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Pakistan: Pakistan, India exchange fresh fire in Kashmir

3 hours 38 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: India, Pakistan

Islamabad, Pakistan | AFP | Saturday 10/1/2016 - 06:15 GMT

Pakistan and India exchanged fresh fire across the Kashmir border Saturday, the Pakistani military said, with Indian officials stating there was no damage as tensions rise between the nuclear-armed rivals.

"Pakistani troops befittingly responded to Indian unprovoked firing" which started at 4:00 am (2300 GMT) and continued for four hours in Bhimber sector on the Pakistani side of the border, a military statement said.

It did not mention casualties.

"There was small arms fire and mortar shells fire from across the border in Akhnoor sector which lasted for around two hours (4:00 am to 6:00 am)," Pawan Kotwal, a top civilian official in Jammu and Kashmir state on the Indian side, told AFP.

"No damage was caused. We are ready for any eventuality but it is peaceful in Jammu region."

The skirmish came two days after India claimed it had carried out "surgical strikes" across the heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border in the disputed territory, on what it called "terrorist" targets several kilometres (miles) inside Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

The rare public admission of such action sparked furious rhetoric from Pakistan and calls for restraint from the US and the UN.

Tensions between the two arch rivals have been boiling since the Indian government accused Pakistan-based militants of launching an assault on an army base in Kashmir earlier this month that killed 18 soldiers.

"This is a dangerous moment for the region," Pakistan's Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told AFP after meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at UN headquarters in New York.

Ban Friday offered to act as a mediator between New Delhi and Islamabad to defuse the tensions.

In a statement to AFP, India's mission to the United Nations said "India has no desire to aggravate the situation," and that "our response was a measured counter-terrorist strike".

On Friday authorities in parts of northern India said they had started evacuating villages within 10 kilometres (six miles) of the border following the raids earlier this week.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they gained independence from Britain seven decades ago, two of them over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

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Pakistan: Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the situation in Kashmir

4 hours 30 min ago
Source: UN Secretary-General Country: India, Pakistan

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned over the significant increase in tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of the recent developments, in particular the reported cease-fire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) following an attack on an Indian army base in Uri on 18 September.

The Secretary-General urges both sides to exercise maximum restraint and take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation. He calls on the Governments of Pakistan and India to address their outstanding issues, including regarding Kashmir, peacefully through diplomacy and dialogue. His good offices are available, if accepted by both sides.

Honduras: Honduras: Care to Migrants in Transit Emergency Plan of Action (MDRHN010)

30 September 2016 - 2:44pm
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Bangladesh, Congo, Cuba, Eritrea, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia

A. Situation Analysis

Description of the Disaster

The migration phenomenon has increased worldwide in recent years due to armed conflict, violence, economic crises and the desire for family reunification. It is believed that 3.4 per cent of the world's population is living outside its country of origin; this represents more than 247 million people.

Migration currently involves many routes and definite countries of destination. In Latin America, the most common destination country is the United States, with migrants using various means and routes to go there. In that regard, Honduras is a fixed point along the way, either as a stop along the way or a starting point. It is estimated that 40,000 to 100,000 people are currently transiting through Central America; however, Central American governments do not have official figures and the numbers that have been provided in this report are simply estimates. The Honduran Red Cross attempted to obtain information from the Honduran Ministry of Health and it even held a meeting with the agency to this end; nevertheless, it was unable to secure official information on the migration crisis.

According to estimates, 20,000 people have transited through Central America since November 2015; however, this number could be significantly higher as the irregular migrants could have used alternative routes that are not controlled by the Central American countries’ border agencies.

According to the National Immigration Institute (INM for its acronym in Spanish), a total of 20,611 migrants passed through the country in transit to the United States in 2015, mostly from Cuba (18,652). Their point of entry has been the city of Choluteca where they receive care through the Care Centre for Irregular Migrants (CAMI for its acronym in Spanish), a government institution that in these last two weeks (21 August to 2 September, 2016) has received more than 2,500 migrants, most of which are from Haiti and to a lesser extent from Cuba, Congo, Senegal, Somalia, Eritrea, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. HRC and ICRC staff travelled to Choluteca from 13 to 14 September 2016 to assess the situation and verify that the number of migrants remained the same.

India: India evacuates border villages after strikes on Pakistan

30 September 2016 - 10:42am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: India, Pakistan

Ranbir Singh Pora , India | AFP | Friday 9/30/2016 - 14:32 GMT

by Tauseef MUSTAFA

India evacuated thousands of people living near the border with Pakistan on Friday, a day after carrying out strikes along the de-facto frontier in disputed Kashmir that have dramatically escalated tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Authorities in parts of northern India said they were evacuating villages within 10 kilometres (six miles) of the border following Thursday's raids, which provoked furious charges of "naked aggression" from Pakistan.

In Jammu and Kashmir state, police said more than 1,500 had moved away from areas where there was a risk of cross-border shelling, as fears of military escalation mounted.

"Most women and children have fled the village and taken shelter here," said one woman at a sports hall in Jammu's Ranbir Singh Pora town.

"Our men are staying back to take care of the cattle, but we are scared," said the woman, who gave her name as Bibi.

Indian sources said Thursday that commandos had carried out "surgical strikes" several kilometres (miles) inside Pakistan-controlled Kashmir on what they called "terrorist" targets.

The move followed a deadly assault on one of India's army bases in Kashmir that New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militants, triggering a public outcry and demands for military action.

Indian and Pakistani troops regularly exchange fire across the disputed border known as the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, but sending ground troops over the line is rare.

Islamabad has dismissed the talk of surgical strikes across the heavily militarised LoC as an "illusion" and said two of its soldiers had been killed in small arms fire.

  • 'Always on the edge' -

Images from the northern Indian state of Punjab showed people piling bedding and cooking equipment onto trailers and cramming into crowded buses as security forces stood guard.

Jaswant Kaur said people in his village of Chak Allah Baksh in Punjab had been told to leave their homes.

"Of course it's not a nice feeling to leave your home, crops, cattle and everything else behind," the 55-year-old told AFP.

"Living here means we are always on the edge. We are really distressed."

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, facing international calls for restraint, told a cabinet meeting that Pakistan's commitment to peace "must not be construed as weakness".

The United Nations has said it is watching the situation "with great concern", calling on India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, while Washington also called on both countries to improve communications to reduce tensions.

Pakistan's foreign ministry said in a statement it had protested India's "frivolous" surgical strikes claim to ambassadors from UN Security Council members China, France, Russia, the UK and the US in Islamabad Friday, calling on them to help ensure peace in the region.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they gained independence from Britain seven decades ago, two of them over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised hopes of a new era in relations with Islamabad when he paid a surprise Christmas Day visit to Sharif in December.

But relations have unravelled in the nine months since, culminating in the Indian military's strikes this week.

On Tuesday New Delhi said it was pulling out of a key regional summit due to take place in Islamabad in November, citing an increase in cross-border attacks.

Since then four other countries have pulled out of the November summit, dealing a humiliating blow to the host country.

The move came days after Modi warned Pakistan that India would push to make it a pariah state, accusing it of "exporting terrorism in all corners".

Pakistan meanwhile said it had sent envoys to apprise the Chinese government of what it called the "deteriorating situation" in Jammu and Kashmir.

Islamabad has repeatedly accused India of committing human rights abuses in its only Muslim-majority state, which has been roiled by deadly clashes between police and protesters since the death of a popular militant leader in July.

A number of armed separatist groups in the Indian-controlled part of the picturesque Himalayan territory have for decades been fighting to break free from New Delhi.

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© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Afghanistan: Factsheet on Afghanistan (30 September 2016)

30 September 2016 - 9:08am
Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office Country: Afghanistan, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Pakistan

Key messages

  • Almost four decades of conflict in Afghanistan have led to insecurity and large scale displacement within the country and to neighbouring Iran and Pakistan. Intensified conflict continues to force people out of their homes: this year alone, by the end of August some 245,000 people had already fled to safer places.

  • The European Commission provides humanitarian assistance to those affected by conflict and natural disasters, offering emergency health services, shelter, water and sanitation, food assistance, protection and education. Projections are that over 400,000 conflict-affected internally displaced will be dependent on humanitarian assistance by the end of the year.

  • Conflict in neighbouring Pakistan has pushed thousands of families and individuals to seek refuge in South-eastern Afghanistan. Food, water, shelter, access to health, protection and education are provided to the Pakistani refugees.

  • The European Commission funds services that provide the humanitarian community safe and principled access to all areas of Afghanistan such as humanitarian flight and security information services.

Italy: Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 302,486; Deaths at Sea: 3,502

30 September 2016 - 8:41am
Source: International Organization for Migration Country: Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Eritrea, Gambia, Greece, Guinea, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Italy, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia, Spain, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, World

Italy - IOM reports that 302,486 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 28 September, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy. Some 166,610 people have arrived in Greece and 132,044 in Italy during 2016.
Total arrivals on the Mediterranean through the month of September in 2015 were 518,181 – nearly 60 percent higher.

The death toll, however, is considerably higher in 2016 than in 2015. This year some 3,502 men, women and children have been reported drowned or missing in incidents occurring off Egypt, Libya, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Morocco and Spain. In 2015 at this time the total was 2,926.

Mediterranean Developments Total arrivals by sea and deaths in the Mediterranean 2015-2016

1 January – 28 September 2016 1 January – 30 September 2015

Country of Arrival

Arrivals

Deaths

Arrivals

Deaths

Italy

132,044

3,054
(Central Med. route)

132,071

2,926 (all Med routes)

Greece

166,610

386
(Eastern Med. route)

376,276

Cyprus

28

na

Spain

3,804

(as of 31 August)

62 (Western Med route)

na

Estimated Total

302,486

3,502

508,347

2,926

This morning IOM Turkey is reporting that Thursday, around 9:40 AM local time, the Turkish Coast Guard rescued near Bodrum at least three migrants and refugees from a foundering vessel and recovered the remains of six dead passengers. The Coast Guard reports one survivor, a Pakistani national, who said he was among 31 migrants on the vessel.

The Turkish Coast Guard now reports 21 migrants remain missing, while their search operation is ongoing. If no other survivors are recovered, this latest tragedy will add 27 new fatalities to the Missing Migrants Project’s Mediterranean total – tentatively at 3,529 – or over 600 more deaths than were recorded in the Mediterranean through all of September 2015.

IOM’s Cairo office reported this week that the number of deaths from a shipwreck off the Egyptian coast, on Wednesday, 21 September, has now risen to 204. Nearly half were Egyptian nationals, many of them children. At least 20 more were from the Horn of Africa.

“Local papers estimate the number of people on the boat at between 450 and 600,” said Christine Beshay, IOM Cairo Communications Officer. “So far, we do not have any verification for that number. Based on the number of survivors and recovered bodies, between 80 and 230 migrants are still missing.”

This brings IOM’s estimated death toll from this latest shipwreck to between 285 and 334 persons. That figure, together with the 3,213 IOM’s Missing Migrants Project reported as Mediterranean fatalities earlier this month, puts total fatalities in the Mediterranean in 2016 to at least 3,500 – almost as many as all of 2015, and at least 200 more than died during all of 2014.

On Thursday (29/09), IOM Athens reported that the Hellenic Coast Guard rescued 140 migrants off the coast of Turkey this week in five separate incidents and transferred them to safety. Through the first 28 days of September 2,776 men, women and children landed on Greek islands – which is just under 100 per day. That number is consistent with the daily average number of arrivals during August, when 3,429 migrants and refugees entered Greece by sea.

Country

1 Jan – 31 Dec 2014

1 Jan – 31 Dec 2015

1 Jan – 28 September 2016

Greece

34,442

853,650

*166.610

* Unofficial data collected by IOM Greece and the Greek authorities of arrivals by sea.

Arrivals in Greece by sea and land

January 2016

Sea borders

Land Borders

67,415

539

February 2016

Sea borders

Land borders

57,066

474

March 2016

Sea borders

Land borders

26,971

152

April 2016

Sea borders

Land borders

3,650

284

May 2016

Sea borders

Land borders

1,721

189

June 2016

Sea borders

Land borders

1,554

100

July 2016

Sea borders

Land borders

1,920

127

August 2016

Sea borders

Land borders

3,540

249

September 2016

Sea borders

Land borders

2,776

n/a

For the latest Mediterranean Update infographic:
Mediterranean Update, Migration Flows Europe: Arrivals and Fatalities: 30 September 2016

For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit: http://migration.iom.int/europe
Learn more about Missing Migrants Project at: http://missingmigrants.iom.int

For further information please contact:
Flavio Di Giacomo at IOM Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email: fdigiacomo@iom.int
IOM Greece: Daniel Esdras, Tel: +30 210 9912174, Email: iomathens@iom.int or Kelly Namia, Tel: +30 210 9919040, +30 210 9912174, Email: knamia@iom.int
Julia Black at IOM GMDAC, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email: jblack@iom.int
Mazen Aboulhosn at IOM Turkey, Tel: +9031245-51202, Email: aboulhosn@iom.int
Joel Millman at IOM Geneva, Tel: +41.79.103-8720, Email: jmillman@iom.int
IOM Libya: Othman Belbeisi, Tel: +216 29 600389, Email: obelbeisi@iom.int or Ashraf Hassan, Tel: +216297 94707, Email: ashassan@iom.int
Christine Beshay, IOM Egypt. Tel: + 20 2 273 651 40/1 Email: cbeshay@iom.int

For information or interview requests in French:
Florence Kim, OIM Genève, Tel.: +41 79 103 03 42, Email: fkim@iom.int
Flavio Di Giacomo, OIM Italie, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email: fdigiacomo@iom.int

World: Mediterranean Update, Migration Flows Europe: Arrivals and Fatalities: 30 September 2016

30 September 2016 - 8:10am
Source: International Organization for Migration Country: Afghanistan, Chile, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Eritrea, Gambia, Greece, Guinea, Hungary, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Italy, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Serbia, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, United States of America, World

302,486 arrivals by sea in 2016
3,502 dead/missing
published 10:00 CET 30 September
1,011,712 arrivals in 2015

World: World Bank to name and shame countries that fail to prevent stunting in children

30 September 2016 - 7:54am
Source: Guardian Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, World

Sarah Boseley Health editor

Exclusive: Bank chief Jim Yong Kim vows to expose governments that fail to tackle malnourishment as part of mission to rid world of stunting by 2030

The president of the World Bank has warned he will name and shame countries that fail to tackle the malnourishment and poor growth of their children, as part of a mission to rid the world of stunting.

Jim Yong Kim, the former physician who heads the Bank, told the Guardian he would take to the podium at the World Economic Forum in Davos every year to point the finger at governments who failed to live up to promises to tackle a scourge affecting tens of millions of children.

Read the full article on the Guardian.

Afghanistan: WFP Afghanistan Country Brief, August 2016

30 September 2016 - 4:37am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Afghanistan, Pakistan

Highlights

  • WFP Afghanistan is closely following the internally displaced persons (IDPs) situation in the country.
    WFP is ready to provide immediate food assistance to any emergencies in coordination with the Government and other humanitarian agencies. In addition, WFP is working on an Emergency Operation in response to returnees (documented and undocumented returnees) from Pakistan and increased number of IDPs.

  • Timely contributions maximizing the use of funds received from donors to attend to the needs of people assisted. With the potential for surplus grain from 2016 harvest in Afghanistan. WFP can maximize the value of donor contributions, while supporting local markets, if funds are received now.

Operational Updates

  • From January to July 2016, WFP provided emergency food assistance to 765,244 people including IDPs fleeing conflict, those affected by natural disasters, economically stressed people and refugees in Khost and Paktika provinces.

  • Under its nutrition programme, WFP treated 85,350 malnourished children and 84,639 acutely malnourished pregnant women and nursing mothers, including their family members (211,598 people), through its targeted supplementary feeding programme activities to improve their nutritional status.

  • 247,130 school students received WFP fortified vegetable oil as a take-home ration to promote increased enrolment in schools. There were also 424,195 participants in the Vocational Skills Training programme.

  • Through asset creation activities, 15,287 households (107,000 people) were employed to implement Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) activities. Under this programme, WFP supports communities to create and rehabilitate their community assets, such as flood protection walls and irrigation canals.

  • Timely contributions maximizing the use of funds received from donors to attend to the needs of people assisted. WFP continues to increase purchases of fortified wheat flour from local millers, which reinforces WFP’s “value for money” theme. With the potential for surplus grain from 2016 harvest in Afghanistan. WFP can maximize the value of donor contributions, while supporting local markets, if funds are received now. Savings derived will enable WFP to purchase more food, achieving value for money and therefore allowing WFP to reach more people in need. The timing of the purchases also enables WFP to preposition stocks close to people it assists in high elevation areas to ensure programme continuity throughout the year, even when project sites are cut off by snow. WFP greatly appreciates donor support.

  • WFP has significantly increased women’s participation in projects. In 2016, women’s participation in asset creation activities grew from 1.2 percent to 14 percent for in-kind, and 30 percent for CBT-supported projects, while the direct recipients in general food distribution doubled.

  • Gender - WFP, together with UN Women, completed its first all-female internship programme in Afghanistan. For a period of six months, 12 young female graduates were placed across all technical departments of WFP Afghanistan.

Pakistan: Pakistan: Afghan Refugees and Undocumented Afghans Repatriation (01 January to 24 September, 2016)

30 September 2016 - 1:24am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Afghanistan, Pakistan

The return of over 30,000 registered refugees during the week of 18-24 Sep. shows a significant increase from the previous week’s return of 7,539 individuals. Likewise,the number of undocumented returns represents a five-fold increase over the previous week. This is likely due to the end of the Eid holiday.

18- 24 Sep, 2016
  • Registered Afghan Returnees: 30,568
  • Undocumented Afghan Returnees: 11,873
1 Jan- 24 Sep, 2016
  • Registered Afghan Returnees: 154,988
  • Undocumented Afghan Returnees: 157,663

Nigeria: Polio this week as of 27 September 2016

29 September 2016 - 2:26pm
Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative Country: Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan

Polio this week as of 27 September 2016

  • Nigeria has been reclassified as a country affected by endemic transmission of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1). Nigeria had been removed from the list of endemic countries in September 2015, following a year of no reported/detected WPV1 cases in the country. However, the recent cases of WPV1 detected from Borno are closely linked to cases from Borno in 2011, indicating this strain has been circulating undetected since that time. This indicates that Nigeria has always been affected by endemic circulation of WPV1 and, hence, it is added again to the list of endemic countries, alongside Pakistan and Afghanistan. Operationally, neither the removal from the list nor its re-addition has an impact, as the country has always striven to improve operations (both surveillance and immunizations), particularly in hard-to-reach and security-compromised areas. It is, in part, as a result of these efforts that cases and viruses are now being detected.

  • The nominations for the next WHO Director-General have been announced. Six candidates have been proposed by Member States. The Director-General will be elected during next year’s World Health Assembly in May. More.

Pakistan: Pakistan Market Price Bulletin, August 2016

29 September 2016 - 7:51am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Pakistan

Highlights

  • In July 2016, wheat and wheat flour prices negligibly increased by 1% from June 2016;
  • Headline inflation, based on Consumer Price Index (CPI), negligibly increased by 1.3% from the previous month (June 2016), and by 4.1% from the same month last year (July 2015);
  • Prices of most non‐cereal food commodities remained almost unchanged from June 2016;
  • The Casual labour wage/Wheat flour Terms‐of‐Trade (ToT) average has been slightly improving since last quarter of 2015 due to stable wheat flour price.
    However, it negligibly deteriorated by 1% from June 2016; and
  • In July 2016, total global wheat production for 2016 ‐ 2017 is projected at 743.4 million tons.

Pakistan: WFP Pakistan Country Brief, August 2016

29 September 2016 - 4:24am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Pakistan

Highlights

  • WFP continues its relief food assistance to displaced and returnee populations in the country’s north-west, complemented by livelihoods, nutrition and education support in the region alongside other targeted districts across Pakistan.

  • Consultation meetings of the Food Security and Nutrition Strategic Review have been initiated.

  • Cash-based livelihood support activities are in progress in Bajaur, Muhmand and Khyber of FATA.

  • Implementation of livelihood support activities using the cash modality, in South Waziristan agency of FATA and Chitral district of KP, is due to start in the month of September.

Operational Updates

  • The first Provincial Consultation Workshop on the Strategic Review of Food Security and Nutrition was held on 31 August – 01 September 2016 in Quetta. During the meeting, the Terms of References (TORs) and workplan of the strategic review exercise were reviewed by all relevant public and private sector stakeholders, for endorsement. The participants shared their recommendations which would be incorporated in the final workplan and TORs. The second consultative workshop is planned to be conducted in Muzaffarabad in the first week of September 2016.

  • Implementation strategy for cash-based livelihoods and nutrition-sensitive interventions in Balochistan was finalized based on the consultations with relevant stakeholders including government counterparts. The process for partner selection was initiated and is due to be completed in September 2016, followed by field assessment and implementation.

  • Three rounds of consultation meetings were held with consortium members - FAO and UNICEF - for the continuation of the second phase of cash-based livelihoods recovery interventions in earthquake and flood-affected areas of Chitral district. A joint strategy was devised whereby the three agencies will work through one partner, the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP). Two Union Councils were prioritized for interventions and a joint budget was developed.

  • Cash disbursment to all participants was concluded after the completion of physical activity implementation under WFPSDC joint Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction initiative in the Bajaur and Mohmand Agencies of FATA. The first round activities focused on 31 villages out of the total targeted 100 disaster-prone villages. Major interventions undertaken in the first round included rehabilitation of check dams, protection walls and water ponds; disaster risk reduction (DRR) training and kitchen gardening.

  • WFP Pakistan facilitated the participation of provincial education secretaries of KPK and Punjab in the South Asia School Feeding Conference, organized by the Regional Bureau in Bhutan. This learning exchange will support the participants’ understanding of the school feeding programme design and will serve as advocacy for school feeding.

  • WFP initiated preparations for operationalizing stunting prevention intervention in FATA and Balochistan. The inception phase is ongoing, and implementation is due to start in 2016.

  • The meeting of the SUN Business Network Executive Committee was held in August. In addition, WFP is also supporting the formulation of the Pakistan Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy under the banner of Scaling Up Nutrition.

  • National Fortification Alliance Core Group meeting was held for the finalization of the draft National Fortification Strategy in Pakistan.

World: IASC Task Team on Accountability to Affected Populations, and Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (AAP/PSEA) - Progress Report January 2016-Sept 2016

29 September 2016 - 2:52am
Source: Inter-Agency Standing Committee, Protection Cluster Country: Lebanon, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, World
KEY AIM:
  • Foster a culture of accountability and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse at all levels of the humanitarian system.

  • Encourage institutionalization of AAP and PSEA within humanitarian organizations, including local and national NGOs, INGOs, Red Cross Red Crescent movement and UN Agencies.

  • Support operationalization of AAP and PSEA at collective level as well as individual agency level.

The Task Team has been working on three work streams:
  1. Support Humanitarian Country Teams operationalise accountability and PSEA, including provision of technical support (both remotely and on site), capturing and sharing good practice on AAP and PSEA, and dissemination of practical guidance for cluster and the intercluster coordination groups on strengthening AAP and Protection throughout the Humanitarian Program Cycle;

  2. AAP/PSEA placement within humanitarian procedures and processes in the field: Mapping of current initiatives, interagency projects and key reports related to AAP and PSEA in 2016; Support the reinforcement of the responsibilities on AAP and PSEA for the Humanitarian Coordinator role

  3. Ensure the PSEA workstream complements other PSEA-related initiatives and addresses gaps at the field and global levels, strengthen investigation and protection responses to SEA allegations, Support issues raised following the CBCM pilots and during the discussion on global SOPs

World: After strikes on Syrian hospitals, Secretary-General says ‘Even slaughterhouse is more humane’, urging action as Security Council debates health care in conflict

28 September 2016 - 9:08pm
Source: UN Secretary-General Country: Pakistan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at a briefing at the Security Council debate on the protection of civilians: health care in armed conflict, today:

I thank New Zealand for hosting today’s debate, and I welcome Mr. Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and Dr. Joanne Liu, international president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The ICRC and MSF play a critical role in providing health care in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. I pay tribute to their staff, and all medical personnel under fire, for their dedication and professionalism.

This morning, we awoke to reports of strikes on two more hospitals in Aleppo. Let us be clear. Those using ever more destructive weapons know exactly what they are doing. They know they are committing war crimes. Imagine the destruction. People with limbs blown off. Children in terrible pain with no relief. Infected. Suffering. Dying, with nowhere to go and no end in sight. Imagine a slaughterhouse. This is worse. Even a slaughterhouse is more humane.

Hospitals, clinics, ambulances and medical staff in Aleppo are under attack around the clock. According to Physicians for Human Rights, 95 per cent of medical personnel who were in Aleppo before the war have fled, been detained or killed. This is a war against Syria’s health workers. One medical professional spoke of how he endured the difficulty and the dangers. “This is Aleppo,” he said. “We don’t have time to be scared. We are being crushed like bugs daily, and the world has abandoned us.”

The global public does not distinguish between Member States, the Security Council, or the Secretary-General. They only know one thing: The world has let them down. We have let them down. There must be action. There must be accountability. International law is clear: medical workers, facilities and transport must be protected. The wounded and sick, civilians and fighters alike, must be spared. Deliberate attacks on hospitals are war crimes. Denying people access to essential health care violates international humanitarian law.

On 3 May, this Council adopted resolution 2286 (2016) on the protection of medical care in armed conflict around the world. Since May, there has been no let up. In Hajjah, Yemen, 19 people were killed last month in an attack on a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières. This forced the organization to evacuate its staff from six hospitals in the area, with untold consequences for sick and injured women, children and men. In Pakistan, more than 70 people were killed in a suicide attack on Sandeman Provincial hospital on 8 August. And in Syria, the carnage continues and no one is spared.

The World Humanitarian Summit and the Agenda for Humanity reaffirmed that safeguarding humanity in armed conflict must be a priority. This Council has a unique responsibility and influence in this area. Resolution 2286 (2016) urges parties to armed conflict and Member States to take concrete action.

The recommendations I have submitted to the Council provide detailed steps to improve the protection of medical staff and facilities, as well as the wounded and sick. First, prevention: Member States should do all they can to promote respect for medical care in armed conflict. Align national legislation with international humanitarian law. Establish dialogue between medical personnel, civil society organizations, and the authorities. Train all those involved in the laws and standards that apply. And ensure that decisions on foreign policy, including those involving weapons sales and transfers, respect the provision of medical care in conflict.

Second, protection: Member States and parties to conflict must take precautions to safeguard medical facilities and personnel when they plan and conduct military operations. My recommendations cover military orders, the location of targets, visible military presence in and around medical facilities, the issuing of advance warnings and evacuations, among other aspects.

Third, accountability. Member States and parties to conflict should ensure that those responsible for violations are prosecuted and punished. They should also provide reparations and support to people and communities affected by such attacks. This will mean conducting systematic and impartial investigations into specific incidents and collecting and analysing better and more extensive data.

Attacks and access restrictions on medical care are signs of a broader erosion of respect for international humanitarian law. Failure to act is an affront to our shared humanity. It undermines States’ legal obligations and the multilateral system as a whole.

Building on pledges made at the World Humanitarian Summit, we need a global effort to enhance respect for the laws that safeguard humanity. This Council has a key role to play. I call on you to take decisive steps so that protecting health-care facilities and personnel during conflict moves from aspiration to reality. More than this, I urge you to overcome your divisions and meet your responsibilities in Syria and around the world.

Thank you.

World: After strikes on Syrian hospitals, Secretary-General says ‘Even slaughterhouse is more umane’, urging action as Security Council debates health care in conflict

28 September 2016 - 9:08pm
Source: UN Secretary-General Country: Pakistan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at a briefing at the Security Council debate on the protection of civilians: health care in armed conflict, today:

I thank New Zealand for hosting today’s debate, and I welcome Mr. Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and Dr. Joanne Liu, international president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The ICRC and MSF play a critical role in providing health care in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. I pay tribute to their staff, and all medical personnel under fire, for their dedication and professionalism.

This morning, we awoke to reports of strikes on two more hospitals in Aleppo. Let us be clear. Those using ever more destructive weapons know exactly what they are doing. They know they are committing war crimes. Imagine the destruction. People with limbs blown off. Children in terrible pain with no relief. Infected. Suffering. Dying, with nowhere to go and no end in sight. Imagine a slaughterhouse. This is worse. Even a slaughterhouse is more humane.

Hospitals, clinics, ambulances and medical staff in Aleppo are under attack around the clock. According to Physicians for Human Rights, 95 per cent of medical personnel who were in Aleppo before the war have fled, been detained or killed. This is a war against Syria’s health workers. One medical professional spoke of how he endured the difficulty and the dangers. “This is Aleppo,” he said. “We don’t have time to be scared. We are being crushed like bugs daily, and the world has abandoned us.”

The global public does not distinguish between Member States, the Security Council, or the Secretary-General. They only know one thing: The world has let them down. We have let them down. There must be action. There must be accountability. International law is clear: medical workers, facilities and transport must be protected. The wounded and sick, civilians and fighters alike, must be spared. Deliberate attacks on hospitals are war crimes. Denying people access to essential health care violates international humanitarian law.

On 3 May, this Council adopted resolution 2286 (2016) on the protection of medical care in armed conflict around the world. Since May, there has been no let up. In Hajjah, Yemen, 19 people were killed last month in an attack on a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières. This forced the organization to evacuate its staff from six hospitals in the area, with untold consequences for sick and injured women, children and men. In Pakistan, more than 70 people were killed in a suicide attack on Sandeman Provincial hospital on 8 August. And in Syria, the carnage continues and no one is spared.

The World Humanitarian Summit and the Agenda for Humanity reaffirmed that safeguarding humanity in armed conflict must be a priority. This Council has a unique responsibility and influence in this area. Resolution 2286 (2016) urges parties to armed conflict and Member States to take concrete action.

The recommendations I have submitted to the Council provide detailed steps to improve the protection of medical staff and facilities, as well as the wounded and sick. First, prevention: Member States should do all they can to promote respect for medical care in armed conflict. Align national legislation with international humanitarian law. Establish dialogue between medical personnel, civil society organizations, and the authorities. Train all those involved in the laws and standards that apply. And ensure that decisions on foreign policy, including those involving weapons sales and transfers, respect the provision of medical care in conflict.

Second, protection: Member States and parties to conflict must take precautions to safeguard medical facilities and personnel when they plan and conduct military operations. My recommendations cover military orders, the location of targets, visible military presence in and around medical facilities, the issuing of advance warnings and evacuations, among other aspects.

Third, accountability. Member States and parties to conflict should ensure that those responsible for violations are prosecuted and punished. They should also provide reparations and support to people and communities affected by such attacks. This will mean conducting systematic and impartial investigations into specific incidents and collecting and analysing better and more extensive data.

Attacks and access restrictions on medical care are signs of a broader erosion of respect for international humanitarian law. Failure to act is an affront to our shared humanity. It undermines States’ legal obligations and the multilateral system as a whole.

Building on pledges made at the World Humanitarian Summit, we need a global effort to enhance respect for the laws that safeguard humanity. This Council has a key role to play. I call on you to take decisive steps so that protecting health-care facilities and personnel during conflict moves from aspiration to reality. More than this, I urge you to overcome your divisions and meet your responsibilities in Syria and around the world.

Thank you.

Pakistan: Pakistan Food Security Bulletin Issue 4 – July 2015 – June 2016 (September, 2016)

28 September 2016 - 1:54pm
Source: World Food Programme Country: Pakistan

The Pakistan Food Security Bulletin is produced by the Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) Unit of the World Food Programme as a contribution to periodic food security monitoring in the country.

Highlights

  • Total wheat production in Pakistan in 2015‐16 has been estimated at 25.5 million metric tons (MT), slightly higher than the 2014‐15 level of 25.1 million MT, showing a positive growth by 1.58 percent.

  • Production of rice, the second main staple crop of Pakistan, has been estimated to be about 6.8 million MT milled basis, slightly less than the 2014‐15 production of 7.0 million MT, showing a negative growth by ‐2.7 percent.

  • Household economic access continues to be the major constraint, with 66.7 percent of households being unable to afford the minimum staple‐adjusted nutritious diet with their current food expenditure.

  • Staple food prices have remained stable. Prices of wheat and wheat flour in June 2016 negligibly increased by 1.0 percent and 2.0 percent, respectively, compared to the same time a year ago (July 2015).

  • Significant progress has been noted in the return of displaced populations, with some 163,000 families have returned to their areas of origin during the period of March 2015 ‐ June 2016. However, 146,500 families are still remained in displacement, whereas the Government has announced a complete return by end of 2016.

Situation Overview

In 2015‐16, wheat (main staple) harvest of Pakistan stood at 25.5 million MT, slightly higher than the 2014‐15 level of 25.1 million MT, while production of rice, the second main staple crop of Pakistan, has been estimated to be about 6.8 million MT milled basis, slightly less than the previous year’s production of 7.0 million MT.

Limited food access remains the main constraint of household food security. According to a Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform (MoPDR) and WFP joint report on Minimum Cost of the Diet study (CoD, 2016), two‐thirds (66.7 percent) of Pakistani households are unable to afford the nutritious diet with their current food expenditure. The latest report of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, UNDP and Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) suggests that every four out of ten Pakistanis live in multidimensional poverty.

On a positive note, food prices, particularly of staples have stabilized over the last year, thus easing pressure on economic access, especially for the poor and food insecure households. With the improvement in law and order situation, a significant number of displaced populations have been returning to FATA, with some 113,000 families reported to have returned in 2015 and 50,000 families in the first half of 2016. However, 146,500 families are still remained in displacement.

World: Briefer Implicates Four Permanent Security Council Members in Attacks on Syria, Yemen Medical Facilities, Personnel

28 September 2016 - 1:48pm
Source: UN Security Council Country: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

SC/12536

Security Council
7779th Meeting (AM)

Speakers Urge Appointment of Special Representative to Document, Assaults as Secretary-General Decries ‘Affront to Shared Humanity’

Ending attacks on medical workers, facilities and transports in conflict hotspots — including by several of its own permanent members — must remain an urgent priority for the Security Council, speakers emphasized today as the body convened to consider hospital bombings in embattled Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.

Briefing the 15-member Council, representatives of humanitarian organizations described the daily struggles faced by medical workers who risked their lives to keep patients alive amid conflicts in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and other regions. The Council also considered a number of recommendations outlined by the Secretary-General in an August letter (document S/2016/722), and intended to protect medical personnel, as well as the sick and wounded.

Opening the meeting, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the international community’s failure to act against such crimes would constitute an “affront to our shared humanity” and undermine the legal obligations of States and the multilateral system as a whole. While the Council’s adoption of resolution 2286 (2016) in May, condemning attacks on medical personnel in conflict situations, there had since been a surge in horrific attacks against hospitals, clinics and medical professionals, he noted. “International law is clear: medical workers, facilities and transports must be protected,” he said, emphasizing that the sick and wounded must be spared.

Describing deliberate attacks on hospitals as war crimes, he said that denying people access to essential health care constituted a violation of international humanitarian law. The carnage continued in Syria, in particular, where no one was spared. Noting that Aleppo had recently faced the most sustained and intense bombardment since the beginning of the conflict, he said that an estimated 95 per cent of the city’s medical personnel had fled, been detained or killed. Resolution 2286 (2016) urged parties to armed conflict, as well as Member States, to take concrete action, he said, adding that his own recommendations provided detailed steps in that regard.

Joanne Liu, International President of Médecins sans frontières/Doctors without Borders, said “the conduct of war today knows no limits”, and resolution 2286 (2016) had done little to change the situation on the ground. “This failure reflects a lack of political will among Member States fighting in coalitions and those who enable them,” she said. Describing a number of attacks against her organization in recent months, she said that, in both Syria and Yemen, four of the five permanent members of the Council had been implicated in attacks against medical facilities. Médecins sans frontières was still awaiting an independent investigation into the deaths of 42 patients and medical workers in Kunduz, Afghanistan, a year ago, she said, urgently requesting that the Secretary‑General appoint a special representative mandated to document and report attacks on medical facilities, health personnel and patients.

Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, (ICRC) said that, while resolution 2286 (2016) provided a solid foundation on which to make progress, more must be done. He recommended strengthening national legislation to improve access to health care, emphasizing the critical importance of Member States establishing national data-collection systems to gather information about patients and health facilities. Regarding accountability, he called upon Member States to ensure that those responsible for attacks and access restrictions on medical care were brought to justice. In that regard, resources must be allocated for capacity-building and effective investigations, he said, stressing also that it was essential for Member States to develop contingency plans in accordance with international standards.

Following those briefings, many Council members voiced support for resolution 2286 (2016) while several others expressed frustration over the lack of action to implement the resolution, citing a lack of political will. Still others underlined the need for swift, independent investigation of all allegations of attacks against medical facilities, and called for the urgent deployment of fact-finding missions in that regard.

Malaysia’s representative said today’s briefings had provided a harrowing glimpse into the struggles of health-care workers in armed conflict situations. Evidence of attacks against the sick and wounded, as well as medical personnel and facilities, underscored the grim reality that international humanitarian law had been flagrantly violated by a number of belligerent armed parties. Calling attention to such attacks in Syria and Yemen, he called on the Council to take urgent action beyond mere condemnation.

The representative of the United States warned that medical facilities in Aleppo were running out of medicines, baby milk and respirators, even as people died in the streets. The Council could not allow the systemic targeting of such facilities by the Bashar al-Assad regime, she said, adding that the actions of the regime and the Russian Federation ran contravened resolution 2286 (2016). She recalled that in July, President Barack Obama had issued an Executive Order — the first of its kind — on pre- and post-strike measures to address civilian casualties involving the use of force.

Meanwhile, the Russian Federation’s representative expressed support for resolution 2286 (2016), but nevertheless emphasized the responsibility of the conflict parties to uphold the safety of medical personnel. It was unfortunate that some States blamed Moscow and Damascus after every attack when, in fact, such incidents, as well as the destabilization in the region, were the result of the careless policies pursued by the United States and its allies.

Venezuela’s representative said it was inconceivable that the “mistake” of bombing medical facilities could be made at a time when high-tech precision weapons were available. Joining other speakers in endorsing the Secretary-General’s recommendations, he called upon countries with influence to compel parties to conflict to end attacks against medical facilities. Venezuela, for its own part, had never participated in any military coalition implicated in such attacks, he said, stressing that it endorsed no double standard on the matter.

Also speaking were representatives of Spain, Senegal, Uruguay, France, Egypt, China, Angola, Japan, Ukraine, United Kingdom and New Zealand.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:04 p.m.

Opening Remarks

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Médecins sans frontières played a critical role in providing health care in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. Since the Council’s adoption of resolution 2286 (2016), there had been a surge in horrific attacks against hospitals, clinics and medical professionals. “International law is clear: medical workers, facilities and transports must be protected,” he said, emphasizing that the sick and wounded must be spared. Describing deliberate attacks on hospitals as war crimes, he said that denying people access to essential health care violated international humanitarian law.

“Since May, there has been no let-up,” he said, noting that civilians had been killed in attacks on hospitals from Yemen to Pakistan. In Syria, the carnage continued and no one was spared. In fact, Aleppo had faced the most sustained and intense bombardment since the start of the conflict. According to Physicians for Human Rights, 95 per cent of medical personnel in the city had fled, been detained or killed. Recalling that the World Humanitarian Summit and the Agenda for Humanity reaffirmed that safeguarding humanity in armed conflict must be a priority, he said the Security Council had a unique responsibility and wielded influence in that area. Resolution 2286 (2016) urged parties to armed conflict and Member States to take concrete action, he pointed out, adding that his own recommendations provided concrete and detailed steps on improving protection for medical staff and facilities, as well as the sick and wounded.

Stressing the importance of prevention efforts, he said Member States must do their utmost to promote respect for medical care and align national legislation with international humanitarian law. It was essential to establish dialogue among medical personnel, civil society organizations and the authorities. At the same time, it was critical to ensure that foreign policy decisions respected the provision of medical care in conflict. Moreover, Member States and parties to conflict must take precautions to safeguard medical facilities and personnel when they planned and conducted military operations, he said, noting that his recommendations covered military orders, the location of targets, visible military presence in and around medical facilities, and the issuance of advance warnings and evacuations.

He went on to underline that those responsible for violations must be prosecuted and punished, adding that Member States must conduct systematic and impartial investigations into specific incidents, and analyse better and more extensive data. In that context, he urged the Security Council to overcome its divisions and meet its responsibilities to prevent and reduce conflict, while building peace and stability. “Failure to act is an affront to our shared humanity,” he said. “It undermines States’ legal obligations and the multilateral system as a whole.”

JOANNE LIU, International President of Médecins sans frontières/Doctors without Borders, recalled last week’s savage attack on a United Nations and Syrian Red Crescent humanitarian convoy and on a hospital near Aleppo, saying “the conduct of war today knows no limits”. It was a race to the bottom, she said, noting that the unrelenting assault on Aleppo by Russian and Syrian forces in recent days was evidence of that fact. In adopting resolution 2286 (2016) last May, the Council had pledged to protect civilians and the medical services they needed to survive; five months later, however, the resolution had failed to change anything on the ground. “This failure reflects a lack of political will among Member States fighting in coalitions and those who enable them,” she said, urging the Council to make its pledges operational.

Describing a number of horrific attacks against Médecins sans frontières in recent months, including one that had killed 19 people — health workers and patients among them — at a hospital in Abs, Yemen, she said that as a result of four such attacks, the organization had been forced to withdraw from the north of the country, leaving scores of people behind with reduced medical care. The area then had been hit by Saudi carpet bombing, she said, underlining the negligence of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia, as well as that of its opponents. Many attacks had been brushed off as mistakes, she said, rejecting the use of that term.

In Syria, the attacks had never stopped, she continued. Doctors in Aleppo pulled their weakest patients off ventilators “so someone else gets a chance”. Just this morning, two more hospitals in the east of that city had been struck, leading to their temporary closure. In both Syria and Yemen, four of the five permanent members of the Council had been implicated in such attacks, she said, calling on those nations to revoke the “licence to kill” they had issued. Military action and humanitarian needs must be balanced, and attacking hospitals and medical workers was a non-negotiable red line.

Emphasizing the need for accountability and credible investigations, she said Médecins sans frontières was awaiting an independent investigation into the deaths of 42 patients and medical workers in Kunduz, Afghanistan, a year ago. She urgently requested that the Secretary-General appoint a special representative mandated to document and report attacks on medical facilities, health personnel and patients.

PETER MAURER, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said that attacks and access restrictions on medical care undermined international law. In Syria, civilians and medical staff were under attack, many hospitals were not functioning, and electricity and water resources had been disrupted. While expressing concern about the deteriorating situation, he commended the Council’s leadership. “We must remain confident in our actions and make a difference on the ground,” he said.

Drawing attention to Council resolution 2286 (2016), he said that, while the international community had a solid foundation on which to make progress, more must be done. He recommended strengthening national legislation to improve access to health care, emphasizing also the critical importance of Member States establishing national data-collection systems to gather information about patients and health facilities, and convening multistakeholder meetings.

Regarding accountability, he called upon Member States to ensure that those responsible for attacks and access restrictions on medical care were brought to justice. In that regard, resources must be allocated for capacity-building and effective investigations, he said, emphasizing that it was also essential that Member States develop contingency plans in accordance with international standards.

Statements

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain), recalling that his delegation had co-sponsored resolution 2286 (2016), expressed his full support for the Secretary‑General’s recommendations, citing in particular to reform of the rules of conduct and the prohibition against storing weapons near hospitals and clinics. Calling urgently upon all States to put those measures into practice and adopt new technology to prevent attacks against health-care facilities, he said, that while no single resolution could end such attacks, resolution 2286 (2016) could serve as a basis for changing the culture within the Council. Spain sought to leave behind a guide of good practice for other Council members, and had joined the Group of Friends of Resolution 2286 (2016), which should meet at least once a year. The Council must recognize that it was failing doctors and patients, and that it owed them a response, he said, adding that, while it had the necessary tools, it lacked the political will to take action. Expressing support for proposals to impose sanctions in response to serious attacks against medical facilities, or to refer such cases to the International Criminal Court, he said Spain was prepared to contribute to rapid, impartial investigations against suspected perpetrators.

ABDOULAYE BARRO (Senegal) said today’s briefings demonstrated once again the need for the Council to take up the issue of protecting medical personnel, facilities and equipment in conflict zones. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s recommendations for ending attacks against such persons and facilities, as well as opening investigations and prosecuting perpetrators, he said the role of United Nations peacekeeping missions should also be strengthened, emphasizing that the Council must ensure that resources were adapted to their mandates. Urging the lifting of all barriers to health care in conflict areas, he called for increased support for local health facilities and for the provision of proper training for military personnel in order to reduce the disruption of health care to a minimum. In addition, he expressed support for more Council briefings on attacks against health-care workers and facilities.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay), noting that there appeared to be no end in sight to such tragic attacks, said resolution 2286 (2016) had not been worded strongly enough to protect patients and medical staff against the cowardly attacks they faced. Expressing support for the Secretary-General’s recommendations, as well as for the proposal to establish the post of special representative to investigate such attacks, he endorsed the statement by Spain’s representative and underscored the importance of the commitment to investigate and punish the perpetrators of such horrendous acts. “War crimes must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he stressed.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), while expressing concern about attacks against medical facilities and staff in Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan, stressed that resolution 2286 (2016) had laid the groundwork for addressing that problem effectively. Drawing attention to the recent air strikes on hospitals, he said “if these are not war crimes, I don’t know what else is”. In that regard, he called on those who had not done so to ratify the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions. Among other efforts, it was essential to conduct impartial investigations to bring perpetrators to justice, he said.

MICHELE SISON (United States) said two hospitals had been hit by air strikes in eastern Aleppo, which had killed and injured patients, as well as medical staff. “Hospitals have no room to receive patients,” she said, noting that facilities were running out of medicine, baby milk and respirators. Unable to find help, people were dying in the streets. The Council could not allow the systematic use of the same tactics by the Bashar al-Assad regime, she said, noting that more than 300 attacks had been documented since 2011. “Actions taken by the Russian Federation and the Assad regime are contrary to the demands of resolution 2286 (2016),” she added. Turning to Yemen, she expressed regret over incidents involving humanitarian workers, medical staff and facilities, saying the Council must use its influence to convince the parties to stop the violence. In July, the President of the United States had issued an Executive Order on pre- and post-strike measures to address civilian casualties involving the use of force, she recalled. As the first policy of its kind, it aimed to reduce civilian casualties in partnership with relevant stakeholders.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) expressed regret that some parties to conflict continued to obstruct the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Recalling the principle of protecting civilians in armed conflict, he said further measures must be taken to meet the needs of the sick and wounded. Given the situation on the ground, it was critical that parties avoid taking any divisive action. Expressing support for the Secretary-General’s recommendations, he said Member States must do all in their power to promote respect for medical care in armed conflict, and ensure that those responsible for violations were prosecuted and punished.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) echoed calls for all parties to conflict to stop bombing hospitals, health workers and patients, which could not be justified under any circumstances. Now was the time to comply with resolution 2286 (2016). At a time when high-tech precision weapons were available, it was inconceivable that such “mistakes” could be made. Condemning attacks against medical facilities in Palestine, Yemen and Syria, he said it was unacceptable that such entities as ICRC had become military targets. He endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendations and called upon all Member States to adhere to relevant international treaties. Emphasizing that peacekeeping and special political missions should play a more active role in creating an environment conducive to the protection of health workers and patients, he also called upon countries with influence to compel parties to conflict to end attacks against medical facilities. For its own part, Venezuela had never participated in any military coalition implicated in such attacks, he said, stressing that it endorsed no double standard on the matter.

WU HAITAO (China) said resolution 2286 (2016) underscored the importance of ending attacks against medical facilities, health workers and patients. Political efforts were needed to end conflicts in hotspots around the world, he said, urging the Council to promote dialogue and negotiation, and the international community to take a fair and objective view. It was incumbent upon Governments and parties to conflict to protect medical personnel and facilities, he said, noting that the former bore primary responsibility for protecting civilians within their borders. For their part, humanitarian agencies must win the trust of the parties concerned and adhere to the United Nations Charter, including the principle of sovereignty, and avoid becoming involved in conflict. Among other things, he called on the United Nations to establish an effective mechanism for communicating with humanitarian agencies, taking into account the views of the countries concerned.

RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia) said today’s briefings had provided a harrowing glimpse into the struggles of health-care workers in armed conflict situations. Evidence of attacks against the sick and wounded, as well as medical personnel and facilities, underscored the grim reality that international humanitarian law had been flagrantly violated by a number of belligerent armed parties. Resolution 2286 (2016) had failed to change anything on the ground, which meant that the Council now faced the urgent task of implementing the Secretary-General’s recommendations. He noted that medical facilities in Syria continued to be targeted despite the recent agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States. The conflict in Yemen had seen similar attacks as recently as mid-August, he said, calling on the Council to take urgent action beyond mere condemnation. Going forward, the Secretary-General’s recommendations should act as a guiding framework, and the Council should work to ensure that attacks against medical facilities were swiftly investigated. He called for the establishment of fact-finding missions, stressing that all perpetrators must be held accountable.

ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) condemned attacks and access restrictions on medical care, which had devastating impacts on civilians and medical staff. The deliberate obstruction of humanitarian assistance had undermined Council efforts mandated by the United Nations Charter. Calling attention to recent trends, he pointed out that vital medical supplies continued to be damaged and destroyed in South Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria, prolonging people’s suffering. Meeting the basic needs of citizens was the main responsibility of Governments, he said, urging Member States to comply fully with international law.

YOSHIFUMI OKAMURA (Japan) said attacks on medical facilities for strategic purposes were “malicious beyond human decency and absolutely unacceptable”. Resolution 2286 (2016) demonstrated the Council’s strong commitment to ensure that such facilities were fully protected and secured, even during combat. A lack of accountability was a main factor behind the failure to prevent attacks on medical facilities. Facts were difficult to ascertain, different sides blamed each other and no thorough investigations were ever carried out. In that regard, the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission had an important role to ensure the objective and fair application of international humanitarian law. The Council should play an active role in fact-finding and ensuring accountability, he said, adding that Japan would collaborate with the United Nations and other concerned parties on the issue.

EDUARD FESKO (Ukraine) said that, while international humanitarian and human rights law had sufficient provisions on legal protection for medical and humanitarian personnel and facilities, they were often violated by parties to armed conflict. He expressed support for the Secretary-General’s recommendations on enhancing the collection of data on attacks against medical care, conducting independent investigations into serious violations and ensuring accountability for those responsible. In cases where domestic accountability mechanisms were inadequate, Member States should cooperate fully with existing international criminal justice institutions in order to help combat impunity and ensure respect for international humanitarian law, he said.

EVGENY ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) acknowledged that medical staff and humanitarian personnel were risking their lives to address the needs of the sick and injured. Like the majority of States, the Russian Federation had supported resolution 2286 (2016), yet responsibility for upholding the safety of such personnel rested on the parties to the conflict. Turning to the Secretary-General’s report, he emphasized that the suffering of civilians in Syria must be verified. It was unfortunate that some States blamed the Russian Federation and Damascus after every attack, when, in fact, such incidents, as well as the destabilization in the region, were the result of the careless policies of the United States and its allies. Stressing the need for an effective solution, he said there was more than one way to end the conflict. Drawing attention to anti-Russian propaganda, he said it was intended to divert attention from failed policies. “Falsified information is being spread,” he said, calling for an end to provocative rhetoric.

PETER WILSON (United Kingdom), describing today’s briefings as a “wake-up call” for the Council, said that, sadly, five months after the adoption of resolution 2286 (2016), the overwhelming danger facing medical personnel and patients was still painfully apparent, adding that attacks were most starkly on display in Aleppo. “We cannot hide behind the passive voice,” he said. Syrian and Russian air forces were carrying out attacks against medical facilities in that city, whose name had become synonymous with suffering. While 400,000 people had lost their lives as a direct result of the conflict in Syria, the secondary death toll was likely to be much higher. Together with the forced removal of medical supplies from humanitarian convoys, attacks on medical facilities amounted to a calculated dismantling of Syria’s health-care system. Calling on all parties to improve the flow of humanitarian supplies to the 14 million people in Yemen who needed it, he urged thorough investigations into all allegations of international humanitarian law violations in that country. Groups such as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) were no exception to the law, which was why the United Kingdom would propose a new plan to preserve and gather evidence of the group’s crimes in Iraq, he said.

GERARD VAN BOHEMEN (New Zealand), Council President for September, spoke in his national capacity, saying that the past few months had been “more than dispiriting” as attacks against medical workers, facilities and humanitarian convoys had increased. In Yemen, attacks had forced Médecins sans frontières to withdraw its support from six hospitals. In Syria, there had been a clear pattern of systematic targeting of medical workers and facilities, he said, citing reports that all hospitals in eastern Aleppo had been subjected to military attacks. The apparently deliberate attack on a humanitarian convoy last week had set a new low, demonstrating that some Member States were willing to show reckless disregard for international law in order to reach their military and political goals. States should do more to ensure their domestic regulatory frameworks protected medical care in armed conflict, he said, adding that they should also promote understanding of international humanitarian law among their armed forces. As for the Council, it must hold accountable those responsible for attacks on health-care providers and facilities.

Mr. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) took the floor a second time to point out that the part of his statement saying, “suffering of civilians must be ended” had been interpreted incorrectly.

For information media. Not an official record.

World: Ban calls on UN Security Council for decisive steps to end attacks on hospitals, medical staff

28 September 2016 - 1:48pm
Source: UN News Service Country: Pakistan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

28 September 2016 – Denouncing a surge in “horrific attacks” on hospitals, clinics and medical staff, most recently in the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the Security Council today to take decisive steps to end such obvious war crimes and hold the perpetrators accountable.

“Failure to act is an affront to our shared humanity. It undermines States’ legal obligations and the multilateral system as a whole,” he told the 15-member body at the start of a debate on the protection and health care facilities caught in armed conflict, noting that nearly 600 such attacks between 2014 and 2015 killed 959 people and injured more than 1,500.

“Most heinously, such attacks are often deliberate, to aggravate suffering and force people from contested territory,” he said, stressing that international law is clear that medical workers, facilities and transports must be protected and the wounded and sick, civilians and fighters alike, must be spared.

“I urge you to overcome your divisions and meet your responsibilities to prevent and reduce conflict and to build peace and stability,” he added, listing attacks just from this May including one on a hospital in Hajjah, Yemen, where 19 people died, and a suicide bombing in Pakistan on Sandeman Provincial hospital which killed over 70, both last month.

In Syria, Aleppo now faces the most sustained and intense bombardment in the more than five years of conflict with hospitals, clinics, ambulances and medical staff under attack around the clock, and 95 per cent of medical personnel who were in the city before the war reported to have fled, been detained or killed.

“Deliberate attacks on hospitals are war crimes. Denying people access to essential health care violates international humanitarian law,” Mr. Ban stressed, outlining three recommendations to the Council.

First, with regard to prevention, Member States should do all they can to promote respect for medical care in armed conflict, aligning national legislation with international humanitarian law.

Secondly, on protection, Member States and parties to conflict must take precautions to safeguard medical facilities and personnel when they plan and conduct military operations, including in military orders, location of targets, issuing of advance warnings and evacuations.

Thirdly, on accountability, Member States and parties to conflict should ensure that those responsible for violations are prosecuted and punished, and provide reparations and support to those affected by such attacks.

“Failure to act is an affront to our shared humanity. It undermines States’ legal obligations and the multilateral system as a whole,” Mr. Ban declared.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Peter Maurer told the Council that States must strengthen domestic legislation to protect access to health care and ensure attacks are punished.

“Much stronger engagement is needed to turn your commitment into a reality on the ground, to make a real difference for people suffering in wars. I urge you to continue to push,” he said, referring to a Council resolution in May calling for enhanced protection for health care workers, the sick and wounded, hospitals and clinics in war zones.

“Just a few hours ago, the two largest hospitals in Aleppo were reportedly attacked. Patients were killed. Medical staff were injured. And all across the country, many hospitals are no longer functional, leaving injured people with little hope of getting life-saving medical assistance. The violence, the disruption of electricity and water supplies and the lack of medicines have severely jeopardized access to health care,” he warned.

Pakistan: NDMA and UNICEF Continue Cooperation for Child Centred Disaster Risk Reduction

28 September 2016 - 1:34pm
Source: Government of Pakistan, UN Children's Fund Country: Pakistan

ISLAMABAD - 28 September 2016: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) signed an agreement to extend their partnership for Child Centred Disaster Risk Management (CCDRM) in order to enhance the government’s existing capacity and delivery of services to minimise risks for women and children during disasters.

NDMA and UNICEF first signed a joint work plan in November 2015 to pursue a child centred approach in disaster situations to ensure their well-being and protection through preparedness, mitigation and preventive measures in disaster situations. The same year Pakistan volunteered to take the lead in introducing the concept of Child Centred Disaster Risk Reduction (CCDRR) under the Sendai Framework and laid the foundation for the Pakistan School Safety Framework.

Several national level policy documents have been developed and implemented under the signed work plan, with the aim of knowledge management, research and development, institutional strengthening, capacity building, advocacy and awareness raising. The major achievement is the formulation of the draft of the Pakistan School Safety Framework through a national consultative process. This framework is now being piloted across the country by January 2017 with the collaboration of both the partners.

The partnership achieved concrete results and new areas were identified in the course of pursuing the work plan. The new work plan will focus on the following areas:

  • School Safety and educational continuity in all types of hazards and emergencies ensuring the safety and security of school going children as one of the priority areas.

  • Knowledge management, Capacity building and Institutional strengthening for Child Inclusive Climate Change Adaptation (CCA).

  • Capacity Building and Engagement of relevant stakeholders including the media in terms of disaster preparedness, mitigation and prevention.

The main focus of the current joint work plan will remain on School Safety, and roll out of the Pakistan School Safety Framework. The objectives of the School Safety Framework are:

  • To promote a safe working environment for students, teachers and parents against natural and human induced disasters.

  • To ensure the preparedness of the school community against hazards and unforeseen circumstances which may lead to disasters.

  • To enable schools to develop a comprehensive response mechanism in event of a disaster.

  • Awareness creation about possible hazards and developing cooperation with the community.

  • Analysis of the specific vulnerability and hazards of the school environment and mapping of evacuation routes and identified safe places.

  • Practical exercises and evacuation mock drills to enable the school community to be prepared and to act adequately to save lives in case of an emergency.

Chairman NDMA Major General Asghar Nawaz while expressing his views said. “I appreciate the partnership for its achievements during the last year, and am very optimistic for the planned future activities. The great positive impact that this partnership has made has been due to the hard work and cooperation of both the partners and I hope for the same level of commitment in the coming year”.

The UNICEF country representative Ms. Angela Kearney said, “We look forward to supporting the NDMA towards the successful execution of these very important interventions in the most effective manner and hope to continue strengthening our partnership for the realisation and fulfilment of the rights of children”.

About NDMA

Pakistan is a country prone to natural and human induced hazards. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is mandated under the National Disaster Management Act 2010 for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRR/M).

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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For further information, please contact:
Daniel Timme, Chief of Advocacy & Communication, UNICEF Pakistan, dtimme@unicef.org