities is largely holding, the killing has been greatly reduced, in fact no reports on civilian killings the last 24 hours. Attacks on schools, attacks on hospitals have stopped.” “The bad news is that we are not using this window of opportunity so far to reach all of these places with humanitarian assistance, like we did when this humanitarian task force was born out of the February agreement on the cessation of hostilities,” he said. In addition to eastern Aleppo, UN convoys, if they receive permits, are ready to go to places like Moadameya, to Al-Waer, to Talbiseh to Douma, to all of the besieged areas close to Damascus, close to Homs, and elsewhere, he explained. The deal is “simple,” said Mr. Egeland: “Well-fed grown men, please stop putting political, bureaucratic, and procedural roadblocks [before] brave humanitarian workers that are willing to go to serve women, children, wounded civilians in besieged and crossfire areas.” The convoys have been waiting and sleeping at the border now for 48 hours so they could go on a minute’s notice, he underscored.

New UN report reveals millions of refugee children ‘missing out’ on education 15 September – In a new report, the United Nations refugee agency said that more than some six million school-age children under its mandate have no school go to and that refugees are five times more likely to be out of school than the global average. “This represents a crisis for millions of refugee children,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a news release issued by his Office (UNHCR).

Children from the Central African Republic in the 2014 photo at Primary School 1 in UNHCR Mole Refugee Camp, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo: UNHCR/Sebastian Rich

“Refugee education is sorely neglected, when it is one of the few opportunities we have to transform and build the next generation so they can change the fortunes of the tens of millions of forcibly displaced people globally,” he added.

According to the agency’s new report, Missing Out: Refugee Education in Crisis, only half of refugee children have access to primary education, compared with a global average of UN News Centre • www.un.org/news

UN Daily News


15 September 2016

more than 90 per cent. And as these children become older, the gap further widens: only 22 per cent of refugee adolescents attend secondary school compared to a global average of 84 per cent. At the higher education level, just one per cent of refugees attend university, compared to a global average of 34 per cent. These findings are particularly pertinent as next week, global leaders will be gathering in new York for two major relevant meetings: the UN General Assembly’s Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September, and, the very next day, a Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis, hosted by United States President Barack Obama. In the release today, UNCHR said that at both summits, it will call on governments, donors, humanitarian agencies and development partners, as well as private-sector partners, to strengthen their commitment to ensuring that every child receives a quality education. “Underlining the discussions will be the target of Sustainable Development Goal 4, [to] ‘ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning,’ an aim that will not be realized by 2030 without meeting the education needs of vulnerable populations, including refugees and other forcibly displaced people,” the UN agency stressed. Sheer gravity of the challenges The report also revealed that the global school-age refugee population remained relatively stable at 3.5 million between 2001 and 2010, but since then, it has grown on average by 600,000 children and adolescents annually. In 2014 alone, this population grew by 30 per cent. While noting that governments, UNHCR and its partners have made progress in enrolling more numbers of refugees in school, the agency said that the sheer increase in the number new refugees makes actual progress a daunting task. Given the recent numbers, UNHCR estimates that an average of at least 12,000 additional classrooms and 20,000 additional teachers are needed on an annual basis. Furthermore, the agency highlighted that refugees often live in regions where governments are already struggling to educate their own children. They face the additional task of finding places for schools, trained teachers and learning materials for tens or even hundreds of thousands of newcomers, who often do not speak the language of instruction and have frequently missed out on three to four years of schooling. Refugee education in crisis: three standout statistics According to the report, more than half of the world’s out-of-school refugee children and adolescents are located in just seven countries: Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey. The Syrian crisis – the face of the dire situation Exemplified by the crisis in Syria, the report further shows how conflict has the potential to reverse positive education trends. Presenting the figures, the UN agency notes that while in 2009, 94 per cent of Syrian children attended primary and lower secondary school, by June 2016, only 60 per cent are in school, leaving 2.1 million children and adolescents without access to education in the country. In neighbouring countries, more than 4.8 million Syrian refugees are registered with the agency, amongst them around 35 per cent are of school-age. In Turkey, only 39 per cent of school-age refugee children and adolescents are enrolled in primary and secondary education, 40 per cent in Lebanon, and 70 per cent in Jordan. “This means that nearly 900,000 Syrian school-age refugee children and adolescents are not in school,” noted UNHCR. Shedding light on refugee situations receiving less attention UN News Centre • www.un.org/news

UN Daily News


15 September 2016

The UNCHR report also looks at some of the more protracted refugee situations that receive less attention. For instance, in Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya, the report profiles the remarkable story of a young South Sudanese girl, Esther, who has caught up on multiple years of missed education to reach the last year of secondary school. Only three per cent of children in Kakuma camp are enrolled in secondary school, and less than one per cent make it to higher education. Given the fact that the average length of displacement for a refugee in a protracted situation currently stands at 20 years, the report calls for donors to transition from a system of emergency to multi-year and predictable funding that allows for sustainable planning, quality programming and sound monitoring of education for refugees and national children and adolescents. Story of a young refugee who is now a volunteer teacher The report concludes with the inspiring story of Nawa, a Somali refugee who only started her education aged 16 at a community learning centre in Malaysia. Under four years later, she is due to start a foundation course at university while giving back to her school as a volunteer teacher. “Nawa’s story proves it is never too late to invest in refugee education, and investment in one refugee’s education means the entire community benefits,” said High Commissioner Grandi.

Two-state solution to Israel-Palestine conflict at risk of giving way to ‘one-state reality,’ warns Ban 15 September – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for intensified efforts to encourage Israelis and Palestinians to take the difficult steps required to change the current destructive trajectory of the conflict, which is heading towards a “onestate reality” rather than a peaceful resolution. “Twenty-three years ago, almost to the day, the first Oslo Accord was signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation,” the Secretary-General told the Security Council in a briefing on the situation in the Middle East. A wide view of the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

“Unfortunately, we are further than ever from its goals. The two-state solution is at risk of being replaced by a one-state reality of perpetual violence and occupation,” he warned.

Despite warnings by the international community and the wider region, leaders on both sides have failed to take the difficult steps needed for peace, the UN chief said. Just yesterday, militants in the Gaza Strip fired yet another rocket into Israel, and in response, Israel fired four missiles at targets in Gaza. “Such attacks, and the response they elicit, do not serve the cause of peace,” he warned. Turning to Israel’s settlement activities, Mr. Ban said that in the past two weeks alone, plans were advanced for yet another 463 housing units in four settlements in Area C of the West Bank. Official Israeli data shows that the second quarter of 2016 had the highest number of construction starts in three years. “The decades-long policy that has settled more than 500,000 Israelis in Palestinian territory is diametrically opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state,” he said.

UN News Centre • www.un.org/news

UN Daily News


15 September 2016

“Let me be absolutely clear: settlements are illegal under international law. The occupation, stifling and oppressive, must end,” he said. The international community, including the Security Council and the diplomatic quartet on the Middle East peace process – comprising the UN, Russia, the United States and the European Union – universally views settlement expansion as an obstacle to peace, Mr. Ban said. Regrettably, both sides have made remarks that only perpetuate an environment of mistrust, the Secretary-General said, citing a recent statement by Israel’s Prime Minister portraying those who oppose settlement expansion as supporters of ethnic cleansing, as well as Palestinian parties’ praise of despicable acts, such as the 1972 terrorist attack against Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. On the first local Palestinian elections in over 10 years encompassing both the West Bank and Gaza, Mr. Ban said he is particularly concerned by last week’s decision of the Palestinian High Court to suspend all preparations while deliberations continue on a petition to cancel elections. The elections, if held in line with international standards, could provide an important renewal of Palestinian democracy and a first step towards advancing national unity, he stressed. International stakeholders must continue to work towards a negotiated end to the occupation, now entering its 50th year, and the establishment of a viable, democratic Palestine which lives in peace with Israel – “each respecting the other’s historic and religious connections to this holy land,” he said. Turning to Gaza, he noted that there has been progress in rebuilding the enclave in the two years since the ceasefire in the 2014 conflict. But 65,000 people remain displaced, he said, underscoring the need for more assistance to rebuild nearly 5,000 destroyed houses. Apart from reconstruction, Gaza’s humanitarian needs “run deep.” More than 1.3 million of its 1.9 million people need assistance, explained the UN chief, and he encouraged Member States to provide in a predictable manner financial support to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East UNRWA. Looking at the broader situation, Gaza remains under closures and is a “ticking time bomb.” Indeed, lasting progress in Gaza can only be realized on the basis of Palestinian unity, an end to the illicit arms build-up and militant activities, and a full lifting of movement and access restrictions. On the situation in the Golan Heights, Mr. Ban said he remains concerned by the continued breaches of the ceasefire line, and by fighting in the areas of separation and limitation. These developments undermine the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement, and jeopardize the ceasefire between Israel and Syria. In particular, recent fire from the Syrian Arab Armed Forces impacted the Israeli-occupied Golan. On both occasions, Israeli Defense Forces had responded with an airstrike. “I call on Israel and Syria to abide by the terms of the Disengagement Agreement and exercise maximum restraint,” Mr. Ban said.

UN News Centre • www.un.org/news

UN Daily News


15 September 2016

UN health agency provides emergency support as floods and landslides cause havoc in DPRK 15 September – Responding to urgent humanitarian needs triggered by flash floods and landslides in the northern provinces of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United Nations health agency is providing emergency health kits and supplies that will benefit some 260,000 persons for about three months. “Many health facilities are damaged and some completely destroyed, severely hampering health services and availability of medicines for the affected population,” said the World Health Organization’s (WHO) South-East Asia Regional Director Poonam Khetrapal Singh in a news release today. Government-led joint needs assessment being conducted following torrential rains and flooding in the DPRK. The team included UN agencies, DPRK Red Cross, IFRC and international NGOs. Photo: Office of the Resident Coordinator

“Children, pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly are the most in need of support,” she added, noting that many among the affected vulnerable to water borne and other diseases.

To meet immediate health needs of the affected population the UN agency made available $175,000 from its regional health emergency fund (SEARHEF) within 24-hours of a request from the country’s Ministry of Public Health. WHO says it has also provided 26 emergency health kits – each capable of taking care of the health needs of about 10,000 population for three months, diarrhoeal kits, water filters and water testing kits and five tents for setting up temporary hospitals in the affected areas. According to the agency, torrential rains brought on by typhoon Lionrock struck north-eastern DPRK and has triggered some of the worst flash floods and landslides the country has ever seen. In the release today, Dr. Khetrapal Singh also said that the priority is to make health services available to pregnant women, new-borns and children; prevent outbreaks of diarrhoea, acute respiratory tract infections or measles; restore basic and primary health care services; and meet the special health needs of vulnerable groups. Together with other UN and international agencies, WHO, is supporting the Ministry of Public Health, to meet the immediate and evolving health needs of the affected population. Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) also recently delivered urgent food assistance to more than 140,000 people in the region, noting concern over the continued vulnerability of the affected population as an extremely cold winter is approaching and major food losses are expected.

UN News Centre • www.un.org/news

UN Daily News


15 September 2016

Nearly 47 per cent of global population now online – UN report 15 September – Even though China and India are now the largest Internet markets on the planet, they are also among the six countries that together account for 55 per cent of the global ‘offline’ population, according to a new report of a United Nations commission. Furthermore, 20 countries including United States, China and India make up almost three-fourths of the world population not using the Internet.

Photo: ITU

“These findings suggest that targeted efforts in just a few key markets could help enormously in redressing the gaping ‘digital divide’ between those who are online and those still offline,” said the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialized UN agency, in a news release today.

Released just ahead of the 14th meeting of the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, to be held on 18 September, in New York, the report The State of Broadband 2016 also highlighted the potential of mobile broadband, with 165 countries now having deployed the 4th generation or ‘4G’ high-speed mobile networks. “As smartphone penetration reaches near-saturation in the US, Europe and mature markets in Asia like Japan and [Democratic Republic of] Korea, India and Indonesia in particular are expected to drive future growth,” ITU added. Findings from the report also revealed that that India, which overtook the US to become the world’s second largest Internet market (333 million users), also overtook that country to become the world’s second-largest smartphone market, with an estimated 260 million mobile broadband subscriptions. According to ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao and Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), who both co-Vice Chair the Commission, broadband connectivity and technology can play very important role as enablers of development. Recalling that Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for education, gender equality and a href="https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg9">infrastructure include bold targets for information and communication technology, Mr. Zhao said: “The SDGs are achievable, but require urgent efforts and progress in the speed, degree and equality of development. The Commission believes this can be realized through broadband.” Similarly, Ms. Bokova noted: “Broadband technologies can be powerful development multipliers but this requires combined investments in access and in skills and in education.” “This is about opening new paths to create and share knowledge. It is about enhancing freedom of expression and about widening learning opportunities, especially for girls and women. This is about developing content that is relevant, local and multilingual,” she added. Highlighting some of the findings from the present report, today’s news release mentioned: • • • •

By end 2016, 3.5 billion people will be using the Internet, up from 3.2 billion last year and equating to 47 per cent of the global population; There are now 91 economies where over 50 per cent of the population is online, up from 79 in 2015; The top ten developing countries for household Internet penetration are all located in Asia or the Middle East; Republic of Korea has the world’s highest household Internet penetration (98.8 per cent), followed by Qatar (96 per

UN News Centre • www.un.org/news

UN Daily News

• •


15 September 2016

cent), and United Arab Emirates (95 per cent). Iceland has the highest percentage of individuals using the Internet (98.2 per cent), followed by Luxembourg (97.3 per cent), and Andorra (97 per cent). The lowest levels of Internet usage are in sub-Saharan Africa, with less than three per cent of the population using the Internet in a number of countries including Chad (2.7 per cent), Sierra Leone (2.5 per cent), Niger (2.2 per cent), Somalia (1.8 per cent) and Eritrea (1.1 per cent)

Issued annually, The State of Broadband report provides a global snapshot of broadband network access and affordability, with country-by country data measuring broadband access against key advocacy targets set by the Commission in 2011. The UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development comprises more than 50 leaders from across a range of government and industry sectors who are committed to actively assisting countries, UN experts and non-governmental organization teams to fully leverage the huge potential of information and communication technologies to drive new national sustainable development strategies in key areas like education, healthcare and environmental management.

Democratic principles at core of UN 2030 sustainability agenda, Ban says on International Day 15 September – Emphasizing the links between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and people's fundamental needs, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has marked the International Day for Democracy by stressing that delivering solutions to today's challenges also requires an integrated and interconnected response. “Democratic principles run through the Agenda like a golden thread, from universal access to public goods, health care and education, as well as safe places to live and decent work opportunities for all,” said Mr. Ban in his message marking the International Day, observed annually on 15 September. “The [Sustainable Development] Goals demonstrate an important dynamic: effective democratic governance enhances quality of life for all people; and human development is more likely to take hold if people are given a real say in their own governance, and a chance to share in the fruits of progress,” he added.

Voters in the PK5 area of the capital Bangui after casting ballots in the Central African Republic referendum from 13 to 14 December 2015 on a new draft constitution for the country. UN Photo/Nektarios Markogiannis

In particular, he stressed the important role of Goal 16 on building effective accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. “People want food and shelter; education and health care and more economic opportunity. They want to live without fear. They want to be able to trust their governments and global, national and local institutions. They want full respect for their human rights,” he said, adding: “They are rightly demanding a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives.” Underlining that the 2030 Agenda aims to leave no one behind, he also noted the need to defend the freedom of the civil society given their important role in bringing forward the issues of the weak and the marginalized. Meanwhile, in a separate message on the occasion, the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, called on parliaments and governments to be responsive to people and not to lobbyists. “Democracy means a genuine correlation between the will of the people and legislation and policies that affect them, be it domestic or international,” he said, stressing: “Representative democracy can only be considered 'democratic' when parliamentarians proactively inform constituencies about laws and treaties that will affect them, consult with them regularly UN News Centre • www.un.org/news

UN Daily News


15 September 2016

and endeavour to implement their wishes in good faith.” Noting that frequent disconnect between parliaments and the people leads to a feeling of disenfranchisement, which could turn into apathy, absenteeism and distrust, Mr. de Zayas warned that it also opened the door to exploitation of social problems by populist politicians. Further noting that a correlation between the public interest and policies affecting them is best secured through the direct democracy mechanisms of public initiative and referenda, Mr. de Zayas said: “Direct democracy is undoubtedly one of the most efficient, reliable and transparent methods to determine the will of the people.” He underscored that in order to generate democratic change, human rights, in particular pluralism, electoral law principles, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and of association must be respected. “Direct, participatory and responsive democracy has been shown to be conducive to achieving a more just world order. Only such an approach will allow progressing from predator societies to human rights oriented societies,” he emphasized.

Independent Experts and Special Rapporteurs, are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

Ahead of major health meeting, senior UN official sheds light on growing threat of antibiotic resistance 15 September – Ahead of a United Nations high-level event on antimicrobial resistance to be held next week, a senior UN health official today underlined the need for strong commitment from all sectors to address this urgent global threat which has the potential to undermine sustainable development. “The emergence of antimicrobial resistance really threatens to send us backwards – to have infections once again become a much larger killer of people,” Assistant Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and Special Representative for Antimicrobial Resistance Keiji Fukuda told a news briefing today at UN Headquarters in New York. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. Photo: WHO

“By 2050, estimates indicate more people could die from antibiotic resistant infections than those who currently from cancer. This is a surprising comparison, this means that almost 10 million people would die from infections because they those couldn’t be treated anymore,” he added. The High-Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance, convened by the President of the UN General Assembly, WHO and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), will be held on 21 September on the side-lines of the highlevel segment of the Assembly’s 71st session. In his briefing today, Mr. Fukuda also highlighted that the economic cost of such a scenario would also be staggering, and warned that the cumulative economic loss on having to take care of people suffering from such infections and possible subsequent deaths could exceed $100 trillion by 2050. “This is in the order 2 to 3.5 per cent of the global [gross domestic product], enough to send countries backward, particularly those that are in precarious economic conditions,” he said, noting that, even more importantly, it would hamper medical and health systems from being able to take care of and treat people.

UN News Centre • www.un.org/news

UN Daily News

- 10 -

15 September 2016

Furthermore, noting that sustainable food supplies depend heavily on antibiotics because they are used to treat sick animals and to prevent the spread of diseases, he said that with rising global populations, availability of food to feed everyone would depend heavily on the efficacy of antibiotics. Mr. Fukuda stressed that eroding healthcare and the inability to feed people, compounded by enormous economic cost, could potentially take away countries’ ability to continue with development, in particular sustainable development. By discussing antimicrobial resistance next week at the high-level meeting, the senior UN official said that Heads of State and Government would send a very visible sign that they understand the gravity of the situation and that they are committed to addressing it. Through a political commitment on the issue, the meeting will help facilitate concrete coordination among different sectors and help implement it in practice, he added. The event will also help secure the engagement and support of multiple sectors which are vital to address such a complex, global challenge, said Mr. Fukuda. Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites) change as they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials and anthelmintics) used to treat the infections they cause. These are sometimes referred to as “superbugs.” As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others.

UN relief chief allocates $10 million in emergency funds to bolster aid response in southern Chad 15 September – The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O'Brien, has approved the allocation of $10 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to bolster humanitarian operations in Chad. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which Mr. O’Brien heads up, the funds will provide vital assistance in four regions of the country’s south, to meet the needs of 210,000 returnees and refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) and their host communities. According to the humanitarian community, OCHA said, the situation in the regions of Moyen-Chari, Mandoul, Logone Oriental and Logone Occidental, in southern Chad, on the border with CAR, “is of deep concern” and notably marked by deteriorating food security in a context of gradual withdrawal of aid partners due to a lagging resources.

Central African Republic children in Chad. Photo: Anna Jeffreys/IRIN

"While the UN and humanitarian partners are working tirelessly alongside the Chadian Government and host communities to help the most vulnerable, the humanitarian funding gap is growing every year, especially for forgotten crises like those in southern or the eastern Chad, where the situation remains worrying, "said the Humanitarian Coordinator in Chad, Stephen Tull. Moreover, in a context where the Chad’s own limited resources do not allow it to ensure widespread access to essential services, the CERF allocation is crucial to meet the urgent needs of refugees, Chadian returnees and vulnerable host populations, while continuing to work on strengthening national capacities, he added. In total, seven projects funded by the CERF allocation will improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable populations, said OCHA. These projects will provide emergency assistance across various sectors in strengthening food security through UN News Centre • www.un.org/news

UN Daily News

- 11 -

15 September 2016

cash transfers, nutrition services and access to health care, maintenance and improvement of water infrastructure and sanitation, rehabilitation of shelters destroyed, and access to education. Part of the funds will be allocated to UNHAS air service to maintain aid access throughout the country. Florent Méhaule, the head of OCHA in Chad said: "It is essential that other donors pledge, because CERF funding will only cover a fraction of the needs. Chad is one of the countries where the humanitarian response plan is the least funded. In addition, it is necessary to draw the attention of development agencies, to think about sustainable solutions and encourage projects that strengthen the resilience of affected populations."

Belarus: Smooth-looking polls ‘lipstick measures on face of violations,’ says UN rights expert 15 September – A United Nations expert on the human rights situation in Belarus said today that Sunday’s parliamentary elections were no different from all the previous ones because citizens’ right to a free and fair election continued to be abused in the grip of entrenched repressive laws and institutions. “The smooth-looking conduct of parliamentary elections in Belarus on 11 September 2016 should not eclipse the underlying systemic violations. The elections proved a clear lack of political will to promote and protect human rights in Belarus,” the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, said in a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus Human Rights (OHCHR). Miklós Haraszti. Photo: OSCE/Ilgar Hasanov

He commended the absence of violence so far, and welcomed the elections of one member of an opposition party and one independent cultural activist, after two decades of total absence of any opposition in parliament. “However, citizens’ right to a free and fair election continued to be abused in the grip of entrenched repressive laws and institutions, just as in previous parliamentary or presidential elections,” he said. He said he has heard reports of intimidation, fraud, manipulation and opacity. Especially egregious is the growth in fictitiously claimed turnout during the non-transparent early voting, a four-day process based on coercion of army conscripts, students, and State clerks. According to the news release, the election observation mission sent by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE-ODIHR) had to state that “the composition of election commissions was not pluralistic, which undermined confidence in their independence.” In preliminary conclusions, the European observers noted that “early voting, counting and tabulation procedures were still marred by a significant number of procedural irregularities and a lack of transparency.” Even the election of the opposition candidate exhibited the fully guided character of the electoral process, the news release said. The welcome entry to parliament of the UCB party candidate Hanna Kanapatskaya made her a victim of a cynical ploy at the same time, given that her admittance defeated the country’s most visible opposition politician, Tatyana Korotkevich of the ‘Tell the Truth’ movement. Korotkevich had made her fame by running against the incumbent in the presidential election in 2015. Well documented reports allege post-factum adjustments of the results of the two opposition politicians, using the leeway provided by a threefold magnification of the turnout, the release said. The Special Rapporteur pointed out that the ‘victory’ of Kanapatskaya came at a moment when, for foreign policy reasons, UN News Centre • www.un.org/news

UN Daily News

- 12 -

15 September 2016

some concessions to the voters’ will seem inevitable. The manoeuvre served to show that the system of Government-decided results has not changed, despite the allowance granted for an opposition candidate. The move also aimed at sowing discord among the opposition parties, he added. “It is regrettable that Belarus did not take into account real changes towards equal media access, verifiable turnout, honest vote count, and a pluralistic parliament,” the expert said. “These changes have been recommended for many years by the OSCE, and my own reports.” Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

Civilian casualties up 66 per cent in eastern Ukraine during summer – UN report 15 September – A new United Nations report released today shows a 66 per cent increase in the number of conflict-related civilian casualties in eastern Ukraine and describes the deterioration of the human rights situation there, as a result of escalating hostilities between the Government and non-Government forces from June to August.

The situation in eastern Ukraine remains volatile and continues to have a severe impact on human rights. Photo/ UNHCR

“The escalation of hostilities along the contact line over the summer was a sharp reminder that the situation in eastern Ukraine deserves much more attention,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, in a news release issued by his Office (OHCHR). “Additional efforts are needed to find a lasting solution to this crisis and put an end the suffering of the civilian population. Human rights and justice are what people need, not further deaths and more intense hatred and destruction.”

The report, which was compiled by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and covered the period from mid-May to mid-August, documented 188 civilian casualties in eastern Ukraine, including 28 dead and 160 injured, up 66 per cent from the previous three-month period. The report states that in the east, the proximity between Government forces and armed groups at the contact line – some 300 to 500 metres apart in certain locations – contributed to rising in the intensity of the hostilities during the reporting period. In addition, the report states that the proliferation of arms and the positioning of their fighters and weapons in populated residential areas by both sides have heightened risks and harm to civilians. While more than half of all civilian casualties recorded in June and July resulted from shelling across the contact line, considerable number of civilians were also killed and injured by mines, explosive remnants of war and booby traps. The number of civilians who died as a result of the secondary effects of violence, including lack of food, water, medicine or healthcare, remains unknown. In fact there is a real risk that a new outbreak of violence could happen at any time By 15 September 2016, OHCHR recorded 9,640 conflict-related deaths and 22,431 injuries among Ukrainian armed forces, civilians and members of the armed groups since the conflict began in mid-April 2014. “While the situation has improved since the ceasefire was restored on 1 September, the situation along the contact line remains deeply unstable, as demonstrated by the incidents which took place last week-end. In fact there is a real risk that a new outbreak of violence could happen at any time,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. UN News Centre • www.un.org/news

UN Daily News

- 13 -

15 September 2016

The report shows that civilians living in the conflict-affected area are deprived of protection, access to basic services and humanitarian aid, and their freedom of movement is severely hampered. UN human rights monitors also found that about 70 per cent of the alleged human rights abuses and violations they documented between mid-May and mid-August involved allegations of torture, ill-treatment and incommunicado detention. The very limited accountability for these violations and abuses, which have been committed by both sides remains a key issue. “Where conflict-related cases have been prosecuted there have been serious concerns about due process and fair trial rights,” says the report. The report also highlights the gradual deterioration of the human rights situation and regression of fundamental freedoms in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. With the increasing integration into the Russian Federation, there is a lack of accountability and redress for victims of human rights abuses, in particular detainees. The right to peaceful assembly has also been further curtailed by the de facto authorities and people continue to be interrogated and harassed by law enforcement agents for expressing views that are considered to be extremist, according to the report.

The UN Daily News is prepared at UN Headquarters in New York by the News Services Section of the News and Media Division, Department of Public Information (DPI)