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Central African Republic: Rights experts concerned over ‘Russian advisers’ and close contacts with UN peacekeepers

Tensions have been high in CAR since before Presidential elections were held on 27 December 2020, and widespread volatility remains, amid attacks by a coalition of armed groups.

“This blurring of the lines between civil, military and peacekeeping operations during the hostilities creates confusion about the legitimate targets and increases the risks for widespread human rights and humanitarian law abuses”, said the UN-appointed independent experts, including the UN Working Group on mercenaries.

Their alert focuses on “the interconnected roles” of Sewa Security Services, Russian-owned Lobaye Invest SARLU, and a Russian-based organisation known as the Wagner Group.

‘Close working relationship’

The experts said that they were disturbed to learn of the close working relationship between contractors and the United Nations peacekeeping mission in CAR, MINUSCA.

In particular, they expressed concerns about contractors’ connections to a series of violent attacks since the nationwide poll.

They said that they had received, “and continue to receive, reports of grave human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, attributable to the private military personnel operating jointly with CAR’s armed forces (FACA) and in some instances UN peacekeepers”.

Among the violations are reports of mass summary executions, arbitrary detentions, torture during interrogations, forced disappearances, forced displacement of the civilian population, indiscriminate targeting of civilian facilities, violations of the right to health, and increasing attacks on humanitarian actors.

They pointed to the presence of “Russian advisers” at MINUSCA bases, as well as medical evacuations of wounded “Russian trainers” to the UN mission’s bases.

Call for accountability

In a call to the Government and their “international partners” to comply with their obligations under international law, the experts urged them to hold accountable all perpetrators of grave violations and abuses of human rights.

“Unacceptably, there seem to be no investigations and no accountability for these abuses,” the experts said. “The close connections between the various actors, along with the lack of transparency, further jeopardises chances of any impartial investigation and ensuring accountability for those abuses and violations.”

Greater clarity on the roles of these “international partners” and accountability is needed to achieve sustainable peace and stability in Central African Republic, they maintained.

Indonesia: UN experts denounce mega tourism project that ‘tramples on human rights’

In a joint statement led by Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, the experts highlighted expulsions of local communities and destruction of houses, fields, water sources, cultural and religious sites, as the Indonesian Government and the country’s Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) “groomed Mandalika to become a ‘New Bali’.” 

“Credible sources have found that the local residents were subjected to threats and intimidations and forcibly evicted from their land without compensation. Despite these findings, the ITDC has not sought to pay compensation or settle the land disputes”, the experts said. 

The Government’s aim is to create an enormous tourism complex in Mandalika, which is situated in Lombok’s impoverished West Nusa Tenggara Province, with a Grand Prix motorcycle circuit, parks, resorts and hotels, the experts added. 

To date, the project has attracted more than $1 billion in private investment and is being managed by Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral financial institution. 

Lack of due diligence

The rights experts also criticised a lack of due diligence by the AIIB and private businesses to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address adverse human rights impacts, as set forth in the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights.

“In light of the dark history of human rights violations and land grabs in the region, the AIIB and businesses cannot look the other way and carry on business as usual”, the experts said.

“Their failure to prevent and address risks of human rights abuses is tantamount to being complicit in such abuses”, they added.

In March 2021, several UN experts voiced their concerns in joint communications to the Indonesian Government, the ITDC and the AIIB, as well as to concerned private companies involved in the project as well as their home States, France, Spain and the United States, the statement noted.

‘Testing’ Indonesia’s commitments

Special Rapporteur De Schutter also highlighted that the Mandalika project puts Indonesia’s “laudable commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its underlying human rights obligations to the test”.

He added that large-scale tourism development that “tramples on human rights is fundamentally incompatible” with the concept of sustainable development.

Mr. De Schutter insisted that “the time has passed for racing circuits and massive transnational tourism infrastructure projects that benefit a handful of economic actors rather than the population as a whole”. 

Instead, Governments keen to build back better after COVID-19 “should focus on empowering local communities”, enhancing livelihoods and participation in decision-making, he continued, urging investors “not to finance or engage in projects and activities that contribute to human rights violations and abuses.”

In addition to Mr. De Schutter, the UN experts making the call include the special rapporteurs on the rights of indigenous peoples, on the situation of human rights defenders, and on adequate housing; the independent experts on human rights and international solidarity, and on promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; as well as the members of the UN Working Group on business and human rights.

The Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. The experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 

Yemen: Arrival of COVID-19 vaccines a ‘gamechanger’

The 360,000 doses were shipped through the COVAX Facility, the global equity initiative, and will enable health workers and other priority populations to be protected against the disease. 

“The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine doses is a critical moment for Yemen”, said Philippe Duamelle, Representative of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), a COVAX partner along with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO). 

 “As COVID-19 continues to claim lives around the world, Yemen now has the capacity to protect those most at risk, including health workers, so that they can safely continue to provide life-saving interventions for children and families”, he added. “Vaccines work, vaccines save lives, now let’s start getting people vaccinated.” 

Important first step 

The AstraZeneca vaccines sent to Yemen were manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and are the first batch of 1.9 million doses the country will initially receive throughout the year. 

They were accompanied by 13,000 safety boxes and 1.3 million syringes, both critical for safe and effective inoculation.   

Dr Adham Ismail, WHO Representative in Yemen, described the shipment as an “important first step” in combatting COVID-19. 

“It will help save lives, including those at highest risk of serious disease, and will help protect the health system”, he said. “These safe and effective vaccines will be a gamechanger, but for the foreseeable future we must continue wearing masks, physically distance and avoid crowds.” 

The GAVI country manager in Yemen, Rehan Hafiz, looked forward to the launch of the vaccination campaign. 

“Thanks to the work of the Government of Yemen and of the COVAX partners, and with the support of our donors, we are now able to protect our most vulnerable populations”, he said. “Our work is only just beginning but the arrival of the first COVAX COVID-19 doses is a major milestone for Yemen.”

UN agencies ramp up response for Rohingya refugees in wake of ‘unprecedented’ fire

The blaze destroyed about 9,500 shelters and also reduced to ashes over 1,600 vital facilities, including hospitals, schools, and food and aid distribution centres. As of Tuesday, at least 11 people are confirmed to have perished in the fire and over 300 are still missing.  

Richard Ragan, UN World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director in Bangladesh, said that the scale of the fire was “unprecedented” and that the agency is “determined” to help those affected get their lives back to normal as quickly as possible. 

“WFP, together with our partners and thousands of volunteers, have supported the families since the start of the tragedy, in meeting their most urgent needs of food and water. Where two of our nutrition centres once stood, debris were cleared in record time, stocks were replenished, and services resumed for children and their mothers”, he said. 

According to WFP, its top priority now is providing food to affected families, until they can have access to shelters and cooking stoves. It aims to reopen electronic voucher outlets to allow families to purchase staple and fish foods. 

The agency has also erected temporary structures, from which it is providing breastfeeding support and counselling to mothers, and additional food to children under five.

“We are determined to do what we can to help them get their lives back to normal as quickly as possible”, Mr. Ragan added. 

Mental health and psychosocial support 

The UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) have also upped their response, deploying mental health and psychosocial support teams to help refugees who lost everything in the fire. So far, over 5,000 people have been provided with emotional and psychosocial support, and more than 700 with psychological first aid. 

IOM also engaged over 11,500 cash-for-work laborers to help clear debris and support reconstruction. 

UNHCR teams on the ground are monitoring the safety and security of refugees, and working to address the needs of separated children, spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said. 

“Since the fire, together with our partners, we’ve identified more than 600 separated girls and boys who have been reunited with their families. Our protection partners also established two child protection helplines and four reunification help desks”, he added. 

A mother receives nutrition support for her acutely malnourished children at UNICEF’s temporary treatment centre, after the main centre was destroyed in the fire.

Refugee volunteers supporting response 

Refugee volunteers are also supporting affected families, according to the UNHCR spokesperson. They were among the first responders to help combat the blaze and since then have been helping older refugees, children and pregnant women find shelters, escorting people to health care facilities, and identifying and referring refugees with specific needs to relevant services. 

“They are also running awareness sessions on child protection risks such as child-trafficking and gender-based violence, fire safety, first aid and general assistance”, Mr. Mahecic added. 

The UNHCR spokesperson also called for additional resources to address the immediate aftermath of the catastrophic fire. 

“[We are] asking government and private sector donors to keep their contributions flexible, thus allowing their use across the overall operation.” 

More climate action needed during ‘make-or-break year’ for people and planet 

With countries across the world having agreed through the Paris Agreement to a goal of limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels to mitigate global warming, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed spelled out at the Climate and Development Ministerial Meeting: “We now need to spare no effort to achieve it in this ‘make-or-break year’”. 

‘Moral, economic and social imperative’  

She painted a picture of climate financing to Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States at 14 and two per cent respectively; one person in three not adequately covered by early warning systems; and women and girls – who make up 80 per cent of those displaced by the climate emergency – often excluded from decision-making roles. 

She said the need to adapt and be resilient, was “a moral, economic and social imperative”, pointing out that it receives just one-fifth of total climate finance. She said “we cannot wait until 2030 or 2050 to rectify these failings”. 

Year of action 

The UN has identified five concrete and achievable actions to help countries throughout the year respond to the climate emergency and “secure the breakthrough that the Secretary-General has called for”, said the Deputy UN chief. 

Firstly, donors need to increase their financial support to climate adaptation by least 50 per cent by June, when the United Kingdom hosts the G7 Summit of industrialized countries, followed by national and multilateral development banks once the UN climate conference (COP26) convenes in November.  

Access to climate support must be “streamlined, transparent and simplified”, especially for the most vulnerable and for a “significant scale-up” of existing financial instruments designed to handle disasters, along with new instruments to “incentivize resilience-building”.  

Next, the deputy UN chief said that developing countries needed to have the tools at their disposal to embed climate risk in all planning, budget, and procurement strategies.  

“Risk information is the critical first step for risk reduction, transfer and management”, she said.   

The final action highlighted, was to support locally and regionally led adaptation and resilience initiatives in vulnerable countries, cities and communities, at the frontlines of climate disruption.  

Information is the critical first step for risk reduction, transfer and management — UN deputy chief

“We must support efforts that provide local actors, including indigenous people, women and youth, with a much greater voice in the decisions that most affect them”, Ms. Mohammed said.  

Debt relief 

Noting that a “decade of transformation” cannot be delivered with soaring debt levels, she welcomed calls for a massive injection of liquidity and extensive debt relief to provide vulnerable countries with extra resources.  

“Equally important will be transforming the international debt architecture so that it ensures all can emerge from this crisis with an equal chance of building back better and differently”, she said. 

In closing, the deputy UN chief urged ministers online to seize the opportunity to “push again today for a concrete outcome that is bold, decisive and ambitious” to ensure “an inclusive and climate resilient transition”. 

“I very much look forward to working with you all to achieve the success people and planet deserve at COP26.” 

Fast-track clean energy  

At the same time, top international energy and climate leaders met at the International Energy Agency (IEA)-COP26  Net Zero Summit to discuss how to accelerate clean energy momentum and examine how countries can more effectively work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero. 

The meeting took stock of the growing list of commitments from countries and companies to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement and focused on implementing the necessary actions to turn the growing number of net zero targets into a reality.  

To sort out future measures, participants from more than 40 countries shared insights on what has worked so far.   

The event was designed to increase momentum towards COP26 and informed the preparation of IEA’s upcoming Special Report “The World’s Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050”. 

Click here if you want to watch the summit in its entirety.

New mission chief points to opportunities ahead of 2023 election in DR Congo

Ms. Keita, who also heads the UN mission in the country, MONUSCO, urged officials to use the interim period to overcome obstacles, and take advantage of opportunities, so that progress and reforms can be made.  

“Indeed, we cannot ignore the challenges, the persistent weaknesses and the remaining obstacles, and to overcome them will require the international community and the government to speak with one voice and act with one accord”, she said, addressing the virtual meeting in French.    

Momentum for change 

Ms. Keita, formerly a top official in UN peacekeeping and political affairs, was appointed by the Secretary-General in January.  Since arriving in the DRC, she has met with President Félix Tshisekedi and other top Congolese officials, and with civil society representatives. 

Switching to English, she outlined opportunities ahead of 2023, including the formation of a new Government, noting “there is a momentum for change that can be built.” 

The UN mission chief said she has stressed to leaders that the new Government must promptly act on several areas which also overlap with MONUSCO priorities, such as reform of the military and police forces, effective protection of civilians, and ensuring disarmament of combatants. 

“I am underlining to all stakeholders the need to act within the constitutional framework and to organize the elections in a timely and inclusive manner, respecting the electoral calendar”, she added. 

Silence the guns 

Turning to MONUSCO, Ms. Keita updated ambassadors on its ongoing strategy towards eventual withdrawal from the country.  The mission is preparing to close field offices in the Kasai region in June, and in Tanganyika province next year, while strengthening cooperation with UN agencies working in the areas of humanitarian aid, development and rule of law. 

However, the situation is different in the Kivus and Ituri, located in the country’s volatile eastern region, given the serious security, protection and humanitarian challenges that persist. 

“To silence the guns, there is no just military solution, but political strategies”, said Ms. Keita. “These strategies must take into account and address the many social, economic and governance needs, including in relation to the management of the security apparatus and addressing the underlying challenges of land insecurity and improving transparency and accountability in the mining sector.”   

Meanwhile, President Tshisekedi’s recent assumption of the presidency of the African Union is another opportunity for progress, according to Ms. Keita. 

“This presidency represents not just the return of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the African stage, but also it should make it possible to demonstrate the commitment of the country and the region to once and for all silencing guns throughout this part of the continent”, she said, again calling for the Council’s support. 

Plastic pollution disproportionately hitting marginalized groups, UN environment report finds

The report, entitled, Neglected: Environmental Justice Impacts of Plastic Pollution, was produced by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) together with the grassroots environmental group, Azul. The findings aim to empower communities affected by plastic waste and advocate for their inclusion in local decision making.

Environmental injustice

“Environmental justice means educating those on the frontlines of plastic pollution about its risks, including them in decisions about its production, use, and disposal, and ensuring their access to a credible judicial system”, said Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director.

The report showcases how environmental injustices are linked to plastic production, in areas such as deforestation for road building, the displacement of indigenous peoples to conduct oil drilling, as well as contamination of potable water by fracking operations to extract natural gas, in countries such as the United States and Sudan.

Moreover, the report warns of health problems among African-American communities living near oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, and the occupational risks faced by some two million waste pickers in India.

Disproportionate impacts

The impacts of plastics on marginalized populations are severe, and exist at all stages of the production cycle, from extracting raw materials and manufacturing, through to consumption and disposal, according to the report.

Plastic waste not only endangers the livelihoods of those relying on marine resources, it also causes a raft of health issues for people who consume seafood infested with toxic micro and nano plastics.

Women, in particular, suffer from plastic-related toxicity risk, due to higher aggregate exposure to plastics at home and even in feminine care products.

Differences in gender, social roles, and political power in regulating plastic use and health standards place women at high risk of miscarriages and cancer, further exacerbating gender-related disparities overall.

Aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, plastic waste has become a major part of the global pollution crisis, along with biodiversity loss and climate change, representing a triple emergency that must be tackled by strong and effective action plans, says UNEP.

Action points

The report calls for governments to prioritize the needs of those disproportion­ately affected by plastic pollution, underscoring that action must be taken at multiple levels.

It calls for an expansion in plastic waste monitoring, better studies into its health impacts, and more investment in waste management. Governments should further enforce bans on single-use plastics and encourage their reduction, recycling and reuse.

Other actors such as business and industry leaders, non-governmental actors, and consumers should also make efforts to reverse the situations for those who are socially, economically, politically marginalized.

UN investigation concludes French military airstrike killed Mali civilians

The day after the attack, a MINUSMA fact-finding team, made up of 15 human rights officers, and supported by two UN forensics experts and two public information officers, was deployed to investigate the strike, and shed light on the allegations surrounding the deaths.

Hundreds interviewed

As part of their investigation, the team organized at least 115 face-to-face interviews, spoke to at least 200 people during group meetings, and carried out more than a hundred telephone interviews. The experts also studied at least 150 documents, including official statements and news articles, as well as photographs and videos related to the Bounty strike.

On 25 January, with the support and air cover of the MINUSMA force, the team travelled to Bounty and visited the location of the airstrike, and the alleged burial site of those killed.
“I welcome the fact that this important work has been carried out by MINUSMA with the cooperation of all parties concerned, in accordance with its human rights mandate”, said Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the UN Special Representative in Mali, and head of MINUSMA.

MINUSMA/Harandane Dicko
UN peacekeepers return to their helicopter following a mission to the village of Sobane Da in the Mopti region of Mali.

Wedding celebration

The MINUSMA investigators were able to confirm reports that a wedding celebration was hit by the French airstrike, declared the press release, and that some hundred civilians were present, as well as five armed insurgents, presumed to be members of the Katiba Serma militant group.

“At least 22 people, including three of the suspected Katiba Serma members present at the gathering place, were killed by the Barkhane Force [French military] strike on January 3, 2021 in Bounty” the statement continues. “19 were directly affected by the strike, including 16 civilians, while the other three civilians died of their injuries during their transfer for emergency treatment. At least eight other civilians were injured in the strike. The victims are all men aged 23 to 71, the majority of whom lived in the village of Bounty”.

Based on the findings of the investigators, MINUSMA recommends that the Malian and French authorities conduct “an independent, credible and transparent investigation” to investigate the circumstances of the strike; its impact on the civilian population of Bounty; and possible violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

The French government, in a 7 January statement, claimed that their Mirage 3000 fighter planes had killed some 30 armed Islamist fighters, north of Bounty, but doubts were cast on these claims, leading the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch to call for an impartial investigation.

Grave concern for women and children targeted in northern Mozambique

Issuing the humanitarian alert on Tuesday, UN agencies reported that dozens of people had been killed during attacks by unnamed insurgents who reportedly descended on the town at the weekend.

‘Horror’ for civilians

The violence has not stopped, said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): “What has happened in Palma is an absolute horror being inflicted on civilians by a non-State armed group.

“They have done horrific things, they are still doing so, we have reported this morning of continued sporadic clashes, that is why we are talking about our expectations of thousands more people moving out from Palma district towards other areas of the country and towards the border with Tanzania.” 

Arriving on foot, bus and boat

UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokesperson, Paul Dillon, confirmed the desperate situation during a press conference in Geneva: “As of this morning March 30, we can tell you that 3,361 internally displaced people – that’s 672 families – have been registered by IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix. They are arriving by foot, by bus, by plane and by boat, from Palma to Ullongwe, Mueda, Montepuez districts as well as Pemba city.”

Families had fled, “seeking refuge in the surrounding bush”, according to UN refugee agency UNCHR, while more than 100 displaced people had travelled south by boat from Palma to Pemba, capital of resource-rich Cabo Delgado province.

Since conflict erupted in October 2017, 670,000 people have been forced to flee violence, according to IOM.

Children desperate for help

More than half are children “and they are all in desperate need of help, all of them”, said Marixie Mercado, spokesperson for UN Children’s Fund UNICEF.

Highlighting the specific threat to non-combatants of the insurgency, UN refugee agency (UNHCR) spokesperson, Andrej Mahecic, said that people had been “killed, maimed, houses looted and burned and the fields of these people have been destroyed”.

People have been chased from their homes and fled “with very few possessions”, the UNHCR spokesperson continued, while women and girls had been “abducted, forced into marriages, in some cases raped and subjected to other forms of sexual violence. There are also reports of children being forcibly recruited into these insurgent armed groups.”

In response to the emergency, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has already delivered 250 aid metric tonnes of food assistance to meet the needs of nearly 16,000 people for a month in Palma.

“Further food assistance in Palma, as you can imagine, has been temporarily put on hold because of the ongoing violence”, said WFP spokesperson Tomson Phiri, although critical medical staff and aid workers have been flown in “to support the injured and those most in need”.

Evacuation bid

The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) was “exceptionally supporting the evacuation of civilians, including women and children and those who are critically injured”, Mr. Phiri continued, adding that on Monday, “four rotations were completed, evacuating 82 people”. 

In addition to continuing insecurity in Mozambique’s north, the aid response has also been hampered by a severe lack of funding, with the UN’s $254 million appeal only one per cent funded

Ending Syria’s war is our collective responsibility, UN chief tells donor conference

“After a decade of war, many Syrians have lost confidence that the international community can help them forge an agreed path out of the conflict. I am convinced that we still can, along with the Syrian parties themselves”, he said in a video message to the fifth Brussels Conference. 

The virtual gathering aimed to raise $4.2 billion for people inside Syria and $5.8 billion for refugees and host countries in the region. 

Not just Syria’s war 

The UN chief pressed Governments to step up their financial and humanitarian commitments to Syrians and to the nations that have provided shelter to millions fleeing the conflict. 

“The war in Syria is not only Syria’s war”, he stressed.  “Ending it, and the tremendous suffering it continues to cause, is our collective responsibility.” 

This year, more than 13 million people inside Syria will require humanitarian assistance, which represents a 20 per cent increase over 2020, Mr. Guterres said.  Another 10.5 million Syrian refugees and host communities in the region will also need support. 

“Syria’s economy has been ravaged and now the impacts of COVID-19 have made things worse.  Almost half of all families lost their source of income”, he continued. “Nine in ten Syrians are living in poverty.”  

‘Relentless’ pursuit of peace 

The Secretary-General said the UN will be “relentless” in pursuing a negotiated political settlement to the conflict, in line with Security Council Resolution 2254, which also calls for a ceasefire. 

His Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, reported that although the situation on the ground has been relatively calm, with stable frontlines for over a year now, peace remains elusive. 

“In a context where military tensions remain high and frequent eruptions of violence continue to occur, where hospitals and civilians are still getting hit, and where five foreign armies operate in proximity from one another, flames can ignite anew at any time”, he said, speaking from Oslo. 

“Progressing towards the nationwide ceasefire that Security Council resolution 2254 has called for, remains more urgent than ever.”  

Unity above all 

Mr. Pedersen and his team are continuing their engagement, including towards facilitating the next session of the Constitutional Committee, one of the issues outlined in the UN Resolution. 

 “Above all, what is required today to be able to respond to the staggering challenges facing Syria and the aspirations of its people to achieve peace is indeed international unity”, he said.  

“Unity in pledging the necessary financial support, of course.  Unity in backing the efforts of the UN to facilitate the implementation of all aspects of resolution 2254.  And unity in promoting the identification of mutual and reciprocal steps that will enable progress to that end.” 

© UNICEF/Delil Souleiman
As cold weather sets in, the needs of vulnerable children in the Al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria become greater.

Throughout March, the UN has been commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Syrian war. Parallel to the pledging conference, the UN General Assembly in New York held an informal meeting looking at the humanitarian situation and human rights in the country. 

Delivering aid at a great cost 

Assembly President Volkan Bozkir told ambassadors the crisis has left specific groups especially vulnerable, including children, some of whom have been forced to work so that their families can survive. 

“For girls, the situation is even worse as they are being forced into early marriage; and are thus likely to never return to a classroom, and to experience gender-based violence in their adult life, just as the current generation of Syrian women have”, he said. 

The UN and its partners continue to provide relief amid the crisis.  Last year, they delivered aid to more than seven million people a month.  But as Mr. Bozkir observed, this sometimes comes at great cost as 14 humanitarian workers have been killed in northwest Syria over the past 14 months.

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