Monthly Archives: July 2012
The Security Council today extended for another year the mandate of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, and demanded that all parties to the conflict in the Sudanese region immediately end violence and work towards a comprehensive peace settlement.
By a vote of 14 in favour, with one abstention, the Council also decided that the uniformed personnel serving with the Mission, known by the acronym UNAMID, will be reconfigured “to focus on the areas of Darfur with the highest security threats.”
As a result, the Mission will be reconfigured, over a period of 12 to 18 months, to consist of up to 16,200 military personnel, 2,310 police personnel and 17 formed police units of up to 140 personnel each.
This is in response to a recommendation by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who wrote in his recent report that “the reconfigured force, although smaller in number, would be better equipped and more rapidly deployable than at present to address emerging threats to civilians.”
The Council also demanded that all parties to the conflict – which has pitted Government forces and allied militiamen against rebel groups since 2003 and led to the displacement of millions of civilians – immediately end violence, attacks on civilians, peacekeepers and humanitarian personnel.
In addition, the 15-member body demanded that all parties to the conflict, including in particular all the non-signatory armed groups, engage immediately and without preconditions to make every effort to reach a permanent ceasefire and a comprehensive peace settlement on the basis of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur.
The Doha Document is an agreement signed in Qatar last year between the Sudanese Government and the rebel Liberation and Justice Movement, which the UN has said can form the basis for a permanent ceasefire and a comprehensive peace accord to end the fighting in Darfur.
The Council and top officials, including the Joint Special Representative and head of UNAMID, Ibrahim Gambari, have repeatedly called on the armed groups – such as the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid faction, the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi faction, and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) – to make every effort to reach a comprehensive peace settlement on the basis of the Doha Document.
Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=42595&Cr=&Cr1=
A United Nations top official today urged the international community to boost its support for the hundreds of thousands of Malian refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries due to recent violence.
At the start of a three-day visit to Burkina Faso to review the situation for Malian refugees, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, also appealed to donors to provide funding for the increasingly critical situation refugees face, and urged countries to help find a political solution to the crisis in the Western African country.
In January, fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels resumed in northern Mali. The instability and insecurity resulting from the renewed clashes, as well as the proliferation of armed groups in the region and political instability in the wake of a coup d’état in March, have led over 250,000 Malians to flee to neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger. Some 167,000 Malians are estimated to be internally displaced.
In addition, humanitarian organizations estimate that there are currently some 18 million people facing food insecurity in the western part of African’s Sahel region, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea and includes countries such as Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and the northern regions of Cameroon and Nigeria.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that, in addition to the regional crisis, more than 10 million people are in need of emergency assistance due to erratic rainfall, failed harvests, high food prices and conflict.
The visit to Burkina Faso will be Mr. Guterres’ second to the region, and he will be accompanied by the US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Anne C. Richard. Mr. Guterres visited Niger in early May, in an effort to draw attention to the region’s refugee crisis.
While in Burkina Faso, Mr. Guterres will visit the Damba refugee camp in the country’s north, which is host to ethnic Tuaregs, Arabs and Peuls, Bambaras and Songhais who fled from the area of Gossi in Mali’s Timbuktu region.
At a media briefing in Geneva today, a UNHCR spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, said that the agency has been struggling to cover the needs of refugees due to extremely low funding.
“Despite a recent $10 million donation from the United States and contributions from other donors, the refugee agency has only received one third of the funds it requires to assist uprooted Malians,” Ms. Fleming told reporters.
She noted that UNHCR has only received $49.9 million out of the $153 million requested, with the US Government having provided $27 million.
The funds are being used to provide access to clean water, latrines and health services, which are crucial for the treatment and prevention of common diseases such as diarrhea, respiratory infections and cholera epidemics.
Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Côte d’Ivoire need durable solutions based on a human rights approach to be able to rebuild their lives, a United Nations independent expert said today.
“The needs of IDPs as well as those of their host or return communities continue to be dire,” the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, said at the end of a nine-day visit to the African country.
“Many IDPs have returned to their areas of origin or have been locally integrated in host communities which are themselves struggling and have few, if any, resources to receive and assist them,” he added.
In late 2010, Côte d’Ivoire was the scene of intense fighting after Alassane Ouattara won a disputed presidential run-off election, leading to months of deadly violence when the runner-up and incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to step down.
At the height of the post-election crisis in March last year, the number of IDPs in Côte d’Ivoire was estimated at one million. Some IDPs who had been previously displaced during the civil war in 2002 were displaced again in 2011.
Mr. Beyani said that while the Government had made progress towards reestablishing law and order and helping IDPs return to their homes, continued assistance and protection for them was still required, including through livelihood opportunities.
“IDPs have resorted to living in precarious informal urban settlement areas, including in Abidjan, where they may be subject to eviction,” the Special Rapporteur said. “It is critical that they be supported in rebuilding their lives, finding sustainable solutions in their places of return, local integration or resettlement, and participating in the reconciliation process and in other key processes and reforms which will have an impact on their lives and consolidate peace.”
Mr. Beyani said that the Government should adopt a transparent human-rights based approach that takes into account the concerns of the most vulnerable IDPs. Such an approach, he noted, would include assistance to meet the needs of single female households, the elderly and disabled, and separated children.
In addition, he emphasized that the security situation in the country must be improved as many IDPs continue to hide in the forest at night due to fears of attacks.
Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based 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 United Nations staff, nor are they paid for their work.