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Greater protection needed for Palestinians amid rising violence, annexation threat

“The wave of deadly violence sweeping through the occupied West Bank since the beginning of this year is the inexorable consequence of an acquisitive and repressive occupation with no end in sight, and the culture of lawlessness and impunity Israel has nurtured and enjoyed,” UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese said in a statement. 

Tragic loss of life 

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Recent months have been marked by escalating unrest between Israelis and Palestinians. Israel’s new hardline government has also pledged to expand West Bank settlements and annex occupied territory. 

Ms. Albanese is the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

She said Israeli violence – including the deadly raid in Jenin refugee camp on 26 January, in the old city of Nablus on 22 February, and in Jericho a week later – has left 80 Palestinians dead, and over 2,000 wounded, in less than 90 days.Thirteen Israelis also were killed by Palestinians during this period.  

“Every loss of life, whether Palestinian or Israeli, is a tragic reminder of the price people pay for not addressing pervasive injustice and its root causes,” she said.  

Repressive occupation, symbolic condemnation 

The rights expert noted that over the past decades, the international community has witnessed record-high numbers of Palestinian deaths and injuries.  

Meanwhile, Palestinians have also endured confinement, land confiscation, home demolitions, fragmentation, discriminatory law enforcement, mass incarceration and other countless abuses, indignities and humiliations.  

“Israel, emboldened by a lack of meaningful intervention, has consolidated its acquisitive and repressive occupation, with Member States offering little more than symbolic condemnation, humanitarians providing band-aid aid, and legal scholars entangled in theoretical debates,” she said.  

‘No equal parties’ 

Her statement urged the UN to “move beyond simply counting casualties and calling for restraint.” 

The Organization “cannot indulge in the condescending acceptance of an irresolvable ‘conflict’ and the myth of conflicting narratives, and in urging the ‘parties’ to ‘de-escalate tensions’ and ‘resume negotiations,’” she said. 

“In reality, there are no equal parties nor a proper ‘conflict,’ but rather an oppressive regime that threatens the right of an entire people to exist,” she insisted. 

Furthermore, “tolerating annexation would legitimise aggression, bringing international law back almost a century: this is the reality the international community must stop immediately and reverse.”  

Oppose annexation, support self-determination 

Ms. Albanese urged the international community to recommit to the ideals of the UN Charter, in the interest of both Palestinians and Israelis. 

“To maintain its credibility and purpose, the UN must acknowledge that conflicting narratives and historical facts must be resolved through the lens of legality and justice, and work effectively to oppose any forms of annexation of occupied territory, realise the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and terminate the apartheid regime Israel is enforcing upon them.,” she advised.  

About Special Rapporteurs 

Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, which is based in Geneva. 

These independent experts are mandated to monitor and report on specific thematic issues or country situations.  

They are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. 


#Palestine: @FranceskAlbs urges int’l community to take firm & principled action to protect  #humanrights & dignity of Palestinians as violence increases in the occupied Palestinian territory &  new Israeli gov’t threatens further annexation
👉 https://t.co/JzbgFymE9A https://t.co/7tMXQMsBL4

Guatemala: Türk alarmed by reprisals against anti-corruption officials

Mr. Türk’s warning comes amid the reported harassment and prosecution of justice officials involved with the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity (CICIG), including, most recently, former Commissioner Francisco Dall’Anese.

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The UN rights chief called on the Guatemalan authorities “to ensure judges and lawyers can function freely and without fear of reprisals”. An independent judiciary is “vital” for a democratic society, he insisted.

The International Commission against Impunity was an independent body established by a UN-Guatemala agreement in 2007 to carry out corruption probes. Its work ceased in September 2019 when its mandate was not renewed amid attacks by then-President Jimmy Morales.

Barred from standing

Mr. Türk also warned about potential violations of the right to participate in public affairs, as the candidacies of several presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the upcoming June elections were rejected by election authorities.

“I am also concerned that presidential and vice-presidential candidates from across the political spectrum, including Thelma Cabrera, Jordan Rodas and Roberto Arzú, have had their candidacies for the 25 June elections rejected by the Electoral Court on seemingly arbitrary grounds,” the High Commissioner said.

Thelma Cabrera was the only indigenous candidate running for president until the decision to disqualify her from the race. Appeals on all three cases are currently before the Supreme Court.

Judicial independence at risk

Mr. Türk stressed that “the right to participate in public affairs, including the right to vote and to stand for election, is an internationally recognized human right,” adding that judiciary authorities should “decide matters before them impartially, on the basis of facts and in accordance with the law, without any restrictions or improper influence”.

Earlier this year, the UN rights chief sounded the alarm on similar reprisals in Guatemala, as the country’s Special Prosecutor’s Office against impunity announced arrest warrants against three justice officials, including a former CICIG staffer.

Volker Türk, High Commissionner for Human Rights addresses a biennial high-level panel on the death penalty.
© UN Photo/Jean Marc Ferré

Volker Türk, High Commissionner for Human Rights addresses a biennial high-level panel on the death penalty.

Surge in harassment

When presenting his report on Guatemala to the Human Rights Council in March, Mr. Türk pointed out that between 2021 and 2022, his office had documented a more than 70 per cent increase in the number of justice officials facing intimidation and criminal charges in the country.

The harassment was related to the officials’ work on corruption or human rights violations, particularly those that occurred in the context of the civil war from 1960 to 1996. Some had left the country, fearing for their safety.

Guatemala’s human rights record was examined in January 2023 under the Universal Periodic Review. A significant number of recommendations made as part of that process, by other Member States, were related to the need to guarantee the independence of the judiciary, protect justice officials, and strengthen anti-corruption measures and the rule.

#Guatemala: UN Human Rights Chief @volker_turk worried over erosion of #RuleOfLaw as justice officials face ongoing reprisals, esp for investigating corruption & rights violations during armed conflict. Urges govt to uphold judiciary independence: https://t.co/Ie8UlJ8HOG

Women in peacekeeping: UN Fund calls for new ideas and investment

“A more gender-responsive mission builds trust with the communities they serve and improves its effectiveness,” said UN Women’s Executive Director Sima Bahous at the start of the event.

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She also highlighted the vital role women play in today’s multifaceted peacekeeping missions and stressed the need to ensure the equal participation of women.

The Fund was set up by the UN, Canada, and other Member States in 2019. It is an innovative, multilateral fund that aims to accelerate progress towards the UN’s gender targets in line with Security Council resolutions and the UN Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy 2018-2028.

The head of the UN’s Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, called on Member States at the event to continue widening opportunities for women to serve as ‘blue helmets’ and other uniformed personnel.

‘A matter of justice’

“Let me be clear: our gender parity efforts are also a matter of justice – there should be no limitation on the grounds of gender to what women can achieve, in all roles and at all levels,” he stressed in his opening remarks.

Since its creation in 2019, the EIF has awarded more than $17 million in grants to 20 projects.

The Ghanaian Armed Forces and the Senegalese Police and Gendarmerie are among the recipients, who have deployed four gender-strong units consisting of 1,277 personnel, 18 per cent of whom are women across all ranks.

Some 14 EIF-supported security institutions surveyed 3,689 staff members to find out what barriers are limiting women’s participation, committed to implementing evidence-based solutions to overcome them.

A Senegalese woman peacekeeper works on a helicopter deployed to MINUSCA, the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic.
MINUSCA/Hervé Serefio

A Senegalese woman peacekeeper works on a helicopter deployed to MINUSCA, the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic.

Work in progress

Meanwhile, the Togolese Armed Forces and the Senegalese Police have raised awareness among 5,000 people, in order to challenge gender stereotypes and encouraging women to join up as part of large-scale recruitment campaigns.

Five EIF-funded projects are busy now creating inclusive environments for women, including through the construction of gender-sensitive accommodation and facilities in Jordan, Senegal, and Togo.

They are also improving deployment conditions for their uniformed women peacekeepers deployed to UN peace operations in Mali (MINUSMA) and Lebanon (UNIFIL).

UK’s Minister of State, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, gave his full backing to the initiative, and announced an additional contribution of £1 million ($1.24 million) to the EIF.

“It is wonderful to see how projects supported by the EIF are already tackling obstacles to participation”, he said.

Scaling up

“More investment will mean the Fund can scale up that impact and make gender parity a future reality,” he said at the event.

The Republic of Korea also announced an additional contribution of $500,000. Meanwhile, Canada’s Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security Jacqueline O’Neill announced that the EIF’s lifespan has been extended to 31 December 2025 as “Canada is committed to continuing to support the EIF.”

Representatives of the Ghanaian and the Uruguayan Armed Forces also spoke at the event, championing some of the innovative practices developed with EIF funding, including piloting gender and family-friendly policies and providing cross-training to prepare military women to play an equal part in all the job specifications needed in peacekeeping missions.

Happening now: High-level launch of the Elsie Initiative Fund 3rd Programming Round

▶️Watch the event live:


Marburg virus outbreaks highlight link between health and planet: Tedros

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that in Equatorial Guinea, WHO is on the ground supporting the outbreak response. 

“We have deployed teams to assist with case finding, clinical care, logistics, and community engagement. We have also helped to establish treatment units in the affected areas,” he said.  

The number of officially reported cases remains at nine, with seven deaths, in three provinces, but the fact that the provinces are 150 kilometres apart, points to “wider transmission of the virus,” Tedros said.  

He also stated that WHO is aware of additional cases and has asked the Government to formally report them to WHO.  

In Tanzania, where all eight reported cases are concentrated in one region, WHO and partners have offered support to the Government there, to “bridge any gaps in the response,” Tedros added. 

Vaccine trials in the near future 

Marburg virus disease is a severe illness from the same family as Ebola, with a fatality ratio of up to 88 per cent.  

There are no vaccines as yet against the disease, but Tedros said that a WHO committee has now reviewed the evidence for four vaccines, and that the agency “is working to begin trials of vaccines and therapeutics as soon as possible”. 

He also stressed that WHO was ready to work with the Governments of Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania as part of the trials, “to help prevent cases and deaths now and in future outbreaks”. 

‘One Health’ response to zoonotic threat 

The Marburg virus is transmitted to people from fruit bats, and Tedros called the outbreaks “another reminder” of the interconnectedness of human, animal and planet health, which required a holistic approach.  

“A ‘One Health’ approach will be essential for preventing viruses from spilling over from animals to humans,” he stated, adding “that’s how many outbreaks have started, including HIV, Marburg, Ebola, avian influenza, mpox, MERS and the SARS epidemic in 2003”.  

He reiterated the call which he made earlier this week together with the heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) to prioritize “One Health” approaches “by strengthening the policies, strategies, plans, evidence, investment and workforce needed to properly address the threats that arise from our relationship with animals and the environment”.  

Tedros also said that he was pleased to see “One Health” included as a key principle in the “zero draft” of a future agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, currently under negotiation. 

As the global malaria eradication process accelerates, more countries have launched their own initiatives of elimination.
© WHO/Nurbolot Usenbaev

As the global malaria eradication process accelerates, more countries have launched their own initiatives of elimination.

Progress in fight against malaria 

Earlier on Wednesday, WHO certified Azerbaijan and Tajikistan as malaria-free. In a statement, Tedros commented on the achievement, calling it “further proof that, with the right resources and political commitment, eliminating malaria is possible,” and expressing hope that other countries could learn from their experience.  

A total of 42 countries or territories have reached the malaria-free milestone so far. 

Conflict injuries on the rise 

WHO also sounded the alarm on Wednesday over the rise in violent injuries in conflict-affected countries, with health services overwhelmed by the needs.  

The number of conflict-related deaths in 2021 increased worldwide by 46 per cent compared with a year earlier, and the agency explained that a heavy burden of injury and disability accompanied the spike in the number of people killed.   

WHO said that trauma care services need to be prioritized in the Eastern Mediterranean region, where nine countries out of 22 WHO Member States, are experiencing ongoing conflict or sporadic violence.   

Treated too late 

“Up to 80 per cent of trauma deaths are occurring before people reach the hospital,” said Dr. Sara Halimah, Trauma Care Specialist for the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region. 

“That’s a major area of concern that tells you that the civilians – the regular family in Somalia living in Mogadishu or in Afghanistan, or Sudan or wherever it may be – they are struggling to reach hospitals. They are dying on the way.” 

Within the Eastern Mediterranean region, the UN agency reported that Somalia’s main hospitals recorded more than 60,000 casualties in 2022. In Syria, at least 150,000 trauma consultations took place last year, while the Occupied Palestinian Territories faced their worst year of conflict related injuries in 2022, since the last Intifada uprising ended in late 2005. 

One in four of all trauma-related deaths could be avoided simply by knowing how to stem bleeding by using a tourniquet or tranexamic acid to aid clotting. Ensuring adequate access to health materials would help protect life too, as would investing in front-line staff, WHO insisted. 

But such basic measures are often impossible to find in fragile and conflict-affected settings where health systems have been weakened and are unable to respond to emergencies. 

Afghanistan: OHCHR alarm over arrests of activists speaking up for women and girls

Since the beginning of the year, several civil society activists and journalists have been detained for speaking out against Taliban policies that restrict women and girls’ access to education, work, and most other areas of public life. 

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“No one should be detained for speaking out in defence of their fundamental rights and the rights of others,” OHCHR Spokesperson Jeremy Laurence said in a statement. 

“Arrest or detention as punishment for the legitimate exercise of fundamental rights, such as the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, is arbitrary under international human rights law,” he added. 

Top campaigner arrested 

The statement comes in the wake of the latest arrest, which occurred on Monday, according to OHCHR. 

Matiullah Wesa, head of PenPath, a civil society organization campaigning for the reopening of girls’ schools, was detained by unidentified individuals who were travelling in an unmarked vehicle.  His whereabouts are unknown. 

The same persons also entered Mr. Wesa’s home the following day and seized two of his brothers, who were released several hours later. 

OHCHR said other activists and journalists have also been detained with no clear information as to their whereabouts, well-being or any charges against them.  

Respect human rights 

“Detainees’ human rights must be respected, in particular the right to be informed of the reason for their arrest at the time of their arrest, the right to be promptly informed of any charges against them, as well as the right of access to family members and to legal representation,” Mr. Laurence said. 

He recalled that Afghanistan is a party to international human rights treaties.  As such, Taliban leaders are obliged to respect and ensure the rights to freedom of expression, opinion and freedom of peaceful assembly, as well as to provide access to education and the right to work. 

The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in August 2021 and have effectively barred girls and women from studying and working.   

Addressing the Security Council earlier this month, the UN Special Representative there, Roza Otunbayeva, said Afghanistan remains the “most repressive country in the world” for women’s rights. 

#Afghanistan: We are alarmed by ongoing arbitrary arrests/detentions of media workers & civil society activists, esp those targeted for defending women’s/girls’ rights. Call for urgent release of those arbitrarily detained & respect for fundamental rights: https://t.co/JWKGeGaweD https://t.co/zrT5SFHupZ

DR Congo: Security Council warned of ‘considerable’ deterioration in restive east

Aware of the worsening situation involving multiple armed groups clashing with Government forces, and each other, a Security Council delegation visited the DRC earlier this month in solidarity with the people of DRC, and to mobilize the United Nations peacekeeping and humanitarian operations in the face of security, electoral and structural challenges.

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Abuses by militia

“The intensification of the conflict with the M23 and the persistent activism of other armed groups, including the ADF, Zaire and CODECO, to name a few, continue to inflict intolerable suffering on the civilian population,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the DRC, Bintou Keita, told the 15-member Council.

Ms. Keita, who is also the head of the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), pointed out that in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri, hundreds of thousands of people have fled abuses by armed groups and clashes between the M23 and the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) but also between CODECO and militants from the Zaire group – which have clashed often over the control of gold mines in the region.

In North Kivu in particular, fighting between M23 rebels and the FARDC have displaced 900,000 people. Humanitarian needs, already immense, “continue to increase.”

“This humanitarian crisis remains one of the most neglected in the world. The displaced populations, which I visited, live in extremely precarious conditions,” she said.

Mobilizing resources

In this context, she called for the mobilization of more resources to properly implement the 2023 humanitarian response plan, which now requires some $2.25 billion.

Ms. Keita also condemned persistent impediments to humanitarian access, including the attack on a United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) helicopter in February, which forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to temporarily suspend flights in conflict zones.

She called on all parties to the conflict “to respect international humanitarian law and facilitate humanitarian access to vulnerable people wherever are.”

Among the displaced, the Special Representative stressed “the particularly precarious situation of women” and considered it imperative to fund the 2023 National Action Plan to Prevent Sexual Exploitation and Abuse to ensure adequate protection for them.

“More than $2 million is needed to support its activities, particularly in areas affected by the M23 crisis. Among the ongoing initiatives, I welcome the creation of a victim support fund and psychological assistance to women set up by the World Health Organization (WHO),” she said.

Clémence Ndabohweje, 49, washes dishes in front of the tent in which she has taken refuge with her six children and three grandchildren at an IDP site in eastern DR Congo. The family fled their village in Rutshuru territory following clashes.
UNICEF/Arlette Bashizi

Clémence Ndabohweje, 49, washes dishes in front of the tent in which she has taken refuge with her six children and three grandchildren at an IDP site in eastern DR Congo. The family fled their village in Rutshuru territory following clashes.

Deadly year for peacekeepers

Ms. Keita told Council members that in response to these immense security and humanitarian challenges, MONUSCO “works tirelessly in hostile environments to fulfill its mandate,” in particular supporting the Congolese Government for the protection of civilians, as well as the disarmament and demobilization of armed groups and the implementation of security sector reform.

She noted that 2022 was one of the deadliest years on record for MONUSCO peacekeepers, which operates in an “increasingly complex, volatile and dangerous” environment.

Regional efforts

The Special Representative recalled that military operations alone will not be sufficient to ensure stability in eastern DRC and she welcomed ongoing regional efforts to find lasting solutions to end the fighting.

She called on the Security Council “to give full weight to these efforts by encouraging the parties to respect their commitments and ensuring that recalcitrant actors are held accountable”.

She noted that tensions between the DRC and Rwanda have continued to rise – over whether M23 rebels are being supported by Rwanda, a charge that Kigali vehemently denies – leading to several cross-border incidents, with these clashes presenting “serious risks of regional escalation”.

Elections in December

Regarding national elections scheduled for December 20 this year, the UN envoy praised the Congolese authorities and the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) “for their determination to meet the deadlines in the face of logistical challenges, but especially in the face of insecurity”.

She noted that in eastern DRC, violence, clashes, and population displacement in areas under M23 control, “constitute serious obstacles to voter registration work,” and in the west, intercommunal violence in Mai-Ndombe province, which has yet to stop, is also hampering the process.

MONUSCO, in partnership with UN agencies, is supporting the electoral process and has responded by already transporting 126 tons of electoral materials for the CENI to North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri.

Ms. Keita praised the efforts of the CENI “which is trying to address the operational challenges of registration through the extension of registration periods”, responding to wrongdoing by any election officials, while also denouncing hate speech.

However, she said the electoral process remains marked by “a worrying lack of trust between the main stakeholders of civil society and the opposition“. She reiterated her call for all Congolese with a stake in the democratic process to work together to ensure peaceful, transparent, credible and inclusive elections in strict compliance with the Constitution and electoral law.

Watch Ms. Keita briefing reporters outside the Security Council following the meeting, below:

La Représentante spéciale du Secrétaire général de l’@ONU_fr en #RDC🇨🇩 et Cheffe de la MONUSCO @UN_BintouKeita a présenté ce mercredi 29/3 devant le Conseil de sécurité, le rapport du Secrétaire général sur la situation en #Republique_Démocratique_du_Congo. 1/8 https://t.co/3ovvarTdJz

UN rights experts condemn Uganda’s ‘egregious’ anti-LGBT legislation

“The imposition of the death penalty based on such legislation is per se an arbitrary killing and a breach of article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),” the experts said, noting that Ugandan politicians had been made aware of this on previous occasions in recent years. 

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The harsh anti-LGBT laws approved by a majority of MPs last week, target and jeopardise the rights of LGBT persons and those who support and defend their human rights, the experts noted.

‘Serial homosexuality’

“The imposition of the death penalty for same-sex intimacy – including so-called ‘serial homosexuality’ – is an egregious violation of human rights,” the UN experts said.

They warned that the new legislation would exacerbate and legitimise continued stigmatisation, violence, harassment, and discrimination against LGBT persons.

Living in constant fear

LGBTI persons will constantly live in fear and stress for their life and physical integrity for simply living according to their sexual orientation,” the experts said, highlighting that there are serious mental health-associated risks beyond the violence and threats.

Culture can never be a justification for such flagrant violations of human rights,” the experts said. They recalled the obligation of all of society – from politics, to business, to civil society, to promote social inclusion and contribute to stopping human rights abuses.

Long record of discrimination

The latest anti-LGBT legislation comes after years of State-instigated and perpetuated discrimination against the community, said the experts.

The noted that they have repeatedly raised serious concerns about escalating risks to the human rights of LGBT persons in Uganda during the last 15 years, including when other iterations of so-called “anti-homosexuality” laws were proposed in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

In all cases, the draft bills were assessed as potentially leading to immediate violations to a substantial range of human rights.

The new law is no exception and forms part of a worrying trend of intolerance, exacerbating stigma against LGBTI persons without any grounds or evidence,” they said.

Appeal to Yoweri Museveni

“We urge the President of Uganda to tread a new path towards respect of human rights and acceptance of difference, and reject the proposed law,” the experts’ statement concluded.

Special Rapporteurs and other UN Human Rights Council-appointed experts, work on a voluntary and unpaid basis, are not UN staff, and work independently from any government or organisation.

#Uganda: Making homosexuality punishable by death is an egregious violation of human rights, UN experts say, warning that new legislation would exacerbate stigmatisation, violence, harassment &discrimination. #LGBT persons must be supported, not persecuted
https://t.co/ShtASQF5lL https://t.co/NeffM5nW2f

New network aims to save migrant lives in the Americas

Thousands searching for a better life meet their death crossing deserts, rivers and remote areas in the region.  IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, documented 1,433 deaths last year – the highest number since its establishment in 2014. 

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The Project is run by the UN agency’s Global Data Institute (GDI), which this week launched the first Network on Missing Migrants in the Americas. 

Save lives, provide support 

The objective is to save lives, improve data collection and support the families of survivors. 

“When people have access to safe and regular migration pathways, that increases the likelihood that they can contribute to economic prosperity at home and in their places of destination,” said GDI Director Koko Warner.  

She added that a lack of these regular pathways “often has tragic results and is a lost opportunity”. 

The network connects civil society organizations, government institutions, journalists, and other key actors. Participants meet in “virtual cafés”, a Missing Migrants Project initiative established three years ago. 

Searching for loved ones 

The first session, held on Wednesday, focused on the challenges that families from Central America face in the search for their missing loved ones.  

Although the exact number of those who die transiting through this region is unknown, at least 7,495 people lost their lives between 2014 and 2022, according to Missing Migrants Project data. 

People walk the streets of Lajas Blancas in Panama,  a migrant reception centre close to the border with Colombia.
© UNICEF/Eduard Serra

People walk the streets of Lajas Blancas in Panama, a migrant reception centre close to the border with Colombia.

The new network will also work to strengthen national and regional capacities for the collection and exchange of data on migrant deaths and disappearances.  

Actions will include issuing recommendations to try and prevent these deaths and disappearances, searching for and identifying the deceased, and providing support and reparation to their families. It will also facilitate the creation of strategic alliances among participants by conducting joint investigations, among other measures. 

Café initiative 

The Missing Migrants Project established the “virtual cafés” initiative in 2020.   

IOM said to date, they remain the only space in the Americas where civil society representatives, journalists, artists, researchers, and representatives of governmental and intergovernmental institutions, have met specifically to discuss issues related to migrant deaths and disappearances. 

More than 7,000 people have lost their lives migrating through the Americas since 2014.
A new network on missing migrants in the region is launched today to address migrant deaths.
We need continued action.

General Assembly votes to seek World Court’s opinion, in quest for ‘bolder’ climate action

The resolution was put forward by the cyclone-battered Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu, supported by a “core group” of 17 countries from various regions, and is focused on the adverse impacts of climate change on small island developing States as well as climate justice. 

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The ICJ, also known as the World Court, is the UN’s principal judicial organ. Although its advisory opinions are not legally binding, they carry legal authority and moral weight. 

Taking bolder action 

Speaking ahead of the vote, UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted that the Court’s advisory opinions have tremendous importance. 

“If and when given, such an opinion would assist the General Assembly, the UN and Member States, to take the bolder and stronger climate action that our world so desperately needs,” he said.   

A ‘critical decade’ 

 Mr. Guterres pointed to the latest climate science, unveiled this month, which confirmed that humans are responsible for virtually all global heating over the past 200 years. 

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) further showed that limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, is achievable – but time is running out. 

Climate justice and cooperation 

The UN chief stressed that now is the time for climate action and climate justice

“The climate crisis can only be overcome through cooperation – between peoples, cultures, nations, generations.   But festering climate injustice feeds divisions and threatens to paralyze global climate action,” he warned.  

The Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau, said ambition towards achieving the 1.5-degree target “is still far from what is needed”, and an ICJ advisory opinion could provide clarity that would benefit global efforts to address the climate crisis and further boost cooperation.  

He said the final text of the resolution was the result of lengthy consultations and deliberations, and he also highlighted the important role played by young law students in the Pacific who inspired the initiative. 

Prime Minister Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau of Vanuatu briefs reporters on the draft resolution sponsored by his country and other Member States requesting an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the obligations of States in respect
UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Prime Minister Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau of Vanuatu briefs reporters on the draft resolution sponsored by his country and other Member States requesting an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the obligations of States in respect

No ‘silver bullet’  

“The intense and engaged negotiations with the core group as well as with a broader UN membership, were an indication of the importance of this initiative, but also of the collective desire to work towards addressing the climate crisis,” he said. 

“This is not a silver bullet, but it can make an important contribution to climate change, climate action, including by catalyzing much higher ambition under the Paris Agreement,” he added, referring to the 2015 global treaty on climate change. 

A ‘landmark resolution’ 

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, issued a statement warmly welcoming the “landmark resolution”. 

An ICJ advisory opinion “could be an important catalyst for the urgent, ambitious, and equitable climate action that is needed to stop global heating and to limit and remediate climate-induced human rights harms,” he said. 

He also welcomed the resolution’s “clear recognition of the relevance of action today for the generations to come”.   

The UN rights chief said his Office, OHCHR, has extensively documented the human rights impacts of climate change and set out the human rights obligations of States and other actors.  

“States have obligations to mitigate and adapt to – and address loss and damage resulting from – climate change,” said Mr. Türk.  “We look forward to sharing this expertise in this highly significant process before the International Court of Justice.” 

Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the General Assembly on the request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change.
UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the General Assembly on the request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change.

Climate justice is both a moral imperative & a prerequisite for effective global #ClimateAction.

The climate crisis can only be overcome through cooperation – between peoples, cultures, nations, generations.

Let’s work together to get the job done. https://t.co/jdzzXP2iYm

UNICEF sounds alarm over fast-spreading cholera outbreaks in Africa

“The cholera outbreak in eastern and southern Africa isn’t just an outbreak; it’s an emergency for children,” the agency said.

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Calling for $171 million in funds to support 28 million people suffering in the region, UNICEF said tailored responses are already reaching many impacted, but more must urgently be done.

Tailored life-saving responses

The agency said the worst cholera outbreaks to hit the region in years, are now unfolding in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

As such, UNICEF is developing individualized cholera response plans based on the unique conditions within each affected country. For instance, budgets for both Malawi and Mozambique include requirements to address each country’s recent flooding following the devasting effects of cyclone Freddy which has fuelled the spread of the acute often water-borne disease.

Driving factors

Cholera outbreaks are exacerbated by poverty, disasters, conflict, and climate change consequences, like extreme storms and flooding, as well as a lack of access to safe water and sanitation, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

Grim scenarios in many other countries have further deteriorated since WHO published its first disease update on the global cholera situation in December.

The world has been grappling since mid-2021with an acute upsurge in what is the seventh deadly cholera pandemic in recorded history, WHO said.

The pandemic is characterized by the number, size and concurrence of multiple outbreaks, the spread to areas which have been free of cholera for decades, and alarmingly high mortality rates.

The UN health agency estimated in February that one billion people in at least 43 countries are at risk.

New assistance fast-tracked

For children, the risk is high, UNICEF said, adding that the needs in affected communities in eastern and southern Africa are growing.

UNICEF is currently frontloading its internal core resources to respond to the emergency “on a no-regrets basis”, the agency said. This includes new loan and grant financing and repurposed key resources to fast-track procurement needs and enhanced community outreach.

UNICEF is focused on mobilizing essential life-saving support, that includes emergency health supplies, medical products, technical support for outbreak control, risk communication and community engagement for prevention and early treatment, and safe water and nutrition supplies.

Residents in Goma in the eastern DR Congo attend cholera awareness sessions following the outbreak of the disease there.
© UNICEF/Jean-Claude Wenga

Residents in Goma in the eastern DR Congo attend cholera awareness sessions following the outbreak of the disease there.

Flexible funding urgently needed

“We’re also working on social protection and supporting livelihoods, as well as keeping children safe and learning,” the agency said. “Flexible funding will help us not just protect more children and communities in need today but go towards building more resilient systems to protect children in the future.”

With existing funding, UNICEF has been able to scale-up the supply of chlorine for water purification, medicine for infection prevention and control, and risk communication messages that emphasize the importance of early care and treatment for anyone infected.

While generous partners have already contributed $18.3 million to support the cholera response, a regional funding gap needs to be swiftly bridged to broaden an effective response.

“For UNICEF and its partners to respond quickly and equitably based on need, especially in underfunded sectors, flexible resources will play a critical role,” the agency said. “Help us eradicate cholera and remove this burden from children and families who are already carrying too much,” UNICEF said.

Take a minute to see how UNICEF is working to protect children during a deadly cholera outbreak in Ethiopia. https://t.co/a2MYnsbxh1

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