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World News in Brief: Somalia floods, Sudan cholera update, genocide prevention

Rising waters caused by torrential downpours have affected more than 2.4 million in the east African nation, while UN aid teams are increasingly concerned about the spread of waterborne diseases, said aid coordination office, OCHA. 

Suspected cases of cholera have already been reported and humanitarians have highlighted how much of a threat this poses to communities with only limited healthcare support.

UN and partner humanitarian organizations, authorities and locals have assisted at least 820,000 people in need, with at least 37 boats deployed to deliver supplies or evacuate trapped people.

To date, the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia which requires $2.6 billion to help 7.6 million of Somalia’s most vulnerable people is only 42 per cent funded.

Women wade through flood waters in Jowhar City, Somalia.
© WFP/Arete/Abdirahman Yussuf

Women wade through flood waters in Jowhar City, Somalia.

Major surge in cholera cases across Sudan

Humanitarians and partners are also scaling up response to the outbreak of cholera across war-torn Sudan, the UN Spokesperson said on Monday, briefing journalists in New York.

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Stéphane Dujarric said that this effort included detection and treatment of cases and addressing water, sanitation and hygiene issues.  

OCHA is warning that the outbreak continues to worsen, with a 70 per cent surge in reported cases over the past three weeks. 

To date, nearly 2.2 million oral cholera vaccinations have been administered in the worst-affected states. 

“As of today, nearly 5,200 suspected cases of cholera have been registered, including more than 160 deaths”, according to the World Health Organization and Sudan’s health ministry. In all, at least nine states have registered cases since 26 September, added Mr. Dujarric.

The war between the national army and rival militia the RSF, has led to a dramatic deterioration in healthcare, with two thirds of the population now lacking access and more than 70 per cent of health facilities in conflict areas out of service.

“Since the start of the war in April, WHO has verified 60 attacks against healthcare facilities, which is as a reminder, is against International Humanitarian Law”, the Spokesman concluded.

Preventing genocide, as essential to defence of human rights as ever: Turk

“Early warning signals of genocide must compel us to action” said the UN human rights chief Volker Türk on Monday, addressing a meeting on Monday marking the 75th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the crime.

He described it as a “grave and urgent document”, adopted on the eve of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in December 1948, making it the first human rights treaty in UN history.

“Important lessons of the Holocaust, whose indescribable crimes led to the Convention – and the lessons of Cambodia, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and others – made it absolutely clear that preventing genocide, and bringing its perpetrators to account before all humanity, is essential to the work of advancing human rights”, said the High Commissioner.

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He stressed that preventing genocide was an “overriding principle” for all humanity, not just a point of international law. 

The Convention calls on all States and people to maintain vigilance and demands action to prevent and to punish genocide.

He said genocide was “never unleashed without warning. It is always the culmination of preceding and identifiable patterns of systematic discrimination – based on race, ethnicity, religion or other characteristics – and of gross human rights violations, targeted as a matter of policy against a people; minority; community.”

Genocide often feeds off dehumanizing and demonizing statements in the public sphere, while today, disinformation campaigns on social media can further amplify these statements, until condoning and justifying violence becomes normalized.”

He said it was “absolutely critical” to head off genocidal action in the digital sphere through better governance online. 

Secondly, there must be accountability, “not only because it provides justice for victims, but because accountability is central to ending genocide…Impunity is an enabler of genocide. Accountability is its nemesis.”

Mr. Türk urged all States that have not yet ratified or acceded to the Genocide Convention, to do so as a matter of high priority, in order to “protect our common humanity”.

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