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Iraq protests: UN chief urges to ‘de-escalate’ and rise above differences

In a statement issued late Saturday night, the UN chief appealed to all relevant actors “to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation, avoid any further violence, and ensure the protection of peaceful protesters and State institutions”. 

Freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental rights – UN chief

For the second time in a week, on Saturday protesters stormed the parliament in Baghdad, breaching the high-security Green Zone and injuring more than 120 people, news media reported.

Issue at hand

Following nine months of a political deadlock that has prevented the creation of a new government, on Wednesday hundreds of people first broke into the parliament.

News reports said that the  unrest has been triggered by supporters of Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr – whose block won the majority of seats last October and who opposes the nomination of a pro-Iran rival candidate for prime minister.

Respect fundamental rights

Mr. Guterres noted that “freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental rights that must be respected at all times”.

“The Secretary-General urges all parties and actors to rise above their differences and form, through peaceful and inclusive dialogue, an effective national government that will be able to deliver on longstanding demands for reform, without further delay,” the statement concluded.

INTERVIEW: Accessible finance is key to realizing Uganda’s potential

Dmitry Poshidaev Many UN agencies have a very specific thematic focus: they are dealing with women, children, health care, or other important issues. However, the UNCDF can get engaged in a variety of various thematic areas, provided that there is a financial solution that can be used to address a specific challenge, anything from education to agriculture.

Dmitry Pozhidaev, head of the UNCDF Uganda office.

UNCDF

Dmitry Pozhidaev, head of the UNCDF Uganda office., by UNCDF

Uganda has a lot of promise.  For example, 50 per cent of all the arable land in East Africa is in Uganda; 75 per cent of Uganda’s population are young people below the age of 30.

So, this potentially creates the conditions for Uganda to move towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and its own development objectives.

But to unlock that potential, you need to invest into building the systems that would allow the country to use that potential and, among other things, to find and apply various financial solutions and make sure that there is adequate financing for those development plans.

UN News Do small businesses in Uganda find it hard to get access to finance?

Dmitry Pozhidaev Yes. We know that there is a lot of unaddressed demand. The real problem is that in the context of the private sector, we are talking about very inexperienced and very rudimentary business processes and business structures. They do not create enough confidence with the potential financiers –such as banks and equity providers – that those entities will be able to use the funds in the best possible ways, and be able to service their debts.

UN News How are you able to address this problem in the north of the country?

Dmitry Pozhidaev In northern Uganda, we are engaged in several areas. One is supporting local governments and the public sector, in particular at the district level, to find the financial solutions to various public projects. Those public projects may be in the area of climate change adaptation, local economic development, or in the area of forced displacement.

Agriculture employs around 75 per cent of all Ugandans, so it’s important that we move agriculture to the next level, in terms of productivity and competitiveness.

We’re also engaged with the private sector on digital finance and digital economy, to get smallholder farmers, and village savings and loans associations connected integrate them with the formal banking system, and hence improve their access to finance.

Okubani Market, Yumbe, West Nile, northern Uganda

UN News/ Conor Lennon
Okubani Market, Yumbe, West Nile, northern Uganda

UN News You have worked with companies selling solar power services in the north. Why?

Dmitry Pozhidaev Access to electricity is still a challenge in Uganda, and access to grid electricity in many places is not available, particularly in rural areas.

But even in Kampala and in the bigger cities, there are frequent blackouts and interruptions in electricity supply, which has multiple implications on businesses, individuals and government institutions.

Ensuring access to solar provides additional opportunities for businesses, particularly micro and small, and especially in rural areas. Having access to electricity allows those businesses to extend their working hours because now they can work beyond daylight hours.

For individuals, it means lighting, and it allows students to use electronic devices and study longer.

We are working with a company providing solar panels on a pay-as-you-go system. Their customers’ payments are tracked digitally, which means that they can build up a credit score, which will make it easier for them to get loans from the formal banking system.

This is very important in an economy in which 90 per cent of employment is in the informal sector: in the absence of formal records, it’s very, very difficult for someone to get access to the formal financial system.

Cathy Avako, a farmer in Lumonga village, West Nile, northern Uganda.

UN News/ Conor Lennon
Cathy Avako, a farmer in Lumonga village, West Nile, northern Uganda.

UN News Some of your projects involve funding for MTM and Airtel, the biggest telecom companies in Africa. Why should they receive UN funding?

Dmitry Pozhidaev People often find this surprising. They think that a big company can afford extension into less traditional and more risky areas.

This is not the case, even for very big and financially sound companies like MTM and Airtel; unless the viability of the business case is demonstrated to them, clearly they will not go to areas where they are not currently engaged.

And this was the case with the refugee camps. The telecom companies have serious doubts about the capacity of refugees to buy the products that they offer.

But, by demonstrating the demand and the capacity of the refugees to pay, and facilitating through some relatively small grants, we enabled these companies to expand into refugee camps in northern Uganda.

UNCDF in northern Uganda

  • UNCDF has been present in Uganda since 1982, supporting the Government to create a functional planning and financial system for sustainable and inclusive local development. Today, Uganda houses the largest in-country team of UNCDF’s global footprint.
  • The Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) is UNCDF’s flagship programme in the country, designed to consolidate stability in Northern Uganda, eradicate poverty and under-nutrition, and strengthen the foundations for sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development.
  • Inclusive Digital Economies (IDE), is the in-house practice that deploys UNCDF’s global digital strategy, which is designed to empower underserved populations to access and use digital services that leverage innovation and technology to improve their wellbeing in support of the SDG.

First Person: Surviving Bali’s COVID tourism crash

“When my parents passed away, I followed their wish for me to take care of our family home in Sudaji Village.

At that time, the village was already known as a tourism destination thanks to its cultural traditions and scenery and, in 2014 I started to realise my dream to develop homestays, where tourists stay with local families, in my village.

I was fully confident that I could succeed, based on my tourism and hotel background. I observed the operations of homestays and learnt how to transform my house into one.

A bungalow at Esa di Kubu Homestay in Sudaji Village, Buleleng, Bali, Indonesia.

Putu Sayoga for ILO
A bungalow at Esa di Kubu Homestay in Sudaji Village, Buleleng, Bali, Indonesia.

It was a success; my homestay, Esa di Kubu, was chosen by the Bali Tourism Office to represent Sudaju Village in a national tourism award, and was awarded second prize. 

Afterwards, the Bali Tourism Office recommended that I take part in the International Labour Organisation’s Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) hospitality coaching programme.

The programme helped us to ensure that our facilities and equipment reached accepted ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) regional standards. We learnt about professional bedding, toiletries, food presentation, guest services and so forth. Every month, the trainer would coach us, and evaluate our progress. 

The training also taught us the importance of digitalization and digital marketing, and I began promoting my homestay online. As a result, sales and visitor numbers increased, and I received high ratings on online tourism platforms.

Dekha Dewandana makes a bed at Esa di Kubu Homestay in Sudaji Village, Buleleng, Bali, Indonesia.

Putu Sayoga for ILO
Dekha Dewandana makes a bed at Esa di Kubu Homestay in Sudaji Village, Buleleng, Bali, Indonesia.

‘We were all panicked and worried’

Then, at the end of 2019, COVID-19 hit. From January 2020, foreign guests began cancelling, and by March, when the Indonesian government declared a pandemic in the country, we had only five guests left, all of whom had found themselves trapped in Bali. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, we received health protocol training from the ILO: we were taught how to protect ourselves by observing measures such as maintaining physical distance, using masks, and washing our hands. We maintained the protocols with the trapped guests, who continued to stay while finding ways to be repatriated.

Due to the global and national lockdown and mobility restrictions we had no guests and no income. We were all panicked and worried. I used my savings to buy daily needs, particularly food: I bought as much rice and instant noodles as possible, because the stores and markets were closed down.

I was contacted by my former overseas guests, asking about my condition and offering some help, which I felt grateful for. Their support helped my family to survive until the end of the 2020.

The first seven months of 2021 were the most difficult. We were planting vegetables to survive, but my fellow villagers and I barely ate during that period, and I began to lose hope.

Dekha Dewandana and his wife greet their guests with traditional turmeric drink at Esa di Kubu Homestay in Sudaji Village, Buleleng, Bali, Indonesia.

Putu Sayoga for ILO
Dekha Dewandana and his wife greet their guests with traditional turmeric drink at Esa di Kubu Homestay in Sudaji Village, Buleleng, Bali, Indonesia.

‘My homestay has become alive again’

Eventually, conditions improved, restrictions were lifted, and we received assistance from the government. I never forgot about my homestay dream during this period, during which I repainted and fixed up the house.

Foreign visitors began to return, and in January 2022 I received a group of tourists from Denmark and Switzerland.

I’m glad that my homestay has become alive again.

As well as running my business, I am one of the founders of Sudaji Homestay, a group for homestay owners who have completed the ILO hospitality coaching programme.

Not all the homestay owners can speak English or have an understanding about marketing and digital marketing, and the group is there to share knowledge, and help members to maintain standards for their homestays.

I share my skills and knowledge so that we can continue to maintain our reputation as one of Indonesia’s leading tourism village, so that my fellow villagers do not have to find jobs elsewhere.”

Dekha Dewandana arrange words with flowers at Esa di Kubu Homestay in Sudaji Village, Buleleng, Bali, Indonesia.

Putu Sayoga for ILO
Dekha Dewandana arrange words with flowers at Esa di Kubu Homestay in Sudaji Village, Buleleng, Bali, Indonesia.

Supporting the tourism industry at the ILO

  • Dekha Dewandana is a beneficiary of ILO’s SCORE HoCo Programme, a programme sponsored by the Swiss Government. It is an ILO global programme that improves productivity and working conditions in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). 
  • The tourism sector is a major driver of economic growth, enterprise development and job creation, particularly for women, youth, migrant workers and local communities.
  • Tourism was one of the industries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its impact on enterprises, especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), is unprecedented.

UN Committee against Torture: Focus on Botswana, Nicaragua, Palestine, United Arab Emirates

The findings highlighted positive aspects of each country’s implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as well as concerns and recommendations. 

Botswana and the Death Penalty 

The committee raised serious concerns over excessive and inhuman force concerning the use of the death penalty in Botswana. 

One aspect of Botswanan policy deemed to be out of step with the Convention is the practice of not providing advance notice of execution to the individuals on death row or their families. 

The Committee was further alarmed that hangings were used in executions and that the deceased were not handed over to family for burial. 

The Committee urged Botswana to commute all death sentences and to establish a moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to abolishing it, while ensuring that detention conditions for condemned prisoners do not constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. 

Moreover, The Committee expressed specific concerns that Botswana has yet to define torture as a specific offence and advises the establishment of a definition in line with convention guidelines. 

Nicaragua’s Treatment of Detainees 

The Committee has become concerned about the use of lethal force, arbitrary detentions, acts of torture and ill-treatment of protesters in Nicaragua, it said in a press release, specifically highlighting enforced disappearances by the National Police, plainclothes agents and other actors. 

The Committee has urged Nicaragua to carry out prompt and independent investigations into these acts and provide appropriate redress to victims in order to comply with international safeguards. 

It also requested that Nicaragua guarantee legal safeguards for all detainees, cease all political repression and violence against human rights defenders, journalists and political opposition leaders, and release those arbitrarily detained. 

Alleged torture of Palestinian detainees  

The Committee condemned causalities caused by the excessive use of force in Palestine. Particularly they condemn the use of lethal weapons by security forces and unidentified armed elements. 

One especially noteworthy case highlighted, was the arrest, beating and killing, allegedly by Hebron preventative security forces, of Nizar Banat, in June 2021.  

In response to Mr. Banat’s case, the Committee has requested that the State of Palestine effectively investigate all allegations relating to the excessive use of force and ensure that all perpetrators are prosecuted and victims fully compensated. 

It also recommended that the State party guarantee that all officers can be effectively identified at all times, to ensure individual accountability. 

UAE abuses abroad   

Concerning the involvement of the UAE in the on-going conflict in Yemen and its anti-terrorism efforts, the Committee expressed concerns over allegations of torture and ill-treatment by the State party’s regular armed forces, state security agencies, and related non-State armed groups. 

The Committee placed a special onus on the investigation and prosecution of offences of torture and ill-treatment in these situations, and called for a viable pathway for victims to seek justice, redress and rehabilitation. 

The Committee was also concerned about the continued practice of female genital mutilation in the UAE and the lack of legislation criminalizing it, it said.  

It called upon the State party to strengthen its efforts to stamp out gender-based violence and harmful practices by introducing new legislation and awareness-raising campaigns. 

The above findings, officially known as the Concluding Observations, are now available online on the session page. 

The Committee will hold its next session from 31 October to 25 November to review Australia, Chad, El Salvador, Malawi, Somalia and Uganda. 

Nicaragua: Rights experts denounce shutdown of over 700 civil society groups

In a letter to the Nicaraguan Government last Monday, the group of 16 UN experts upheld that the action “represents a clear pattern of repressing civic space”.

The UN experts echoed a statement earlier this year by the High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the crackdown.

They expressed shock over the extent of the shutdowns by the National Assembly at the request of the Government – counting more than 700 closures, 487 in just the past month.

Counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering legislation is being misused – UN experts

Bending laws

Even though room for non-governmental organisations to operate in has been reduced since political protests against the administration of President Daniel Ortega began in 2018, the recent enforcement of a 2020 Law on Foreign Agents and a 2022 Law on Regulation and Control of Non-Profit Organizations (NPO) has accelerated closures.

Ahead of the NPO Law that entered into force in May, the experts provided legal analysis along with their concerns.

Specifically, the law imposes burdensome administrative and registration procedures, the disclosure of data of beneficiaries, and significantly restricts foreign funding.

To date, the experts have not received any response to their concerns.

“We regret to see that, once again, counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering legislation is being misused to unnecessarily and disproportionately restrict the activities of civil society and fundamental freedoms,” the experts said, highlighting a global trend.

Squashing rights

They maintained that the shutdowns have not only affected human rights organisations, including those working towards the rights of women and indigenous people, but also those that promote democratic values and counter the negative effects of climate change.

The move has also impacted associations that provide humanitarian aid and medical services as well as educational, cultural and artistic institutions, and religious foundations.

“This situation will have even more devastating consequences for marginalized individuals and groups who rely on those services for their survival, for instance, rural and indigenous communities, children and youth, women, migrants and asylum seekers,” the experts said.

Activists driven overseas

The UN experts expressed concern about the deterring effect that these shutdowns have on civil society, noting that hundreds of activists have already fled the country and sought refuge in neighbouring States to fear of reprisals.

We urge the State to abstain from further closures and immediately reverse these severe restrictions on associations,” the experts said.

“A functioning, well-established and diverse civic and political space is key in any democratic country”.

Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not paid for their work.

Human trafficking: ‘All-out assault’ on rights, safety and dignity, says UN chief

“Tragically, it is also a problem that is growing worse – especially for women and girls, who represent the majority of detected trafficked persons globally”. 

Separated and vulnerable

Conflicts, forced displacement, climate change, inequality and poverty, have left tens of millions of people around the world destitute, isolated and vulnerable.

And the COVID-19 pandemic has separated children and young people in general from their friends and peers, pushing them into spending more time alone and online.

“Human traffickers are taking advantage of these vulnerabilities, using sophisticated technology to identify, track, control and exploit victims,” explained the UN chief.

Venezuelan migrant Manuela Molina (not her real name) was promised a decent job in Trinidad, but minutes after her arrival she was forced into a van and taken to a secret location.

IOM Port of Spain
Venezuelan migrant Manuela Molina (not her real name) was promised a decent job in Trinidad, but minutes after her arrival she was forced into a van and taken to a secret location.

Cyber space trafficking

Often using the so-called “dark web”, online platforms allow criminals to recruit people with false promises.

And technology anonymously allows dangerous and degrading content that fuels human trafficking, including the sexual exploitation of children.

This year’s theme – Use and Abuse of Technology – reminds everyone that while it can enable human trafficking, technology can also be a critical tool in fighting it.

Join forces

The Secretary-General underscored the need for governments, businesses and civil society to invest in policies, laws and technology-based solutions that can identify and support victims, locate and punish perpetrators, and ensure a safe, open and secure internet.

“As part of 2023’s Summit of the Future, I have proposed a Global Digital Compact to rally the world around the need to bring good governance to the digital space,” he said, calling on the everyone to “give this issue the attention and action it deserves and work to end the scourge of human trafficking once and for all”.   

Tech dangers

In her message for the day, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ghada Waly, spoke more about the theme.

Acknowledging that digital technology has been “a vital lifeline” during pandemic restrictions, she warned that they are “being increasingly exploited by criminals”.

The borderless nature of information and communications technologies (ICT) enable traffickers to expand their reach and profits with even greater impunity.

More than 60 per cent of known human trafficking victims over the last 15 years have been women and girls, most of them trafficked for sexual exploitation.

And as conflicts and crises increase misery, countless others are in danger of being targeted with false promises of opportunities, jobs, and a better life.

Safeguard online spaces

To protect people, digital spaces must be shielded from criminal abuse by harnessing technologies for good.

“Partnerships with tech companies and the private sector can keep traffickers from preying on the vulnerable and stop the circulation of online content that amplifies the suffering of trafficking victims,” said Ms. Waly.

With the right support, law enforcement can use artificial intelligence, data mining and other tools to detect and investigate trafficking networks.

“On this World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, let us commit to preventing online exploitation and promoting the power of tech to better protect children, women and men, and support victims”, she concluded.

Trafficking in conflict

A group of UN-appointed independent human rights experts underscored that the international community must “strengthen prevention and accountability for trafficking in persons in conflict situations”.

Women and girls, particularly those who are displaced, are disproportionately affected by trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation, forced and child marriage, forced labour and domestic servitude.

“These risks of exploitation, occurring in times of crisis, are not new. They are linked to and stem from existing, structural inequalities, often based on intersectional identities, gender-based discrimination and violence, racism, poverty and weaknesses in child protection systems,” the experts said.

Structural inequalities

Refugees, migrants, internally displaced and Stateless persons are particularly at risk of attacks and abductions that lead to trafficking.

And the dangers are increased by continued restrictions on protection and assistance, limited resettlement and family reunification, inadequate labour safeguards and restrictive migration policies.

“Such structural inequalities are exacerbated in the periods before, during and after conflicts, and disproportionately affect children”, they added.

Targeting schools

Despite links between armed group activities and human trafficking – particularly targeting children – accountability “remains low and prevention is weak,” according to the UN experts.

Child trafficking – with schools often targeted – is “linked to the grave violations against children in situations of armed conflict, including recruitment and use, abductions and sexual violence,” they said.

“Sexual violence against children persists, and often leads to trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy and forced marriage, as well as forced labour and domestic servitude”.

Gender stereotyping

While girls are more often trafficked for sexual exploitation, boys do not escape the scourge.

Gender stereotyping and discrimination may result in not identifying men and boys as victims, leaving them without assistance or protection.

“Men and boys may face additional obstacles to disclosing experiences of exploitation, particularly sexual exploitation,” they said, flagging the need to recognize that discriminatory attitudes and violence, based on sexual orientation and gender identity, increase risks of not receiving assistance or protection.

Organ harvesting

The experts also highlighted that in conflict situations, organ harvesting trafficking is another concern, along with law enforcement’s inability to regulate and control armed groups and others traffickers’ finances – domestically and across borders.

“We have seen what can be achieved through coordinated action and a political will to prevent trafficking in conflict situations,” they said, advocating for international protection, family reunification and expanded resettlement and planned relocation opportunities.

Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not paid for their work.

Click here for the names of the experts.  

Protection services ‘severely lacking’

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, warned on Friday that protection services for refugees and migrants making perilous journeys from the Sahel and Horn of Africa towards North Africa and Europe, including survivors of human trafficking, are “severely lacking”.

Its newly released report, maps the protection services available to asylum-seekers, refugees, and migrants as they travel along these routes.

It also highlights protection gaps in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Somalia, and Sudan – notably in shelter, survivor identification and responses to gender-based violence and trafficking.  

“I am appalled by the abuses that refugees and migrants face as they travel through the Sahel and the East and Horn of Africa towards North Africa, and sometimes on to Europe,” said UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central and Western Mediterranean Situation, Vincent Cochetel. “Too many lives have been lost or broken on these routes.”

Ukraine: Prospects for end to war look bleak, despite ‘encouraging’ grain deal

Ambassadors were briefed by UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo, who pointed to the recent agreement on the safe resumption of grain exports via the Black Sea as a bright light in the conflict, though acknowledging the dim prospects for peace. 

“The grain agreement is a sign that dialogue between the parties is possible in the search to ease human suffering,” said Ms. DiCarlo, officially the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs. 

She added that the UN is making every effort to support implementation of the deal, which was signed last week in Türkiye. 

Diplomatic efforts needed 

The war’s impact globally is “glaringly clear”, said Ms. DiCarlo, noting that the consequences will only become more pronounced the longer fighting lasts, particularly with the onset of winter.  

“Despite the encouraging developments on grain and fertilizers, we remain deeply concerned about the lack of prospects for a shift towards a meaningful resumption of diplomatic efforts to end the war,” she told the Council. 

“Escalatory rhetoric from any side, including about expanding the conflict geographically or denying Ukraine’s statehood, is not consistent with the constructive spirit demonstrated in Istanbul.” 

Secretary-General António Guterres (left) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the signing ceremony of Black Sea Grain Initiative in Istanbul, Türkiye..

UNIC Ankara/Levent Kulu
Secretary-General António Guterres (left) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the signing ceremony of Black Sea Grain Initiative in Istanbul, Türkiye..

Attacks continue unabated 

Ms. DiCarlo said that since her last briefing in late June, deadly attacks by Russian forces have continued unabated, reducing many Ukrainian cities and towns to rubble. 

The number of civilians killed, wounded, or maimed has also increased. As of Wednesday, there were 12,272 civilian casualties, including 5,237 deaths, according to the UN human rights office, OHCHR. 

“This represents at least 1,641 new civilian casualties since my last briefing: 506 killed and 1,135 injured. These are figures based on verified incidents; the actual numbers are considerably higher,” she said. 

Winter threat 

Ms. DiCarlo also warned of reported efforts to alter administrative structures on the ground, including attempts to introduce local governing bodies in Russian-controlled areas, which raise serious concerns about the political implications of the war. 

“As the conflict enters a more protracted phase, attention is increasingly turning to its longer-term humanitarian, recovery, reconstruction, and socio-economic impact. As summer wanes, the need for winterization planning is also becoming pressing,” she said. 

“Regrettably, political dialogue has virtually ground to a halt, leaving people without the hope that peace will come anytime soon.” 

UN agencies also continue to document damage and destruction to civilian infrastructure such as homes, schools and healthcare facilities.  

The impact on the health sector is “particularly alarming”, she said, as there have been 414 attacks so far, resulting in 85 deaths and 100 injuries. 

“This includes 350 attacks on facilities in areas of conflict, where on average around 316,000 patients were treated per month,” she said. 

Assistance to millions 

Since the start of the war, the UN and humanitarian partners have provided aid to some 11 million people, including in the form of food and livelihood assistance, protection services, mine clearance, and in accessing safe water and sanitation. 

Nearly six million Ukrainian refugees have found shelter across Europe. Since the war began on 24 February, border crossings from Ukraine have totalled more than 9.5 million, while crossings to Ukraine numbered 3.8 million. 

“We are concerned that winter will make it harder for the displaced or the returnee community to have access to shelter and health care,” said Ms. DiCarlo. 

A twelve-year-old boy visits his mother in hospital for the first time since she was injured a month ago, by flying shrapnel.

© UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson VII
A twelve-year-old boy visits his mother in hospital for the first time since she was injured a month ago, by flying shrapnel.

Impacts on women 

She also drew attention to the war’s specific impact on women and girls, particularly in areas such as food security and health. 

Women’s access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health, is rapidly deteriorating, as is access to newborn and child healthcare. They are also now largely responsible for home-schooling, as access to education is severely hindered due to the constant threat of bombing. 

“Further, women in Ukraine face significantly increased safety and protection risks,” she added. 

“Incidents of gender-based violence, including allegations of sexual violence in conflict have increased, but services for survivors are not provided in full. It is also likely that many victims and survivors are currently unable to report their cases.” 

Ms. DiCarlo stressed that it is especially for these reasons why women must be meaningful participants in discussions and initiatives to shape the future of the country, including peace negotiations, recovery efforts, peacebuilding and accountability efforts.  

Hope for grain shipments 

The top UN humanitarian official in Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani, was in the port city of Odessa on Friday, together with the country’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and ambassadors from G7 countries, according to her official Twitter account. 

This week saw the start of an operation under the grain exports deal, known as the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC), which will monitor ships transporting grain, as well as related foodstuffs and fertilizers, from Odessa and two other ports along the Black Sea. 

The JCC brings together representatives from Ukraine, Russia, Türkiye, and the UN.  

Ms. Lubrani wrote that she was “very hopeful for the movements of ships to take place soon, taking much needed grain and related foodstuffs from Ukraine to countries that need them the most”. 

She added that it was an honour to talk to President Zelenskyy and to reaffirm the UN’s ongoing support to Ukraine. 

The visit took place on Ms. Lubrani’s final day as the UN’s Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine. Her successor, Denise Brown, will assume the post starting on Saturday. 

Humanitarians call for greater access 

The launch of the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) is an example of how the international community can affect change even amid the war in Ukraine, a UN humanitarian official said in the capital, Kyiv, on Friday. 

Saviano Abreu of the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, was among representatives from six UN agencies who briefed journalists on their ongoing operations to assist millions both within and outside Ukraine whose lives have been uprooted by the conflict. 

“Although the world’s attention seems to be moving elsewhere, the situation in the country is far from any change,” he said. 

While humanitarians have provided support to 11 million people so far, he said “we do know that it is not enough”. 

Mr. Abreu reported that since the start of the Russian invasion, aid workers have not been able to send relief items to areas beyond the government’s control.  

He underscored the obligation to allow free and safe humanitarian passage to all people in need. 

 “We saw this week that when there is a will, things can change”, said Mr. Abreu, referring to the JCC launch. 

 “Now we have to go one step further and make sure that no one is left behind also here in Ukraine. We need the parties to gently agree on humanitarian access to all regions of Ukraine, so we can save lives and alleviate the suffering of people who have endured these five months of war.” 

From The Field: Protecting the last Malayan tigers

Setting up a camera trap to monitor wildlife and encroachment in Malaysia.
Setting up a camera trap to monitor wildlife and encroachment in Malaysia., by UNDP

But a fight to save the tigers is underway: in the last two years, more than 1,000 tiger traps have been destroyed, and a team supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) conducts patrols in illegal hunting hotspots.

Rangers are involved in monitoring, intelligence gathering, and enforcement activities, and successfully cutting wildlife crimes.

You can read the whole article, released to mark International Tiger Day, celebrated on July 29, here.

IOM: Uptick in migrants heading home as world rebounds from COVID-19

Global Migration, which had decreased by approximately 27 per cent during the COVID-19 pandemic, has begun to rebound to pre-pandemic levels. In 2021, IOM assisted 49,795 migrants return to their countries of origin, representing an increase of 18 per cent from the previous year. 

Reflecting on the report Yitna Getachew, Head of the agency’s Protection Division, said that “this publication highlights IOM’s ability to meet an increasing demand by migrants for safe and dignified returns as well as to support their reintegration into the countries of origin following the lifting of many travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic.”

As Mr. Getachew indicates, the 2021 Return and Reintergration Key Highlights is noteworthy for documenting the success of IOM in meeting increased demand.

Also noteworthy in the report, is the continued trend of increasing returns from transit countries in other host regions outside Europe.

In 2021, Niger was the largest beneficiary of IOM’s efforts to assist in dignified returns, with a total of 10,573 migrants helped to head home. Niger’s beneficiaries dramatically overshadow any nation in Europe. However, Europe’s accumulated beneficiaries still outnumber Niger.

Return and reintegration IOM 2021 report.

Source: IOM
Return and reintegration IOM 2021 report.

 

The bedrock of assisted voluntary return programmes are reintegration schemes, which provide opportunities to returnees and promote sustainable development, said IOM.

In 2021, IOM offices in 121 countries worldwide, supported 113,331 reintegration activities at the individual, community, and structural level.

Overall, the top three countries, including both host and countries of origin, that provided reintegration support in 2021 were Germany, Nigeria and Guinea.

The support consisted mainly of social and economic assistance, as well as reintegration counselling. The aim of these multi-dimensional schemes are to ensure a level of economic self-sufficiency, social stability and psychological wellbeing, that make’s further migration a choice rather than necessity. 

IOM’s latest guidance is further captured in the agency’s 2021 Policy on the Full Spectrum of Return, Readmission and Reintegration. The policy tasks the IOM with multilateral engagement on return migration through a holistic, rights-based, and sustainable development-oriented approach that can boost returns, readmission, and sustainable reintegration.

This policy reoriented IOM’s focus on the well-being of individual returnees and the protection of their rights throughout the entire return process, placing individuals at the centre.

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