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- 03/24/15--02:38: _Cameroon: Solar wat...
- 03/24/15--05:24: _Niger: Niger – Régi...
- 03/24/15--07:00: _World: Global Emerg...
- 03/24/15--09:21: _Nigeria: Out-of-sch...
- 03/24/15--10:50: _Niger: Sahel Operat...
- 03/24/15--11:49: _Niger: Nigerian Ref...
- 03/24/15--13:32: _World: Oxfam Emerge...
- 03/24/15--13:40: _Haiti: Human Rights...
- 03/24/15--17:33: _Nigeria: Life-savin...
- 03/24/15--19:10: _Chad: Forcé de fuir...
- 03/24/15--22:42: _Senegal: Sénégal Mi...
- 03/25/15--03:17: _Mali: Mali: SRP 201...
- 03/25/15--05:03: _Mali: Peace & Secur...
- 03/25/15--06:06: _World: Global Food ...
- 03/25/15--07:12: _Mali: Mali Regional...
- 03/25/15--09:25: _Nigeria: Nigerian A...
- 03/25/15--10:03: _Côte d'Ivoire: West...
- 03/25/15--10:10: _Côte d'Ivoire: Régi...
- 03/25/15--10:16: _Nigeria: Will Voter...
- 03/25/15--09:25: _Nigeria: Nigeria ti...
- 03/24/15--02:38: Cameroon: Solar water system douses risks in Cameroon's arid north
- 03/24/15--07:00: World: Global Emergency Overview Snapshot 18–24 March 2015
- 03/24/15--09:21: Nigeria: Out-of-school children: Nigeria's ticking time bomb
- Fears for the future -
- School programmes -
- 03/24/15--11:49: Niger: Nigerian Refugees Receive Food As Border Violence Continues
- 03/24/15--13:32: World: Oxfam Emergencies updates: 26 February to 23 March 2015
- 03/24/15--22:42: Senegal: Sénégal Mise à jour sur la sécurité alimentaire Mars 2015
Les perspectives de production des contre-saisons maraichères et de riz sont moyennes à bonnes dans le pays. Les revenus issus du maraichage jusqu’en avril et la disponibilité des récoltes de riz en juin-juillet amélioreront les revenus et l’alimentation dans les zones concernées.
La faible mobilisation de financement pour la campagne de commercialisation de l’arachide affecte négativement le revenu des producteurs qui se rabattent vers les marchés hebdomadaires pour des prix inférieurs à 12,5 pour cent au prix officiel. La vente de céréales à la place de l’arachide rehausse la vulnérabilité des ménages agropasteur.
Les mauvaises conditions d’élevage dans le nord et le centre du pays engendreront une baisse de la disponibilité en produits laitiers pour les ménages. La baisse des productions et le risque de mortalité plus élevé que la moyenne affecteront négativement le revenu et la consommation des produits d’origine animale des ménages agropasteurs et éleveurs.
La baisse de revenu globale par rapport à la moyenne face à des besoins plus élevés que d’habitude à cause de l’épuisement précoce des stocks des récoltes (mars contre juin en année normale) ne permet pas aux ménages pauvres de satisfaire leurs besoins alimentaires. Par conséquent, ils seront en insécurité alimentaire aiguë de Stress (Phase 2 de l’IPC) de mars à avril et de Crise (Phase 3 de l’IPC) à partir de mai.
- 03/25/15--05:03: Mali: Peace & Security Council Report No 67, March 2015
- 03/25/15--06:06: World: Global Food Security Update, Issue 17 - March 2015
Conflict in Iraq has disrupted food markets, leading to price hikes in Anbar, Salah Al-Din and Kirkuk. According to the 2014-2015 Strategic Response Plan, around 5.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and over 2.5 million people are currently displaced.
In Syria, 9.8 million people require food, agriculture and livelihoods-related assistance, according to the Food Security and Livelihoods sector analysis. Of these, around 6.8 million people live in high priority districts and need critical food assistance.
In South Sudan, 2.5 million people are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of food insecurity because conflict has displaced the population, reduced food production and disrupted markets. Phase 4 Emergency conditions now prevail in parts of Jonglei and Unity.
Floods have displaced 230,000 people in Malawi, 50,000 in Mozambique and 39,000 in Madagascar, in locations already vulnerable to food and nutrition security.
The Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has disrupted markets and trade and led to increasing food insecurity. According to the Cadre Harmonisé, as of March, 1.2 million people are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), a figure that is expected to rise to 2.2 million in June.
Conflict in northern Nigeria is leading to massive population displacement, disrupted markets and insecurity in bordering areas of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
The ‘short rains’ (‘Deyr’) season of late 2014 has performed poorly across East Africa. North-east Kenya and southern Somalia have been affected by persistently drier than average conditions. This compounds the effect of significant rainfall deficits during previous seasons, resulting in extended longterm dryness affecting pastoralist resources.
South Africa’s first maize production forecast estimates the 2015 harvest to be the worst in 8 years, with a drop of 21 percent relative to the five-year average and 32 percent less than last year’s bumper crop.
Drought in Central America has left 2.1 million people food insecure. The affected people will require more food assistance than usual until the next harvest in August.
Tropical Cyclone Pam made landfall on March 13 near the islands of Vanuatu with sustained wind speeds of 270 km/h. Initial estimates of humanitarian impact suggest large devastation, with about 170,000 people, of which 20,000 were identified as poor, being affected.
- 03/25/15--07:12: Mali: Mali Regional Crisis Situation Report #1, 25 March 2015
Through PRRO 200719, WFP aims to assist up to 1.1 million beneficiaries this year through targeted general food distributions (GFD), school feeding, nutrition and food assistance for assets (FFA).
WFP’s operations in the north of Mali are increasingly impacted by insecurity. A WFP cooperating partner in Algouni (Timbuktu region) has left due to insecurity, significantly impacting WFP’s nutrition activities.
The security situation in the Youwarou and Tenenkou Cercles (Mopti region) is also constraining monitoring activities by WFP staff. As of February, four schools assisted by school feeding programme have closed due to insecurity.
In 2015, WFP is targeting up to 32,000 Malian refu-gees in Burkina Faso affected by continued insecurity in northern Mali. They are being assisted through GFD, targeted supplementary food assistance (TSF) and emergency school feeding. In February, WFP reached some 31,000 Malian refugees in Burkina Faso.
In January and February, Burkina Faso experienced a slight influx of refugees from Mali with the arrival of almost 300 individuals.
If no immediate contributions are received, WFP will experience deficits for GFD from April to June, and is looking into regional loans and cutting rations.
In February, WFP reached over 51,000 Malian refu-gees in Mauritania. However, breaks in the food sup-ply pipeline forced WFP to reduce the ration distribut-ed to refugees in February. WFP also suspended its March distributions due to lack of resources. Loans from another WFP project are being considered to continue emergency school feeding and nutrition ac-tivities.
Preliminary results of the Food Security monitoring survey conducted in December 2014 by the Commis-sariat à la Securité Alimentaire show continued dete-rioration of food security, with levels similar to 2011.
In February, WFP reached some 43,000 Malian refu-gees in camps and hosting sites in Niger.
WFP has been conducting mVAM assessments in the Abala camp (Tillaberi region) since January 2015. The mVAM project entails food security data collec-tion from households through mobile phone surveys. This enables the rapid detection of any deterioration in the food security situation of households and the appropriate response (e.g. launching of alerts or more in-depth assessments). According to the second round of mVAM that was conducted at the end of February, the refugees’ food security situation can be considered as fragile.
- 03/25/15--09:25: Nigeria: Nigerian Army chief vows crackdown on election unrest
- 03/25/15--09:25: Nigeria: Nigeria tightens security before presidential polls
- Border closure -
- 'Wrath of the law' -
Author: Elias Ntungwe Ngalame
MINDIF, Cameroon, March 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A pioneering solar-powered water distribution system is improving access to potable water in a region of Far North Cameroon beset by drought, water-related illness and an influx of refugees fleeing Boko Haram attacks.
Suite à la récente extension du conflit du nord-est Nigéria au Niger, d’importants mouvements de populations ont été constatés dans la région de Diffa au Niger.
Face à cette nouvelle situation, un groupe inter-agences composés de 14 entités s’est formé pour effectuer une évaluation rapide des besoins de première nécessité des populations déplacées.
L’évaluation a été pilotée par le gouvernorat de Diffa, en collaboration avec OCHA et avec le soutien des organisations suivantes: HCR, UNICEF, PAM, CICR, OIM, ACTED, IRC, SCI, CARE, IEDA, APBE et COOPI. L’évaluation s’est déroulée dans 10 localités entre le 19 et le 26 février 2015.
Cette évaluation était composée d’un questionnaire administré à 475 ménages (réfugiés nigérians, retournés nigériens et populations hôtes nigériennes) dans les 10 localités, mais aussi d’une observation participante assortie d’entretiens semi- dirigés. Ce document porte sur les informations liées aux questionnaires administrés.
Le questionnaire administré s’est concentré sur huit (8) thématiques différentes: localisation des ménages déplacés, caractéristiques des ménages, besoins prioritaires, eau et hygiène, santé, consommation alimentaire, abris et NFI et intentions à court terme.
Il est à noter qu’en raison des contraintes sécuritaires, plusieurs localités accueillant un nombre important de personnes déplacées n’ont pas pu être évaluées. De plus, dans les localités visitées, le ciblage des ménages enquêtés n’a pas seulement été focalisé sur les ménages déplacés suites aux récents événements.
Les résultats de l’évaluation rapide par questionnaires font toutefois état d’une situation très critique dans la région parmi les ménages enquêtés. Ces ménages sont très démunis et ne peuvent compter quasiment que sur le soutien de la population hôte, déjà sous pression, pour assurer leur subsistance et leur survie. Les premiers besoins vitaux (eau et nourriture) ne sont pas suffisamment couverts et les populations vulnérables (enfants de moins de 5 ans, femmes allaitantes et enceintes, mineurs isolés) représentent 42% des personnes dans les ménages enquêtés.
Snapshot 18-24 March 2015
Syria: The Government carried out over 10,000 airstrikes between October and March, dropping more than 5,300 barrel bombs and killing almost 2,200 civilians. A chlorine attack on 16 March in Idleb killed six people.
Yemen: Conflict is escalating as Houthi forces seized part of Taizz city and its military airbase, and have sent further reinforcements south. Eleven people were killed and at least 63 wounded when special forces loyal to the Houthis tried to seize control of Aden's airport.Troops loyal to President Hadi have reportedly deployed in Lahj in anticipation of a possible Houthi advance. Islamic State claimed responsibility for attacks on mosques in Sanaa that killed 142 and injured more than 350.
Updated: 24/03/2015. Next update: 31/03/2015
Kano, Nigeria | Tuesday 3/24/2015 - 15:11 GMT |
Bello Shehu is 12 years old. Under a scorching sun, he sells sachets of purified water to motorists caught in traffic jams in northern Nigeria's largest city, Kano.
"My family is poor and I have to vend water to assist," said Shehu, who has four siblings, and spends his days weaving in and out of the traffic, breathing in the choking fumes.
"My father is old and without a job. My mother plaits women's hair for a fee but what she makes is too meagre to support us," he told AFP.
Bello is not an isolated case, however, in a region already stricken by high levels of poverty and a country where children work for money to support their families.
Some 10.5 million children in Africa's most populous nation and leading economy are out of school -- the largest number in the world, according to the United Nations.
Many children in the Muslim-majority north have little choice, with schools closed or destroyed by six years of fighting between Boko Haram and the military.
But experts warn that even with recent successes against the militants, Nigeria needs to take urgent action to prevent an entire generation of children missing out on education.
"If nothing is done quickly now, in the next 10 years the Boko Haram insurgency will be child's play," said Mohammed Dongel, who runs a committee to re-open primary schools in Borno state.
"These out of school children are vulnerable to recruitment into evil-doing," the former state education commissioner added.
"More people are being recruited into Boko Haram because of ignorance, poverty and lack of education. If nothing is done about these children, we are sitting on a time bomb."
Boko Haram's rampage in northeast Nigeria, particularly in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, has had an appalling human cost.
More than 13,000 people have been killed since 2009 and some 1.5 million others left homeless. Healthcare provision, agriculture and education have all been devastated.
Of the 1,357 primary schools in Borno alone, accounting for 495,000 pupils, just 400 have reopened, said Dongel.
Boko Haram, which is against "secular" education, has repeatedly attacked schools, students and teachers.
A recent report by the Africa Health, Human and Social Development Information Service indicated that in the northeast, some 52.4 percent of men and boys over the age of six had no education.
The figures were worse for girls and women, rising to 61.1 percent.
But within the average, the figures rose to more than four in five (83.3 percent) of the 1.4 million males in Yobe. In Borno, it was just under two-thirds (63.6 percent) of 2.6 million males.
"Exclusion and marginalisation from modern society on this scale translates into a large pool of resentment and potential sympathisers for Boko Haram," the report said.
"It does not take much imagination to see how the introduction of extremists like Boko Haram... can quickly translate into a significant anti-social movement leading to mass insecurity."
The Nigerian military, hamstrung in its fight against the militants until recently, has enlisted many hundreds of jobless, uneducated young men and boys as civilian vigilantes.
Most them were teenagers and armed with crude, homemade weapons such as bows and arrows, sticks and cudgels. What happens to them when the insurgency is declared over has been a nagging question.
Efforts are being made to address the situation, particularly in the north, where the "Almajiri" system has been revived, teaching Koranic education alongside "Western-style" subjects.
The authorities in Borno, for example, encourage attendance by providing free school uniforms and one meal a day to pupils, said Dongel.
The government and international partners are working in particularly to boost girls' attendance at schools, with some 60 percent of girls in the north out of education.
There are teacher training programmes while a UN-backed Safe Schools scheme, established in the wake of Boko Haram's kidnapping of more than 200 girls last year, has raised $30 million.
Earlier this month, the first stone was laid to rebuild the school in Chibok, Borno state but nearly a year on, there are no signs that the 219 girls still being held will be released.
The Borno Elders Forum of retired military personnel and civil servants has warned that rebuilding will be a long process, both in terms of bricks and mortar and lives.
A "well thought-out plan of action" that enables people to get back to normal was required, the body said last week, recognising that "their trauma will take years to overcome".
© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse
As part of its regional plan, UNHCR in Niger is conducting a return intention survey among Malian refugees who mainly are living in the regions of Tillaberi (3 camps representing 56% ), Tahoua (2 hosting areas 33%) and Niamey (urban refugees 10%).
A target sample of 1,588 registered households was chosen for this quantitative Return Intention Survey which is approximately 25% of the total households of Tillaberi region. The survey process is ongoing in the rest of country (Niamey and Tahoua regions).
The only way to reach Sayam Forage, in a desert area of Niger's eastern edge, is on a bumpy road that never ends. Dusty shrubs flick by. The sameness of the landscape is hypnotic until we finally reach our destination, some 50 kilometres from the border with Nigeria.
Arriving at the camp of Sayam Forage, home to about 1,000 Nigerian refugees, we find Fatma sitting on a bag of rice, under an open tent with fluttering plastic sheets. Despite the wind, the air is hot. It is dusty. It envelops you instantly; you feel your arms heavy, your eyes struggle against the blazing sun.
Fleeing In The Night To Escape The Militia
Next to Fatma, there are other women with children, and some elderly men. They are all waiting patiently for their turn to approach WFP’s food distribution point.
Fatma has already received her monthly food ration. She is just waiting for help to carry it back home. Home is a tent - one of about 1,000 dotting the arid, desert land - where she has been living for 40 days.
What made her come here?
“Fighting,” she says. “My husband myself and all our children were rounded up on a Monday morning and kept captive for three nights. We knew we had to leave. It wasn’t safe. We left in the middle of the night. One of the children was ill, but we had to leave even him in that state. He’s a child we’ve been looking after but he has family in Niger, and once we arrived, we were forced to leave him with his relatives. Here, we are safe at least. We’ve been getting food, and we are being looked after.”Under her orange headscarf, Fatma’s big, brown, moist eyes are in constant motion, running this way and that, as if searching for a way out or a solution. She speaks quickly as if she's been waiting all along for you to come and hear her out, and forces herself to smile from time to time.
Her youngest, a two month old, is sitting on her lap – visibly tired and distressed. Sweat is pouring down her head and face and her eyes are teary.
Sweat is also pouring down the faces of the staff – of WFP and its partners, ACTED and APBE (a local NGO). The distribution area is teeming with staff and refugees; women, men and teenage boys. Oil is being poured into canisters, while millet, spread out on the floor, is being scooped up in bags.
At the entrance, a boy lifts a bag of rice onto his narrow shoulders and passes smiling shyly, heading to his family’s tent.
Receiving WFP Food For The First Time
Fatouma – a widow with four children - has just received her ration. Her two teenage boys help carry the load home, their faces and dark T-shirts covered in dust.
They are newcomers, having arrived just last week, and this is the first time they have received a full ration. Fatouma says that she’s been trying to escape for months. A few weeks ago, she crossed the border by herself, leaving her children on the other side. She wanted to find a safe place first, a home where she could bring the children to. As fighting escalated along the border, fearing for her children’s safety, she went back. They were already on the move, and she met them on the road.
“So far, we feel safe here. We will stay. There is nothing to go back to…Food has been lacking since we’ve been here. I’m glad we received the rations today. I’ll go back and start preparing a meal.”
Asked if she likes cooking, she says ‘yes’. While both women were clearly grateful for the food rations they’ve just received, they spoke dearly of the things they miss from home – their spices, their pots and pans. They were forced to flee with only their clothes on their back. They need clothes and shoes.
Their basic needs are met – there is food, water, medical assistance yet their lives are hard. You wonder what it would be like as the weather gets harsher, the temperature higher.
Leaving the camp, we come across three UNHCR trucks. They are bringing more refugees to the camp – up to 100. There are up to 100 new refugees arriving every second day.
Help From Donors Is Crucial
Along the areas of Niger, Cameroon, Chad that border Nigeria, stories like those of Fatma and Fatouma are sadly too common -- of families torn apart, seeking protection and shelter in camps and with host communities, predicting a future just as uncertain and disrupted as their recent past.
On 11 March, WFP provided vital food assistance to about 1,000 refugees – enough food to cover their needs for one month. The rations comprised millet, oil, pulses, salt, cereal and super cereal for the prevention of malnutrition for children under five years old.
Mothers are taught how to use the super cereal properly in cooking lessons .The nutritional state of the newly arrived children is poor and without help, it can only worsen.
WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa, Denise Brown, says donors’ contribution is critical to meet the urgent and growing needs.
Last month, WFP provided essential food assistance to nearly 40,000 refugees, returnees, internally displaced and people from the host communities in the Diffa region.
For more info visit our Nigeria crisis page
Syria's conflict has entered its fifth year and the overall impression of the crisis is depressing, with no end or possible solution in sight. Oxfam is part of a coalition of agencies which has released a report on the consequences of the armed conflict in Syria four years after the start of the crisis. The report ‘Failing Syria’ calls for immediate steps to effectively implement UN Security Council resolutions and to parties to the conflict in Syria to facilitate humanitarian access to all parts of the country, end attacks on humanitarian workers, and remove administrative barriers to aid. According to the report, 2014 has been the worst year for civilians since 2011, with 76 000 people killed out of an estimated total of at least 220 000 deaths over four years. Read our full press release.
Moreover, last week the #WithSyria coalition of 130 humanitarian and human rights organisations released satellite imagery showing that since March 2011, 83% of Syria’s lights have gone out over the last four years – plunging streets, homes, schools and hospitals into darkness, and gradually extinguishing hope. Vigils and shows of solidarity from Western Sahara to Niger, Zambia, Australia, and many other countries helped shed more attention on Syria, with citizens across the world calling on their governments to urgently take action to boost the humanitarian response, stop attacks on civilians and prioritize a political solution to the crisis with human rights at the heart. So far, 50,000 people have signed the petition carrying this message.
Oxfam continues its work in Syria, where we have recently signed our latest Memorandum with the Water Authority to enable us to continue working and implement various engineering projects. In Jordan, our technical design for extending the water networks into individual homes in Za’atari camp has been approved. This is effectively a general recognition that no one from Za’atari is going anywhere soon and that it is to all intents and purposes a city. We have also just received permission and funding to work outside the camp in Jordanian communities which are hosting large numbers of Syrians.
In Lebanon we continue to work in the North and in the informal tented settlements in Bekaa, where our Protection teams work around the clock providing information and practical support to help refugees get access to vital services (including legal and health). Engineering and health promotion work is largely currently focused on repairing storm damage from the winter. Public opinion in both Jordan and Lebanon is hardening towards refugees, whose situation becomes ever more difficult.
The Human Rights Council this afternoon held separate interactive dialogues with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti and the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali.
Gustavo Gallón, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, reiterated the need to focus on five major issues, namely illiteracy, prolonged pre-trial detention, reparation to victims of past human rights violations, absence of the elections and the living conditions of internally displaced persons. The efforts by the authorities to address literacy were not enough. Haiti still suffered from a serious problem of prison overcrowding, and it was hoped that the new initiative launched by the Prosecutor would release 8,500 persons held in pre-trial detention. Further reforms were needed in the area of elections, including the adoption of a law on elections. The creation of a National Commission for Reparation was needed to face problems with victims of human rights violations by the previous regime, and urgent measures were needed to help the internally displaced persons from the 2010 earthquake.
Haiti, speaking as the concerned country, said the Government had launched a schooling programme and a literacy campaign targeting 2.5 million adults. Considering prison crowding, the “punch” operation had been launched. In 2013, over 5,000 had benefited from this operation. Drastic measures to enable future elections had been taken, including the setting up of a temporal electoral commission, the adoption of an electoral decree, and the announcement of the date of the first elections. Concerning people living in tents, the number had fallen from 1.7 million to under about half a million.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers noted with satisfaction the efforts made by the Government, including the efforts to fight impunity, to ensure democratic elections in 2015, and to fight illiteracy and eradicate poverty and hunger. Challenges still remained in these areas however. Speakers called for municipal elections, and regretted that the precarious living conditions of the majority of the population were still a major issue. Speakers called on the international community to provide funding and to identify new forms of cooperation to support Haiti’s needs. They also called for assistance in ensuring free, fair and inclusive elections in August 2015, fighting social inequality, strengthening the rule of law, and strengthening the resilience to disasters.
Ecuador on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the European Union, Togo, Cuba, Chile, Brazil, Morocco, China, Ecuador, Norway, Mali, the United Kingdom, Senegal, Canada, and France took the floor.
Also speaking in the discussion was United Nations Watch.
Suliman Baldo, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, said that the demand for re-opening peace negotiations by the Coordination of Movements of Azawad placed Mali at a critical juncture of its history. The withdrawal of the civilian authorities from the north following the events of May 2014, in particular the criminal justice system personnel, had enhanced the atmosphere of impunity that reigned there. The people in the north were deprived of access to water, health and education. Sexual violence was widespread. The threat of jihad was at its highest level in the region, and 47 terrorist attacks had occurred. Speedy investigations on violations that had occurred in the north since the onset of conflict in 2012 were mandatory. The authorities needed to refer to the International Criminal Court all international crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations.
Mali, speaking as the concerned country, stated that the Government had undertaken several actions to fight against impunity and re-establish peace and national reconciliation. These steps included efforts to restore judicial administration in the north of the country, to fight against impunity, to implement transitional justice through the Truth and Justice Reconciliation Commission, to reform the National Commission of Human Rights, and to protect the rights of victims. The Government and armed groups had signed the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, however some groups had not respected it.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers noted Mali’s efforts to re-establish constitutional order in the country, its steps taken towards national reconciliation, its efforts to combat impunity and its progress in the peace negotiations. They called on all parties to sign and respect the peace agreement, and to include women in the reconciliation process. They also called on parties to respect human rights and humanitarian law, condemning the serious violations of human rights in the north, and in particular the sexual abuse of women and children by government forces as well as armed groups. The recruitment of children in armed groups was strongly condemned. There was concern about the escalation of rebel activity and terrorist attacks in the north, which impeded the peace efforts made thus far, and the fight against impunity.
Algeria on behalf of the African Group, the European Union, France, Australia, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, United States, Ireland, Germany, Angola, Belgium, Denmark, United Kingdom, Senegal, Algeria, Sudan, Norway, Mauritania, China, Ghana and Egypt took the floor, as did the United Nations Children’s Fund.
The following non-governmental also took the floor: Femmes Africa Solidarité, Espace Afrique International, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Human Rights Watch, International Catholic Child Bureau, Rencontre Africaine Pour la Defense des Droits de l'Homme, and Friedrich Naumann Foundation
The Council will next meet on Wednesday, 25 March 2015, at 9 a.m., to hold its Annual Thematic Discussion on Technical Cooperation.
The Council has before it the report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, Gustavo Gallón (A/HRC/28/82)
Presentation by the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti
GUSTAVO GALLÓN, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, said that in his first report he had called upon the international community to focus on five major issues, namely illiteracy, prolonged pre-trial detention, reparation to victims of past human rights violations, absence of the elections and the living conditions of internally displaced persons. The efforts of the authorities to address literacy were not enough and at this rate would take about 20 years to teach everyone to read. Resources to combat illiteracy must be increased to accelerate this time frame and address social inequality and thus enjoyment of human rights. About 80 per cent of prisoners were deprived of liberty without having gone before the judge. The new initiative launched by the Prosecutor aimed to reduce the number of people in detention, including pre-trial, and it was hoped that, in combination with other measures taken, the great majority of some 8,500 persons held in pre-trial detention would be released. Haiti suffered from a serious problem of prison overcrowding: currently 10,000 people were held in prisons which had capacity for 4,000. Among detainees were also children under the age of 12, which was contrary to international law.
The law on elections had not been adopted and the delay in elections threatened democracy and the rule of law. Social tensions were increasing, and were exacerbated by the loss of purchasing power, while demonstrators were complaining of arbitrary arrests. As far as victims of human rights violations by the previous regime were concerned, the Independent Expert had suggested the creation of the National Commission for Reparation, along the lines of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that had been established following the 1991 coup d’êtat. Further, urgent measures needed to be adopted in order to find a sustainable solution to the problem of persons displaced by the 2010 earthquake. Particular attention should be given to the rights of women in all those areas, and Mr. Gallón said that a specialist had assisted in the preparation of the national report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
Statement by the Concerned Country
Haiti, speaking as the concerned country, stated that it was an honour and pleasure to take part in the Human Rights Council. It thanked the Independent Expert for presenting his report on the human rights situation in Haiti and acknowledged his professional and solidarity efforts in this respect. Haiti wished to provide further information on the efforts made by the Government to establish the rule of law. In the previous report the Independent Expert had emphasized five key areas to be worked on, which the Government had made a priority, including illiteracy, lengthy pre-trial periods, elections, and the conditions of internally displaced people. The Government had launched a schooling programme and a literacy campaign targeting 2.5 million adults. Considering prison crowding, the “punch” operation was launched, by giving a swift follow-up for those who had not yet been brought before a judge. In 2013, over 5,000 had benefited from this operation, and over 2,000 were currently having their files dealt with. The draft revision of the Haitian Criminal Code had been presented to the Government. There were efforts to limit crime. Drastic measures to enable future elections were being taken, including by setting up a temporal electoral commission, adopting and publishing the electoral decree, and announcing that the first elections would be held on 9 August 2015. The Government was set on fighting impunity. Concerning people living in tents, the number had fallen from 1.7 million to under about half a million.
Office of Civil Protection of Haiti (Office de Latin America Protection du Citoyen) in a video message recognized the efforts by the State in the civil and political sphere, and regretted that municipal elections had not been undertaken for four years now. This hindered the respect and enjoyment of human rights in the country. Precarious living conditions were a major issue which affected most of the people and it was regrettable that the Government had not developed the national poverty reduction strategy. The national human rights institution voiced support for the inter-ministerial body on human rights which would ensure development, coordination and harmonization of public policies in the field of human rights.
Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti
Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, expressed the will to identify new forms of cooperation in a bid to support the needs expressed by Haiti and to support the holding of free, fair and inclusive elections in August 2015. Haiti had taken tangible steps to address the human rights situation, which included the submission of reports to human rights treaty bodies, improvements in security and in the living conditions of the people. Illiteracy hampered the effective enjoyment of human rights and Haiti should continue to provide free access to education.
European Union said that Haiti had made progress in recent months on human rights, notably through transposing the Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child in national legislation, and the publication of the electoral calendar. The efforts to fight impunity should be supported and the European Union welcomed the revision of the Criminal Code. How could the international community cooperate with Haiti to ensure effective access to economic, social and cultural rights for its people?
Ireland welcomed the steps taken by Haiti and hoped that the elections which were announced for the coming months would be freely and fairly conducted without further delays. It remained concerned that little progress had been made in the improvement of the justice system or with a view to ending the blatant impunity for the grave human rights violations committed during the time of the former dictator.
United States said that long-term sustained capacity building was critical to the establishment of the rule of law and its respect and for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of Haiti’s democratic institutions. Attention should be given to the pre-electoral situation in Haiti. The holding of overdue elections was seen as essential for Haiti’s democratic development and reconstruction. What were the immediate steps to be taken to ensure that elections would be held in 2015 and what was the role of civil society.
Venezuela said that poverty had exacerbated the situation of Haiti. Attention should be paid to food and health assistance as well as in the rebuilding of the educative infrastructure. Venezuela shared the view that a committee providing reparations and compensation to victims of cholera should be created. It called for financial support and technical assistance from the international community in order to improve the living conditions of the people in Haiti and the enjoyment of their human rights.
Togo welcomed the full cooperation of the Haitian authorities with the Independent Expert and in particular the establishment of measures by the Government to allow for free and fair parliamentary elections. It also welcomed the Government’s measures to wipe out illiteracy, and the national programmes to eradicate hunger and poverty. Despite these reforms, challenges remained. Togo invited all main actors to continue to cooperate with Haiti.
Cuba said that clearly the situation in Haiti remained complex. The international community’s responsibility could not be ignored. Reconstruction and development was owed to the people following several centuries of colonisation. The Government’s needs and priorities had to be attended to. Cuba continued to cooperate with the Government in the areas of education and health and participated in development programmes, fully respecting Haiti’s right to self-determination.
Chile said that the report underlined the need to secure the rule of law and justice in Haiti. Chile commended the country’s reforms in this respect. Holding free and fair elections was vital. Chile had organized a visit to Haiti with the Security Council to assess the escalation of violence and the situation in Haiti. Developments in the area of early childhood were commended. What did Haiti think of short-term priorities for technical assistance?
Brazil reiterated the conviction that the collective efforts to support Haiti should be based on the consolidation of political stability and the fight against poverty. Such an approach aimed at enhancing the promotion and protection of human rights in the country and could lay the ground for sustainable development. Brazil maintained a special humanitarian migration policy for nationals of Haiti.
Morocco called upon the international community to support Haiti in areas identified by the Independent Expert, including fighting social inequality, strengthening the rule of law and strengthening resilience to disasters. Morocco welcomed the launching of the national social assistance programme and the programme to fight hunger and malnutrition, and expressed its support for transitional justice.
China took positive note of the recommendations by the Independent Expert and commended Haiti for promoting the political process, post-earthquake reconstruction and the improvement of the human rights situation, but said that Haiti still had a long way to go to address the humanitarian situation in the country. The international community should honour effectively its promise to help Haiti reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development.
Ecuador described efforts it had made in support of Haiti, including its participation in security sector reforms and its activities to train staff and help rebuild Haiti’s infrastructure. Ecuador supported efforts for the promotion of human rights and rebuilding of the State, and invited the international community to continue to provide Haiti with international support.
Norway said the issue of illiteracy had to be seen in the larger issue of access to education. The State had to take measures to implement recommendations relating to pre-trial detention, and had to take measures to combat corruption. Norway expressed deep concern about the fate of Dominicans of foreign descent, many of whom ran the risk of being stateless, which could lead to instability in the region.
Mali welcomed the collaboration of Haiti with the Independent Expert, and called for international assistance to Haiti to enable it to address the priority areas identified by the Independent Expert. Mali welcomed efforts to combat hunger and ensure social assistance, and called for further efforts for access to housing and addressing the needs of stateless persons.
United Kingdom said that the human rights situation in Haiti was both complex and challenging. Social inequality persisted and the country was still feeling the effects of the recent natural disasters. The implementation of the emergency measures proposed should be a priority and all sides should work together in ensuring free, fair and transparent elections. The United Kingdom asked what could be done regarding the issue of statelessness and pre-trial detention.
Senegal welcomed all the efforts that had been made and invited the international community to continue to support Haiti in all what they needed. Support should be given in the education area such as providing infrastructure for schools and care centres for children. It motivated the cooperation with the diaspora to consolidate solidarity amongst brothers.
Canada was encouraged by the progress made but was alarmed by the problem of the pre-detention system, where many of the prisoners were detained without a prior conviction, and the lack of capacity of the judiciary. Canada welcomed the efforts and improvements that had already been made in that regard and urged Haiti to take more measures to reform the penitentiary and the judiciary system. It recalled that democratic elections were essential to ensure a transition and to ensure security and stability in the Country.
France welcomed the quality of the work of the Independent Expert, and said that his recommendations were a useful tool for Haiti and the international community. France commended the recent advancements in standard settings, including the adoption of the law on corruption and on human trafficking. The fight against impunity was a priority and France asked the Independent Expert to suggest ways of facilitating access to justice and improving the functioning of the judiciary.
United Nations Watch was concerned about continuing violations of basic rights in Haiti and agreed that they were linked to deep inequalities present in the society. Illiteracy plagued more than half of the society, prisoners suffered cruel and inhumane treatment, children continued to be used for labour, and the situation of internally displaced persons was deplorable. What measures could be implemented to empower women and combat widespread gender inequality and violence?
Concluding Remarks by the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Haiti
GUSTAVO GALLÓN, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, welcomed the positive exchange of views between him and the Haitian authorities and noted that the Government had decided to increase the number of adults targeted by the literacy campaign, which was a positive development. He noted that some persons were surprised about the importance given to the illiteracy issue, and underscored the importance of literacy as a fundamental right that must be realized, protected and supported by the State. Ensuring literacy of children and adults was also a good economic decision, as it empowered the population to contribute to development. Literacy was also linked to human rights awareness among the population. He welcomed efforts by several countries to support Haiti. On prolonged pre-trial detention, the Independent Expert noted that the Government had just launched a campaign which seemed to be moving forward in the right direction. Further steps would have to be taken to reorganize the judiciary and ensure its proper functioning.
Elections were the subject this year. Mr. Gallón said the proper functioning would rely on several factors, including international observation and the participation of civil society. Elections would face challenges, including on the financial side, but were absolutely necessary. With regard to impunity, the Independent Expert underlined the importance, not only for the Haitian society but for the entire international community, of bringing perpetrators of past crimes to justice. It was also important to address the lack of knowledge by the younger generation of the past crimes and events in Haiti. Although important progress had been made, a lot remained to be done to resolve the situation of displaced persons. He reiterated the call on the Haitian authorities to respect the rights of Dominicans of foreign descent, in collaboration with the Dominican Republic. Statelessness had to be addressed. The dispersion of international assistance sometimes meant a lack of effectiveness, and focused and targeted assistance would lead to better results, for example in the field of illiteracy.
The Council has before it the report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, Suliman Baldo (A/HRC/28/83)
The Council has before it a corrigendum to the report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, Suliman Baldo (A/HRC/28/83/Corr.1)
Presentation by the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Mali
SULIMAN BALDO, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, presenting this report, said that the demand for re-opening of peace negotiations by the Coordination of Movements of Azawad placed Mali at a critical juncture of its history. The withdrawal of the civilian authorities from the north following the events of May 2014, in particular the criminal justice system personnel, had enhanced the atmosphere of impunity that reigned there. The people in the north were deprived of access to water, health and education, and the lack of implementation of economic, social and cultural rights was both a cause and a consequence of the conflict. The threat of jihad was at its highest level in the region, and attacks with improvised explosive devices targeted civilians and armed forces. During the reporting period, 47 terrorist attacks had occurred, including on the compounds of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Mr. Baldo stressed the obligation of all armed groups to respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law, particularly in relation to the protection of civilians, and said that it was vital for the judicial staff to be redeployed. Delayed investigations into the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that had occurred in the north since the onset of conflict in 2012 must be resumed as soon as possible, to avoid the feeling of abandonment by the communities, who could take things in their own hands.
Most of the children in the north had been deprived of their right to education for two years now, which made them vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups, exploitation and violence. As an illustration, 200 of the 604 schools in the Gao region had been closed. During the occupation of the north, sexual violence had been widespread, but impunity prevailed because judges were not present. The Secretary-General of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission had assumed his functions in September 2014, but the appointment of members, the plan of activities and the resources of the Commission were still unclear. Mr. Baldo stressed the need for the absolute independence and impartiality of the Commission and said that he had received reassurance that the Ministry of Justice would soon start work with the Ministry of Reconciliation on the issue of transitional justice. The National Assembly should speed up the review of the bill establishing a national human rights institution. The authorities should show more diligence in addressing the crimes committed in the north, strengthen the capacities of different actors involved in judicial investigations, and refer to the International Criminal Court all international crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations.
Statement by the Concerned Country
Mali, speaking as the concerned country, said it had suffered an institutional, security and humanitarian crisis in 2012, marked by numerous grave violations of human rights. The Government had undertaken several actions, in particular to fight against impunity and re-establish peace and national reconciliation. These steps included the opening of judicial documents on war crimes. Efforts regarding the judicial administration in the north of the country had also been made, as well as reform of the security system in order to fight against impunity. The implementation of a transitional justice through the Truth and Justice Reconciliation Commission, the reform of the National Commission of Human Rights, and the protection of the rights of victims were also among the positive developments. Seventeen mobile support units had been deployed to areas affected by the crisis. Not all areas could be reached due to the situation on the ground. The Government and the armed groups had signed the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, however some groups did not respect it. Mali called on the international community to put pressure on all parties to respect the agreement. Mali requested the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert.
Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Mali
Algeria, speaking on behalf of the African Group, noted with satisfaction Mali’s renewed willingness to collaborate with the Independent Expert and other mechanisms of the Human Rights Council. The African Group noted that the situation in Mali remained fragile, but said there was hope as a result of the Algiers agreement. It called on all Malian parties to sign the peace agreement in order to put an end to the suffering of the civilian population.
European Union welcomed the return to constitutional order in Mali and the strengthening of the authority of the State in all parts of the country. The European Union condemned serious human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law by armed groups in the north of Mali. The European Union was in favour of the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert, and asked what more could be done to address the needs of displaced persons and to re-establish the State’s sovereignty in the north.
France said the mandate of the Independent Expert was particularly important as Mali was entering a crucial phase. France condemned serious violations in the north and expressed concerns about the population living there and those who had left to neighbouring countries. France called on all parties to sign the peace agreement. Combatting impunity was an essential condition for national reconciliation. France asked the Expert how to encourage displaced persons to return home.
Australia said that peace negotiations were a step forward, but achieving lasting peace and reconciliation required an end to impunity for human rights abuses committed by all parties. Could the Independent Expert suggest how to ensure that the rights of victims were protected in the ongoing political process, address the difficulties encountered in collecting information on sexual violence, and encourage participation of women in the process of national reconciliation.
Togo noted with concern that the progress of a few months ago in rolling out the Government’s authority in the north and the fight against impunity had been stopped by renewed attacks. All parties to the conflict should sign the Algiers peace agreement initialled in March 2015, and the international community should continue supporting Mali in its efforts to combat impunity, promote reconciliation, and strengthen social cohesion.
Côte d’Ivoire appreciated the efforts by Mali to set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and to strengthen the judicial system in order to address human rights violations. It was regrettable that Mali was taking backward steps due to the resurgence of rebel activity, while terrorist attacks including against the MINUSMA were an issue of concern. The international community should provide technical support and financial assistance for the strengthening of the judicial system in order to bring to justice perpetrators of crimes and human rights violations.
United States acknowledged the ongoing efforts by the Government to reform the security sector and establish the National Human Rights Commission and the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. The United States was concerned about the increased terrorist attacks and violence involving sexual assaults on women, as well as children. Both government forces and armed groups were allegedly involved. What was the status of the request of the Secretary-General to establish a commission to shed light on violations of human rights, and how would this commission eliminate impunity?
Ireland said that the significant increase in serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by armed groups in the north was extremely worrying. Ireland condemned in the strongest possible terms the attacks on innocent civilians and peacekeepers earlier this month. It welcomed the progress in peace negotiations between the Government and rebel factions. It was also deeply concerned about the rape cases involving minors allegedly committed by members of the armed forces.
Germany was deeply concerned about the deterioration of the human rights situation, especially in the north of the country. It called on all stakeholders to reject and distance themselves from violence and intimidation and to continue efforts to arrive at a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Germany supported the Malian armed forces with personnel on the ground, through the European Union Training Mission. It asked the Independent Expert to elaborate on how the issue of impunity and amnesty granted for political reasons would be dealt with.
United Nations Children’s Fund expressed concern about children in detention in Mali after 28 children had been arrested over the past two years for being affiliated with armed groups. Six of these children remained in custody today. Female genital mutilation was not subjected to any national ban, UNICEF regretted. The family and child protection codes were still drafts but would not completely address Mali’s obligation under international law to ban this practice.
Angola welcomed efforts at the national and regional level to bring peace to Mali, and encouraged technical and financial support for the establishment of democratic institutions in Mali. Angola noted that technical assistance to Mali had contributed to improvements, and called upon the international community to work with Mali towards a sustainable solution to the conflict.
Belgium was concerned about the worsening of the situation in the north of the country, and about the lack of accountability for abuses there. Belgium was alarmed about violence against civilians by armed groups, and shared the Expert’s concerns regarding sexual violence against children. Belgium insisted that all peace agreements be part of a normative framework excluding amnesty for the most serious crimes.
Denmark was deeply worried about the grave human rights and humanitarian crisis in the north of Mali and in the Sahel region and called on all parties to the conflict to urgently sign the peace agreement and tackle the root causes of the conflict through an enhanced process of inclusion and reconciliation. If the peace agreement was not signed by all parties, what would be the consequences for the human rights situation in northern Mali and what would the priorities for the international community be in this case?
United Kingdom urged Mali to step up the efforts to end impunity for human rights violations and said that there should be no amnesty for such acts, and commended MINUSMA’s important work in this regard. The Mission’s hearing of testimonies of victims would provide evidence for future trials. In light of the worrying high incidence of sexual violence, Mali should strengthen the codes of practice against sexual violence within the armed forces.
Senegal welcomed the establishment of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission which brought together all stakeholders, including belligerents, to build a stable political and social environment which would be a guarantee of durable peace. The commitment of the Government to the promotion and protection of human rights was a guarantee of the search for a lasting solution to multiple challenges that Mali was still confronted with, such as inter- and intra-communal violence and the fight against impunity.
Algeria was pleased about the gradual return to constitutional order in Mali. A peace and reconciliation agreement was viewed as an opportunity to achieve a durable peace. That initiative should be taken by all the parties in mutual cooperation. Algeria called on the international community to support the improvement of human rights in Mali and requested it to continue its technical assistance and capacity building in that country.
Sudan said that the establishment and strengthening of the national commission of human rights was a commendable step. It encouraged Mali to pursue its efforts to overcome the remaining human rights challenges in the country and it remained confident that the national reconciliation process through the constructive dialogue would represent the most appropriate mechanism to achieve durable peace and stability in Mali.
Norway expressed its concern about the number of violent incidents perpetrated by terrorist groups and the reports of rape and gross abuses against women and children. All parties to the Malian conflict had the responsibility to adhere to fundamental international rights norms. The violations against human rights had fuelled the ongoing conflict and had complicated efforts to reach a lasting peace. Truth, justice and reconciliation were viewed as the essential elements for the consolidation of peace.
Mauritania saluted the considerable efforts made by Mali to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights. It shared the concerns raised by the Independent Expert, in particular the rise of terrorist groups and attacks in the north. Progress in terms of deployment and fighting impunity was commended. The international community was called upon to assist Mali in its efforts. Mauritania supported the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert.
China condemned the attacks on the personnel of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali and called on the United Nations to boost peacekeepers to assist the efforts of the mission. China supported Mali’s efforts to preserve its peace and integrity. It called upon all parties to reach an all-inclusive peace agreement as early as possible. China had sent peacekeepers to Mali in order to ensure peace in the country and the wider region. It hoped that this would help Mali achieve stability.
Ghana noted that in spite of progress made during the first quarter of 2014 in the north, fresh fighting had broken out in Kidali, delaying progress made. Citizens trapped in that area had suffered from serious infringements on their human rights. Humanitarian workers were also targeted by jihadi groups. Ghana called on Mali to continue efforts to reform the National Human Rights Commission to bring it up to international standards. Ghana also called on the international community to provide financial and technical support to Mali.
Egypt said that despite the progress in 2014, including the consolidation of the State’s authority, the fighting that had erupted in the north had put the gains at risk. Restoring public order and the rule of law could only happen if the Government fought impunity for various human rights violations and Egypt called upon Mali to reform its National Commission for Human Rights. The international community should provide support to Mali to strengthen its judiciary and reform the security sector.
Femmes Africa Solidarité condemned human rights violations and extreme acts of terrorism, and called for coordinated efforts by the international community to establish stability. The increasing number of rapes, particularly of minors, was an issue of great concern; impunity only perpetuated the crime. There would be no end to the cycle of violence without justice and if an environment of impunity remained.
Espace Afrique International said that the power struggles between the Government and armed groups gave rise to human rights violations and abuses on a significant scale, including rape, torture and ill-treatment. The report of the Commission of Inquiry on the crimes committed in the country, which was stipulated by the Ouagadougou agreement, had not yet been made public. It was vital to endow the State with the necessary means to protect civilians from terrorism and to fight impunity.
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues underscored that combatting impunity was one of the essential elements for a durable and fair reconciliation in Mali. It called on the authorities to guarantee the means to effectively and fairly pursue the perpetrators of human rights violations without taking into account their political status. It also encouraged the Government to accelerate the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission with independent and competent members.
Human Rights Watch expressed its concern at the Government’s lack of progress in addressing deep-rooted impunity and the weakness of the justice system that underscored Mali’s near collapse in 2012. The insufficient progress made by the national judiciary in investigating the disappearances and torture and holding accountable those who had been implicated in serious abuses committed by all sides during the armed conflict was also a great concern.
International Catholic Child Bureau said that children had been victims of amputations and deprived of schools due to the occupation. Reforms were urged to the judicial system as well as the need to carry out investigations on the perpetrators of human rights violations. It requested Mali to take into account principles in favour of children’s rights, including the prohibition of sexual violence against children and the prohibition to use children in armed forces. Children should be protected and not associated with armed forces.
Rencontre Africaine Pour la Defense des Droits de l'Homme said that the attack in Bamako on March 6 was proof of the fragile situation faced by the Government. The reinforcement of the fight against impunity without amnesty was the only way to end the repeating violations of human rights. Given the prevailing situation in the country, what solution did the Independent Expert have in mind with regards to the increase in isolated attacks in the north, as well as the rejection of the peace accord by one of the groups?.
Friedrich Naumann Foundation said that the German Government had provided funds with the aim of strengthening the capacity of human rights institutions in Mali, carrying out advocacy lobbying and networking work, and drawing the international community’s attention to the situation. The Foundation was alarmed about the situation of children in the north of Mali, their lack of access to education and health, and the enlistment of children in armed groups. Victims of violations were still waiting for justice to be carried out on perpetrators.
Mali, speaking as the concerned country, reiterated its appreciation for the Independent Expert’s efforts and thanked the delegations for their contributions to the discussion, which would help improve the human rights situation. Mali thanked the international community for actively dealing with the socio-economic crisis in the country and renewed the commitment to cooperate with the United Nations system and the Human Rights Council in the search for appropriate solutions to the challenges facing the country.
SULIMAN BALDO, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, on the question concerning consequences of failure of the peace talks for the human rights situation in the country, said that the collapse of the talks would spell disaster for Mali. Up to now, the conflict had been between the Government and the rebel groups in the north, which could be described as a low-intensity high-impact conflict. The conflict had transformed since May 2014 with the entry of new actors who recruited on the basis of ethnic alliance which would lead to more massive and serious violations. The international community must do all possible to assist the achievement of lasting peace, especially as fighting jihadist groups and terrorism was not the responsibility of Mali alone. The situation in the north was affected by the free flow of arms, and drug trafficking which targeted Europe – all this put Mali at the heart of a regional conflict and regional and international actors must pay adequate attention. An important priority for the return of displaced persons was to bring about peace to northern Mali.
In order to help Mali strengthen its sovereignty, the international community must address phenomena that were not purely national: more efforts needed to be put in combatting international crime, addressing terrorism which was raging in the region, and fighting the international drug trade. On the reintegration of children associated with armed groups, it was important to ensure education and psycho-social rehabilitation; Mali was poorly equipped for this and resources and efforts needed to be directed towards schooling, training, small business skills, rural development – this would help the children stay with their families and have livelihood options. With regard to the Commission of Inquiry requested by the Ouagadougou agreement, the Independent Expert said that Mali had already drawn up a letter to this effect and the process was well underway. Very few women had participated in the Algiers process and parties should recognized that women were the prime victims of the conflict and they were the ones who would build the peace.
For use of the information media; not an official record
United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has approved US$28 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support life-saving relief work for people fleeing violence in Nigeria.
SITE DE DAR ES SALAM, Tchad, le 16 mars (HCR) – Le jour pointait seulement à Baga au Nigéria, lorsque Zulaika, une jeune femme de 22 ans, enceinte de son deuxième enfant, a entendu des coups de feu. Elle a eu à peine le temps de saisir son enfant de deux ans et de courir se réfugier dans la brousse, avant que les combattants n'envahissent la ville, en massacrant ses habitants par centaines.
Il lui a fallu quatre jours pour trouver un bateau et traverser le lac Tchad. Son mari, Ali, un pêcheur de 34 ans, posait ses filets lorsque l'attaque a éclaté. Elle ne savait pas s'il avait réussi à fuir également.
« Nous avons passé des jours à passer d'une petite île à l'autre », se souvient-elle récemment. « La nuit, nous n'avons rien pour nous protéger du froid ni à manger. Le plus difficile pour moi, c'était de ne pas savoir où était mon mari et ce qui lui était arrivé ».
Avec l'aide du Haut Commissariat des Nations unies pour les réfugiés (HCR), Zulaika a trouvé refuge au Tchad, dans le camp baptisé Dar es Salam, qui accueille plusieurs milliers de réfugiés nigérians comme elle. Là, le HCR enregistre toutes les nouveaux arrivants, identifiant les personnes vulnérables, y compris les personnes âgées, les femmes seules ainsi que les enfants et les familles séparées.
Ali est parvenu à passer la frontière et il a rejoint l'île de Kangalom, où le HCR va chercher les réfugiés et les transporte par bateau jusqu'à la ville de Bagasola, leur offrant de la nourriture pour le voyage et ensuite le transfert vers le camp de Dar es Salam. « J'ai passé près de trois semaines dans la brousse avant de rejoindre Kangalom au Tchad », explique Ali. « Nous avions faim la plupart du temps et nous mangions lorsque les habitants locaux croisés sur notre route nous donnaient de la nourriture ».
Un jour, au début du mois de février, le HCR a facilité le transfert de plus de 80 réfugiés nigérians – et parmi les personnes présentes sur le bateau se trouvait Ali. Zulaika se souvient très bien de ce jour-là. « Ils m'ont dit que des gens étaient arrivés de Kangalom, alors je suis allée à l'entrée du camp pour voir qui s'y trouvait », raconte-t-elle. « Je ne pouvais pas croire que mon mari était parmi les personnes qui descendaient du camion ».
Ali, qui avait passé tant de semaines à s'inquiéter pour sa femme enceinte et son jeune fils, a également été très heureux de les retrouver à Dar es Salam. « Nous sommes reconnaissants envers toutes ces personnes qui nous ont aidés à arriver ici et à faciliter nos retrouvailles », dit-il en regardant sa femme dans les yeux.
Zulaika sourit. « Je suis très heureuse d'avoir retrouvé mon mari », dit-elle. Je ne vais plus le quitter pour qu'il ne disparaisse plus jamais ». Zulaika et Ali fêtent à présent leurs retrouvailles et ils ont récemment emménagé dans un abri familial avec leur jeune fils, qui porte aussi le nom d'Ali.
À ce jour, plus de 3 800 réfugiés nigérians ont été transférés au camp de Dar es Salam. Selon le HCR, d'autres réfugiés choisiront également d'être transférés vers le camp ces prochaines semaines.
Par Massoumeh Farman-Farmaian au camp de Dar es Salam, Tchad
La dépendance précoce au marché des ménages pauvres fragilise leur sécurité alimentaire
In this issue
■ Addis Insight
The PSC undertook its first joint mission to Mali, together with the European Union Political and Security Committee.
This mission highlighted the importance of joint action and set a precedent for similar field visits in the future.
■ On the Agenda
On 3 March the PSC reviewed and adopted the Concept of Operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to combat Boko Haram. The decision to launch the MNJTF was taken at the PSC Summit on 29 January 2015.
■ Situation Analysis
Disagreement between the United Nations and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has led to a rift over the forced disarmament of the FDLR rebel group in the eastern DRC. The DRC has now proceeded to attack the FDLR without the help of the UN.
Somalia is striving for political stability through its Vision 2016. Internal divisions within the government, however, hamper this process. Violence also continues in Somalia despite progress made in the fight against the radical al‑Shabaab militants.
■ PSC Interview
Former Burundian president Pierre Buyoya, the High Representative of the African Union for Mali and the Sahel, comments on the current peace process in Mali.
Tracking food security trends in vulnerable countries
The Global Food Security Update provides a quarterly overview of key food security trends in vulnerable countries. Information is provided by WFP VAM field teams and partners.
According to UNHCR, there are some 86,000 internally displaced persons in Mali and 16,000 returnees. Burkina Faso shelters 32,000 Malian refugees, while Mauritania and Niger host 52,000 and 49,000 Malian refugees, respectively.
Under its Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) 200719 in Mali, WFP is responding to immedi-ate food needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees, among other needs intended to save lives, promote stability and contribute to achieving the Zero Hunger Challenge. Under its Regional Emergency Operation (EMOP) 200438, WFP is addressing life-saving needs of Malian refugees in Burkina Faso, Mauri-tania and Niger, who fled conflict in northern Mali since early 2012. In February, WFP assisted some 303,000 beneficiaries under the PRRO in Mali and some 125,000 under the Regional EMOP.
Abuja, Nigeria | | Wednesday 3/25/2015 - 15:58 GMT
The head of Nigeria's army on Wednesday vowed a violent crackdown on election-related unrest, as security tightened before this weekend's presidential and parliamentary vote.
Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Minimah said the armed forces, police and other organisations had made "adequate arrangements" for security at this Saturday's poll.
Bloody election-related violence has been a major concern at previous votes in Nigeria, especially between supporters of rival political parties.
In 2011, around 1,000 people were killed in clashes after Goodluck Jonathan's victory over Muhammadu Buhari for the presidency.
Minimah said heightened security would be in place both for the presidential and parliamentary vote on Saturday as well as on April 11, when gubernatorial and state assembly elections are held.
"I do not envisage any issue because this is just an election and it will come and go," he told a news conference at the country's electoral commission.
"Though we know there are also elements within the political class that would not want a normal election process to come and be put behind us.
"I will appeal to politicians and their followers and supporters to keep the peace, maintain the peace and ensure a violence-free elections... and whoever wants to invoke or provoke violence will meet organised violence waiting for him."
IDPS SLOWLY RETURNING HOME
Around 500 people displaced by inter-community fighting that erupted on 9 March in Goin Débé forest in the country’s southwest have started returning home with the help of the community and the local administration. Sporadic inter-ethnic violence and attacks by armed groups continue to plague Côte d'Ivoire’s western region. Some 2,600 people are still displaced following armed raids on villages near the Liberian border earlier this year.
95 EVD CASES REPORTED, HIGHEST IN 2015
A total of 95 cases were reported in the week prior to 15 March, Guinea’s highest weekly number in 2015. Trends in the past fortnight suggest that infections are largely being spread through unknown chains of transmission as less than 30 percent of confirmed cases were from registered contacts and almost half of the deaths reported were confirmed post-mortem within communities.
FIRST EBOLA CASE IN 25 DAYS
Liberia reported its first confirmed EVD case in 25 days. A female patient was taken ill on 18 March in a Monrovia hospital and later transferred to an MSF-run Ebola treatment centre. The exact circumstances of the infection are not yet known. About 100 people (contacts) are to be traced, including a number of students in schools where the patient sold food.
11 KILLED IN INSURGENT ATTACK
Boko Haram insurgents on 18 and 19 March killed 11 civilians in Gamboru town in the northeastern Borno State, prompting Chadian forces to return to the town from which they had withdrawn after driving out the militants in February. Boko Haram has been forced out of several towns and localities in northeastern Nigeria ahead of the 28 March elections.
400 MIGRANTS EVACUATED FROM CONFLICT-HIT LIBYA
A total of 401 Senegalese migrants have been evacuated from Libya by IOM. On 20 March, 130 migrants arrived home, the third such airlift since the operation started on 27 February. Most of the migrants worked informally in Tripoli until mid-December when they were seized in a raid and taken to a holding facility in the north-western Misrata city. Another group is still in Sebha city in the southwest and will be evacuated later.
REGIONAL / EBOLA VIRUS DISEASE (EVD)
30 PERCENT RISE IN WEEKLY CASES
In the week that ended on 15 March, 150 cases were reported from Guinea and Sierra Leone, 34 more than the week before. A total of 24,666 suspected, probable and confirmed cases resulting in 10,179 deaths have been reported from the three West African countries struggling to curb Ebola.
RETOUR DE 500 DÉPLACÉS
Environ 500 personnes déplacées par les combats intercommunautaires qui ont éclaté le 9 mars dans la forêt Goin Débé dans le sud-ouest du pays ont commencé à rentrer chez elles avec l'aide de la communauté et de l'administration locale. Des violences interethniques sporadiques et des attaques par des groupes armés continuent de sévir dans la région ouest de la Côte d'Ivoire. Quelques 2 600 personnes sont toujours déplacées suite aux raids armés contre des villages près de la frontière libérienne survenus plus tôt cette année.
95 CAS SIGNALÉS, LE PLUS ÉLEVÉ EN 2015
Un total de 95 cas ont été signalés dans la semaine avant le 15 mars, le nombre hebdomadaire le plus élevé pour la Guinée en 2015. Les tendances de la dernière quinzaine suggèrent que les infections se propagent en grande partie à travers des chaînes de transmission inconnues. En effet, moins de 30 pour cent des cas confirmés étaient des contacts enregistrés et près de la moitié des décès signalés ont été confirmés post-mortem au sein des communautés.
PREMIER CAS EBOLA EN 25 JOURS
Le Libéria a confirmé son premier cas d’Ébola en 25 jours. Une patiente est tombée malade le 18 mars dans un hôpital de Monrovia et a été transférée plus tard à un centre de traitement Ebola géré par Médecins sans Frontières (MSF). Les circonstances exactes de l'infection ne sont pas encore connues. Environ 100 personnes (contacts) doivent être retrouvées, y compris un certain nombre d'élèves dans les écoles où la patiente vendait de la nourriture.
11 TUÉS DANS DES ATTAQUES D’INSURGÉS
Les insurgés de Boko Haram ont tué les 18 et 19 mars, 11 civils dans la ville de Gamboru dans l'État de Borno au nord-est, incitant le retour des forces tchadiennes dans la ville d’où elles s’étaient retirées après en avoir chassé les militants en février. Boko Haram a été délogé de plusieurs villes et localités dans le nord du Nigeria avant les élections du 28 mars.
400 MIGRANTS ÉVACUÉS DE LIBYE
Un total de 401 migrants sénégalais ont été évacués de la Libye par l'Organisation Internationale pour les Migrations (OIM). Le 20 mars, 130 migrants sont rentrés, le troisième vol depuis que l’opération a commencé le 27 février. La plupart des migrants ont travaillé de manière informelle à Tripoli jusqu'à la mi-décembre quand ils ont été saisis lors d’un raid et emmenés dans un centre de détention dans la ville de Misrata au nord-ouest. Un autre groupe est toujours dans la ville de Sebha au sud-ouest et sera évacué plus tard.
RÉGIONAL / EBOLA
AUGMENTATION DES CAS HEBDOMADAIRES DE 30%
Dans la semaine qui a pris fin le 15 mars, 150 cas ont été signalés en Guinée et en Sierra Leone, 34 de plus que la semaine précédente. Un total de 24 666 cas suspects, probables et confirmés ayant entrainé 10 179 décès ont été signalés par les trois pays ouest-africains qui luttent pour enrayer Ebola.
GANJUWA, NIGERIA— As Nigerians prepare for Saturday’s presidential election, the integrity of the vote will hang in large part on the success of a new voter card system that includes thousands of hand-held electronic card readers.
The system is designed to prevent identity theft, ballot stuffing and fraud, which marred previous elections and helped spark post-election rioting and violence in 2011.
But with incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan locked in a tight race with his challenger, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, observers say the danger of fraud may be even greater this time.
The cards may go a long way in making at least one part of the voting process transparent, one expert said, but they won’t eliminate fraud altogether.
“The (Jonathan) government will try to go into an election wanting to know the result ahead of time. At the moment, it is not so confident it will win,” said Jasper Veen, a Nigerian expert for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, a Washington-based nongovernmental organization funded by the U.S. government and others.
“To what extent it is willing to go to secure an electoral outcome?” Veen said. “That is the biggest question.”
Fraud allegations and violence in 2011
Four years ago, when Buhari and Jonathan last faced off, Jonathan won with about 59 percent of the vote. Buhari supporters, however, alleged widespread fraud and sectarian clashes in many northern states resulted in more than 800 deaths.
In that election, some of the country’s 36 states reported more votes being cast than the number of eligible voters. Balloting in some places was marred by cumbersome procedures that resulted in long lines outside polls.
That election was deemed substantially better than the 2007 vote, but problems persisted. The actual tallying of votes, the European Union’s observer mission warned, was “the most fragile part of the process.”
“Despite these improvements, the conduct of the 2011 elections also underscored the need for further reform,” the EU mission’s final report said.
Doubts about the country’ electoral process are reflected in opinion polls.
A Gallup poll released in January found that only 13 percent of Nigerians had confidence in the elections. Among Nigerians who don't approve of the country's leadership, only 8 percent believe in the fairness of the country’s elections. The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted last May and June and had a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.
A new Afrobarometer survey released Tuesday found doubts about political leaders overall, with clear majorities saying the president, members of the National Assembly, state governors, and state legislators are involved in corruption. That poll of 2,400 adults was taken in December and January and had a margin of error of 2 percentage points.
Permanent voter cards
In 2012, the organization charged with running the vote, the Independent National Electoral Commission, began rolling out “Permanent Voter Cards” to an estimated 70 million eligible voters.The cards contain biometric data, including fingerprints, photographs and other details, and are designed to be used in conjunction with 182,000 card readers being distributed nationwide. The readers are hand-held computers similar to those used in restaurants or car rental agencies.
“What the card reader seeks to do is to enhance the credibility and the integrity of the process,” commission spokesman Nick Dazang told VOA. “In time past the voter register was not only padded, people rigged elections at the point of voting.”
The rollout has been less than smooth. In the months before the original voting date, Feb. 14, officials struggled to distribute the cards in some states. Commission officials have openly warned about the fraud:
“There have been several allegations that some politicians are buying PVCs from some electorate in order to reduce the voting strength of their opponent during election,” Emmanuel Umenger, a top INEC official in the central state of Bauchi, told VOA.
Jonathan’s ruling party publicly criticized the card readers last month, saying they would malfunction. Ruling party members have pressured the commission’s chief, Attahiru Jega, to resign. Last week, he was called in to meet personally with Jonathan.
Some hand scanners have had problems reading fingerprints, Jega said, but that wouldn’t prevent a person from voting.
“Let me also reassure that INEC and all its field officials are determined to be impartial and nonpartisan in the conduct of these elections…” he told reporters Tuesday. “We will continue to do everything humanly possible to ensure a level playing field for all parties and candidates.”
Nigerian social media, in English and the country’s second most common language, Hausa, has been rife for weeks discussions of PVC fraud, but reports of organized fraud have for now been circumstantial.
Some political candidates have been buying up the cars in their opponents’ strongholds, to suppress turnout, according to Clement Nwankwo, executive director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, a nongovernmental organization based in the capital, Abuja.
An Abuja man named Akwei Igono who called himself a “concerned Nigerian” told VOA that a close friend sold his PVC to his uncle for 1,000 naira (about US$5) who then sold it for five to eight times that amount to a local politician. The goal? To keep opponents’ voters from casting ballots, he said.
In the northern city of Maiduguri, Muhammadu Sani complained that PVCs are being bought by local political leaders for between 3,000-5,000 naira (US$15-25) to keep voters from casting ballots.
“They aren’t being bought just for (the buyer’s sake); they’re being bought to reduce the number of registered voters systematically,” Sani told VOA.
But in Adamawa, a state in Nigeria’s troubled northeast, soldiers earlier this month arrested a man carrying 83 cards, on his way to a town in a neighboring state. Malam Abubakar, a spokesman for Adamawa police, told VOA the man reported he was bringing the cards to refugees fleeing violence by Boko Haram militants, something Abubakar said was doubtful.
In Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, men wearing naval uniforms have targeted Nigerians from the north to seize voters cards.
Mustapha Mohammed, who makes around 5,000 naira ($25) a day as a motorcycle taxi driver, said his PVC was taken from him last Wednesday, after he was pulled over in a northern Lagos district. The man demanded about $75 to return the card, Mohammed said. After he refused, the man handed back the keys, took the card and left.
“I tried and I tried to get my card back but he refused, so I took my machine and left,” said Mohammed, 21, who comes originally from Maiduguri.
“It’s glaringly obvious that northern Nigerians will vote (for Buhari) so they are harassing us,” he said. “He told me I should go back to where I came from and vote.”
Sell or vote
For some Nigerians, it’s an easier decision to sell their PVCs rather than actually cast a vote. Isihak Muhammad Lowi, a resident of the rural village of Ganjuwa, about 200 miles northeast of the capital Abuja, said that based on the last election, he had little faith that anything positive would come from this one.
The main motivation, however, to sell his PVC was that he needed start-up capital to set up a small business. Selling his card, and those of his wives, is the easiest way to do it.
“I want to sell it, anything from 5,000 to 10,000 naira (US$25-50), even my wives’ cards I will love it if they sell it and use the money for small businesses such as selling firewood, bouillon cubes and garri (fried cassava root) and so on,” Lowi told VOA.
“It will be better off than voting in my opinion,” he said.
Stein reported from Abuja. VOA's Anne Look in Abuja and Peter Clottey, Jamila Fagge and Bello Galadanchi in Washington contributed to this report. Also contributing were Babangida Jibrin in Lagos and Ibrahim Abdulaziz in Adamawa.
Lagos, Nigeria | | Wednesday 3/25/2015 - 20:19 GMT
by Phil HAZLEWOOD
Nigeria ramped up security nationwide on Wednesday before general elections this weekend, shutting land as well as sea borders and vowing to crack down hard on political unrest.
Security is at the fore ahead of the presidential and parliamentary vote, with military operations against Boko Haram forcing the postponement of the poll's initial February 14 date.
Since then, Nigeria's military and its coalition partners Niger, Chad and Cameroon have claimed a series of successes, forcing the Islamist militants out of captured territory in the northeast.
Fears of a bombing campaign against voters and polling stations remain though, after a spate of suicide attacks against "soft" targets such as markets and bus stations in the north.
The Department of State Services, Nigeria's secret police, on Wednesday underlined the threat, calling for vigilance in crowded places before, during and after Saturday's election.
"Voters are advised to be wary of persons in loose or bulky midriff clothings, which are inappropriate for the weather," said spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar.
"Look out for unattended bags, luggage, dustbins, strange containers and other suspicious items."
The DSS also urged that cars, motorbikes and three-wheel motorised taxis should be parked away from polling stations and for shops and markets to shut.
"Suspicious persons, activities and movements should be promptly reported to security agents," Ogar added in a statement.
Previous Nigerian elections have been blighted by extreme political violence.
In 2011 some 1,000 people were killed after Goodluck Jonathan beat former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari in the presential election.
But Jonathan on Wednesday said that the government would "not tolerate any form of violence during or after the polls".
"I am giving my total commitment to peaceful elections in the country, not because I am persuaded to do so but because I believe in it," the president added.
Fears are still high of clashes between supporters of his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Buhari's All Progressives Congress (APC) after a tight election campaign.
Nigeria's human rights commission has said nearly 60 people have been killed already in election-linked violence, despite an agreement between all candidates for a peaceful poll.
The head of the Nigerian Army, Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah, said he did not envisage problems but appealed to politicians and their followers to keep the peace.
"Whoever wants to invoke or provoke violence will meet organised violence waiting for him," he told reporters in Abuja.
Security measures will stay in place until after gubernatorial and state assembly polls on April 11, he added.
On Wednesday, Jonathan ordered the closure of all land and sea borders from midnight (2300 GMT Wednesday) until the same time on Saturday, after voting is over.
The interior ministry said the move was designed "to allow for peaceful conduct of the forthcoming national elections".
At the same time, the immigration service warned that non-Nigerians should not take part "in any part of the election processes".
Nigeria's federal police had already announced a "total restriction" on movement from the time that polling stations open at 8:00 am on Saturday until 5:00 pm.
The emergency services and others on "essential duties" would be exempt, Inspector General of Police Suleiman Abba, the country's top-ranking officer, said.
"Adequate security logistics and manpower have been strategically deployed to achieve a most conducive electioneering atmosphere," he said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Policemen for election duty have been properly trained, briefed and sensitised on their roles."
Earlier this month, Abba warned that troublemakers would face "the full wrath of the law".
Security will be tightened particularly at polling stations and other "vulnerable" locations, including banks, hospitals, government offices and accommodation housing election officials.
Camps for people internally displaced by the Boko Haram conflict will also see stringent checks.
Some 20 percent of the estimated one million people made homeless by the insurgency are currently in camps and arrangements have been made for them to vote, according to Nigeria's electoral commission.
Some polling stations have been set up in camps themselves for security reasons but three explosive devices have already been found at a camp in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.
The discovery on March 14 prompted fresh fears that Boko Haram -- which views the election as "un-Islamic" and has vowed to disrupt the process -- had infiltrated the displaced.
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