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Posts Tagged ‘GENEVA’

Humanitarian situation deteriorates in Juba after coup attempt

Posted by African Press International on December 18, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 17, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/– Armed clashes in Juba since 15 December have left hundreds in urgent need of medical care. Thousands of civilians, including women and children, have fled their homes in search of safety, taking very little with them. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is providing the city’s two major hospitals with support so that they can cope with the heavy influx of patients.

More than 300 people have been admitted to Juba Teaching Hospital and Juba Military Hospital over the past two days. The ICRC and the South Sudan Red Cross have delivered to the hospitals enough wound-dressing materials and other urgently needed medical supplies to treat up to 500 people.

“We know there are more people who need care, but they are having difficulty reaching health-care facilities because of the security situation and the lack of available transportation,” said Felicity Gapes, an ICRC delegate who is leading the medical response on the ground. “Staff in both hospitals have been working around the clock, but they are struggling because of the sheer volume of patients and the severity of the injuries.”

The ICRC is calling on the fighting parties to take all feasible precautions to minimize civilian casualties and to allow people to safely reach health-care facilities. The organization is closely monitoring needs. Together with the South Sudan Red Cross, it will take further action as the security situation permits.

SOURCE

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

 

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IOM Appeals for Funds to Assist Ethiopian Returnees from Saudi Arabia

Posted by African Press International on December 10, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ IOM is appealing for USD 13.1 million to address the needs of a projected 120,000 returning Ethiopian migrants from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The numbers of the returning migrants is increasing rapidly and there is an urgent need to provide round the clock assistance. As of Thursday 5 December, over 100,000 migrants had been received by the Government of Ethiopia. Out of these, IOM provided direct assistance to over 90,000 individuals. The arrivals continue at over 7,000 migrants per day.

The funds will help to maintain and increase the assistance that IOM is currently providing which includes: transportation, post-arrival medical and psychosocial first aid, provision of meals, water and high energy biscuits, temporary accommodation for migrants who arrive at night, as well as accommodation and transportation for unaccompanied minors. IOM is also distributing shoes and other non-food items to the extremely vulnerable returnees.

The Government of Ethiopia requested IOM’s assistance in managing this influx, with the government taking the lead in arranging for the returns.

Since the onset of the operation, IOM has provided support to 167 unaccompanied minors. The minors stay at the transit centre for an average of 10 days pending family tracing. On Thursday, IOM in coordination with UNICEF and the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs, sent home 58 children in the company of social workers from the Ministry. The re-unification process after family tracing takes approximately six days.

IOM has already received USD 2.5 million through the Humanitarian Response Fund and Central Emergency Response Fund, leaving the gap of USD 13.1 million. The cost per beneficiary is estimated at USD 130. In-kind contributions from UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP, IRC, ICR, Ethiopian Red Cross Society and other partners are being used to assist the arriving migrants. The donations range from water and sanitation kits, dignity kits, to ambulances, medicine, water tanks, blankets, tents, high energy biscuits and mobile toilets among others.

 

SOURCE

International Office of Migration (IOM)

 

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IOM Rwanda Expects to Resettle 1,500 Congolese Refugees in 2014

Posted by African Press International on December 9, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ The International Organization for Migration (IOM) expects to resettle an estimated 1,500 Congolese refugees to the United States from Rwanda in 2014.

Nyiramahoro Tuyisenge is one of the approximately 600 Congolese refugees who have finished undergoing IOM’s pre-departure health assessment in preparation for their resettlement to the United States.

It has been 17 years since threats from the militia in her village in the Democratic Republic of Congo sent her running into neighbouring Rwanda. The situation in her rural village has never stabilized and life at the camp has been tough, especially for her three children.

“It is so hard to make appropriate food for babies in the camp. The tents get really cold when it rains and my children often get sick. I’m so worried about them,” said Nyiramahoro as she held her new born baby.

“I’m very happy to go to the United States. I expect that I will have access to quality food, education and health.” Nyiramahoro said, full of hope and excitement for the new life ahead.

Every year, IOM facilitates movements for thousands of refugees who have been accepted for third country resettlement. The resettlement programme offers a durable solution for refugees who are unable to return to their country of origin for fear of continued persecution and do not have the option to stay in their country of asylum.

The US government funds IOM to conduct these health assessments and to organize the transportation of refugees to the United States.

 

SOURCE

International Office of Migration (IOM)

 

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UN expert group launches first information-gathering visit to Morocco

Posted by African Press International on December 7, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will undertake its first official visit to Morocco* to assess the situation of deprivation of liberty in the country.

During the ten-day visit from 9 to 18 December 2013, the group of independent experts will visit various detention facilities, including prisons, police stations and detention centres for migrants in irregular situations, in order to gather first-hand information from detainees, their families or representatives on their cases of deprivation of liberty.

The Working Group will also engage with relevant authorities as well as civil society organizations, in the cities of Rabat, Casablanca, Salé, Tanger and Laâyoune.

The delegation will consist of the Chair-Rapporteur Mr. Mads Andenas (Norway), Mr. El Hadji Malick Sow (Senegal) and Mr. Roberto Garretón (Chile). They will be accompanied by staff from the Working Group’s Secretariat at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

A press conference on the preliminary observations of the Working Group will be held at La Tour Hassan Hotel, Rabat, on 18 December 2013 at 15:00.

The final report of the visit will be presented to the Human Rights Council in 2014.

(*) The Working Group will also visit Laâyoune, Western Sahara, on 15 and 16 December 2013.

 

SOURCE

United Nations – Off

 

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Determining Migrant Health Needs

Posted by African Press International on December 3, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 3, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ IOM South Sudan released the findings of its recent Migrant Health Assessment last week, providing health partners in the country with an up-to-date overview of the health challenges encountered by migrants.

Funded by the IOM Partnership on Health and Mobility in East and Southern Africa (PHAMESA), the assessment is the first of its kind in South Sudan. The assessment identifies the key health vulnerabilities and needs faced by migrants, and provides reliable evidence for future collaboration between the government, partner organizations and IOM to address these needs.

“Addressing the health and wellbeing of migrants is key to ensuring that migration contributes to sustainable development,” said IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission David Derthick. “It is our hope that this assessment will provide a basis for an informed discussion on the health of migrants in the country.”

The assessment identified three key spaces of vulnerability – transport corridors, transit sites, and urban settings. One hundred and eighteen in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and key informant discussions were carried out with migrant workers and migrant female sex workers as well as truck drivers and their mechanics, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and returnees. Information was gathered on these populations’ self-reported health concerns and the barriers and enabling factors they face in accessing health care services.

Sharing land borders with six countries and having absorbed over two million returnees since 2005, South Sudan is a country largely characterized by migration. Despite the important economical and developmental contributions made by migrants, they face risks and challenges in terms of access to health services and exposure to unsafe traveling, working or living conditions.

While migrants often start their journey healthy, the conditions of the migration process may make a migrant more vulnerable to ill health. These conditions include individual, environmental and societal drivers of health vulnerabilities, such as poverty, discrimination, language and cultural differences, separation from family and legal status.

Describing the difficulties migrants can face in accessing health services, a migrant female sex worker from Uganda told IOM, “Some people go to the hospital but there is discrimination there. One woman went to the hospital, and even though she was very sick and had been waiting first, she kept getting passed over in the line. Sometimes people even pretend they don’t understand you when you go to the clinic.”

The assessment report outlines 21 recommendations for partners and key stakeholders including the Government of South Sudan and UN organizations. Among these recommendations is the promotion of migrant-sensitive health systems, improved monitoring of migrant health and advocacy for migrant-sensitive policy development.

 

SOURCE

International Office of Migration (IOM)

 

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“Protection of South Sudan’s internally displaced needs attention

Posted by African Press International on November 15, 2013

“Protection of South Sudan’s internally displaced needs to be up front” – UN rights expert says

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Humanitarian action, constitutional inclusion, development and peacebuilding measures are the four cornerstones of durable solutions for IDPs and returnees. “Development and peace can hardly be achieved when thousands of South Sudanese remain uprooted,” the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani, said at the end of his visit to South Sudan from 6 to 15 November 2013.

While Jonglei State hosts large numbers of IDPs, it is a phenomenon that affects the country as a whole and therefore must be dealt with as a matter of national responsibility. “The Government at the national and local levels has the primary responsibility to assist and protect all IDPs in an equal manner,” Beyani said. The UN and NGOs also play a significant role in protecting IDPs.

Displacement is caused by armed hostilities and inter-communal violence, insecurity, human rights violations as well as natural disasters. Instances of evictions have also resulted in internal displacement. “Many IDPs have been affected by several causes and suffered multiple displacements,” Beyani explained, highlighting concerns about the vulnerabilities and decreasing coping capacity of the displaced populations. “Due to these complexities and the lack of regular humanitarian access to areas affected by internal displacement, its magnitude remains unclear,” he noted. Public figures on internal displacement therefore reflect minimums, while the real magnitude of the phenomenon in South Sudan is allegedly much higher, revealing the need for improved data collection.

“Civilians, including IDPs, must be spared from violence and abuse by all parties,” Beyani strongly urged. The protection of the civilian population is first and foremost a responsibility of the Government, that must, however, be exercised with care to not do harm to the population. Capacities therefore must be further strengthened and the response to IDPs needs to be demilitarized. The Special Rapporteur also raised concerns about the increasingly violent nature of cattle raiding. The proliferation and excessive use of arms and weaponry are key factors in this upsurge in violence. “IDPs also suffer from arbitrary displacement, discrimination and harassment, destruction of property, loss of livestock and also simple oversight and neglect,” Beyani said. Many IDPs are unable or fearful to access basic services and humanitarian assistance.

The dimensions and complexities of internal displacement require a strategic response to overcome the divide between humanitarian and development action and create a common peace dividend. “A common policy on internal displacement that builds on relevant international standards could provide the common basis for such a strategic response,” Beyani strongly recommended.

The Special Rapporteur also addressed the situation of those returning from Sudan. “If returnees are unable to return to their homes or integrate in a place of their choice within South Sudan, they lack a durable solution just as IDPs do.” He also called upon the Government to take all measures possible to avoid statelessness. The lack of documentation of IDPs and returning South Sudanese needs to be addressed prior to any national census or elections, to ensure their right to participation.

During his visit, the Special Rapporteur met with representatives of the Government of South Sudan in Juba, Bor and Pibor; the United Nations Mission in South Sudan; UN humanitarian agencies; NGOs as well as donors. He is deeply grateful to the IDPs and returnees who openly shared their insights with him. The Special Rapporteur extends his appreciation to the Government for receiving him and his thanks to UNHCR and UNMISS who have kindly facilitated and supported this mission.

 

SOURCE

United NationsOffice of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

 

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Abuse, violence and exploitation, warns UN expert

Posted by African Press International on November 11, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 8, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – UN Special Rapporteur Najat Maalla M’jid on Friday urged the Government of Benin to make the protection of children a priority in its political agenda, after a visit to the country revealed that violence and exploitation of children is tolerated, even justified in many instances, and perpetrators largely enjoy impunity.

“It is unacceptable that so many, too many children in Benin are victims of violence, abuse or exploitation on the pretext of traditions, customs or poverty,” Ms. Maalla M’jid said. “The phenomenon of ‘vidomegon’ children, which was traditionally a practice of foster placement has been diverted for the purpose of exploitation and profits. Numerous children are victims of sale or trafficking, labour or sexual exploitation, mainly in markets, quarries or fields”.

During her mission in Benin from 28 October to 8 November, the Special Rapporteur met with various State and local authorities, UN entities, the diplomatic community and civil society representatives. She visited programmes devoted to child protection in Cotonou, Abomey-Calavi, Porto Novo, Abomey-Calavi, Comè, Lokossa and Applahoué. She also met child victims and youth organisations.

The Special Rapporteur was alarmed at the high number of child victims of multiple forms of violence and abuse: infanticide of children considered to be « sorcerers », female genital mutilations, abductions for placement in « voodoo convents », forced marriages, corporal punishments and rapes.

“Although the real scale of these phenomena remains difficult to determine due to the low reporting rates and amicable settlements, there is clearly an alarming number of incidents of violence and economic and/or sexual exploitation suffered in particular by girls”, stressed Ms. Maalla M’jid.

The Special Rapporteur expressed her grave concern at the sexual violence endured by girls in schools and at the growing number of early pregnancies.

“Schools are supposed to be an environment where children can feel safe – not places where girls are abused with total impunity,” she said.

Although Benin has a relatively complete legal framework regarding child protection, it suffers from a lack of implementation. This is partly due to a lack of access to justice mechanisms, and to corruption and impunity. Amicable settlements at the community level occur at the expenses of the child’s best interest. The child’s voice is rarely, if ever, taken into account.

Numerous child protection mechanisms and actions have been established at the central and local level, but most of them are dysfunctional or insufficient, mainly due to a lack of resources. Despite the engagement of some stakeholders, actions undertaken in child protection remain scattered, not coordinated and not continuous, as they depend on external cooperation.

The Special Rapporteur insisted on the necessity to switch from a “project logic” to a comprehensive child protection strategy. She recommended creating local protection mechanisms that are easily accessible to all children, with adequate human and financial resources.

She encouraged the international community to support the establishment of this strategy in order to effectively combat all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation of children.

 

SOURCE

United Nations – Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

 

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Moderator Abuom is the first woman and the first African in the 65-year history of the WCC.

Posted by African Press International on November 9, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 8, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – In one of their first decisions as the Central Committee for the World Council of Churches, the newly installed 150-member committee made history Friday by electing Dr Agnes Abuom of Nairobi, from the Anglican Church of Kenya, as the moderator of the highest WCC governing body.

Abuom, who was elected unanimously to the position, is the first woman and the first African in the position in the 65-year history of the WCC.

Two vice-moderators were elected, United Methodist Church Bishop Mary Ann Swenson from the USA and Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

“My open prayer is that we shall move forward together, in the next years, despite our diversities that have the potential to divide us,” Abuom said shortly after her election, “…and that the WCC will continue to remain an instrument for providing a safe space for all who can come and share their hopes, aspirations and visions, and prophetic voice.”

Aboum said the prophetic voice is vital for “ecumenism in the 21st century and the church in our world today.”

As the first woman moderator of the worldwide body, Aboum says the model of consensus discernment “resonates very well with femine decision-making processes,” consultative and careful listening and seeking to understand the other person’s perspective.

Abuom has served on the WCC Executive Committee, representing the Anglican Church of Kenya. She is also a development consultant serving both Kenyan and international organizations coordinating social action programmes for religious and civil society across Africa.

Abuom was the Africa president for the WCC from 1999 to 2006. She has been associated with the All Africa Conference of Churches and WCC member churches in Africa. She is a co-president of the Religions for Peace and the National Council of Churches of Kenya.

Abuom’s areas of work include economic justice, peace and reconciliation.

Gennadios, who will serve his second term as the WCC Central Committee vice-moderator, is a professor of theology. He served as vice-moderator of the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission from 1998 to 2006. He was a staff member of the WCC’s Faith and Order secretariat in Geneva from 1983 to 1993. He is involved in a number of bilateral dialogues involving the Orthodox, the Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches among others.

In addition to being vice-moderator of the WCC Central Committee, Gennadios has served as a member of the presidium and of the governing board of the Conference of European Churches.

Swenson, who will also serve as the WCC Central Committee vice moderator, was ordained to the ministry by the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) in 1973. Swenson also served as senior pastor of First United Methodist Church, Wenatchee, Washington from 1989 to 1992. While a pastor in Wenatchee, she also served as president of both the Board of Directors of the Rape Crisis and Domestic Violence Center, and on the Board of Directors of the North Central Washington AIDS Coalition from 1989 to 1992.

Swenson was elected to the episcopacy of the United Methodist Church by the 1992 Western Jurisdictional Conference. She now serves as president of the church’s General Commission on Christian Unity and Inter-religious Concerns (GCCUIC).

 

SOURCE

World Council of Churches (WCC)

 

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Stop threatening women with flogging

Posted by African Press International on November 7, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Flogging women, including for “honour-related offences” amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in international law and must stop, two independent UN human rights experts said Wednesday in the wake of recent cases involving women in Sudan.

Amira Osman Hamed, a 35-year-old Sudanese civil engineer and women’s rights activist appeared in court on Monday charged with dressing indecently or immorally – for refusing to cover her hair with a headscarf. If she is found guilty, she could be sentenced to corporal punishment of up to 40 lashes. Following Monday’s hearing, the woman remains in legal limbo while the prosecution decides if additional hearings will take place or if the case will be dismissed.

Premarital sex, adultery, failing to prove rape, dressing ‘indecently’ or ‘immorally’, being found in the company of a man, or committing acts that are deemed incompatible with chastity – these are some of the “offences” for which women have been chastised with flogging in various parts of the world,” said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo. “This needs to stop. Women like Amira must not be forced to live in fear of being flogged. Governments need to stop flogging women and girls.”

Frances Raday, the chairperson of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, added that it was women who were disproportionally found guilty of offences that were punishable by flogging.

“Given continued discrimination and inequalities faced by women, including inferior roles attributed to them by patriarchal and traditional attitudes, and power imbalances in their relations with men, maintaining flogging as a form of punishment, even when it applies to both women and men, means in practice that women disproportionally face this cruel punishment, in violation of their human rights to dignity, privacy and equality,” Ms. Raday said.

The experts called for the immediate release of Ms. Osman Hamed and for the Sudanese Government to review its legislation related to flogging. Under international human rights law, corporal punishment can amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or even to torture, and States cannot invoke provisions of domestic law to justify violations of their human rights obligations under international law.

Corporal punishment of women and girls is usually linked to the control and limitation of their freedom of movement, freedom of association, as well as their personal and sexual choices. Punishment usually has a collective dimension, and is public in character, as the visibility of the issue also serves a social objective, namely, influencing the conduct of other women,” the experts said.

“We call on States to abolish all forms of judicial and administrative corporal punishment, and to act with due diligence to prevent, respond to, protect against, and provide redress for all forms of gender-based violence,” the experts said.

The experts are in contact with the government of Sudan to clarify the issue in question.

 

SOURCE

United NationsOffice of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

 

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Armed group releases five soldiers

Posted by African Press International on November 7, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Five Sudanese soldiers held in Darfur were released today by the Sudan Liberation Army – Ali Karbino (SLA-AK), an armed opposition group. The International Committee of the Red Cross facilitated the operation in its capacity as a neutral intermediary.

“The Sudanese authorities and the SLA-AK asked us to facilitate the transfer and provide logistical support for this operation,” said Jean-Christophe Sandoz, head of the ICRC delegation in Sudan. The regular dialogue the ICRC maintains with the government authorities and various armed opposition groups allows it to play its unique role as a neutral intermediary.

ICRC delegates accompanied the released soldiers as a helicopter flew them to Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, where they were placed in the care of the Sudanese authorities. Prior to the transfer, the delegates spoke privately with the soldiers to make sure they were being transferred of their own free will.

Similar operations in Sudan this year involving the ICRC have resulted in the transfer of five South Sudanese prisoners of war released by the Sudanese government and of 32 Sudanese armed forces personnel and 36 civilians released by armed opposition groups.

The ICRC has been working in Sudan since 1978. In 2003 it extended its operations to Darfur, where it helps people suffering the effects of armed conflict and other violence.

 

SOURCE

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

 

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