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ReliefWeb - Updates

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    Source: UN News Service
    Country: Mali

    22 February 2013 – The United Nations is training and working with local Malian military and police to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance in the northern part of the country which pose dangers for local families and have already killed several troops.

    “Life cannot really move forward when you have a grenade or a rocket or even an aircraft bomb on your property,” said Charles Frisby of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Bamako, the Malian capital.

    The unexploded ordnance is believed to be linked to the recent armed conflict, Mr. Frisby said in an interview, adding that there is also historic landmine contamination closer to the border with Algeria predating the intervention.

    To aid with the removal, UNMAS launched a five-week training programme earlier this month for 30 members of the Malian Security and Defense Forces (MDSF), Police, Gendarmerie, Garde Nationale du Mali and national civilian protection office.

    The goal of the training is to provide technical assistance, equipment and mentoring to the local teams so that they can work independently to assist their communities, Mr. Frisby explained.

    In recent weeks, land mine explosions killed at least four Malian soldiers and two civilians in northern Mali, according to media reports.

    More than 50 people have been killed or injured as a result of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) between March and mid-December 2012, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported.

    “It is very likely that this figure is actually much higher,” said UNMAS Programme Officer Marc Vaillant, from Bamako. “The problem is indeed serious.”

    The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has also expressed concern that anti-personnel landmines and unexploded ordnance threaten civilians, as well as aid agencies hoping to help them, in the north, particularly as internally displaced persons and refugees try to return home.

    In addition to these threats, “there is a general problem of weapon and ammunition insecurity in Mali,” said Mr. Vaillant. “This includes, for example, insecure ammunition storage areas which could result in unplanned or accidental explosions with potential catastrophic consequences for the people living in their vicinity.”

    There is an additional urgency to complete the training now to facilitate the return home for displaced Malian farmers before the start of the planting season in May. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said last week that many of the displaced are farmers, who are living in refugee camps or staying with host families, while other farmers have returned home but have not been able to cultivate their land due to the potential dangers hidden under the soil and because they lack the tools, seeds and animals to begin production.

    Fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels broke out in northern Mali last January, after which radical Islamists seized control of the area. The conflict uprooted thousands of people and prompted the Malian Government to request military assistance from France to stop the progression of extremist groups.

    UNMAS said one of the longer-term goals of the training is to strengthen the good partnership between the UN agency and the Malian security forces.

    “By building up this relationship they will give us access to many areas in the country and they will share information with us,” Mr. Frisby said.

    Established in 1997 to serve as the Organization’s focal point for mine action, UNMAS collaborates with 13 other UN departments, agencies, programmes and funds to ensure an effective, proactive and coordinated response to the problems of landmines and explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions.


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    Source: UN Radio
    Country: Somalia

    Listen

    Scores of people living in a camp in the Somali capital of Mogadishu are to receive free medical care through mobile clinics.

    Three thousand Somalis arrived in Karibu camp last year fleeing a severe drought as well as violence fostered by the activities of the al-Shabaab terrorist group.

    The African Mission in Somalia, (AMISOM) and Hope for Life International (HILI) are behind the initiative that has made the health care possible.

    Beng Poblete-Enriquez reports.

    Duration: 1’49″


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/22/2013 17:48 GMT

    Par Anne LE COZ à Gao et Serge DANIEL à Bamako

    GAO (Mali), 22 fév 2013 (AFP) - La rébellion touareg du Mali, qui collabore avec l'armée française dans le nord-est du pays, a été vendredi la cible d'un attentat-suicide qui a fait cinq morts, au moment où l'armée malienne tentait de "nettoyer" Gao, la plus grande ville du Nord infiltrée par les islamistes.

    L'attentat-suicide a été commis à l'aide de deux voitures piégées conduites par deux kamikazes à Inhalil, localité proche de Tessalit, près de la frontière algérienne, et visait des membres de la rébellion touareg du Mouvement national de libération de l'Azawad (MNLA).

    Cette région montagneuse des Ifoghas, entre Kidal et Tessalit, sert de refuge à de nombreux islamistes armés liés à Al-Qaïda traqués par l'armée française depuis plusieurs semaines, mais elle est aussi le berceau des Touareg.

    A Inhalil, à l'aube, "deux véhicules kamikazes ont explosé visant des civils et des combattants du MNLA. Il y a eu trois morts, et plusieurs blessés dans les rangs du MNLA", selon une source sécuritaire malienne.

    L'information a été confirmée par un responsable du MNLA à Ouagadougou, Mohamed Ibrahim Ag Assaleh.

    "Deux véhicules piégés ont explosé dans une base du MNLA à 05H30 (locales et GMT) à Inhalil, près de Tessalit, à la frontière algérienne", a déclaré à l'AFP M. Ag Assaleh. "Les deux kamikazes sont morts et dans nos rangs il y a trois morts et quatre blessés graves", a-t-il ajouté.

    Il a accusé le groupe islamiste Mouvement pour l'unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l'Ouest (Mujao) d'être à l'origine de cet attentat.

    Selon la source sécuritaire malienne, "les terroristes ont toujours affirmé qu'ils combattraient les forces françaises et leurs alliés, c'est ce qui s'est passé à mon avis".

    Jeudi, un porte-parole de l'armée française a déclaré "se coordonner" effectivement avec "les groupes qui ont les mêmes objectifs" que Paris, en parlant du MNLA.

    Le MNLA, laïc, qui avait lancé une offensive en janvier 2012 dans le nord du Mali contre l'armée malienne avec les groupes islamistes armés, en avait très vite été évincé par eux des grandes villes de Gao, Tombouctou et Kidal.

    Il est réapparu à Kidal et Tessalit à la faveur de l'intervention française contre les islamistes liés à Al-Qaïda qui a débuté le 11 janvier.

    Le Mujao avait revendiqué un "attentat"à Kidal (1.500 km au nord-est de Bamako), où un véhicule a explosé jeudi près d'un camp de militaires français et tchadiens, tuant son conducteur.

    Aide américaine

    Les forces françaises avaient repris fin janvier le contrôle de l'aéroport de Kidal avec quelque 1.800 soldats tchadiens sécurisant la ville contrôlée depuis peu par le MNLA qui y refuse la présence de soldats maliens.

    A 350 km au sud-ouest de Kidal, à Gao, plus grande ville du nord du Mali, des soldats maliens ont tiré à l'arme lourde vendredi sur la mairie où s'étaient retranchés la veille des islamistes armés lors de violents combats avec l'armée malienne, appuyée par l'armée française,

    Les soldats maliens ont tiré au lance-roquettes sur le bâtiment où, selon le colonel Mamadou Samaké de l'armée malienne, il y avait "au moins" un islamiste armé qui a riposté avant d'être tué. Dans la mairie, les corps de quatre hommes ont été découverts, parmi lesquels deux entièrement déchiquetés.

    Un militaire malien avait indiqué auparavant que de "nombreux" corps de jihadistes portant des ceintures d'explosifs et tenant à la main des grenades dégoupillées étaient encore dans la mairie et dans le palais de justice proche. Il avait également précisé que des mines avaient été placées dans ce secteur.

    Les démineurs français, arrivés sur place dans l'après-midi, ont pu intervenir. Selon une source militaire, la plupart des engins explosifs retrouvés n'étaient pas activés.

    Selon l'armée française, entre quinze et vingt islamistes ont été tués, deux soldats français légèrement blessés et quatre soldats maliens "auraient"été blessés au cours des combats de jeudi qui ont eu lieu en centre-ville, dans les secteurs de la mairie et du palais de justice.

    Dans la nuit de jeudi à vendredi et dans la matinée de vendredi, des coups de feu ont été tirés en divers endroits de Gao, dont le Centre, où des combattants islamistes étaient positionnés sur les toits, notamment sur celui du marché principal, selon la journaliste de l'AFP.

    Le Mujao, qui a occupé Gao pendant neuf mois en 2012 avant qu'elle ne soit reprise par les armées française et malienne le 26 janvier, a affirmé avoir envoyé des combattants dans la ville pour la "libérer des mécréants".

    Il a affirmé que "la bataille" ne faisait "que commencer" pour reconquérir Gao, Kidal et Tombouctou, les trois grandes villes du nord du Mali.

    Gao avait déjà été le théâtre de violences il y a deux semaines de la part des jihadistes qui y avaient commis les premiers attentats-suicides de l'histoire du Mali.

    La situation au Mali n'est "pas du tout stable", a déclaré vendredi le chef de la délégation du Comité international de la Croix-Rouge (CICR) au Mali et au Niger, alors que l'ONU a dénoncé des "informations horrifiantes" en matière de droits de l'Homme.

    Le président Barack Obama a de son côté annoncé que les Etats-Unis avaient envoyé 40 militaires supplémentaires au Niger pour fournir une aide en renseignements aux forces françaises au Mali, portant leur total à 100.

    bur-stb/jpc

    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: NATO Civil-Military Fusion Centre
    Country: Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, occupied Palestinian territory, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, South Sudan (Republic of)
    preview


    This document provides an overview of developments in the Mediterranean Basin and other regions of interest from 05—18 February 2013, with hyperlinks to source material highlighted and underlined in the text. For more information on the topics below or other issues pertaining to the region, please contact the members of the Med Basin Team, or visit our website at www.cimicweb.org

    Inside this Issue

    In Focus 1
    North Africa 2
    Northeast Africa 4
    Horn of Africa 5


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    Source: Save the Children
    Country: Ethiopia, Somalia

    The video we’re showing today in our Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centre is ‘Tshehai Loves Learning’, the first educational TV series in Ethiopia for pre-school children.

    Produced by the Ethiopian production company Whizz Kids Workshop who Save the Children has in the past worked with to develop a youth TV series ‘Involve me’, produced by and for adolescents.

    In Helewyn refugee camp, it’s the first time that the children have seen a Somali-language children’s programme, and in some cases any visual media at all. They’re captivated, shouting out their ABCs and 123s.

    The importance of ECCD in refugee camps

    Children in refugee contexts face many challenges and may experience psychosocial distress due to separation from families, witnessing distressing events and exposure to a host of other risks.

    Every week, up to 10,000 children aged between three and six access our ECCD programmes across five camps; implemented by 33 dedicated education staff in the field, who are supported by over a hundred volunteer refugee teachers.

    By enrolling in our ECCD programmes, young children are exposed to a wide range of activities from traditional songs, life-saving hygeine and health messages, to numeracy, literacy, and activities to support motor, cognitive, language, emotional and social development. And to support their learning, every child benefits from a nutritious meal.

    Expanding opportunities

    In developing countries, poverty, a lack of good nutrition, care and stimulation mean that nearly 40% of children under five fail to reach their milestones for cognitive development.

    As Save the Children’s ‘Laying the Foundation’ report highlights, providing an innovative and high-quality ECCD intervention has multiple returns.

    It’s also a great way to tackle gender barriers in education, raising parents awareness of the value formal education can have for both girls and boys.

    There are 39,190 children aged three to six years in Dolo Ado’s refugee camps and we’re constantly working with the community to explore ways to improve and expand our ECCD services.

    HEART

    In 2013, we’re planning to implement HEART (Healing and Education Through the Arts), a new global child development and education approach created by Save the Children that brings the proven power of artistic expression – drawing, painting, music, drama, dance and more – to children in need around the world.

    HEART helps children heal emotionally and learn critical skills, so they can achieve their highest potential.

    There is insurmountable evidence of the benefits of ECCD programmes and it has a vital role in giving every child an equal start in life.


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    Source: World Food Programme
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger

    BAMAKO –Le Programme Alimentaire Mondial des Nations Unies (PAM) a ouvert aujourd'hui un nouvel axe routier pour l’acheminement de l'assistance alimentaire vitale de Niamey, au Niger, vers le nord du Mali où les approvisionnements alimentaires sont touchés par la précarité de la situation sécuritaire et la rupture de la vie économique.

    Les premiers camions ont livré 200 tonnes de vivres dans la ville de Ménaka, dans la région de Gao, alors que d’autres sont en route. Dans les prochains jours, ces vivres permettront d’assister, en partenariat avec l’organisation non-gouvernementale ACTED, 24 000 personnes affectées par l’insécurité alimentaire. Le PAM prévoit d'utiliser cet axe routier à partir du Niger pour d’autres livraisons de vivres vers des endroits divers dans les régions de Gao et Kidal.

    Au cours des deux dernières semaines, le PAM a livré près de 2 000 tonnes d'assistance alimentaire à 100 000 personnes affectées par le conflit dans le nord du Mali, principalement dans la région de Tombouctou, utilisant à la fois les voies fluviales et routières. Cette assistance a été apportée en partenariat avec Handicap International, Solidarités International et CARE. Environ 80 000 personnes déplacées internes et leurs familles d’accueil ont également été assistées dans le sud du pays - dans les régions de Mopti, Ségou, Koulikoro, Kayes et Bamako - en partenariat avec CARE, ACTED et ADR (Association d’appui aux actions de développement rural).

    «Nous sommes activement entrain d’étendre notre capacité logistique pour surmonter les difficultés d'accès au nord du Mali», a déclaré Zlatan Milisic, Représentant du PAM au Mali. «Notre priorité dorénavant est d'envoyer plus de vivres à Kidal dans les prochains jours. Si nous ne parvenons pas à atteindre certaines zones par la route ou le fleuve, nous serons alors prêts à lancer une opération aérienne.»

    Le PAM est préoccupé par la difficulté d’accès à certaines zones ayant besoin d'assistance alimentaire, en raison de la précarité de la situation sécuritaire et des risques d’attaques et de mines terrestres. Plus préoccupant encore, la circulation des marchandises importées a été presque interrompue au nord du Mali. L'économie en est presque au point mort, les marchés sont fermés ou fonctionnent à peine, les prix montent en flèche et les ménages épuisent leurs réserves. Tous ces facteurs conjugués font craindre l’imminence d'une crise alimentaire et nutritionnelle.

    Le PAM prévoit une augmentation de son assistance humanitaire au nord du Mali dans les prochaines semaines avec la réouverture progressive de plus d’axes routiers. “Ce processus est cependant très lent et nous craignons que les vivres ne soient consommés à un rythme dépassant les possibilités d’approvisionnement en raison de la grave pénurie de produits commerciaux internes et importés”, a ajouté Milisic. Plus d'un tiers de la population du nord du Mali était tributaire de l'assistance alimentaire avant même l'intervention militaire.

    Le PAM prévoit, dans son programme d’urgence, d’apporter une assistance alimentaire et nutritionnelle à plus d'un demi-million de personnes au Mali en 2013. Cela comprend plus de 400 000 personnes affectées par la crise au nord et quelque 130 000 personnes déplacées internes et leurs familles d'accueil au sud. Les opérations d'urgence comprennent les distributions de vivres et de transfert monétaires, des programmes de prévention et de prise en charge de la malnutrition chez les enfants, les femmes enceintes et allaitantes - et les cantines scolaires d'urgence.

    Le PAM coordonne la logistique et les télécommunications d'urgence pour l'ensemble de la communauté humanitaire au Mali. Le PAM gère également les Services aériens humanitaires des Nations unies (UNHAS) qui assure le transport aérien pour les travailleurs humanitaires, et prévoit de renforcer ce service.

    Pendant la sécheresse de l'année dernière, le PAM a apporté une assistance alimentaire à plus d’un million de personnes au Mali, ainsi que quelques 135 000 personnes déplacées, 214 000 personnes non déplacées dans le nord et près de 145 000 réfugiés au Burkina Faso, en Mauritanie et au Niger.

    Dans le cadre de l'intervention d'urgence au Mali, le PAM travaille avec 15 partenaires: CARE, Africare, Handicap International, Islamic Relief, Solidarités International, Action contre la Faim, OXFAM, Norwegian Church Aid, Médecins du Monde, ACTED, CSPEEDA, ADR, REACH, World Vision and AMRAD.


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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Mali

    Mali, 22 février 2013– Selon l’UNICEF et les autorités éducatives maliennes, la crise au Mali a affecté l’éducation pour environ 700 000 enfants tant au Nord qu’au Sud du pays. Parmi eux, 200 000 sont toujours privés d’accès à l’école à l’heure actuelle.

    Depuis janvier 2012, au moins 115 écoles dans le nord du pays ont été fermées, détruites, pillées et certaines indiquant la présence d’engins non explosés. De trop nombreux professeurs ne sont pas encore retournés au travail dans les régions du nord. Dans le Sud, depuis la récente reprise du conflit en janvier dernier, les écoles déjà surpeuplées ont dû faire face à l’afflux de nouveaux enfants déplacés. « Au Mali, le conflit armé a compromis la scolarisation de centaines de milliers d’enfants, aliénant leur droit constitutionnel à l’Education », dit Bocar Moussa Diarra, Ministre de l’Education, de l’Alphabétisation, de la Promotion des Langues Nationales et de l’Instruction Civique au Mali. « Pour donner un nouvel espoir à ces victimes de la crise, des centaines d’écoles devront être construites ou réhabilitées, équipées et dotées de cantines scolaires. » « Des milliers d’enseignants devront être formés et bénéficier de matériels et manuels pédagogiques idoines, y compris ceux relatifs à la culture de la paix et à la tolérance. Une forte mobilisation nationale et internationale à mes côtés devrait permettre de relever ce défi », a-t-il ajouté.

    Dans le nord du Mali, seulement une école sur trois est actuellement fonctionnelle. À Kidal, toutes les écoles sont fermées, tandis que dans la région de Tombouctou environ 5 pour cent ont rouvert leurs portes. A Gao, seuls 28 pour cent des enseignants ont repris les cours. « J’ai entendu des coups de feu quand j’étais a l’école», dit Amadou, 12 ans, enfant déplacé originaire de Douentza qui a repris les cours. « La directrice nous a dit de partir à la maison. Même à la maison, j’entendais des coups de feu. Pendant deux semaines environ, je ne suis pas allé à l’école. J’ai oublié beaucoup de choses parce que j’ai été choqué. Les coups de feu que j’ai entendus à Douentza m’ont causé beaucoup d’angoisse. Mais maintenant, j’ai oublié tout ça et je recommence à vivre comme avant».

    Depuis décembre 2012, l'UNICEF a formé 1,190 enseignants maliens sur le soutien psychosocial et l'éducation au risque des mines et plus de 16,000 enfants touchés par le conflit ont reçu du matériel didactique à travers le pays.

    COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE "Quand un enseignant a peur d’aller donner ses cours et quand un élève a peur d’aller à l’école, c’est toute l’éducation qui est en danger », dit Françoise Ackermans,
    Représentante de l’UNICEF au Mali.

    L’ensemble des responsables de l’éducation et les partenaires techniques et financiers se sont récemment mis d’accord pour accélérer un retour des enfants à l’école. Tout doit être mis en oeuvre pour rouvrir rapidement les écoles dans les régions du nord. « Il faut sauver l’année scolaire de nos enfants, spécialement nos filles », dit le Président du Comité de Crise de la Ville de Tombouctou.

    L’appel de fonds lancé en novembre 2012 par tous les partenaires humanitaires fait état de besoins de 18,8 millions de dollars nord-américains pour l’éducation. Celui-ci doit recevoir une réponse immédiate. A ce jour, aucun fonds n’a été versé dans le cadre de cet appel conjoint.

    À propos de l'UNICEF

    L'UNICEF intervient dans 190 pays et territoires pour aider les enfants à survivre et à s'épanouir, de leur plus jeune âge jusqu'à la fin de l'adolescence. Premier fournisseur mondial de vaccins aux pays en développement, l'UNICEF soutient la santé et la nutrition des enfants, l'accès à de l'eau potable et à des moyens d'assainissement, une éducation de base de qualité pour tous les garçons et toutes les filles et la protection des enfants contre la violence, l'exploitation sous toutes ses formes et le SIDA. L'UNICEF est entièrement financé par des contributions volontaires de particuliers, d'entreprises, de fondations et de gouvernements.

    Suivez nous sur Twitter et Facebook.

    Pour de plus amples informations :

    A Bamako -- Laurent Duvillier, UNICEF Afrique de l’Ouest et Centrale, Cell: +221 77 740 35 77 or +221 77 637 66 04 or +223 75 99 34 64, lduvillier@unicef.org
    A Dakar -- Martin Dawes, UNICEF Afrique de l’Ouest et Centrale, Tel:+221 338 69 58 58 / LD: +221 338 69 58 42, Cell: +221 77 740 46 79, mdawes@unicef.org
    A Geneva --Marixie Mercado, UNICEF Genève, Tel: +41-22-909-5716 Cell: +41-79-756-7703 Email: mmercado@unicef.org


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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Mali
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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Mali
    preview



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    Source: Food and Agriculture Organization
    Country: Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Somalia, World

    22 February 2013, Malabo/Rome - Equatorial Guinea today donated $30 million to a new solidarity trust fund that aims to mobilize African financial resources in support of strengthening food security in the region.



    The first donation to the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund was made official in a ceremony at the margins of the third Africa-South America Summit in Malabo, attended by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.


    Meeting with the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, before the signature of the donation agreement, Graziano da Silva said that the contribution was a sign of the country's commitment to eradicating hunger in Africa.

    FAO Regional Representative in Africa, Maria Helena Semedo, who signed the agreement on behalf of FAO, added: 
"This generous contribution by Equatorial Guinea helps transform political will to end hunger into concrete action. I invite others to follow this example and lend their financial support as well."

    

From Africa to Africa

    The goal of the new trust fund is to pool resources from Africa's strongest economies and use them across the continent to support national and regional food security initiatives aimed at eradicating hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.



    The idea of the fund was launched during FAO's April 2012 regional conference held in the Republic of Congo, when the host, President Denis Sassou Nguesso, called for greater solidarity between African nations to fight hunger.



    Besides Equatorial Guinea, other African countries have expressed their intention to contribute to the fund. Angola is one of them, as President José Eduardo dos Santos told Graziano da Silva when he visited Luanda in late January 2013.



    The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund is intended to complement, not supplant, development assistance from overseas donors.

 At the onset, it will focus in particular on strengthening the resilience of rural families and communities in the face of recurrent droughts and other crises such as the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, scaling up activities that have already proven successful.



    Administered by FAO, the fund will support Africa-led, Africa-owned initiatives such as the African Union's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) to boost agricultural productivity in the region.



    "We can end hunger in Africa if we work together under the leadership of African governments and regional institutions, learning from one another through South-South cooperation and other exchanges," the FAO regional representative added.



    Semedo explained that the effort should involve not only governments and international organizations like FAO, but also civil society, the private sector, academia and other partners.



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    Source: NATO Civil-Military Fusion Centre
    Country: Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, occupied Palestinian territory, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, South Sudan (Republic of)
    preview


    This document provides an overview of developments in the Mediterranean Basin and other regions of interest from 05—18 February 2013, with hyperlinks to source material highlighted and underlined in the text. For more information on the topics below or other issues pertaining to the region, please contact the members of the Med Basin Team, or visit our website at www.cimicweb.org

    Inside this Issue

    In Focus 1
    North Africa 2
    Northeast Africa 4
    Horn of Africa 5


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/23/2013 22:08 GMT

    Par Serge DANIEL à Bamako, Anne LE COZ à Gao

    BAMAKO, 23 fév 2013 (AFP) - De nouveaux combats ont opposé samedi des rebelles touareg alliés aux forces françaises et un groupe armé dans le nord du Mali, où la traque des jihadistes se poursuit avec l'appui désormais de drones américains "Predators" déployés depuis le Niger voisin.

    Des hommes du Mouvement national de libération de l'Azawad (MNLA, rébellion touareg) ont affronté samedi les "combattants arabes" d'un groupe armé à In-Khalil, localité proche de Tessalit et de la frontière avec l'Algérie, selon des sources sécuritaires régionale et malienne.

    Le Mouvement arabe de l'Azawad (MAA, autonomiste, créé en mars 2012) a affirmé à l'AFP avoir attaqué samedi vers 04H00 (locales et GMT) le MNLA en représailles à des violences contre des Arabes dans la zone.

    Mohamed Ibrahim Ag Assaleh, responsable du MNLA basé à Ouagadougou, a assuré que les assaillants sont des "terroristes" menés par Omar Ould Hamaha, du Mouvement pour l'unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l'Ouest (Mujao), un des groupes islamistes ayant occupé le nord du Mali en 2012 et qui a revendiqué un attentat-suicide commis vendredi à In-Khalil contre le MNLA.

    Sur place, "le MNLA a combattu le Mujao, le MAA et Ansar Al-Charia", qui est une "dissidence du Mujao", a-t-il affirmé à l'AFP, indiquant que les combats avaient cessé samedi en fin d'après-midi. Il a parlé de "neuf prisonniers" aux mains du MNLA: "six qui se réclament du Mujao et trois d'Ansar Al-Charia".

    Le MAA a aussi fait état d'un retour au calme, en dénonçant une intervention de l'aviation française. "L'armée française a bombardé un de nos véhicules à In-khalil", a soutenu un de ses responsable, sans fournir de bilan.

    Cette intervention aérienne a été confirmée à l'AFP par des sources sécuritaires régionale et malienne. "Un véhicule dans lequel il n'y avait personne a été détruit par l'aviation française au nord de In-Khalil", a dit la source régionale.

    In-Khalil est à plus de 175 km au nord de Kidal. Les forces françaises ont repris fin janvier le contrôle de l'aéroport de Kidal avec quelque 1.800 soldats qui sécurisent la ville, contrôlée depuis peu par des islamistes se disant "modérés" et le MNLA qui y refuse la présence de soldats maliens mais assure collaborer avec la France.

    La région de Kidal abrite aussi l'Adrar des Ifoghas, zone montagneuse entre Tessalit et Kidal-ville où se sont réfugiés de nombreux islamistes armés liés à Al-Qaïda traqués par l'armée française.

    Le Tchad a annoncé vendredi soir y avoir tué 65 jihadistes, mais avoir aussi enregistré 13 morts et 5 blessés dans ses rangs. Il s'agit des pertes connues les plus lourdes subies par les forces soutenant le Mali.

    Dans un message rendu public samedi soir, le président intérimaire malien Dioncounda Traoré a exprimé à son homologue tchadien Idriss Deby Itno la "profonde affliction" et la "grande tristesse" du Mali à la suite de ces décès.

    Auparavant, le président français François Hollande avait salué l'action de l'armée tchadienne, qui "témoigne de la solidarité africaine à l'égard du Mali".

    Un légionnaire français avait été tué cette semaine lors d'une opération dans cette région montagneuse des Ifoghas.

    Drones américains pour espionner les jihadistes

    Les troupes françaises, maliennes et africaines bénéficient désormais sur le champ de bataille du soutien de drones américains Predators.

    Selon un responsable américain, les Etats-Unis ont déployé plusieurs de ces engins au Niger voisin, sur une base de Niamey, d'où ils décolleront pour des vols de reconnaissance sur le Nord malien. Ils ne feront pas usage des missiles dont ils sont équipés, mais seront seulement utilisés pour espionner les jihadistes, selon Washington.

    A 350 km au sud-ouest de Kidal, Gao, la plus grande ville du nord du Mali, l'armée malienne poursuivait des opérations de "ratissage" samedi, au lendemain de combats avec des islamistes infiltrés.

    Vendredi, des soldats maliens avaient combattu les jihadistes à l'arme lourde - notamment contre la mairie de Gao, où s'étaient retranchés certains d'entre eux portant des ceintures explosives - avec l'appui de l'armée française.

    A la mairie, les islamistes ont été "neutralisés" par les forces maliennes, "un élément du génie français est intervenu afin de désamorcer les charges explosives. Au cours de cette action, deux soldats français ont été très légèrement blessés", selon l'état-major de l'armée française.

    De même source, une dizaine de jihadistes ayant tenté de fuir par le fleuve Niger ont aussi été "neutralisés".

    Samedi après-midi, des centaines de personnes se pressaient à la mairie de Gao, pour voir ou prendre en photo les cadavres et lambeaux de chair de sept islamistes tués et dont les corps étaient déjà en voie de décomposition, a constaté une journaliste de l'AFP.

    Le Mujao, qui a annoncé récemment avoir envoyé des combattants à Gao, a réitéré samedi ses menaces d'attaques dans le Nord malien et évoqué des attentats programmés par les jihadistes à Bamako, mais aussi Ouagadougou et Niamey.

    Après l'enlèvement le 19 février dans l'extrême-nord du Cameroun d'une famille de sept Français, dont quatre enfants, la France a mis en garde contre des risques d'attentat ou d'enlèvement au Bénin, où l'engagement français au Mali est "susceptible d'avoir des répercussions" sur la sécurité des ressortissants français.

    Samedi, le président algérien Abdelaziz Bouteflika a estimé que la situation au Mali mettait en danger la sécurité de son pays.

    bur-cs/jeb

    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Food and Agriculture Organization
    Country: Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Somalia, World

    Equatorial Guinea provides first contribution of $30 million for "Africa for Africa" anti-hunger pool

    22 February 2013, Malabo/Rome - Equatorial Guinea today donated $30 million to a new solidarity trust fund that aims to mobilize African financial resources in support of strengthening food security in the region.



    The first donation to the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund was made official in a ceremony at the margins of the third Africa-South America Summit in Malabo, attended by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.


    Meeting with the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, before the signature of the donation agreement, Graziano da Silva said that the contribution was a sign of the country's commitment to eradicating hunger in Africa.

    FAO Regional Representative in Africa, Maria Helena Semedo, who signed the agreement on behalf of FAO, added: 
"This generous contribution by Equatorial Guinea helps transform political will to end hunger into concrete action. I invite others to follow this example and lend their financial support as well."

    

From Africa to Africa

    The goal of the new trust fund is to pool resources from Africa's strongest economies and use them across the continent to support national and regional food security initiatives aimed at eradicating hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.



    The idea of the fund was launched during FAO's April 2012 regional conference held in the Republic of Congo, when the host, President Denis Sassou Nguesso, called for greater solidarity between African nations to fight hunger.



    Besides Equatorial Guinea, other African countries have expressed their intention to contribute to the fund. Angola is one of them, as President José Eduardo dos Santos told Graziano da Silva when he visited Luanda in late January 2013.



    The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund is intended to complement, not supplant, development assistance from overseas donors.

 At the onset, it will focus in particular on strengthening the resilience of rural families and communities in the face of recurrent droughts and other crises such as the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, scaling up activities that have already proven successful.



    Administered by FAO, the fund will support Africa-led, Africa-owned initiatives such as the African Union's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) to boost agricultural productivity in the region.



    "We can end hunger in Africa if we work together under the leadership of African governments and regional institutions, learning from one another through South-South cooperation and other exchanges," the FAO regional representative added.



    Semedo explained that the effort should involve not only governments and international organizations like FAO, but also civil society, the private sector, academia and other partners.



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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/24/2013 21:27 GMT

    DAKAR, 24 fév 2013 (AFP) - Des représentants des communautés originaires de Tombouctou, dans le nord-ouest du Mali, réclament un dialogue "inclusif" pour résoudre la crise dans leur pays et "l'arrêt immédiat" des exactions contre les civils, dans une déclaration à l'issue d'une réunion de deux jours au Sénégal.

    "Nous recommandons l'arrêt immédiat de toutes les exactions contre les populations civiles" mais aussi "la poursuite d'un dialogue pleinement inclusif intra-communautaire et intercommunautaire", affirment-ils dans ce texte dont l'AFP a obtenu copie dimanche.

    Il est signé par 33 personnes, dont les députés Baba Sandy Haïdara (de Tombouctou), Nokh Ag Attia (de Diré), les maires Ousmane Halle (de Tombouctou), Cheickna Dicko (de Léré). Ils figuraient parmi les dizaines d'élus, fonctionnaires, représentants de la société civile, réfugiés ou déplacés, qui se sont réunis jeudi et vendredi à Saly (environ 80 km au sud-est de Dakar).

    Tous sont issus de diverses communautés et des départements formant la région de Tombouctou. Ils ont "discuté sans tabou" de la situation actuelle au Mali, a dit à l'AFP un des participants.

    Depuis janvier, des opérations militaires sont menées par le Mali, appuyé par la France et plusieurs Etats africains, pour chasser des groupes armés liés à Al-Qaïda, qui ont occupé le nord du Mali pendant près de dix mois entre 2012 et 2013, y commettant de nombreuses exactions.

    Selon plusieurs témoins et des ONG de défense des droits de l'Homme, ces opérations militaires se sont accompagnées d'exactions de la part de soldats maliens contre des personnes accusées d'avoir collaboré avec les islamistes armés.

    Dans leur déclaration, les représentant des communautés de Tombouctou demandent aussi "le déploiement de forces de sécurité républicaines"à même de "rassurer les populations dans leur diversité", l'arrestation et le jugement "des personnes présumées (auteurs) de crimes et d'exactions".

    "Nous nous engageons à créer un cadre de dialogue pleinement inclusif afin d'aboutir à une paix durable dans le respect de la diversité de toutes les populations de la région", affirment-ils.

    Pendant leurs travaux, ils ont notamment évoqué "le climat d'insécurité dans lequel vivent les populations" de leur région, une situation marquée entre autres problèmes par des "difficultés d'approvisionnement et de circulation", des "déplacements massifs" par crainte de violences.

    cs/sb

    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Assessment Capacities Project
    Country: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Samoa, Senegal, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, World, Yemen, Zimbabwe
    preview


    Tropical Depression “Crising” made landfall on the southern tip of Davao del Sur, Philippines, on 19 February moving northwest towards southern Palawan and affecting 262,880 people.

    The south-west coast of Madagascar was hit by Tropical Cyclone “Haruna” on 22 February as a Category 2 Tropical Cyclone with wind speeds of 154 km/h to 177 km/h and heavy rains. According to OCHA, as of 23 February 7,330 people were displaced and 10 people were killed. Initial assessments indicate severe damage to houses and infrastructure.

    In Syria, clashes continued across Syria with bombings in Aleppo, Daraa and Damascus. The number of Syrian refugees continued to rise, amounting to a total of 907,100 as of 21 February compared to 830,675 last week.

    This week marked the largest number of casualties since the French-led military campaign against Islamist rebels in Mali began on 11 January. Although humanitarian access in central regions and parts of the north continues to improve and aid is increasing in the accessible parts, security remains a serious threat in parts of the north due to the on-going military operations, threat of mines by armed groups, recent intra-military clashes and suicide bombings.

    Some 350,000 people, 23% of the total population, are affected by food insecurity in northern Cameroon as of 22 February, according to FAO.

    Global Emergency Overview web interface


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/25/2013 14:59 GMT

    Par Evelyne AKA

    ABIDJAN, 25 fév 2013 (AFP) - L'Afrique de l'Ouest a réclamé lundi 950 millions de dollars (715 M euros), deux fois plus que promis, pour financer la guerre au Mali et le renforcement des troupes africaines, censées prendre le relais de l'armée française engagée contre les jihadistes dans l'extrême Nord.

    Face au risque d'"une guerre asymétrique ou d'usure" menée par les "narco-terroristes", le relèvement des effectifs africains, fixé à au moins 8.000 hommes, "s'impose comme une priorité", a déclaré à Abidjan le ministre ivoirien des Affaires étrangères, Charles Koffi Diby.

    Cela porte "l'estimation financière globale à 950 millions de dollars", a indiqué M. Diby sans plus de détails, à l'ouverture d'une réunion de ministres de la Communauté économique des Etats d'Afrique de l'Ouest (Cédéao), actuellement présidée par la Côte d'Ivoire.

    Fin janvier, la communauté internationale avait promis au cours d'une conférence à Addis Abeba une enveloppe financière de plus de 455 millions de dollars (338 M euros) pour le Mali, destinée à la force africaine dans ce pays (Misma) et à l'armée malienne, ainsi qu'à de l'aide humanitaire.

    Aucun point global n'a été fait jusque-là sur les sommes effectivement décaissées.

    La Misma a annoncé vouloir déployer 6.000 hommes, contre 3.300 prévus au départ, et envisagerait l'envoi d'encore 2.000 autres éléments, selon une source militaire africaine.

    "Près de 6.000" hommes de la Misma sont "en train d'être déployés progressivement sur tout l'ensemble du territoire", assurait en fin de semaine le lieutenant-colonel Diarran Koné, du ministère malien de la Défense.

    S'y ajoutent les 2.000 soldats tchadiens promis par N'Djamena, qui ne font pas partie de la Misma mais travaillent en coordination avec elle.

    Jusque-là, seuls les 1.800 soldats du Tchad déjà déployés au Mali et les troupes du Niger (500 hommes promis) sont engagés sur les points les plus chauds dans le grand Nord aux côtés des troupes françaises.

    La France est engagée depuis le 11 janvier contre les jihadistes qui occupaient la moitié septentrionale du pays depuis l'an dernier, y commettant de multiples exactions au nom de la charia (loi islamique), et menaçaient de descendre vers le Sud.

    "Dernière phase"

    Les principales villes de la zone ont été reprises et désormais les troupes françaises sont lancées, selon le président François Hollande, dans la "dernière phase" dans l'extrême Nord et le massif des Ifoghas, où sont "sans doute regroupées les forces d'Aqmi" (Al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique).

    Paris envisage de réduire ses effectifs si possible dès mars, mais les récentes attaques suicide et de violents accrochages montrent que les jihadistes, après avoir fui le combat, ont opté pour la guérilla.

    Sur le terrain, la France se coordonne avec la rébellion touareg laïque du Mouvement national de libération de l'Azawad (MNLA).

    L'armée française a donné à ces rebelles un coup de main en bombardant dimanche une base du Mouvement arabe de l'Azawad (MAA) qui venait d'affronter le MNLA dans le Nord-Est, près de l'Algérie, et a fait quatre blessés dans les rangs du MAA, selon ce dernier mouvement et une source sécuritaire régionale. Le MAA avait dit avoir attaqué ce week-end en représailles à des violences contre des Arabes.

    Lors de la rencontre d'Abidjan, le chef de la diplomatie ivoirienne a jugé prioritaire de "protéger les populations touareg contre toutes formes d'exactions".

    Les communautés touareg et arabes, souvent considérées dans le Nord malien comme favorables aux islamistes, sont victimes d'exactions, généralement imputées à l'armée malienne, selon de nombreux témoins et des ONG internationales.

    La réunion ministérielle de lundi prélude à un sommet ordinaire des chefs d'Etat de la Cédéao qui doit se tenir mercredi et jeudi dans la capitale politique ivoirienne Yamoussoukro.

    Selon des sources concordantes, le chef de l'Etat ivoirien Alassane Ouattara devrait à cette occasion, sauf surprise, être renouvelé à la présidence de la Cédéao, qu'il occupe depuis un an.

    eak-tmo/hba


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/25/2013 14:41 GMT

    ABIDJAN, Feb 25, 2013 (AFP) - West African nations will need aid worth $950 million (715 million euros) to sustain and reinforce a military mission to help fight Islamists in Mali, Ivory Coast's Foreign Minister Charles Koffi Diby said Monday.

    The amount is twice that of funds pledged by donor nations to the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to help bring a multinational African military force of up to 8,000 troops being deployed in the strife-torn country.

    Diby announced at the start of a meeting of foreign ministers in ECOWAS, which is currently chaired by Ivory Coast, that the sum he had in mind took into account "the demands of an asymetrical war or a drawn-out conflict that the narco-terrorists (...) could bring about," allowing for west African troop rotations.

    This brings "the overall financial estimation to $950 million," Diby said, without going into any further details.

    At the end of January, the international community promised during a conference in Addis Ababa to provide an overall sum of more than $455 million dollars (338 million euros) for the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) that ECOWAS is putting together, for the Malian army and for humanitarian aid.

    At present, 6,000 soldiers are due to be deployed as part of AFISMA, as well as 2,000 Chadian troops pledged by N'Djamena, who would not be part of the Nigerian-led force but would coordinate with it.

    "It is vital" that AFISMA, which should eventually "enable the progressive replacement" of French troops who intervened against the armed extremists on January 11, "should dispose of all the necessary resources," Diby said.

    He added that it was also a priority to "protect the Tuareg population against all kinds of abuses".

    The light-skinned Tuareg and Arab communities, sometimes considered to be favourable to the Islamists who imposed strict Sharia law with harsh punishments on northern Mali, have in recent weeks been prey to serious human rights abuses. Witnesses and international non-governmental organisations blame many of these abuses on the Malian army.

    The ministerial meeting in Abidjan precedes an ordinary summit of ECOWAS countries, due to be held in Ivory Coast's political capital Yamoussoukro on Wednesday and Thursday.

    eak-tmo/nb/ln


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    Source: Stability: International Journal of Security & Development
    Country: Mali, Somalia

    Alex Thurston

    This commentary examines how Mali entered its current crisis, tracing the fall of the regime of President Amadou Toumani Touré and the rise of armed Islamist groups in northern Mali, as well as the events that led to an armed intervention by France. The piece then discusses some of the conceptual frameworks that could impede effective policy formation in post-conflict Mali. The piece argues that Somalia does not offer a compelling model for Mali. The commentary closes by recommending that the Malian government and its partners should prioritize addressing humanitarian and security concerns in northern Mali over staging elections.


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    Source: UN Radio
    Country: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal

    Listen

    Although a catastrophe was averted in the Sahel last year, ten million people still need food assistance, according to a United Nations official.

    David Gressly, the United Nations Regional Coordinator for the Sahel says 2012 was a difficult year because of the drought of 2011 which created food shortages for 18 million people across the region.

    Over a million children were severely affected by malnutrition in the Sahel, he adds.

    Mr. Gressly tells UN Radio that approximately $1.5 billion was mobilized to respond to the crisis.

    "The countries concerned provided very early warning and the major donors also responded in good time which made, I think a fundamental difference. This year what we are facing is a different set of problems. We are still dealing with the aftermath of 2012. Households need to rebuild after the drought. We also have some residual chronic emergency level needs, smaller numbers this year but still important numbers, 18 people last year, versus 10 million. So while there is a reduction there are still some real needs out there." (31")

    Mr. Gressly says it is also important to help households build resilience so that they are able to withstand future droughts in the Sahel, the semi-arid region that stretches from Senegal in the West to Sudan in the East.

    Gerry Adams, United Nations.

    Duration: 1'22"


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    Source: UN Human Rights Council
    Country: Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World

    MORNING

    25 February 2013

    Hears Address by Joachim Gauck, President of Germany

    The Human Rights Council this morning opened its regular twenty-second session and started its high-level segment, hearing keynote statements from the President of the Council, the President of the General Assembly, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, followed by the high-level segment which was addressed by 12 dignitaries, including the President of Germany.

    Remigiusz Achilles Henczel, President of the Human Rights Council, noted that former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said eight years ago that it was not possible to enjoy security without development and development without security, and it was not possible to enjoy either without respect for human rights. This session of the Human Rights Council would hopefully further reinforce the respect for human rights and so the other two pillars of the United Nations, security and development.

    Vuk Jeremic, President of the United Nations General Assembly, underlined that the credibility of the Human Rights Council rested on its ability to respond to alleged human rights violations in an impartial manner and said that the instruments and framework for such action were already in place. The focus on civil and political rights alone was not enough and attention to economic, social and cultural rights, including the fundamental right to development, was equally important. The situation in Syria was of grave concern, said Mr. Jeremic, and extended a humanitarian appeal to all sides in the Syrian civil war to bring the fighting to an immediate end.

    Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the promise of respecting all human rights for all people was still a dream for too many and that war crimes continued to be committed in numerous internal conflicts including those continuing in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Sudan and Syria. Despite the extraordinary progress since the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, many were still left behind, including migrants, older people, religious and ethnic minorities, and people persecuted because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The work here would not be done until the promise of the Vienna Declaration was made real for everyone – no exceptions, no excuses.

    Didier Burkhalter, Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, invited all States to support the letter sent on 14 January 2013 to the Security Council on behalf of 57 countries, recommending the referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, and to extend the mandate of the fact-finding mission to ensure that the violations of international law in this country were documented. The political dialogue was the only solution to the conflict in Mali and Switzerland remained available to provide support to this end.

    In his statement to the Human Rights Council, Joachim Gauck, President of Germany, said that the Council had to act on behalf of all humanity in cases where States did not live up to their commitments, and that more could be done to protect human rights in Syria. The fulfilment of basic needs was the prerequisite of human dignity, which also required a say in political life and the effective protection of people’s legal rights, stressed Mr. Gauck and then outlined the four principles guiding Germany: speaking openly about human rights violations, intervening quickly to prevent such violations, taking appropriate action, and helping human rights organizations in their job.

    Other dignitaries who addressed the Council in the High-level Segment were Khudheir Mussa Jafar Al Khuzaie, Vice-President of Iraq; Angelino Garzon, Vice-President of Colombia; Zlatko Lagumdžija, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Utoni Nujoma, Minister of Justice of Namibia; Frans Timmermans, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands; Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom; Saad Dine El Otmani, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco; Basile Ikouebe, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Congo; Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey; Ebrahim Ebrahim, Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa; and Eduardo Zuain, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina.

    The Council today is holding a full day of meetings from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. At 1:06 p.m., the Council suspended the high-level segment to hold a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. It will continue with its high-level segment at 3 p.m.

    Opening Statements

    REMIGIUSZ ACHILLES HENCZEL, President of the Human Rights Council, expressed deep gratitude to the members of the Human Rights Council for entrusting him with the honour of presiding over the work of this august body. He noted that former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan had said eight years ago that it was not possible to enjoy security without development and development without security, and it was not possible to enjoy either without respect for human rights. The President expressed hope that this session of the Human Rights Council would further reinforce the respect for human rights and so the other two pillars of the United Nations, security and development.

    VUK JEREMIC, President of the United Nations General Assembly, said that in the past seven years the Council had become the central meeting ground for United Nations Member States to articulate their respective positions on human rights. The Council’s credibility would rest on its ability to respond to alleged human rights violations in an impartial manner. The Council had in place instruments that provided a framework for effective action. Since last September the General Assembly has been working on strengthening the Human Rights Treaty Body System and Iceland and Indonesia, who had been appointed as co-facilitators in that process, had proposed a series of events that would help advance inter-governmental negotiations on how to improve the effective functioning of the System. Narrowly focusing on civil and political rights was insufficient, said Mr. Jeremic. Attention should also be devoted to economic, social and cultural rights, including the fundamental right to development. Mr. Jeremic expressed grave concern at the perpetuation of the bloodbath in Syria, where new allegations of human rights abuses were reported daily, with official statistics putting the death toll at over 70,000 and an estimated twenty percent of the population lacking access to fuel, electricity, food, and water. The immediate cessation of hostilities should be the Council’s priority and should be followed by a political process that would enable the citizens of Syria freely to determine the course of their political future. As President of the General Assembly, Mr. Jeremic extended a humanitarian appeal to all sides in the Syrian civil war to bring the fighting to an immediate end.

    NAVI PILLAY, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said this was the start of what was a historically significant year for the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, for the Human Rights Council, and indeed for the global human rights movement as a whole. The Vienna Declaration was the most significant overarching human rights document produced in the last quarter of a century. It crystalized the underlying principles that human rights were universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and took the key notion of universality a step further by committing States to the promotion and protection of all human rights for all people, regardless of their political, economic, and cultural systems. Much progress had occurred over the past two decades, but it had to be recognized that the glass was half full, and the promise of respecting all human rights for all people was still a dream for too many.

    Despite the truly inspiring advances in combating impunity and ensuring accountability both at the international and national levels, including through transitional justice processes, there were still far too many people with command responsibility who escaped justice for serious crimes and gross human rights violations. Hundreds of thousands of people had died in two genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia and Herzegovina; the Palestinian territories were still occupied; massive violations had occurred in Iraq and Sri Lanka; and war crimes continued to be committed in numerous internal conflicts including those continuing in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Sudan and Syria. There should be continued nurturing and strengthening of the system designed to deal with such crimes and violations, and those who committed them. It was also critical that the international community do its utmost to prevent such situations from developing or deteriorating. It was a matter of great concern that so many State authorities continued to ignore or repress civil society organizations, human rights defenders and the media. Such pressure or reprisals against those who rightly sought to engage the international human rights system should never be tolerated.

    The United Nations Human Rights system had also grown stronger since the Vienna Conference. The Council had gained credibility for its different modus operandi and in particular for its successful management of the first round of the Universal Periodic Review, and had been increasingly receptive to human rights situations. The combination of independence, expertise and United Nations-bestowed authority was potent. It was critical that all Member States cooperated fully with the Special Procedures, including by accepting visits. The human rights treaty bodies had also grown in number and weight. States were urged to accept more of those crucial treaties during this anniversary year.

    The Office of the High Commissioner had grown from a small entity of just over 100 staff and a presence in two countries outside Geneva, to more than 1,000 staff and 58 field presences worldwide. Yet, it continued to receive many requests for assistance that it was unable to satisfy. Ms. Pillay was convinced that it could and should continue to grow and mature in order to carry out fully its mandate to promote and protect the human rights of everyone everywhere. For that to happen further support was needed and, in particular, a higher, more realistic and more sustainable level of funding. Ms. Pillay urged for the advancement of the implementation of the many remarkable international laws and standards that had been developed since the Universal Declaration and the subsequent vigorous boost provided by the Vienna Declaration. While the past 20 years had seen extraordinary progress, it should not be forgotten that there had been those that had been left behind, including migrants, older people, religious and ethnic minorities, people persecuted because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, to name a few. The work here would not be done until the promise of the Vienna Declaration was made real for everyone – no exceptions, no excuses.

    DIDIER BURKHALTER, Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, said that the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action 20 years ago had led to normative progress and the integration of human rights into global policies, including security and development. Despite institutional progress and the progress in standard setting, human rights continued to be trampled upon. After two years of bloody conflict, Syria had become a human rights and humanitarian catastrophe, where serious crimes were being committed by the parties to the conflict. Switzerland invited all States to support the letter sent on 14 January 2013 to the Security Council on behalf of 57 countries, recommending the referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. Combating impunity was essential to build sustainable peace in Syria and Switzerland called for the extension of the mandate of the fact-finding mission to ensure that the violations of international law in this country were documented.

    The international support mission in Mali should have human rights observers on the ground soon; violations of international human rights and humanitarian law must be prevented, investigated and must not remain unpunished. The political dialogue was the only solution to the conflict in Mali and Switzerland remained available to provide support to this end. In closing, Mr. Burkhalter outlined three key challenges and areas of priority action to effectively protect human rights: freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, including the right to peaceful demonstrations, respect of human rights by businesses and the implementation of the Guiding Principles on businesses and human rights, and abolishment of the death penalty.

    High-level Segment

    KHUDHEIR MUSSA JAFAR AL-KHUZAIE, Vice-President of Iraq, said that the work to strengthen and enhance the application of human rights principles world-wide was appreciated. Iraq had made serious efforts to adopt and implement international instruments. It was now preparing its third general election that would take place next April. It was hoped that in doing this better services for its citizens would be ensured. The Iraqi people had lived in poverty and deprivation for many years. The Iraqi Government was thus committed to develop a nation-wide strategy to eliminate poverty over the coming years. The situation of poverty inherited from the previous government was catastrophic. The Government was trying to remedy this and was ready to work closely with the relevant United Nations organizations. Iraq had also worked with other bodies and had ratified fundamental human rights instruments which Iraq was committed to implementing. With regards to developments in the Middle East, those developments had led to the replacement of some of the dictatorships by new regimes. While Iraq supported democratic aspirations in those countries, it continued to suffer heavily at the hands of terrorists and the relevant bodies were called upon to address this problem faced by all countries concerned.

    ANGELINO GARZÓN, Vice-President of Colombia, said that Colombia was committed to making further progress in the adoption of a national human rights policy which would be implemented at the national and local level. A recently organized human rights conference had brought together civil society, the national government, and regional authorities. In 2012 Colombia had enacted a Law on Victims and Land Restitution, as a result of which greater focus had been placed on offering compensation and assistance to victims instead of concentrating on the perpetrators of crimes, and collective compensation and reparation had been provided to entire communities. Progress had also been made in protecting human rights activists and defenders, although there was still a long way to go. In Colombia conflict and violence were ongoing and were largely financed through drug money. Illegal armed organizations still kidnapped persons and forcibly recruited children into fighting groups, which seriously undermined the right of citizens to live in peace. Colombia, a country of good practices, was open to international scrutiny and had a great deal to contribute with respect to promoting human rights worldwide. Mr. Garzón urged all countries to comply with their obligations to promote and protect human rights.

    ZLATKO LAGUMDŽIJA, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that Bosnia and Herzegovina had the honour of being a member of the Human Rights Council from 2007 to 2010 and that this experience had been very useful in many aspects, such as by increasing the capacity of the institutions to report to the Council, implementing the provisions of the ratified human rights instruments and incorporating its recommendations in action plans. Bosnia and Herzegovina would soon be able to fulfil obligations arising from the decision of the European Court of Human Rights on the Sejdic Finci case and had undertaken steps to establish the national preventive mechanism as per the Convention against Torture and in line with the Paris Principles. Trafficking in human beings was a regional problem and only a regional approach would bring fruitful results. The international community should work together to set up a new post-2015 agenda and enormous technology innovations and more justice and solidarity in international relations should bring extraordinary positive results to the most remote areas and least development countries. The ability of the Human Rights Council to react to urgent situations of human rights violations was crucial and Mr. Lagumdžija urged it to continue to do so. He called on the international community to unite and stop the violence against civilians in Syria with all necessary means.

    UTONI NUJOMA, Minister of Justice of Namibia, said that reports by Amnesty International showed that the number of death penalty executions was on the increase. This was alarming and signified the need to strengthen the dialogue with the countries concerned. The treaty body system was urged to bear in mind the national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds while promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, in line with the Vienna Declaration. The Office of the High Commissioner should deliberate further on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of natural and other disasters. Namibia also called for the end of the use of drones, which violated international law. The international community was called upon to continue supporting Mali to restore peace and democracy to the nation and to ensure its territorial integrity. The Malian Governmental was called upon to establish structures for national reconciliation and to seek technical assistance from the Office of the High Commissioner. In a globalized world, racial harmony should be encouraged in order to promote the human rights of all individuals, and institutions concerned should take serious measures to stop racial discrimination in sports. Namibia was committed to a robust and effective Human Rights Council and had decided to present its candidature to the Council for the period 2014-2016.

    FRANS TIMMERMANS, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, said that the Netherlands’ vision was that human rights were universal and that no country was beyond scrutiny. The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights had opened its doors last year and the country’s second Universal Periodic Review report was submitted then. Mr. Timmermans stressed the importance of engaging societies at large in the implementation process and in a dialogue on human rights, which necessitated a strong and effective international system for human rights. As long as the violation of human rights continued, more had to be done to alleviate the suffering of people in places such as Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Mr. Timmermans called on the Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court. The priorities of the Netherlands’ human rights strategy were the protection of non-governmental organization representatives and human rights defenders, the promotion of women’s rights, and combating all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation. It was important to foster inclusive societies, in which human rights were respected and every individual enjoyed the freedom to live according to his or her identity of choice, which was essential for ensuring harmony, stability, and prosperity.

    BARONESS SAYEEDA WARSI, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, said that preventing sexual violence in conflict was one of the issues where greater international focus and leadership were needed. The international community must do more to protect victims, prevent the use of rape in conflict, provide better support to victims, and end the culture of impunity for those crimes. The atrocities in Syria could not continue and those responsible for the worst violations and abuses must be held to account, including through the International Criminal Court. The reports of systematic and widespread human rights abuses in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, particularly the continued use of political prison camps, were of extreme concern, and during this session of the Council the United Kingdom would present, together with the European Union and Japan, a resolution which would call for an end of those abhorrent practices. The Government of Myanmar should translate the positive commitments on human rights into action, resolve the issue of Rohingya citizenship, ensure stronger security and more effective coordination of humanitarian assistance, and address impunity. The United Kingdom would focus in 2013 on thematic concerns that affected individuals globally, including freedom of religion or belief, where a shared understanding could be built on what needed to be done to protect this right and combat intolerance.

    SAAD DINE EL OTHMANI, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, said that Morocco had made strategic choices to strengthen democracy and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It had also presented its candidacy for membership of the Council for the period 2014-2016. Morocco’s contribution to the promotion of the human rights system had been crowned by the invitation of the special procedures and the interactions with recommendations and observations made by the United Nations mechanisms. Morocco had also ratified the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and had launched the procedure for the ratification of the third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, among other instruments. Morocco urged the international community to support Mali in overcoming the unprecedented crisis. It had also followed with deep concern the deteriorating situation in Syria and deplored the grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. There was also a need for a just and comprehensive solution to the situation regarding Palestine, and guaranteeing its people’s legitimate rights. Morocco was deeply concerned about reports by various mechanisms of the Human Rights Council which confirmed the lack of amelioration of the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

    JOACHIM GAUCK, President of Germany, said that the Council had to act on behalf of all humanity in cases where States did not live up to their commitments, and that more could be done to protect human rights in Syria. He underlined the importance of transparency in the way that the Council carried out its duties and said that it was vital that violations from around the world be brought to light. Human rights were far too often violated and ignored even in cases where they were enshrined in law. The death penalty, violence against women, discrimination on the basis of colour or origin, and the intimidation of human rights defenders were examples of that. Having lived in East Germany, Mr. Gauck said that he personally knew what it meant to be deprived of basic freedoms and asked the Council always to remember the people who suffered under inhumane regimes. Censorship of the press, forced marriages, female genital mutilation, torture, and suppression of person freedoms were not acceptable practices. Respect for human dignity should be the paramount value governing the work of the Council, said Mr. Gauck. Societies in transition needed to change step by step in order to abandon authoritarian rule and embrace democracy. Not only were human rights universal but they were also indivisible. The fulfillment of basic needs was the prerequisite of human dignity, which also required a say in political life and the effective protection of people’s legal rights. Germany would always support the work of the Council and in doing so it would particularly promote understanding between regions. Four guiding principles were important to Germany, including speaking openly about human rights violations, intervening quickly to prevent such violations, taking appropriate action, and helping human rights organizations in their job.

    BASILE IKOUEBE, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Congo, said a lot of uncertainty had appeared vis-à-vis the resolve to depoliticise the subject of human rights and pay the same level of attention to all human rights. Some did not always give the right to development the same importance given to civil and political rights, although it was essential. It was the duty of the international community to promote the emergence of an enabling international environment for the realisation of all human rights. Political crises and humanitarian disasters had led to upheavals and to flagrant violations of individual human rights. The Republic of the Congo had declared 2013 as the year of basic education and vocational training. A subject of concern for all nations was corruption and it had become a global scourge with disastrous consequences. In 2007 the Republic of the Congo had set up a national commission to combat corruption and fraud, and a charter had been signed among Congolese associations, religious denominations, the private sector and unions, with a view to a unified fight against corruption.

    AHMET DAVUTOGLU, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, said that the humanitarian tragedy was still going on in Syria before the eyes of the international community. Syria had become a scene of appalling human rights violations. Turkey remained committed to supporting the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria in order to deter violations of human rights and lay the foundations for future accountability and it was doing its utmost to shoulder a large part of the humanitarian catastrophe, including providing assistance to Syrians in refugee camps and cities in Turkeys. Over $ 600 million had been spent and that was more than the total support of all European Union countries including their declared commitments. Perpetrators of human rights violations must know that there would be no impunity. Even in times of war there were rules and the international community should join efforts to bring an immediate end to crimes against the Syrian people; perpetrators should not go unpunished. The Council should also focus on the suffering of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation, which had been a bleeding wound in the conscience of humanity since the United Nations was founded. It was the illegal settlements that deprived the Palestinians of their native territory by systematically grabbing their land, occupied since 1967.

    EBRAHIM EBRAHIM, Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, said that it was critical that the Human Rights Council was seen as an independent mechanism for the entrenchment of human rights throughout the world and that more must be done to address contemporary forms of racism which were still prevalent in many areas of the world. South Africa was looking forward to continuing work with the Council in pursuit of the elaboration of complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and was fully committed to fighting discrimination, eradicating gender-based violence and protecting the rights of the gay and lesbian community. South Africa was gravely concerned about the continuing suffering of the Palestinian people. It called on the Council to implement the recommendations contained in the report of the Fact Finding Mission on Gaza, and ensure that the Council’s efforts to combat impunity were reinforced and so contribute to the restoration of its credibility. It was regrettable that the United Nations process led by Mr. Brahimi had been unable to find a credible Syrian-led and owned political process and Mr. Ebrahim urged all parties to stop the violence and enter into negotiations without preconditions. South Africa was greatly concerned about the state of the budget of Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and would continue to advocate for the funding of its programmes from the regular budget of the United Nations, to eliminate politicization of the programme of this critical Office.

    EDUARDO ZUAIN, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, said that Argentina’s election to the Council for the period 2013-2015 had also taken place after its election as a non-permanent Member of the Security Council. Argentina reiterated the responsibility it attached to its election to two important bodies in the United Nations and its international responsibility in the field of human rights, concerning truth and reconciliation as well as other emerging issues. Argentina was in the process of strengthening its human rights policy, including legislation on a number of issues such as social inclusion and respect for economic and social rights, gender identity, same-sex marriages, and cross-cutting policies such as the national anti-discrimination plan, and other measures to combat discrimination in Argentina. A new stage in the fight against impunity had placed Argentina in a leadership position on issues such as the prevention of genocide, the teaching and remembrance of the Holocaust as a mean to preventing massive atrocities, and normative developments related to enforced disappearances. Respect for the rights of migrants was fundamental, as well as taking effective measures towards eliminating discrimination, xenophobia or racism.

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