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World News in Brief: Deep concern over Afghan arrests, UN commits to stay and deliver in Mali, new migrant support plan

Since 1 January, in Kabul and Daykundi provinces, UNAMA has documented a series of hijab decree enforcement campaigns by the de facto Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, aided by Taliban police units.

In the capital, Kabul, large numbers of women and girls have been warned and detained, said the mission in a press statement. Some have also been detained in Nili City in Daykundi province.

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UNAMA is looking into allegations of ill treatment and detention. Religious and ethnic minority communities also appear to be disproportionately impacted by the clamp down.

To secure release, a mahram, or male guardian, has been required to sign a letter guaranteeing future compliance or else face punishment, and it’s alleged that payments have sometimes been demanded, UNAMA reported.

‘Demeaning’

“Enforcement measures involving physical violence are especially demeaning and dangerous for Afghan women and girls,” said Roza Otunbayeva, Special Representative of the Secretary General and head of UNAMA.

“Detentions carry an enormous stigma that put Afghan women at even greater risk,” Ms. Otunbayeva said. “They also destroy public trust.”

UNAMA has discussed these issues with the de facto authorities and calls for the immediate release of those detained.

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Greater funding needed for Malians following UN mission’s withdrawal

Although UN agencies were able to reach more than 1.8 million people in Mali last year, more funding and commitment to long-term development is needed following the drawdown of the UN mission at the end of December, according to UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

UN peacekeepers from Chad arrive in Gao bringing an end to the UN's presence in the Kidal region of northern Mali.
MINUSMA

UN peacekeepers from Chad arrive in Gao bringing an end to the UN’s presence in the Kidal region of northern Mali.

Briefing reporters in New York on Thursday, he stressed that the UN and partners were “committed to staying and delivering principled assistance and protection services” despite the gap left by the end of the peacekeeping mission at the request of Mali’s military authorities.

He said the UN would continue working with national authorities, Malian organizations and local communities, “but to keep the response going, agencies urgently need support for critical enabling services such as logistics, mine action and security”.

“In some locations, these services were of course being provided previously in part by the UN peacekeeping mission,” he added.

He noted that nearly two million Malians had received assistance last year despite the already “escalating insecurity” in parts of the country, much of which is plagued by armed extremists following more than a decade of unrest and political upheaval.

Agencies also need full funding for this year’s humanitarian response, Mr. Dujarric said. The full response plan will be launched at the end of this month and is expected to require $700 million through 2024 – a 10 per cent decrease from 2023 – “which reflects a more prioritized focus on the country’s most severe needs”, he said.

While humanitarian aid remains essential, more will be needed to address future challenges, including development assistance and social cohesion programmes, he said.

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UN launches plan to save migrant lives, promote legal pathways

A lack of safe and legal pathways for migrants has left many vulnerable to abuse and deadly assault, according to the UN migration agency (IOM), which launched a new strategy on Thursday designed to assist them.

Speaking at the launch, IOM Director General Amy Pope insisted that it was crucially important to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change, which has become “the top driver” of migration.

Conflict and growing inequality have also increased migration pressures today, said Ms. Pope, who was speaking from N’Djamena in Chad. It’s there that many of the seven million people displaced by violence in neighbouring Sudan have now settled.

IOM said in a statement that its strategic plan is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that the agency is using innovation and technology “to help migrants, their families, communities, and societies flourish”.

“There is not a corner of the globe that is not touched by, or is in some way invested in, the issue of migration,” the IOM chief said.

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