Yemen - ReliefWeb News
Two years of full-scale war has driven Yemen to the verge of famine. 17 million people, or two out of three Yemenis, do not know from where they will get their next meal.
“People have started dying quietly in their homes,” said the Norwegian Refugee Council's Secretary General, Jan Egeland. “We are witnessing ruthless war tactics against civilians by both parties to the conflict, resulting in civilians starving. Now we are also extremely concerned that the country’s main port will cease functioning and Yemen’s last lifeline will be lost.”
More than three million women and children are already suffering from acute malnutrition in the poorest country in the region. Earlier this month, hunger took the life of 15-year-old Mohammed in Taiz. From being one of almost half a million children at immediate risk of starvation, he became one of the tens of thousands making up the grim statistics of the silent deaths in the poor country. Mohammed died alone in his room while his father was out looking for some odd jobs to get food for his children.
A displaced mother of five children living in an abandoned building in Amran said: “I would rather be killed by an airstrike than see my children die slowly of starvation,” one mother told NRC.
“Without aid, the situation in Yemen would be even worse, but humanitarian organisations alone cannot meet the enormous scale of the needs,” Egeland said.
Yemen imports 90 per cent of its food. Restrictions on imports mean that food is not coming in in the volume needed. Severe food shortages and a complete collapse of the economy have left humanitarian organisations trying to fill the gap left by a crumbling commercial sector Aid is difficult to deliver on the ground, with organisations facing constant bureaucratic constraints and regular interference by authorities as they try to provide assistance.
“We as humanitarians are faced with a blockade imposed by the Saudi-led Coalition that hinders aid from reaching Yemen, in addition to security and bureaucratic barriers to deliver lifesaving assistance within the country. We are ready to respond, but without an end to the fighting, Yemenis will continue to suffer, and it will only get worse,” Egeland said.
There are now mounting concerns that the ongoing fighting could halt the supply of lifesaving goods through the country’s main port in Al Hudaydah at the Red Sea coast. A staggering 70 per cent of Yemen’s imports enter through the port, making it the most important lifeline for commercial and humanitarian supplies into the country.
“Suggestions that adequate alternative routes could be found if Al Hudaydah port were to be closed are just fantasy,” Egeland said. “Closing that port will literally mean cutting off a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.”
Governments that have the influence and leverage to change the situation are also to blame for their tacit, and at times direct, complicity. It has been more than one and a half years since the UN Security Council produced a meaningful new resolution on Yemen.
“The UN Security Council has been shamefully absent on Yemen,” Egeland said. “While children die, world leaders appear to be sitting idly by, as if this was inevitable. This is all man-made. Some governments that should have concentrated more on promoting peace have rather poured fuel onto the fire. They must insist on a political solution to the conflict and on keeping land, sea and air routes into Yemen open. A continuation of the blockade will starve an entire nation.”
Some 19 million people – over two thirds of the total Yemeni population – require some form of humanitarian assistance or protection to meet their basic needs.
More than 3 million people have been displaced by violence.
Around 17 million people suffer from food insecurity, including more than 3 million children, pregnant and lactating women suffering from acute malnutrition.
An additional 462,000 children face immediate risk of death from severe acute malnutrition.
Achieving all targets in the Humanitarian Response Plan will cost an estimated USD2.1 billion. Only 8 per cent of that funding has been received thus far.
NRC in Yemen:
In 2016, NRC reached 1,2 million people with lifesaving assistance NRC’s assistance in Yemen includes food, shelter, water, and education.
NRC serves people in the governorates of Amran, Hajja, Taiz, Al Hudaydah, Lahj, Aden and Amanet Al Asima
Note to editors:
NRC has spokespeople available for interviews in Yemen and in the region.
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Failed Investigations into Abuses as War Turns 2
(Beirut) – An apparent Saudi-led coalition attack on a boat carrying Somali civilians off the coast of Yemen highlights the need for accountability on the second anniversary of the Yemeni armed conflict, Human Rights Watch said today. Several witnesses reported that on March 16, 2017, a helicopter fired on the boat, killing at least 32 of the 145 Somali migrants and refugees on board and one Yemeni civilian. Another 29, including six children, were wounded, and 10 more remain missing. Photos of the boat taken the next day show damage consistent with gunfire from an aerial attack.
All the parties to the conflict denied responsibility for the attack. Only the Saudi-led coalition has military aircraft. The Houthi-Saleh forces do not. Somalia, which supports the coalition, called on the coalition to investigate. But the coalition has repeatedly shown itself unable or unwilling to credibly investigate its own abuses.
“The coalition’s apparent firing on a boat filled with fleeing refugees is only the latest likely war crime in Yemen’s two-year-long war,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Reckless disregard for the lives of civilians has reached a new level of depravity.”
One of the boat’s four Yemeni crew members told Human Rights Watch that the boat was about 50 kilometers off the coast of the Yemeni port city of Hodeida, traveling away from Yemen, when it was attacked. That evening the captain had told the passengers to be quiet as they were transiting through “a very dangerous place,” two people onboard told Human Rights Watch. Earlier in the journey a vessel had approached and told the crew to stop the boat, but the boat continued.
Four people aboard the boat said that at about 9 p.m. they saw a helicopter repeatedly shoot at the boat. A Somali woman refugee, 25, who was wounded in the attack, said, “All of a sudden, I saw a helicopter above us. ... They attacked abruptly. … When they kept firing at us, those of us who spoke Arabic kept saying, ‘We are Somalis!’” Another woman said that she was hit by a fragment from an explosive weapon. A crew member and others said a large naval ship also fired on the boat.
After the attack, the boat docked at Hodeida port at about 4:30 a.m. The head of the fishing port, Daoud Fadel, said, “We couldn’t find a place to put the bodies, so we had to put them in the place where we store the fish.” Another witness said that, in addition to those who had been taken to nearby hospitals for treatment, about 15 men were wounded from bullets or fragments during the attack.
Both the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi-Saleh forces denied carrying out the attack. The official state news agency of the United Arab Emirates reported that a UAE military source denied that its forces had been involved and welcomed an international investigation into the incident. Coalition members have naval vessels patrolling access to the Hodeida coast, while Houthi-Saleh forces maintain control over the port. The US, which has been carrying out airstrikes in Yemen against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), also denied carrying out the attack.
Under the laws of war, attacks against civilians that are deliberate or reckless are war crimes.
Since March 26, 2015, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition has carried out military operations, supported by the United States, against Houthi forces and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The coalition has conducted numerous airstrikes that have unlawfully struck homes, markets, hospitals, and schools.
The Houthi-Saleh forces have indiscriminately shelled civilian neighborhoods, recruited child soldiers, and arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared scores of civilians. Since the start of the current conflict, at least 4,773 civilians had been killed and 8,272 wounded, the majority by coalition airstrikes, according to the United Nations human rights office.
Human Rights Watch has documented 62 apparently unlawful coalition airstrikes, some of which may amount to war crimes, that have killed nearly 900 civilians, and documented seven indiscriminate attacks by Houthi-Saleh forces in Aden and Taizz that killed 139 people, including at least eight children. Human Rights Watch has also documented the Houthi-Saleh forces use of banned antipersonnel landmines and the coalition’s use of widely banned cluster munitions. Both parties have blocked or restricted critical relief supplies from reaching civilians.
On March 23, 2017, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an international, independent commission of inquiry into allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by all sides in Yemen, a call repeatedly made by national, regional, and international organizations over the past two years.
The UN Human Rights Council fell short of establishing a full stand-alone inquiry in September 2016, but passed a resolution mandating the UN human rights office to deploy additional human rights experts to investigate abuses by all sides. Governments should fully support the office’s expanded investigative mandate in the absence of a standalone international inquiry, Human Rights Watch said.
The Saudi-led coalition-appointed Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) has failed to meet international standards. It has absolved the coalition of responsibility in nearly all of the 17 incidents it has so far investigated and released findings that differed drastically from those of the UN and others.
Although the coalition has conducted widespread unlawful attacks, the United States, United Kingdom, and France continue to sell billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch was not able to determine which coalition member carried out the attack on the refugee boat, but the US State Department has approved licenses for the sale or servicing of military helicopters to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Jordan. Governments should suspend all weapon sales to Saudi Arabia or risk complicity in future unlawful coalition attacks, Human Rights Watch said.
“Despite the growing mountain of evidence of coalition abuses, the US, UK, and France seem more focused on selling arms to the Saudis than on their possible complicity in coalition war crimes,” Whitson said. “After two years of unlawful attacks on civilians and civilian structures, Saudi Arabia’s allies should reconsider their support and use their leverage with Riyadh to end the violations.”
An UNDEF-funded project has just begun in war-torn Yemen to assist peacebuilding and promote democracy by empowering youth to participate more in civic life.
This project addresses challenges posed by ethnic and religious tensions. Implemented by the Khadija Foundation for Development, the project aims to build youth capacity by involving them in advocacy campaigns and raise civic awareness by creating youth networks. The goal is to engage youth on how to build peace beyond the life of the project.
During the project’s launch event in Ibb Governorate on February 5, 2017 (pictured), President of the Khadija Foundation Roma Al Damasi highlighted the important role Yemeni youth initiatives can play in strengthening peacebuilding since youth tend to be less entrenched in old ways of thinking and have more flexibility in reaching out to the local communities. He underscored that young people need to understand the sources of conflict and take an active role as agents in peace dialogues.
The project will train 300 youth initiative members in three governorates of Sana’a, Ibb and Dhamar. The members will work through the established youth network, Youth Pledge 4 Peace, to develop a vision that will be adopted in the nation’s peacebuilding agenda.
March 25th, 2017 ― Doha: Qatar Red Crescent (QRCS) has delivered cancer medications to Yemen's National Oncology Center. The $118,630 medical supplies were donated by Qatar's Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC). Dr. Abdul-Wahab Al-Nahmi, Director of National Oncology Center, thanked QRCS and the State of Qatar for this vital support, as the center suffers shortages in many chemotherapy medicines. "Thousands of cancer patients have difficulty finding their prescriptions. Good luck for QRCS in its humanitarian work in Yemen," he maintained. The only government cancer hospital in Sanaa, this center is the only hope for the families of patients, who can never afford to send their children abroad for treatment. Since its establishment in 2005, the National Oncology Center has diagnosed and treated more than 60,000 patients. The need for the center has become more significant than ever for Yemen due to the lack of available cancer care outside the capital. The lack of availability of medicines and diagnostic supplies is a direct result of the war. Pharmaceutical merchants and the humanitarian sector have not been able to import the much-needed supplies in anything touching the quantities needed. In addition, the collapsing economy has meant that budgets across the government sector have been stretched to a point that the center has been unable to meet even basic running costs. The center is now at a point where its closure seems like the only option, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned. A few months ago, QRCS delivered a donation from Qatar's Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) to the National Cancer Control Foundation's (NCCF) Al-Amal Oncology Center in Taiz. Consisting of 13 types of effective medications, the donation benefited more than 370 cancer patients.
Key facts on the 4 countries:
20m people facing risk of famine
1.4m children are severely malnourished
US$1.2bn needed by WFP for next 6 months
Scaling up to avert possible famine requires:
Integrated response with all partners
Twenty million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northeastern Nigeria have been grappling with a serious food crisis since 2016. Several East African countries have been hit by drought in recent months, including Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, South Sudan and, to a lesser extent, Tanzania. In some countries, conflicts have caused severe food shortages. Handicap International is preparing to deal with one of the worst humanitarian crises since the Second World War.SOMALIA
In Somalia, Handicap International is working with other humanitarian organizations to train them about the needs of the most vulnerable people, including people with disabilities, older people, children, pregnant woman, and others. The goal of these awareness sessions is to ensure these individuals are not forgotten and their needs are met in each actor's emergency response.
The organization will also prioritize long-term access to water and food: “After months of severe drought, the rainy season, which is starting now, could spell disaster," explains Xavier Duvauchelle, the head of the organization’s programs in East and Southern Africa. "A second drought is expected from July. Our aim is therefore to give affected people sustainable access to food and water. This could entail digging wells and cultivating land to grow agricultural products resistant to climate change.”
Handicap International also plans to provide malnourished children with physical therapy. “Many malnourished children may need support from a physiotherapist to prevent the onset of permanent disabilities," Duvauchelle adds. *"*Children affected by famine may have a developmental delay caused by under nutrition. Malnutrition can also lead to respiratory infections and physical therapists can intervene to prevent complications.”
Under these circumstances, Handicap International may also organize awareness sessions to teach parents how to detect problems.SOUTH SUDAN
In South Sudan, Handicap International ensures the needs of people with disabilities, older people, pregnant women, children, and others are taken into account in humanitarian programs implemented by international aid organizations.
We plan to distribute food and water, supply rehabilitation care and provide psychological support sessions if needs are not adequately covered by humanitarian organizations already working in the field.YEMEN
In Yemen, two years of fighting have given rise to widespread food insecurity: “The war in Yemen has seriously disrupted food imports and considerably reduced the livelihoods and sources of income of households,” says Arnaud Pont, the manager of the organization’s emergency operations in Yemen. Handicap International’s teams in the field are currently assessing needs in view of a possible response.
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Nigeria: Famine risk, Alfano: "Emergency assistance from Italy for Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen"
"Responding to the appeal made by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, we have arranged, through Italian Cooperation, a package of humanitarian aid worth 10 million euros in response to the very serious food crisis that is endangering the survival of 20 million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia, including 1.4 million children under 5 with acute malnutrition problems".
This statement was made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Angelino Alfano, specifying that the actions in question will be implemented by "the UN Agencies working on the front line of the colossal human effort currently under way, in particular the World Food Programme and UNICEF, as well as the Committee of the International Red Cross".
Specifically, the action taken by Italian Cooperation will provide funding of three million euros for the WFP and UNICEF to distribute food rations and water in the States of North Eastern Nigeria, with particular attention being paid to children and pregnant women. Two million euros will be destined for Somalia for the distribution of food and medical assistance, entrusted to the WFP and the International Red Cross, respectively, in the areas most seriously hit by the drought.
In South Sudan as well, Italian Cooperation will be working with the WFP and UNICEF, providing 2 million euros to fund a programme of school canteens and to combat acute malnutrition in children. Finally, three million euros will be allocated to Yemen for food distribution by the WFP and to provide assistance in the health sector and support for hospitals with the Yemeni Red Crescent.
"The sums put in place," concluded Minister Alfano, "are not the end of our humanitarian commitment to the affected countries. We shall soon be making further resources available to fund other emergency activities, the implementation of which will be entrusted to Italian civil society organisations".
A two-year-old civil war has severely restricted the flow of food into the main Yemeni cargo ports of Hodeidah and Salif on the Red Sea
Dubai market one of Yemen's few lifelines
Import-dependent nation on brink of famine
Wooden dhows ply centuries-old trade route
Shipping graphic: http://tmsnrt.rs/2mzwp4z
By Maha El Dahan and Michael Georgy
SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates, March 24 (Reuters) - Captains of small wooden dhows are carrying food and wares from the United Arab Emirates to war-torn Yemen. But supplies are falling even from this centuries-old Arabian sea route that is one of the last lifelines to a country on the brink of famine.
Read more on the Thomson Reuters Foundation
Yemen: Over 100 civilians killed in a month, including fishermen, refugees, as Yemen conflict reaches two-year mark
GENEVA (24 March 2017) – Two years and more than 13,000 civilian casualties later, the conflict in Yemen continues to rage, with an intensification in hostilities over the past three months that has exacerbated the entirely man-made catastrophe, with children starving and refugees and fishermen bombed, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said today.
Sunday, 26 March, will mark two years since the escalation of the current conflict in Yemen. Since 26 March 2015, at least 4,773 civilians have been killed and another 8,272 injured by the violence – a total of 13,045 civilian casualties. These figures reflect only those deaths and injuries that the UN Human Rights Office has managed to corroborate and confirm to be civilians. The actual death toll is certainly considerably higher. Another 21 million Yemenis – 82 per cent of the population – are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Over the past month alone, 106 civilians have been killed, mostly by air strikes and shelling by Coalition war ships. The worst incident occurred near Al Hudaydah on 16 March, when 32 Somali refugees and one Yemeni civilian were killed, with another 10 Somali refugees reportedly missing, feared dead. Twenty-nine Somali refugees, including six children, were injured, some severely. According to survivors’ accounts, the vessel carrying the refugees across the Red Sea was hit by shelling from a Coalition warship, without any warning, followed by shooting from an Apache helicopter overhead.
The UN Human Rights Office has also documented a number of incidents where fishermen’s boats were hit, as well as airstrikes that struck four trucks carrying food items, and an airstrike at a marketplace, among others. On 10 March, at least 18 civilians, including three children, were killed in an airstrike that hit a Qat market in Al Khawkhah district in Al Hudaydah Governorate. On 15 March, an Apache helicopter reportedly shot at a fishing boat off the coast of Al Hudaydah, killing two fishermen and injuring five others, reportedly without warning. Another boat in the same region was hit by a missile, reportedly fired from a Coalition warship, resulting in the deaths of five fishermen. The same day, five other fishermen were killed in a missile attack near the coast of Ad Durayhimi district of Al Hudaydah Governorate. On 16 March, another 10 fishermen were reported missing. Their boat was found burned on the northern side of Al Hudaydah city. Search efforts continue for the fishermen.
The Popular Committees affiliated with the Houthis and former President Saleh have continued to encircle densely populated areas in Taizz Governorate, preventing civilians from leaving and restricting humanitarian access to Taizz city. The UN Human Rights Office has heard accounts from people inside Taizz city of desperate shortages of food, water and milk for infants. Children, pregnant women and elderly people, especially those with chronic illnesses, are at particular risk and directly endangered by the lack of medicines. On 6 March, members of the Popular Committees reportedly shelled the Al Shanini market in al-Modhafer District in Taizz, causing one civilian death and injuring three civilians. There did not appear to be any potential military targets in the area at the time of the attack and eyewitnesses indicated that the attack occurred without warning.
“The violent deaths of refugees fleeing yet another war, of fishermen, of families in marketplaces – this is what the conflict in Yemen looks like two years after it began…utterly terrible, with little apparent regard for civilian lives and infrastructure,” High Commissioner Zeid said. “The fighting in Al Hudaydah has left thousands of civilians trapped – as was the case in Al Mokha in February – and has already compromised badly-needed deliveries of humanitarian assistance. Two years of wanton violence and bloodshed, thousands of deaths and millions of people desperate for their basic rights to food, water, health and security – enough is enough. I urge all parties to the conflict, and those with influence, to work urgently towards a full ceasefire to bring this disastrous conflict to an end, and to facilitate rather than block the delivery of humanitarian assistance.”
The UN Human Rights Office continues to provide support to the Yemeni National Commission, as mandated by the UN Human Rights Council. High Commissioner Zeid however stressed the need for an international, independent investigative body to look into the hundreds of reports of serious violations in Yemen. “The international community cannot allow those responsible for thousands of civilian deaths to continue to enjoy full impunity.”
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DISPLACEMENT OF 2 MILLION IDPs AMID CONTINUED RETURN MOVEMENTS
The Task Force for Population Movement (TFPM), co-led by IOM and UNHCR is a Technical Working Group of the Yemen Protection Cluster. The TFPM implements an information management tool that gathers data on the status and location of displaced persons across Yemen.
As of 01 February 2017, the TFPM has identified, 1,991,340 internally displaced persons (IDPs) (331,890 house-holds) who have been displaced due to conflict since March 2015, dispersed across 21 governorates. For the same period, the TFPM has identified 1,048,896 returnees (174,816 households), across 19 governorates.
As a result, 11.3% of the total population of Yemen has experienced the shock of displacement due to conflict in the last 23 months.
N.B. The most recent large scale displacement seen along the Western Coast of Yemen and in Dhamar gover-norate as a result of Operation Golden Spear is not fully reflected within this report as the data collection for this report concluded before major displacement from the operation.
Through December 2016 and January 2017 the TFPM has observed a overall decrease in the conflict-related displacement of 15,876 individuals (-0.79%). At the governorate level the most significant decreases have been observed in Hajjah and Sana’a (16,386 and 10,284 individuals, respectively).
On the other hand, there has been an overall increase in the conflict-affected return population by 21,222 individuals (+2%). In particular, increased return movements have been ob-served in 11 governorates, with over 18,426 new returnees identified in Al Hudaydah.
It remains that 87% of the population who have returned from their displacement in the last 23 months have returned to 33 districts. Geographically this represents just 10% of the 333 districts in Yemen, and therefore suggests that clear pockets of return, in areas of relative stability, may be materializing.
Of the total returnee population, an estimated 86% (or 959,540 individuals) have returned from displacement areas situated within their governorate of origin.
Indicative data collected by the TFPM at the community level through key informants show that the number one priority need among IDPs are: food (75%), access to income (8%), shelter/housing (6%) and cooking/washing water (4%).
ABU DHABI, Mar 24 2017 (WAM) - The total UAE foreign assistance provided to Yemen, between April 2015 and March 2017, within the framework of the UAE’s efficient humanitarian and development role and its rebuilding projects to support the Yemeni people, amounted to AED7.3 billion (US$2 billion).
The assistance aims to reduce the suffering of the Yemenis and is in compliance with the UAE’s humanitarian and development approach and its desire to establish development, security and stability in the country.
The UAE’s aid targeted about 10 million Yemeni people, including four million children. It provided polio and measles vaccines to 488,000 children, including 130,000 infants under the age of one, and 358,000 children between the ages of 1 and 5, in 11 Yemeni governorates.
UAE assistance included humanitarian, development and charity assistance, and urgent humanitarian assistance reaching AED1.97 billion ($536million), representing 26.9 percent of the total assistance to Yemen during the stated period.
Its humanitarian assistance included food aid totalling 172,000 tonnes and more than 111 tonnes of medication and medical supplies, as well as the provision of ambulances and medical devices, while 235.8 tonnes of food were sent on a daily basis.
The UAE’s development assistance to Yemen, during this period, reached AED5.3 billion ($1.45 billion), while its foreign development assistance, which was distributed to several sectors, reached AED985.58 million ($268.33 million) in support of the power generation sector. The operational costs of generating electricity and providing electricity supply services were also covered. Diesel and fuel generators were supplied to the governorates of Aden, Abyan, Hadramout, Marib and Mahra.
The UAE also built power plants in Aden, in addition to providing spare parts and covering maintenance costs and provided a new batch of spare parts and filters for the electricity sector, as part of its efforts to solve the power outage problem in Mukalla.
The UAE Red Crescent has recently established a water generator project, powered by solar energy, in the Al-Aik region of Al-Reeda and Qusayr in the coast of Hadramaut.
As part of its efforts to support the Yemeni public budget, funds amounting to AED2.63 billion ($715.47 million), equivalent to 36 percent of the UAE’s assistance were provided, to cover the most important budget items that relate to the payment of salaries of government employees.
The UAE also provided AED534.80 million ($145.60 million) to support the Yemeni transport sector by providing civil transport vehicles, and water and fuel transport vehicles in Aden, Marib, Hadramaut, Al-Mahra and Socotra Island. The UAE also reconstructed Aden airport and Socotra Island port.
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Matthew Saltmarsh – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
After weeks of intense negotiations, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has reached the embattled district of Mokha in Yemen’s western governorate of Taizz, where hostilities between the warring parties have escalated since January.
Intensified fighting has led to more than 48,000 people being displaced from Taizz in the past six weeks alone. Humanitarian access to Mokha, a flashpoint of hostilities and one of the worst affected areas within the governorate, has been particularly challenging owing to ongoing clashes and movement restrictions imposed by parties to the conflict.
UNHCR teams went on mission to Mokha this week and started distributions on Monday in an area close to the frontlines. More than 3,416 individuals affected by the conflict received non-food assistance from UNHCR, which included mattresses, sleeping mats, blankets, kitchen sets and wash buckets.
The majority of those displaced by hostilities in Taizz have fled to other parts of the governorate. UNHCR’s distributions in Mokha were provided to people who were displaced from other villages in the district.
UNHCR’s field staff reported many were traumatised and living in desperate conditions, lacking water and sanitation and sharing limited resources with local host communities. Those displaced were being accommodated by local families or living out in the open, without any protection. Many informed UNHCR that this was the first time they had received humanitarian non-food assistance.
This latest distribution supplements UNHCR’s previous distributions to those freshly displaced from intensified violence in Taizz. More than 18,151 individuals recently displaced from the Red Sea governorate were also reached by UNHCR assistance in nearby governorates of Al Hudaydah and Ibb. With the military situation remaining highly volatile on Yemen’s western front and hostilities extending, UNHCR has also secured access in six other districts in Taizz and will reach more than 42,000 people with emergency assistance in the coming days in Dhubab, Al Wazi’iyah, Mawza, Al Ma’afer, Maqbanah and Mawiyah.
Separately, in central Yemen, where 13,900 people were displaced by a recent flare up in hostilities in Utmah district, Dhamar governorate, UNHCR has also started distribution of aid to those now returning home. UNHCR distributions in Utmah started on Wednesday to assist more than 7,700 conflict-returnees.
With March marking two years since the beginning of the current conflict in Yemen, 11.3 per cent of Yemen’s population has been forcibly displaced by the war. There are two million people displaced across Yemen and one million have returned home to precarious conditions.
As conflict in Yemen drags, 84 per cent of those uprooted from their homes have now been displaced for more than a year, struggling to meet basic needs including food and shelter.
Despite new and prolonged waves of displacement in Yemen, humanitarian agencies, including UNHCR, remain significantly underfunded to respond to prioritised and emerging needs. UNHCR’s response to urgent humanitarian needs in Yemen remains only 10 per cent funded to date.
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Yemen: UNDP and the Government of Japan renew partnership to support stabilization of conflict-affected communities
Aden, 23 March 2017 – UNDP and the Government of Japan launched today an emergency 12-month Yemen Stabilisation Programme aimed at providing critical recovery support to stabilise conflict-affected districts of Attawahi, Crater and al-Mualla, in Aden Governorate.
Over 2 million people have been displaced since March 2015 and 1 million former internally displaced persons (IDPs) have recently returned to their area of origin. Four out of the five districts hosting the largest numbers of returnees are in Aden Governorate.
“It is very important to bring back normalcy to the lives of citizens in Aden. UNDP works to improve economic livelihoods, provision of basic services of the most vulnerable populations to stabilise their communities,” said Auke Lootsma, Country Director. “The launch of the Japan-funded activities marks the beginning of the roll-out of our stabilisation programme in Aden, Abyan, and Lahj governorates,” he continued.
A joint task force on Population Movement led by IOM and UNHCR revealed that 31 % of returnees place financial support (19%) or access to income (12%) as their top priority pointing out to dire living conditions and disrupted livelihoods. Perceived security, access to income and the availability of services play a leading role for decisions over returning, and where to return to. In 83% of areas surveyed, longer-term intentions of IDPs were conditional upon the prevailing security situation. Similarly, security and safety represented the main factor affecting returnee livelihoods in 75% of areas, influencing over their decision to stay (75%). They need to find quick ways to reintegrate in their communities, reconnect and recover trust.
A rapid integrated assessment led by UNDP in 2015 established that confidence between the citizens and state institutions ranked low. In Aden, over 70% of surveyed citizens reported low trust in formal institutions. Exposure to violence and fighting was reported by Adenis in similar proportions.
“Security and stability top the list of priorities. If there is security and stability, there will be prosperity”, said one focus group respondent in Aden as early as September 2015.
In partnership with the Government of Japan, UNDP will work closely with local authorities and community partners to tackle the multi-dimensional aspects of stabilisation that can address root causes and prevent conflict reoccurrence. For the first phase of the Yemen Stabilisation Programme, UNDP will conduct stabilisation assessments to generate needs-based opportunities for the priority districts of Attawahi, Crater and al-Mualla. Income-generating and protection concerns of vulnerable groups, chiefly displaced returnees, women and youth at risk, will be supported to indirectly benefit 2,800 individuals through vocational training and small grants to promote demand-driven business creation and revive local economies, develop capacities of formal and informal protection actors to improve responsiveness to increasing needs with a focus on the specific needs of women, and support youth-led initiatives to promote dialogue and tolerance in their neighbourhoods.
“Recovery of local community lives would be one of the essential factors to stabilise the areas affected by conflicts. We are pleased to be a partner of UNDP in initiating this important Stabilisation Programme for districts in Aden”, said H.E. Hayashi Katsuyoshi.
To read more about UNDP Yemen’s work during the ongoing conflict, click here.
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We are on the precipice of another humanitarian crisis. The famine that is raging in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen is threatening the lives of millions of people. The crisis is urgent, complex and vast. Without swift action, alarming food shortages in Ethiopia, Chad, Kenya, Uganda, and Niger, could also spiral into crisis.
Crop failures brought on by climate change, combined with conflicts that have forced entire villages from their land, have caused the onset of famine in four countries across Africa and the Middle East. An estimated 20 million people – including 1.4 million children – are already suffering from malnutrition, and if the global community fails to act, the ongoing food shortages and widespread poverty in these countries will cause unthinkable suffering and unnecessary deaths.
As a member organization of Consortium 12-12, a Belgian non-profit platform, Doctors of the World is working to distribute food and water, provide medical care, improve hygiene and strengthen the agricultural capabilities of these communities in three of the famine-affected countries: Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.
Since 2014, the north eastern state of Borno in Nigeria has been struggling to contain the extremist group known as Boko Haram. Over 20,000 people have died as a result of the insurgency and 2.6 million have been displaced. The medical needs in Nigeria are immense: 30% of medical facilities have been destroyed in the conflict, severely debilitating the health infrastructure in the area.
DotW’s General Director of International Operations, Jean-Francois Corty reported that “Boko Haram have continuously attacked medical facilities, targeting and killing medical personnel. There is a constant shortage of drugs and equipment. 90% of the current health infrastructure does not know how to treat cases of malnutrition in children. This is a humanitarian crisis that is quickly becoming forgotten.”
Since 2016, we have operated two mobile clinics in Borno state. We provide primary medical care to displaced communities and malnutrition treatment to children and pregnant women. After observing the situation, Jean-Francois added, “The population needs clean water, food and shelter. The situation is alarming and access to food is at serious risk, because people can no longer fish or breed cattle”. Doctors of the World has sent 10 tons of equipment to the area, but far more aid is needed.
Somalia has been plagued by civil war for over 20 years, and 6.2 million people current live without food security. Doctors of the World has been working in the town of Bosaso in Northern Somalia in Puntland since 2011. There are currently 50,000 displaced people in Bosaso, including Somalis fleeing fighting in southern parts of the country and those fleeing fighting across the Gulf of Aden in Yemen. We provide medicine, equipment, and technical support to eight public health centers, and focus on primary medical care, and maternal and child health.
The war in Yemen has claimed over 10,000 lives and left 3 million displaced since 2014. As a result, Yemen is currently facing the largest food emergency in the world and 65% of Yemenis currently do not have reliable access to food. The price of food spiked severely in September 2016, as the conflict in the country escalated. Around 7 million people in Yemen depend entirely on food assistance, with the rate of child malnutrition being one of the highest in the world. Doctors of the World began working in Yemen in 2015, focusing mainly on food security and child health. We now support 5 health centers and one maternity clinic in the governorates of Sana’a and Ibb. We also operate an emergency team, which provides assistance and emergency supplies to conflict areas
Yemen: Yemen: 34th session of the Human Rights Council - Introduction to country reports of the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner under item 10
Addresses by Ms. Kate Gilmore United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights
Geneva, 22 March 2017
Salle XX, Palais des Nations
Mr. President, Members of the Human Rights Council,
Excellences, Ladies and gentlemen,
This [afternoon] you have before you two reports submitted under item 10, concerning Afghanistan and Yemen.
Let me first provide an oral update on Yemen.
One of the world’s worst humanitarian crises – one entirely man-made is underway in Yemen.
Over 21 million Yemenis – 82 per cent of the population – are in need of humanitarian assistance. 14 million are suffering from food insecurity. At least 1.3 million children are acutely malnourished.
Almost three million people have been internally displaced while the country’s infrastructure has been extensively destroyed and its economy decimated.
Excellencies, the living conditions of people in Yemen, simply put, are miserable, deplorable and untenable.
t has now been two years since the conflict intensified, and information gathered by my Office indicates that as of 15 January 2017, at least 4,726 civilians had been killed, while at least 8,217 had been injured.
I wish to stress that our estimates of the lives lost to this conflict are substantially lower than those published by other entities, mainly because under our rigorous methodology we record casualties only after multiple corroboration or through confirmation of death by the victim’s next-of-kin. The extent
The absence of a credible and viable political solution to the conflict, combined with the relentless escalation in violence witnessed over the last three months, is undermining prospects of an immediate ceasefire and the resumption of humanitarian aid.
The fighting in and around the port cities of Mokha and Hodeida has left thousands of civilians trapped in the crossfire, without any safe passage away from the fighting. Furthermore, the substantive destruction of the ports, particularly in Hodeida, severely compromises the delivery of desperately-needed humanitarian assistance.
In accordance with this Council’s resolution 33/16, OHCHR presented a budget proposal to the General Assembly for the recruitment of eight staff members to support the Yemen Country Office. The Fifth Committee of the General Assembly approved the proposal in end of December, and our Office immediately reached out to the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Yemen in order to request authorization to deploy additional international staff to Yemen. In the light of the security restrictions, the UN Resident Coordinator so far has only authorized temporary deployment of four international staff to Yemen, who have now been recruited to assist the Yemen Office in the implementation of your resolution.
Since the adoption of resolution 33/16, we have also re-established our engagement with the National Commission agreeing together a programme of joint activities and a list of thematic priorities. The first of these activities was a capacity-building workshop on international humanitarian law, investigative methodologies and lessons learnt from United Nations commissions of inquiry, which took place from 21 to 23 February, in Doha, Qatar.
We encourage the Yemeni National Commission to make progress on all aspects of its mandate to investigate all allegations of violations of international law and Yemeni law, including those that go beyond the extent of the Commission’s cooperation with OHCHR.
The de facto authorities in Sanaa have officially communicated their intention not to extend cooperation to the national commission or to any OHCHR team tasked with implementing the Human Rights Council resolution. In response, we have urged the de facto authorities in Sanaa to reconsider that decision and we call on all parties to follow through on their commitment to cooperate with the national commission and with OHCHR so as to enable the implementation of resolution 33/16, including by facilitating access to the support team.
Calls for an international and independent commission of investigation have been dismissed by some as potentially undermining the existing national commission. Let me briefly address those concerns:
First, there are no persuasive reasons to believe that an international and independent investigation could not operate alongside a national commission of inquiry - the existence of one does not exclude the other.
Second, the National Commission so far has failed to live up to the standards with which it must comply in order to carry out its duties with credibility. Not only did its first publications reveal a failure to comply with internationally recognised standards of methodology and impartiality, but the Commission has yet to clarify how its work could facilitate viable mechanisms of accountability.
Third, the violations allegedly committed in the ongoing conflict are of such gravity that continued impunity simply cannot be accepted. In the absence of credible mechanisms for national remedy, international and independent alternatives are essential.
The High Commissioner has no choice but to reiterate his call for an international and independent commission of inquiry into all allegations of violations of human rights and humanitarian law, regardless of the alleged perpetrators. Such an approach would also support the efforts of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Yemen to reach a negotiated and durable settlement of the conflict.
Let me now introduce our report on Afghanistan (A/HRC/34/41).
It is with deep sense of regret, that we must report that between 1 January and 30 November 2016, the highest number of civilian casualties in one year since 2009 we recorded: a total of 10,533.
Children continued to suffer from the direct and indirect consequences of conflict-related violence, and further, we documented 80 attacks against, or impacting on, hospitals and health workers, as well as increasing attacks against religious figures and places of worship.
Even more recent developments confirm the alarming trend of targeted killings of civilians.
On 7 February 2017, in Kabul, at least 22 people were killed while over 41 were injured in a suicide attack outside the Supreme Court. On 9 February 2017, ICRC suspended its operations in Afghanistan following the killing of six of its employees. On 8 March 2017, at least 50 people were reportedly killed and 91 injured in a complex attack on the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan Hospital in Kabul. Attackers reportedly disguised as medical doctors entered the building and targeted patients and medical workers. Islamic State operatives claimed responsibility for these heinous attacks. Our report also underscores the enduring prevalence of violence against women, which remains of utmost concern. We further describe the persisting practice of torture and ill-treatment in places of detention and the continued impunity for perpetrators.
Moreover, in relation to the 22 September 2016 peace agreement between the Government of Afghanistan and Hezb-i-Islami, we are concerned about the amnesty provisions applicable for the leadership and members of armed groups with regard to past political and military actions as well as the absence of vetting processes.
Yet, there were positive developments and we welcome the important steps taken by the Government of Afghanistan to uphold its commitments under international human rights law, including the adoption of the strategy and action plan on the elimination of violence against women as well as the recognition of women’s role in the peace process.
Another positive development is the Government’s development of the policy on civilian casualty mitigation which is now awaiting promulgation. The Government also committed itself to establish new mechanisms to address violence against journalists. We stand ready to continue our support on these and other matters of significance for the future of the people of Afghanistan.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This concludes my introduction of country reports and updates under item 10.
Thank you for your attention.
RIYADH, March 23 (KUNA) -- The "Kuwait by your side" campaign launched six water projects in Marib governorate in Yemen with a cost of USD 500,000.
A statement by the Yemeni-Kuwaiti Relief Agency said on Thursday that these water projects will be implemented in 4 districts in the Yemeni governorate, where more than 60,000 persons are waiting for assistance.
The Undersecretary of Marib governorate Abd Rabo Moftah thanked Kuwait's people and government for the donation, affirming that the Kuwait by your side campaign was making a visible difference on the ground.
On his part, member of the Yemeni-Kuwaiti Relief Agency Tarek Abdul Wasea said that the Kuwaiti campaign has delivered more than 4,900 food baskets in Marib governorate, adding that it also gave shelter to many displaced Yemenis. (end) mdm.mys
Statement by Hugues Robert, MSF Program Manager for Yemen
Sanaa, Yemen - “Due to our inability to run activities according to MSF’s principles of independence and impartiality, we have made the difficult decision to withdraw from Al-Thawra hospital in Ibb, Yemen. Our departure is not immediate and will happen gradually over the course of the next three months. MSF has been providing life-saving care in the emergency room of Al-Thawra hospital in Ibb since January 2016, and in the last year over 41,000 patients have been treated.
MSF is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that treats patients irrespective of their religious, tribal, political or other affiliations. All medical care provided by MSF is free of charge and accessible to all, without discrimination.
MSF remains committed to the Yemeni population and will continue its medical activities in nine governorates. We reiterate our call on all parties to the conflict to respect civilian lives and medical structures.”
Yemen: Human Rights Council holds general debate on technical assistance and capacity building after reports on Afghanistan and Yemen
Human Rights Council
23 March 2017
Concludes General Debate on the Reports of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary-General
The Human Rights Council this morning held a general debate on technical assistance and capacity building after hearing the presentation of reports and oral updates of the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Afghanistan and Yemen, and the report of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights.
Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, introduced country reports of the Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Human Rights on Afghanistan and Yemen. On Yemen, Ms. Gilmore stressed that the living conditions in Yemen were miserable, deplorable and untenable, and that the absence of a credible and viable political solution, combined with the relentless escalation of violence over the last three months, was undermining the prospects of an immediate ceasefire and the resumption of humanitarian aid. Turning to the report on Afghanistan, she said the Office had recorded the highest number of civilian casualties since 2009, with a total of 10,533 lives lost in 2016. Even more alarming was the trend of targeted killings of civilians, for which Islamic State had claimed responsibility. The report further underscored the enduring prevalence of violence against women which remained of utmost concern; and described the persisting practice of torture and ill-treatment in places of detention and the continued impunity of perpetrators.
Ms. Gilmore then gave the High Commissioner’s annual presentation on the enhancement of technical cooperation and capacity-building in the field of human rights, noting that translating the 192 recommendations made during the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review was part of a matrix to translate and implement the recommendations at the national level. The importance of national human rights action plans was underlined as they had proven to be critical vehicles that enabled Member States to meet their international human rights obligations.
Christopher Sidoti, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, said the Board provided policy advice and guidance on technical cooperation relevant to the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the ground in support of State efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular the implementation of Universal Periodic Review recommendations. He spoke about the Board’s visit to Guatemala. Mr. Sidoti concluded by saying that in 2016, the Fund continued to provide resources for technical cooperation to build strong national human rights frameworks in 27 regions, countries and territories through 13 human rights advisers, 10 human rights components of peace missions, and four country offices.
Afghanistan, speaking as a concerned country, said Afghanistan was at a critical juncture, going through a political, economic and security transition. Afghanistan believed that there could not be any distinction between good and bad terrorists. The answer to violent extremism was to ensure that girls and boys received a decent education; women’s role in governance, peace, trade and economy was important for the Government. Afghanistan thanked all friends and allies showing continued resolve in their support to the country.
Yemen, speaking as a concerned country, said the Government was doing its level best, putting an end to insurrection in some areas. The Yemeni Government was willing to receive humanitarian aid through Mokha and other ports, and the airport would also be brought back into service. The Government was preparing a rehabilitation programme for children recruited by militias, and requested humanitarian organizations to assist in making that programme a success.
In the general debate on technical assistance and capacity-building, delegations recognized the importance of technical assistance and of providing it to all requesting States, and rejected any attempt to void the concept of technical assistance of its true meaning. Technical assistance and capacity building were one of the main mandates of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and should be the priority of its work. Technical assistance and capacity building should be dispensed in line with the principles of the United Nations Charter and according to the will and needs of concerned countries. Pleas for financial and technical assistance to address accepted recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review should be heeded. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights must be able to assist more States that were requesting assistance. All donors were called upon to continue and increase their contributions.
Speaking were Pakistan on behalf of a like-minded group of countries, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, Netherlands on behalf of a group of 33 States, Bahrain on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Malta on behalf of the European Union, Peru on behalf of the core group on national policies and human rights, Morocco, Sudan, United Kingdom on behalf of 45 countries, Switzerland, Brazil, United Kingdom, China, Netherlands, United States, India, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Bolivia, Bhutan on behalf of a group of 11 least developed countries beneficiaries of the Voluntary Trust Fund, Canada, France, Australia, Maldives, Thailand, Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, Myanmar, Chad, Russian Federation, Jordan, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Cambodia.
The following civil society organizations also took the floor: Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Advocates for Human Rights, Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme, Amnesty International, International Lesbian and Gay Association, Human Rights Watch, Observatoire Mauritannien des Droits de l’Homme et de la Démocratie, Liberation, Association pour l’integration et le Développement Durable au Burundi, Prahar, Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, World Barua Organization, Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Alsalam Foundation, Iraqi Development Organization, United Nations Watch, Centre Independent de Recherches et d’Iniatives pour le Dialogue, ANAJA, Tourner la page, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, Ecumenical Alliance for Human Rights and Development, Association des Etudiants Tamouls de France, Save the Children International, International Buddhist Relief Organisation, Center for Organisation Research and Education, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association, Association of World Citizens, Society for Development and Community Empowerment, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, Association Solidarité Internationale pour l’Afrique and Indian Council of South America.
Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded the general debate it began on Wednesday, 22 March, on the annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General. A summary of the first part of the general debate can be found here.
During the debate, speakers addressed domestic issues within countries mentioned in the reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General, calling generally on greater adherence to international obligations. That included highlighting the situation of human rights defenders in various countries, as well as speaking of the importance of a broad application of human rights in post-conflict countries. Many speakers addressed the particular situation of children and adolescents, urging the Human Rights Council to pay special attention to their rights when addressing human rights situations of concern in various countries.
The following civil society organizations took the floor: Tourner la Page, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Indian Council of South America, ANAJA (L’eternel a repondu), International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund, Europe Third World Centre, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, Centre Independent de Recherches et d’Initiative pour le Dialogue, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, World Organization Against Torture, Peace Brigades International Switzerland, Colombian Commission of Jurists, United Nations Watch, Association des étudiants tamouls de France, Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme, International Catholic Child Bureau, Defence for Children International, International Buddhist Relief Organization, Freedom Now, Covenant House (joint statement), Franciscans International, Corporacion para la Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos Reiniclar, Plan International, Inc., International Educational Development and International Service for Human Rights.
Maldives and Iraq spoke in a right to reply.
The Council has a full day of meetings scheduled. At 2:30 p.m., it will begin taking action on decisions and resolutions before it concludes its thirty-fourth regular session on Friday, 24 March.
General Debate on the Annual Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General
Tourner la page said that in Latin America, one of the greatest challenges was the insecurity of human rights defenders, particularly those working on indigenous rights and land issues, and noted that in Colombia in 2016, there had been an increase of 25 per cent of murders of human rights defenders compared to 2015.
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination was alarmed by the continued persecution of ethnic and religious minorities in Iran and in the region. Furthermore, every attempt to peacefully renounce those violations resulted in more violations. Under the pretext of fighting Da’esh, Iran had put in place a militarized security structure which had resulted in terrorising non-Shiites in neighbouring countries.
Indian Council of South America said that the Dakota Access Pipeline was within the boundaries of the original 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties, and the Great Sioux Nation had never ceded this territory. This pipeline blatantly disregarded international treaties by the United States, and it would inevitably contaminate the water, territory and natural resources of the Great Sioux Nation.
ANAJA (L’Eternel a répondu) said that the time-line extension of two years for implementing recommendations in the report on Sri Lanka would only help Sri Lanka to continue to harass religious minorities in its territory. The Tamil had suffered a genocide in which 147,000 had been killed and justice must be delivered, including the establishment of an international tribunal.
International Fellowship of Reconciliation said armed gangs in Colombia were stepping into the void left by the FARC and the concern of the High Commissioner about human rights defenders was shared. Effective measures should be taken to protect conscientious objectors from obligatory military service. The Colombian authorities should ensure there was demilitarization of the country.
Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund welcomed the reports on Honduras and Guatemala, and the Guatemalan State was asked to approve reforms regarding indigenous law. The international commission against impunity should be broadened. Honduras was urged to open up space for civil society participation in public life. The deaths of 40 girls in a fire was condemned.
Europe Third World Centre welcomed the report of the High Commissioner on Colombia, saying dozens of leaders had been murdered in the country. The FARC were laying down their arms but other paramilitary groups were active. The Colombian State was urged to ensure that human rights defenders were protected.
Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul expressed disappointment about the extension of the time-line of resolution 30/1 on Sri Lanka, as the fulfilment of transitional justice commitments by the Government of Sri Lanka had been worryingly slow. The only way to ensure justice and accountability was to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.
CIRID (Centre Indépendent de Recherches et d’Initiatives pour le Dialogue) said that in Yemen, the situation of children was in total violation of their right to life, and recalled the obligation of Yemen not to recruit children in the armed forces. Children in Yemen were being killed, abducted, maimed, recruited and imprisoned. The international community must act to address this situation.
Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik said that the report on Iran was comprehensive, precise, objective and balanced, and then spoke about the case of 17 workers who had been sentenced to flogging for taking part in a peaceful demonstration, and other violations against left-wing activists.
World Organization against Torture said that in Colombia, the level of impunity for acts of torture and extra-judicial executions was still above 95 per cent. Therefore, the construction of peace must ensure that structural obstacles were removed, such as the framework law that favoured impunity of the superiors, and the under-reporting of cases of torture and ill-treatment. Honduras was urged to withdraw the army from the tasks of citizen security and dismantle the prisons installed in military facilities.
Peace Brigade International Switzerland was concerned about the increase in violence against human rights defenders in Colombia and Honduras, noting that 30 individuals had been murdered so far in 2017, of which 25 in Colombia. Most of those human rights defenders worked on land and environmental issues, in the context of increased pressure to use the land for exploitation of natural resources.
Colombian Commission of Jurists stated that the implementation of the peace agreement in Colombia could guide the State to deal with outstanding human rights issues. The proper implementation of the peace agreement required the decisive support of the international community and of the Human Rights Council in its oversight.
United Nations Watch reminded that Iran’s minorities continued to face discrimination and that human rights defenders were being prosecuted for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression. Iran had just sentenced 10 dissidents living abroad, including civil rights activist Marzieh Armin, to prison sentences. A resolution renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur would be entirely warranted.
Association des Etudiants Tamoules de France expressed disappointment over the extension of the duration of resolution 30/1 adopted in September 2015. The lack of political will of the Government of Sri Lanka to effectively provide truth and justice in the country was well evident through the past judgments of Sri Lankan courts, particularly when the victims were Tamils.
Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme said Iranian politicians had defused tension by signing the nuclear deal, and all items of the agreement should be implemented. To allow its citizens to enjoy true development, Iran extended a lot of support to countries of the world, especially disadvantaged people in Africa, east Asia and others against the forces of darkness and evil and their terrorist allies.
International Catholic Child Bureau thanked the High Commissioner for the report on Colombia, which had raised the issue of prolonged pre-trial detention of children and adolescents in conflict with the law. Allegations of ill-treatment of adolescents had been received. Solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure seemed to be a common measure in Colombia.
Defence for Children International spoke about the situation of human rights in Colombia and urged the Human Rights Council to pay attention to the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of children and adolescents leaving the FARC. The Council was called on to urge the Colombian Government to strengthen the national healthcare system and give priority to the issue of children and adolescents during peace talks.
International Buddhist Relief Organization said that the Sri Lankan forces had defeated the most ruthless terrorist group in the world, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, and said that in this process, scores of soldiers had been killed. The Tamils were now trying to achieve their goals through the United Nations as they had not been able to achieve it through the war.
Freedom Now urged the Council to take special note of a labour and child rights activist currently serving a seven-year sentence in prison in Iran for communicating with the previous United Nations Special Rapporteur. The Council should inquire about this case and ensure that Iran ceased its harassment and persecution of human rights defenders.
Covenant House, in a joint statement with, Dominicans for Justice and Peace - Order of Preachers, lamented the death of more than 40 children in a fire in a government child-care facility in Guatemala, simply because they were locked up and could not escape. Guatemala should urgently reform its child care system, in line with its human rights obligations.
Franciscans International welcomed the mention of indigenous peoples’ rights in the report on Colombia. The State still failed to recognize the constitutional rights of the indigenous communities. It called on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue monitoring the situation of human rights in Colombia in the context of extractive industries’ activities, with special emphasis on the rights of indigenous peoples.
Corporación para la Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos Reiniciar drew attention to threats, attacks and murders of the members of Marcha Patriótica in Colombia, notably the murders of indigenous peoples, villagers and social leaders who defended human rights. The responsible parties had not been prosecuted as they had been members of the Colombian Parliament. The impunity for those crimes continued.
Plan International welcomed the signing of the peace agreement in Colombia. Peace building went beyond the implementation of the agreement and that was why there should be improvement of living conditions, and strengthening of the capacities of girls, boys, adolescents and the youth, generating opportunities for them, and recognizing them as agents of change.
International Educational Development said the Council in its resolution 30/1 on Sri Lanka had not explicitly required a hybrid court and not even a debate on it in a transparent manner. Tamil victims had collected more than 1.6 million signatures in a call for the referral of the situation in Sri Lanka to the United Nations General Assembly with recommendations to establish a Special Tribunal or to refer the situation to the United Nations Security Council for referral to the International Criminal Court. The Council was urged to comply with that.
International Service for Human Rights welcomed the reports of the High Commissioner on Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia. Guatemala was dangerous for human rights defenders, and the State was urged to draft legislation on that. In Honduras, the threat of judicial cleansing hung over magistrates. One of the scourges in Honduras was corruption.
Right of Reply
Maldives, speaking in a right of reply, acknowledged concerns expressed, but said the nation was in transition toward democracy, and today had a constitution that separated the branches of government. The accusation that freedom of expression was being limited was a mischaracterization caused by the lack of international presence in Maldives, whether embassies or international media representatives. The Government of the Maldives reaffirmed its commitment to the strengthening of democracy.
Iraq, speaking in a right of reply, said it supported the action of non-governmental organizations, however, Iraq rejected and refuted any false accusations. Iraq was committed to promoting and protecting human rights. The accusation that one group was actually a militia was unfounded. This front was helping to tackle terrorism and was working with Iraq’s armed forces. In fact it was an organization which was approved by the State and was working according to human rights standards.
Presentations on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building
Presentation on Country Reports of the Secretary-General and High Commissioner on Afghanistan and Yemen
KATE GILMORE, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, introduced country reports of the Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Human Rights on Afghanistan and Yemen.
In the oral update on Yemen, Ms. Gilmore stressed that one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, one entirely man-made, was underway in Yemen. Over 21 million Yemenis, 82 per cent of the population, were in need of humanitarian assistance; 14 million were suffering from food insecurity; and at least 1.3 children were acutely malnourished. Almost three million people were internally displaced while the country’s infrastructure had been extensively destroyed and its economy decimated. The living conditions of people in Yemen, simply put, were miserable, deplorable and untenable. The absence of a credible and viable political solution, combined with the relentless escalation of violence over the last three months, was undermining the prospects of an immediate ceasefire and the resumption of humanitarian aid. The fighting in and around the port cities of Mokha and Hodeida had left thousands trapped and the substantive destruction of infrastructure compromised the delivery of humanitarian aid.
In accordance with the Human Rights Council’s resolution 33/16, the Office of the High Commissioner had strengthened the capacity of the country office in Yemen and had re-established engagement with the National Commission, agreeing together on a programme of joint activities and a list of thematic priorities. Ms. Gilmore urged the de facto authorities in Sanaa to extend cooperation to the National Commission and the teams tasked with the implementation of the above resolution.
Noting that the calls for an international and independent commission of investigation had been dismissed by some as potentially undermining the existing national commission, the Deputy High Commissioner stressed that there were no persuasive reasons to believe that an international and independent investigation could not operate alongside a national commission of inquiry. The existence of one did not exclude the other. The national commission had so far failed to live up to the standards with which it must comply in order to carry out its duties with credibility, including the principle of impartiality. Also, the violations committed in the ongoing conflict were of such gravity that continued impunity could not be accepted. In the absence of a credible mechanism for national remedy, international and independent alternatives were essential. The High Commissioner therefore had no choice but to reiterate the call for an international and independent commission of inquiry into all allegations of human rights violations and humanitarian law, regardless of the alleged perpetrators.
Turning to the report on Afghanistan, the Deputy High Commissioner deeply regretted that the Office had recorded the highest number of civilian casualties since 2009, with a total of 10,533 lives lost in 2016. Children continued to suffer from the direct and indirect consequences of conflict-related violence. Further, 80 attacks on hospitals and health workers had been recorded, and attacks against religious figures and places of worship were on the rise. Even more alarming was the trend of targeted killings of civilians, for which Islamic State had claimed responsibility. The report further underscored the enduring prevalence of violence against women which remained of utmost concern. It described the persisting practice of torture and ill-treatment in places of detention and the continued impunity of perpetrators. In relation to the 22 September 2016 peace agreement between the Government and Hezb-i-Islami, the Office remained concerned about the amnesty provisions applicable for the leadership and members of armed groups with regards to past political and military actions, as well as the absence of the vetting process. The report welcomed the adoption by the Government of the strategy and action plan on the elimination of violence against women, the recognition of the role of women in the peace process, the development of policy on civil casualty mitigation, and the commitment to establish new mechanisms to address violence against journalists.
The Council has before it the report of the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the field of Human Rights (A/HRC/34/74)
Presentations by the Deputy High Commissioner on the Work of the Office of the High Commissioner in Technical Assistance and by the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Voluntary Fund for Technical Assistance in the Field of Human Rights
KATE GILMORE, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, reminded that the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was supported by the work of country offices, which played an important role in the work of the Office in effective engagement with Member States through capacity building and training. Translating the 192 recommendations made during the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review was part of a matrix to translate and implement the recommendations at the national level. The importance of national human rights action plans was highlighted as they were critical vehicles to enable Member States to meet their international human rights obligations. Significant progress had been made in supporting the whole United Nations system to implement human rights standards. Those were the ways to make deliberations at the Human Rights Council materialize on the ground and make difference in the lives of citizens.
CHRISTOPHER SIDOTI, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, explained that the Board of Trustees provided policy advice and guidance on technical cooperation relevant to the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the ground in support of State efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular the implementation of Universal Periodic Review recommendations. The members of the Board as overseers of the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, and the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance in the Implementation of the Universal Periodic Review, sought to promote the complementary and effective use of the resources.
As for the Board’s visit to Guatemala, Mr. Sidoti explained that the Guatemala Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights used technical expertise and close interactions with all partners on the ground to gather evidence-based information and credible, validated data on the human rights situation and challenges. That visit once again demonstrated that when the Office was given the opportunity to use strategically the full mandate of the High Commissioner to support a country’s human rights efforts, the results were tangible and sustainable, and the Office was accepted as a key and reliable partner. The Board had particularly welcomed the priority that the Guatemala Office had afforded to human rights issues of indigenous peoples and the Office’s partnership with indigenous organizations. The Board commended in particular the Maya programme that had supported indigenous initiatives through strategic litigation and other forms of advocacy. The Board was convinced that the approach taken in Guatemala and in other country offices should be more widely known. The lessons learned should be applied in the establishment and strengthening of the work of all country offices, but also shared openly with Member States.
Mr. Sidoti said that the Board considered that to have effective, sustainable results for the promotion and protection of human rights, technical cooperation programmes should be aimed at translating into reality the obligations and commitments of Member States within the international human rights legal framework. At its field sessions, the Board had observed the technical support provided by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for legislative and policy development, and for capacity building for rights holders and civil society. That support was in practical terms based on international standards and recommendations. It was informed by evidence-based information and credible and validated data on the situation and challenges on the ground. The Board emphasized that the promotion and follow-up to recommendations were not ends in themselves, but means to achieve the goal of full compliance with international human rights obligations. In 2016, the Fund continued to provide resources for technical cooperation to build strong national human rights frameworks in 27 regions, countries and territories through 13 human rights advisers, 10 human rights components of peace missions, and four country offices. The total expenditure of the Fund in 2016 amounted to $ 14.3 million, substantially less that the projections in the work plan, owing to a number of reductions in various programmes as a result of a lack of adequate funding.
Statements by the Concerned Countries
Afghanistan, speaking as a concerned country, said Afghanistan was at a critical juncture, going through a political, economic and security transition. Afghanistan was at the front line of a fight for the security of the world, and had made enormous sacrifices in the global fight against terrorism and violent extremism. Afghanistan’s prolonged conflict was a result of violent extremism, illicit narcotics and State-sponsored terrorism. Taliban leaders resided in Pakistan and they had influence over them. Afghanistan believed that there could not be any distinction between good and bad terrorists. As long as a distinction was made, the international community was defeated. A recent attack on a hospital in Kabul showed that terror knew no boundaries. Afghanistan remained committed to State-to-State cooperation with Pakistan based on the principles of mutual respect and non-intervention that could benefit the entire region. The answer to violent extremism was to ensure that girls and boys received a decent education; women’s role in governance, peace, trade and economy was important for the Government. Afghanistan thanked all friends and allies showing continued resolve in their support to the country.
Yemen, speaking as a concerned country, said the situation in Yemen was better than in the last few years, and the Government was doing its level best, putting an end to the insurrection in some areas. To be objective, all violations needed to be addressed. The Yemeni Government had been forced to use military force, and it was thanks to the support of Arab brothers that Yemen had been able to resist the Houthi coup targeting the legitimate regime. The insurrection had been ended but only through sacrifices. A mosque had been targeted recently, and 27 people had been killed. Those acts had to be imputed to the terrorist militia. Previously the Council had called for a commission of inquiry. The Office of the High Commissioner was called on to support the commission so it could carry out its task. The Yemeni Government was willing to receive humanitarian aid through Mokha and other ports, and the airport would also be brought back into service. The Government was preparing a rehabilitation programme for children recruited by militias, and requested humanitarian organizations to assist in making that programme a success. Member States were called on to refrain from circulating propaganda which could hurt the situation.
General Debate on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of a like-minded group of countries, stressed that technical assistance and capacity building were the most effective, constructive, non-politicized, impartial, and objective tools at the disposal of the Council to prevent human rights abuses and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms. They were tools to promote dialogue and engagement with the State concerned with the view to avoid confrontation, and had a transformative impact as they were tailored to the peculiar socio-economic and cultural specificities of nations.
Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the African Group was determined to work within the Council to double the efforts for the promotion of international cooperation in the field of human rights. States had the primary responsibility in the promotion and protection of human rights and all countries could benefit from technical assistance and capacity building, if they were provided in line with their priorities and were delivered upon their request. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda was a great opportunity to strengthen universal peace, and realize the human rights of all with the vision of leaving no one behind. The role of technical assistance and capacity building was essential.
Netherlands, speaking on behalf of a group of 33 States, said the States were deeply concerned about the deterioration of the already catastrophic human rights and humanitarian situation in Yemen, and expressed continued support to the independent investigation into all alleged violations and abuses with a view to ending impunity for crimes committed by all parties to the conflict. The independent investigatory work carried out by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights remained essential for the collection and preservation of all information, while the report it would present to the September Council must provide a basis for starting a process of accountability.
Bahrain, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, underlined the importance of technical assistance and of providing it to all requesting States. The Gulf Cooperation Council categorically rejected any attempt to void the concept of technical assistance of its true meaning. It welcomed the cooperation of the Yemeni national commission of inquiry with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Gulf Cooperation Council valued the submission of the report on the human rights situation in Yemen and systematic violations of human rights perpetrated by the Houthi regime, and reiterated its call on the international community to pursue political consultations to achieve peace in Yemen.
Malta, speaking on behalf of the European Union, confirmed its strong support for the important work carried out by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on technical assistance and capacity building. The European Union recognized the urgent need to bring an end to the human rights violations and abuses in Libya, and the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and Congo, as well as in Yemen. The European Union acknowledged the efforts made by Guinea to achieve reconciliation, and deplored the attacks by violent extremists in Mali. It also followed closely human rights developments in the Central African Republic and Ukraine.
Peru, speaking on behalf of the Core Group on National Policies and Human Rights, expressed satisfaction with the quality of the debate of the workshop on ensuring effective and inclusive mechanisms and methodologies to mainstream human rights in the formulation and implementation of public policies held in Geneva on 5 September 2016, in accordance with resolution 30/24. The Core Group was committed to building on the outcome of the workshop and ensuring the importance of the human-rights based approach to public policies.
Morocco, speaking on behalf of Organisation de La Francophonie, commended the efforts of the authorities in Haiti and encouraged them to continue working with United Nations mechanisms. Concern was expressed about the situation in Mali, and the international community and countries in the region should help Mali provide a response to security issues. The Central African Republic was in a serious human rights situation in some prefectures, and the country was encouraged to do its utmost to ensure that peace and security were restored nationwide. Guinea should implement its action plan, reform the justice system and combat female genital mutilation. The international community was called on to support the draft resolution on the Voluntary Trust Fund.
Sudan, speaking on behalf of a group of 20 States, said the human rights situation in Yemen required attention and the rejection of the rebels to comply with the peaceful solution was deeply concerning. The killing of civilians was condemned, and the United Nations and its Special Envoy were called on to bring the parties into dialogue in line with the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative. All parties were called on to fully respect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and those responsible for violations needed to be held accountable. The Yemeni national commission of inquiry was welcomed, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was called on to provide technical assistance in that regard.
United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of a group of 45 States, said the Council’s broad mandate and the cause of human rights could be helped by better identifying where the enjoyment of human rights had been strengthened through positive State engagement with the Council and the wider United Nations human rights system. The group of countries were committed to developing a platform that celebrated success and shared good practices on how this was achieved. The Council still needed to take appropriate preventive action, react with concern to deteriorating global situations, and respond to human rights emergencies, but that was only part of the work and the duty of the Council. Developing such a platform could serve as an inspiration for others, encouraging a race to the top.
Switzerland commended the essential work of the Office in Yemen and remained concerned about systematic and serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law being committed by all parties to this conflict. All parties should facilitate access to the High Commissioner’s team entrusted with the task of documenting the human rights situation in the country. In Afghanistan, civilians were those most affected by the conflict, and Switzerland urged all parties to refrain from attacking civilians and civilian infrastructure.
Brazil said that technical assistance and capacity building were one of the main pillars of the Human Rights Council and welcomed the views of those countries which benefitted from such initiatives on how to improve and strengthen the current mechanisms. While the monitoring of situations that required the Council’s attention remained necessary, the cooperative nature of the Council must be reinforced in all its aspects, to the benefit and the credibility of the Council itself.
United Kingdom welcomed the commitment of the new President of Haiti to address human rights challenges and was disappointed that the mandate of the Independent Expert would not be renewed. The Democratic Republic of the Congo should investigate the alleged shootings of civilians by the army in the Kasai region. The lack of progress on the Peace and Reconciliation Accord in Mali was concerning; all parties should combat violent extremism and create a less permissive environment for terrorist groups and organized crime networks. The United Kingdom announced it would host an international conference on Somalia this spring.
China noted that technical assistance and capacity building were one of the main mandates of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and should be the priority of its work. Technical assistance and capacity building should be dispensed in line with the principles of the United Nations Charter and according to the will and needs of concerned countries, and never imposed. It was important to raise transparency and fund-raising for technical assistance. China condemned the use of naming and shaming, and the politicization of human rights. It called on all parties to exchange views on an equal footing when discussing item 10 on technical assistance and capacity building.
Netherlands recognized the important steps taken by the Central African Republic to improve the situation in the country, but it remained worried about the general weakness of the justice system. In Ukraine, the Netherlands was deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation of human rights in Crimea and the rights of ethnic minorities. The Netherlands underlined its support to Mali to defend itself from extremist groups. It welcomed the constructive cooperation between Libya and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and called on all parties to cease hostilities.
United States extended condolences to the delegation of the United Kingdom for yesterday’s attack in London. The United States was troubled by the anti-democratic actions in Cambodia, such as the jailing of opposition politicians and civil society figures. It commended Colombia for having extended the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and it encouraged Bolivia to extend the mandate of the Office there. It also commended the work of the offices in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.
Saudi Arabia welcomed the report of the national commission of inquiry in Yemen and urged the implementation of the Human Rights Council resolution 33/16, as well as the recruitment of additional human rights monitors to support the work of the national commission. Saudi Arabia welcomed the efforts of the Yemeni authorities who sought the improvement of the living conditions of the people, and the peace dialogue on the initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Everyone should avoid dealing with the puchists and thus giving them credibility and recognition.
Iraq welcomed the international efforts to deal with the crisis in Yemen and find a peaceful solution. It was necessary to establish a dialogue between all stakeholders without external influence; it was a Yemeni crisis which must be dealt with by the Yemenis. All parties should adopt cooperate to put an end to this crisis. Iraq was ready to support all attempts to find peace in Yemen and address the humanitarian situation of civilians, and urged all States to support Yemen in emerging from the crisis.
Bolivia was concerned about the politicization of the agenda item on technical assistance and capacity building and stressed it was possible to strengthen international cooperation in the field of human rights without arbitrariness. Respect for diversity was the way forward and finger-pointing was counterproductive. The principle of universality drew strength from multi-culturalism, and it required exchanges between peers on an equal footing.
Bhutan, speaking on behalf of a group of 11 least developed countries beneficiaries of the Voluntary Trust Fund, hailed the initiative which enabled their participation in the work of the Council and ensured that those countries were not left behind. The presence of those countries in the Council was a steep learning process for them as they learned the human rights architecture, and the fundamental importance of knowing better that human rights mattered for all humanity. All delegations should lend their support for the resolution on the Voluntary Trust Fund.
Canada noted that the independent competences of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and its mandate holders and Special Procedures in the area of technical assistance and capacity building had resulted in concrete results on the ground. It was for that reason that Canada would support the four resolutions on this subject presented to the Council during the thirty-fourth session.
France commended the measures taken by the new President of The Gambia to create a commission of inquiry to investigate disappearances that had taken place during the previous regime. In Cambodia, France stressed the need to build the rule of law, pluralistic democracy and respect for human rights. In Tunisia it noted that it was important for the Council to pursue its assistance to the authorities. France would continue to mobilize and finance the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Australia strongly supported the Council’s role in providing technical assistance to build States’ capacity, and to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights. Australia would continue to support the work of the Regional Office of the OHCHR in Suva, which provided vital capacity building and technical assistance in promoting human rights in the Pacific.
Maldives expressed regret that in the Council, the smallest and most vulnerable countries, which were most in need of protection, were often left without a seat at the table. In the case of small island developing States, financial and capacity constraints remained an ever-present challenge, and they had a valuable contribution to make. Token engagement was not enough to overcome the overwhelming silence of their voices on certain issues. The creation of the Voluntary Trust Fund was meant to address this problem over the long term for both least developed countries and small island developing States.
Thailand said that at the upcoming June session the Council would hold its annual discussion on technical assistance and capacity building, which would be a timely opportunity to evaluate achievements and shortcomings. Drawing on experiences of States, the Office and other stakeholders, the international community could build on its past successes, address existing challenges, and discuss innovative approaches to better promote and protect human rights.
Gulf Cooperation Council called for even more support for the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights and stressed the importance of technical assistance and capacity building in States to help them overcome human rights challenges. The Gulf Cooperation Council noted the update on the situation in Yemen and underlined the efforts of the Government and the national commissions of inquiry in documenting violations of human rights. The thematic report of the commission was welcomed and the work of the commission should be supported.
Myanmar welcomed the contributions of the Trust Fund to help least developed countries and small island developing States, noting that it had assisted over 51 such States since its inception in 2014. Most of the countries were facing challenges in the promotion and protection of human rights due to limited resources and shortage of technical skills. Technical assistance should be provided on the basis of the request of the country concerned.
Chad supported the mandate of the Board of the Voluntary Trust Fund and appreciated the technical support and capacity building programmes for national institutions, especially for legislative, judiciary and human rights bodies. Chad was strongly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and attached great importance to the role of the United Nations in this domain.
Russian Federation noted that States had the primary responsibility to protect human rights, while the international community should provide them with the necessary assistance. Activities of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights needed improvement, particularly with respect to the requests of developing States which remained unanswered. The Russian Federation noted the negative trend of totally unjustified demands on States. Such activities did not help advance dialogue.
Jordan said that technical assistance was necessary in a way that was appropriate for each country’s needs. As for Libya, the country should be able to face terrorism and find stability and peace. With respect to Yemen, Jordan had rejected any attempt to impose external interference in the country’s affairs. Jordan called for the strengthening of negotiations between all stakeholders in Yemen to broker a deal.
Sierra Leone stated that the pleas for financial and technical assistance to address accepted recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review should be heeded. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights needed to be able to assist more States that were requesting assistance. Sierra Leone called on all donors to consider continuing and increasing their contributions.
Sudan deplored the continuing decrease in voluntary contributions to the Fund, particularly in the last three years, which was having a negative impact. Sudan welcomed the visit by the High Commissioner’s technical committee to Sudan with a view to enhance human rights capacity building under item 10 on technical assistance and capacity building. Sudan reiterated that the realization of the right to development could contribute to participatory and inclusive development.
Cambodia said that the statements on the situation of human rights in Cambodia ignored the reality on the ground. Cambodia was a member of nine core human rights treaties, and had extended the presence of the OHCHR office in Cambodia for another two years. Cambodia was aware of all its responsibilities prescribed by treaties to which it was a party. Some delegations applied double standards to human rights issues.
Afghanistan independent Human Rights Commission stated that civilian casualties must be avoided during anti-terrorism campaigns. The Afghan Government had to put an end to the culture of impunity. Anti-government elements needed to put a stop to extrajudicial killings and violence against women and girls. Host countries were asked to stop deportations of Afghan refugees. The Special Rapporteur on Torture should be invited to visit Afghanistan.
Advocates for Human Rights noted that South Africa’s laws were designed to promote the human rights of the black population through affirmative action, but those laws excluded the coloured people of South Africa. During apartheid, the coloured had not been white enough to enjoy their own full human rights, and now they were not black enough. Human rights of all people, including the coloured people, ought to be safeguarded.
Conseil International pour le soutien à des procès équitables et aux Droits de l’Homme noted that a culture of human rights was not a luxury, but a need. It depended on the provision of adequate education. The organization called on the Council to consider the human rights situation in Yemen, where people faced violations perpetrated primarily by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. A number of judgments had been issued in absentia, including capital punishment.
Amnesty International reminded that two years ago the Saudi Arabia-led coalition had launched air strikes on the Houthi-armed group in Yemen, leading to more than 12,000 civilians killed or injured. It expressed concern that the Saudi Arabia-led joint incidents assessment team and the Yemeni national commission of inquiry appeared to fall short of international standards, particularly with respect to transparency and impartiality.
International Lesbian and Gay Association welcomed the fact that New Zealand, Germany and the United Kingdom had announced that people convicted of homosexuality under former laws could apply for pardons. It also took positive note of positive developments in Viet Nam, Finland, Lebanon, Peru, Zambia, Iraq and Barbados.
Human Rights Watch said it had documented 62 apparently indiscriminate coalition airstrikes on Yemen and 18 more where the coalition had used banned munitions. The Council should create an independent, international investigative mechanism to examine abuses by all sides in Yemen. Until then, it should ensure that States supported the investigative efforts of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
L’Observatoire Mauritanien des Droits de l’Homme et de la Démocratie said that justice delayed for the Tamils was justice denied. Collaborating with a genocidal State was a shame to humanity. How was the world allowing a perpetrator of heinous crimes to co-sponsor a resolution against itself? The international community should come forward to cease relations with the Sri Lankan State in order to protect the lives of Eelam Tamil women and children.
Liberation brought the Council’s attention to the peculiar case of the non-autonomous territory of Western Sahara, which was in urgent need of technical assistance and capacity building. The importance of opening the channels and ways of cooperation between the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Saharawi National Commission of Human Rights was emphasized.
Association for Integration and Sustainable Development in Burundi urged the High Commissioner to provide technical assistance and capacity building to the countries affected by caste-based discrimination, including India. In Gujrat State, for example, Dalit women had been beaten naked because they had tried to access the water from upper caste localities.
Prahar appealed to the Council and other treaty bodies and human rights mechanisms to take adequate action for the Assamese script and culture so that it could come back from the path of vanishing. The Council was urged to develop a plan of action for the provision of technical assistance to the Government of India.
Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme welcomed the opening of different country offices of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Africa to increase capacity building and technical assistance in several countries. It was concerned about the intensification of violence in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo to open up to human rights mandate holders. It also called on parties in Ukraine to observe the ceasefire.
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination remained concerned about the failure of the international community to take effective measures to alleviate the dramatic worsening of the conditions in Yemen. Iran, which had been accused of initiating the conflict in Yemen, remained deeply involved there. The international community had to take all measures to stop such an illegal interference.
Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association reminded that the Indian Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958 had enabled the Indian army and paramilitary forces to operate in north-east India and Jammu and Kashmir. The Human Rights Council should communicate with India to investigate the committed crimes under that act.
Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee highlighted the dehumanizing practice of manual scavenging in India. Since scavenging work was caste-based, it was considered compulsory for a particular caste within the Dalit community. It had not remained merely an occupation, but had continued as a practice and custom. The system had rendered a vast majority of oppressed people who were considered “untouchables” deprived of their social, economic and political rights.
Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain was worried about the lack of technical cooperation between Bahrain and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, despite the claims that such cooperation was forthcoming. The Government had not accepted favourable conditions for the technical cooperation programme to have a positive outcome. Bahrain was demonstrating an attitude running contrary to the spirit of cooperation.
Alsalam Foundation said that the situation of human rights in Bahrain had reached deplorable levels. Recently, there had been an upsurge of human rights violations in the country. Any cooperation that did not go hand in hand with concrete measures could not lead to positive outcomes. Security forces had perpetrated violations of human rights in Bahrain.
Iraqi Development Organization drew attention to the Council’s failure to set up an international commission of inquiry into human rights violations committed in Yemen. The exiled Government was involved in the violation of human rights. The Saudi coalition had used barrel bombs against civilians on at least 60 occasions, and had caused the largest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.
United Nations Watch urged the United Nations to do everything it could to stop rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. An environment of safety and confidentiality for victims had to be created so that they could report abuses. An estimated 1.7 million women were estimated to have been raped in the country. More needed to be done to increase speed, accuracy and effectiveness of reports and to protect innocent women.
CIRID (Centre Independent de Recherches et d'Iniatives pour le Dialogue), in a joint statement with, OCAPROCE Internationale, asked about the role played by the Yemeni national commission of inquiry in the investigation of human rights violations in Yemen. The Commission could not access a number of regions in the country, and faced a number of obstacles in the area of oversight. It called for strengthening of assessment mechanisms.
ANAJA drew attention to the human rights situation in Iran, where the oppression of ethnic and religious minorities was ongoing. The Iranian Government did not stop at resorting to torture and doing away with human rights defenders. The use of all languages other than Farsi at school was prohibited, and Kurds were still marginalized and oppressed. The number of executions of Kurdish citizens was high. The Council should extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.
Tourner la page called for the right to self-determination of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, noting that the security and judicial sector in the country was not sufficiently transparent and impartial to investigate the cases of past crimes. It called on the Council to establish a mandate on the situation of Tamils.
Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development expressed concern about the human rights situation in Yemen and the need to scale up technical assistance. Yemen needed guarantees of human rights and should transpose them into domestic laws. It needed to strengthen its human rights institutions and to set up national plans to protect human rights, particularly to protect those most vulnerable.
Ecumenical Alliance for Human Rights and Development drew the Council’s attention to the crimes perpetrated by the Houthi militias in Yemen. The Houthi forces had indiscriminately shelled civilian areas and committed murder and torture. Stability and security needed to be established in Yemen, and the legitimate Government supported. The militias ought to be held accountable for the crimes they had committed.
Association des étudiants tamouls de France asked that necessary technical assistance be provided to the people of Eelam Tamil until they enjoyed their right to self-determination. An international investigation had to be established into the crimes against humanity and genocide by the Sri Lankan security forces. Victims had their reservations regarding the Hybrid Court. The State that had committed genocide could not be party to an investigation.
Save the Children International, in a joint statement with, Cooperazione Internazionale; Mercy Corps; Action Against Hunger; Defence for Children International; Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies; and Norwegian Refugee Council, expressed concern over the rapidly deteriorating situation in Yemen, which was in a perfect storm of humanitarian, protection and economic crises. An estimated 18.8 million people needed humanitarian assistance, of whom 10 million were children. All parties to the conflict were urged to respect international humanitarian law. An independent investigation was needed.
International Buddhist Relief Organization noted that the Sri Lankan forces had defeated the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world, the Tamil Tigers. In the process, 29,000 soldiers had been killed in action. While more than 50 per cent of Tamils lived in the south, there were no Sinhalese and Muslims living in the north after the ethnic cleansing by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Centre for Organisation of Research and Education said people were aware that in spite of the principle of equality, racism existed in Indian society. The issue of caste discrimination should be on the Council’s agenda. Many Dalits were experiencing modern forms of slavery. The Council was urged to develop a plan of action to better protect minority rights, especially those of Dalits.
Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy said technical assistance and capacity-building was important for developing countries. But it was concerning that some misused that, affecting people in Baluchistan who had been forcefully displaced from their home towns. Chinese and Pakistani companies were drilling for gas, while locals were being deprived. The State had responded with violence. The speaker called for the Human Rights Council to “please save us”.
Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association spoke as the coordinator for hundreds of Egyptian non-governmental organizations and stated that the support of the Fund should be extended to civil society sponsoring their initiatives. A deeper partnership between the Universal Periodic Review and civil society was encouraged. The Fund had high costs in some areas, and it was called on to explain the nature of technical interventions which had resulted in good outcomes in some countries.
Association of World Citizens stated that hundreds of media outlets had been closed following the attempted coup d’etat in Turkey. Turkey was being driven by a fascist force, and hundreds of journalists and politicians were in prison. Peaceful protests were not allowed in many places, and there was no freedom of speech, press or association.
Society for Development and Community Empowerment said that the Tamil people needed technical support and assistance until they were given the right of self-determination. Many cases of enforced disappearances were taking place as part of arbitrary arrests. Concern was expressed over the Swiss Embassy’s policy in Colombo, which denied visas to some Tamil human rights activists.
Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul stated that the Tamil people were in urgent need of capacity building and technical assistance until they were given the right to self-determination. The activities of the Sri Lankan State against the Tamils had been of a genocidal nature. Various commissions of inquiry in Sri Lanka had all failed to deliver justice. Justice delayed was justice denied, stressed the speaker.
Association Soldiarite Internationale pour l’Afrique said that the national question in the island of Sri Lanka could not be resolved without eliminating the genocidal character of the State itself. The Council was urged to re-evaluate its approach by investigating the approach itself, which was the real problem.
Indian Council of South America noted that the United States had violated the Constitution of the United States and its international law obligations by unilaterally annexing Alaska. The removal of environmental safeguards by the current United States Administration could serve as an example for reckless endangerment for life and the land.
Right of Reply
Pakistan, speaking in a right of reply, said continued political volatility in Afghanistan was a cause for concern for the international community. Pinning the blame elsewhere was not appropriate. Had Afghanistan forgotten how Pakistan had welcomed Afghans with open arms, with the people of Pakistan hosting over 6 million Afghan citizens? The responsibility of a recent terrorist attack had been claimed by Da’esh, which was a common enemy. By the resilience of its people, Pakistan had broken the back of terrorist outlets. The Afghan Government tried to shroud its failures by shifting the blame to Pakistan. Pakistan’s innocent people were at risk from terrorist attacks from across the border. Pakistan preferred dialogue over conflict.
Afghanistan, speaking in a right of reply, said Afghanistan had always preferred communication over confrontation, and had always taken the position that peace in Afghanistan was important both for Afghanistan and for its neighbours. Osama bin Laden had been tracked down in Pakistan a few years ago. Mullah Mansour had been killed on Pakistani territory. The facts presented earlier were not rhetoric from Kabul but hard-core facts. From January until the present, the Pakistani military had violated the frontier several times. In an effort to inflate ambiguity, Pakistan had sent a list of terrorists which had been found to be in desperate need of verification. Afghanistan was fighting 20 groups recognized as terrorists. Afghanistan was trying to overcome its challenges.
China, speaking in a right of reply, said it opposed the statement by some non-governmental organizations which had mentioned things which had nothing to do with the agenda item, and whose wording to describe the Chinese-Pakistani economic corridor was objected to. The corridor was an important part of Chinese initiatives, and it was not just in the interest of the economic development of China and Pakistan, but would promote trade in the region. The construction of the corridor had support, and China joined Pakistan in promoting it. China rejected certain non-governmental organizations bringing up issues which had nothing to do with the agenda item.
Pakistan, speaking in a second right of reply, rejected the assertions by Afghanistan. There had been no improvement of the situation in Afghanistan, and the suffering of the people threatened international peace and security. The international community needed to evaluate the deteriorating security situation. The magnitude and complexity of challenges faced by Afghanistan were understandable, but there were opportunities too, and cooperative mechanisms needed to be used to address the unprecedented challenges of terrorism and extremism. The people of Afghanistan and Pakistan shared a destiny, and Pakistan was ready to support its Afghan brothers and sisters to bring peace and stability to the region.
Democratic Republic of the Congo, speaking in a right of reply, underscored that the current mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been revised by the Security Council so that it could protect the civilian population. Some non-governmental organizations had alleged violations of human rights in the country without providing any facts. The official Armed Forces did not recruit children; that condemnable practice was done by various armed groups. The Joint Office of the High Commissioner in the country had also received a clear mandate to look into various allegations of human rights abuses. Perpetrators, no matter who they were, should be brought to court.
Afghanistan, speaking in a second right of reply, thanked Pakistan for the help provided to Afghan refugees over recent years. The evidence presented by Afghanistan in the Council was made up of hard facts. Afghanistan was facing serious challenges, but had also made commendable achievements, especially given the history and the current environment. Pakistan should concentrate its generous support to the joint effort to combat terrorism. Afghanistan and Pakistan were on the same boat, an honest united front was needed.
For use of the information media; not an official record
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Summary of key findings Despite specific conditions and characteristics particular to the southern route, this paper’s findings are generally consistent with the dynamics of migrant smuggling along all routes out of the Horn of Africa.
Using a combination of primary and secondary sources, as well as new data from the RMMS Mixed Migration Monitoring Mechanism Initiative (4Mi), the paper finds that migrant smuggling along the southern route continues to thrive and exposes migrants in mixed flows to high levels of abuse and risk.2
As an update to the International Organization of Migration’s seminal 2009 study3 on migrant smuggling along the southern route, it shows that the following trends and characteristics define the dynamic:
Irregular movement between the Horn of Africa and southern Africa continues to be possible and arguably there are more routes available to smugglers and migrants than in 2008/9.
The dynamic is dominated by smuggling as the primary criminal enterprise. Trafficking is uncommon although migrants report cases of kidnapping, extortion and exploitation, both labour and sexual. Nevertheless, as the role of the smuggler is increasingly aligned with criminal activities, the definitional difference between smuggling and trafficking is being tested and, in some cases, may appear academic.
Consistent with the findings of the 2009 study, Ethiopians make up the majority of those being smuggled into South Africa from the Horn. Interviews with migrants and migration experts in 2015 suggested 80 percent of migrants from the Horn of Africa were Ethiopian and 20 percent Somali, with almost no evidence of flows from Eritrea.
The flows continue to be complex with economic migrants travelling alongside refugees. Most refugees are Somalis although most Ethiopians also apply for asylum on arrival.
Compiling accurate estimates of how many people are on the move remains difficult. Unlike in 2008/9, when a strategic bottleneck in the flow of migrants into the Republic of South Africa (RSA) allowed researchers to credibly estimate numbers, no such bottlenecks existed in 2015/16. However critical assessment of Ethiopian asylum applications in South Africa provides some indication of the numbers making the journey.
As explained more fully below, the writers conclude that present flows into South Africa from the Horn of Africa are lower than in 2008/9. At that time, it was estimated that 17,000–20,000 Somalis and Ethiopians entered South Africa irregularly every year. This paper estimates the current rate at 13,400–14,050 per year.
However, the number of people leaving the Horn via the southern route may be higher, probably 14,750– 16,850.
The multiple reasons for this decline may include: Europe’s greater attraction as a destination and perceptions of how easy it was to reach the continent from 2013–2016; the fact that Ethiopians were able to masquerade as Eritrean at a time when Eritreans were achieving very high acceptance rates as refugees in Europe; continued and vicious ‘Afrophobic’ attacks against migrants, and particularly Somalis engaged in business, in South Africa; policy changes that have made it harder for asylum seekers to achieve refugee status in RSA; and growing intolerance towards foreigners both within the administration and among the general public.
The 2009 study highlighted protection risks faced by migrants, not only along the southern route but also within South Africa. Evidence suggests that significant human rights violations take place along the way and once within South Africa, migrants and refugees also commonly face violence and prejudice, discrimination and abuse.
It appears that migrant smuggling along the southern route has become more violent and exploitative with kidnapping or holding for ransom of smuggled people by smugglers becoming more common. In IOM’s 2009 study, no migrants reported being held for ransom, except by police and prison officials in certain cases. Now kidnapping and ransom demands seem to have become more prevalent and almost normalised, as is the case on the eastern route towards Yemen and Saudi Arabia. While there is still less associated violence on the southern route, it is clear that within the smuggling economy migrants are viewed as commodities.
There is some evidence that the smuggling economy has begun to attract more organised criminals.
Smugglers sometimes enjoy impunity from prosecution despite national laws against smuggling and trafficking in many of the countries in which they operate. Government and security officials have been said to be involved, directly and indirectly, in the trade.
With the average cost of the trip from the Horn of Africa to South Africa increasing by almost 69 percent from 2009–2016, the smuggling economy remains extremely lucrative for those involved, with high profits matched by low risks. Collusion and corruption, involving state officials, are essential lubricants of the smuggling machine. For migrants, the risk of failure is low with most reaching South Africa despite abuses by smugglers or officials, and other risks.
With earnings rising faster than inflation, the profits from this illicit industry appear to be higher in 2016 than in 2008/9, despite the decline in the number of migrants. In 2008/9, the illicit migrant smuggling economy was estimated to be worth at least USD 40 million per year. For 2015/16, RMMS estimates it was worth up to USD 47 million per annum. These estimates are based on fees paid to smugglers but the rising prevalence of ransom demands means actual earnings are likely much higher.