February 27th, 2015

Weekly News Round Up (27/02/2015)

News from HART

– Our Blog Series for Women’s Day begins this Saturday, where Anna Cox will examine women’s role in civil societies in Burma!

– Anna Cox reports from her visit to the House of Lords on Wednesday, where a crucial amendment in the Modern Slavery Bill has been passed.

 

Burma

– A fire has wreaked havoc at a migrant school in Mae Sot destroying accommodation and children’s belongings, including identification documents. This will be particularly difficult to rectify as international aid organisations are focusing more on sending funding inside Burma.

– Fighting continues in the Kokang region. Over 30,000 people are taking refuge in China and hundreds have reportedly been killed from both military sides as well as civilians including a ten year old boy who was killed by a land mine.

– Burma Army kidnapped and conscripted two men who were escaping from an abusive employment. After being forced to sign consent under false names, one man aged 30 managed to escape but the other, only 17 years old is still with the Army. His family has so far not managed to gain contact with him.

 

India

– A recent outbreak of H1N1 swine flu has now claimed over 900 lives. The worst affected state is Gujarat in the west of the country, with 231 deaths and more than 3,700 infections.

– Nobel Peace Prize winning economist Amartya Sen has stepped down from his post as Chancellor of a leading Indian university, citing government interference and his belief that the Modi administration does not want him in that role. In a letter last week to the Nalanda University Board announcing his decision, the famed development economist lamented that “academic governance in India remains so deeply vulnerable to the opinions of the ruling government.”

– Islamist terror group ISIS and all its affiliate organisations, responsible for series of savage attacks and killings in Iraq and Syria, have been banned in India under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Radicalisation and recruitment of Indian youth has become a top security concern, the Home Ministry stated.

– According to Amnesty International’s 2014/15 Report, India’s central and state governments have often failed to prevent, and at times, committed crimes against Indian citizens, especially children, women, Dalits and Adivasi (Indigenous) people.

– On Tuesday, India’s air pollution problem was reported to be worse than China’s. The situation has become so bad that it’s reducing life expectancy by 3.2 years. The blame has largely been attributed to the country’s emphasis on economic development over environmentalism and human development.

 

Nagorno-Karabakh

– Azerbaijani community in Nagorno-Karabakh has announced that it open to dialogue between the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities in the region.

– 1,000 members of Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun (ARF-D) are visiting Karabkh to highlight the ongoing conflict and commemorate 27 years since the Sumgait pogroms. 2014 was the bloodiest year since the 1990s with 39 Azerbaijanis and 33 Armenians killed.

– 2 Azerbaijanis have been sentenced to life imprisonment and 22 years imprisonment respectively for ‘spying’ and ‘border infiltration’ by the Karabakh authorities. They have appealed these verdicts and Azerbaijan are calling for the release of these people who they say are ‘hostages’.

 

Nigeria

– A young girl strapped with explosives was used as a suicide bomber on Sunday 22nd in the town of Potiskum. Reportedly 5 have been killed and dozens wounded. Hours later another attack took place in Kano extending the death toll to 27.

– An American working as a Christian missionary in Nigeria was reportedly kidnapped on Tuesday.

– Nigeria’s army continues its offensive against Boko Haram. This has been hailed as their most successful attempt at fighting the insurgency group to date.

– Another suicide bomber incident on Thursday killed 27 people in Jos, Borno State.

– Details of opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Chatham House on Thursday can be found here.

 

South Sudan

– Joint efforts by NGOs and Lakes State’s ministry of health have resulted in reducing infant and maternal mortality rates in rural South Sudan.

– The UN is considering sanctions for both sides of the conflict in South Sudan as they have failed to honor their cease-fire commitments.

– More than 600 child soldiers have been demobilized in Pibor as part of the agreement signed in last May between SPLA and the SSDA Cobra faction.

 

Sudan

– SPLM-N claims to have killed ten army troops in South Kordofan on Tuesday.

– Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said he will stand down in 2020 if he is elected for one more term in the April elections.

– Aid organisations have reached 38,000 displaced in North Darfur by providing basic health services, according to UN OCHA.

 

Timor-Leste

– The 2014/15 Amnesty International Report called for more action to be taken against those who had committed crimes against humanity during the Indonesian occupation

 

Uganda

– The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda arrived in Uganda on Thursday for a 5-day visit to provide an update on war crime proceedings against captured LRA commander, Daniel Ongwen.

– In related news, the ICC released a cache of documents on the case against Ongwen on Tuesday. The documents, 21 in total, reveal publicly the arrest warrants and arrest requests made to the governments of Uganda, Sudan and the DRC.

– Amnesty’s 2014/15 Report for Uganda condemned state restrictions on freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, stating that the authorities used repressive and discriminatory legislation to stifle civil space. An increased targeting of LGBTI groups and individuals was also criticised

– In related news, a report by Chapter Four Uganda (a human rights group) has documented cases of the Ugandan police physically abusing gay people in custody. The 27-page report entitled ‘Where Do We Go for Justice?’ also said officers routinely refused to look into cases reported by gay men and lesbians and harassed them instead.

– The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) announced that it will resume food aid distribution to refugees after receiving 17.7 million U.S. dollars funding from the United States and Australia. Funding shortfalls meant that rationing had to be cut earlier this year for the 303,000 or so refugees who receive aid from the WFP.

– The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development with support from UNICEF and a number of NGOs have drafted the National Action Plan to end child sacrifice and child mutilation. Police records and media reports indicate that cases of child sacrifice and the mutilation of children linked to ritual murders have increased since 2006.

– 21 civil society organisations have appealed to the UN over the government’s export of Ugandan health workers to Trinidad and Tobago thanks to a bilateral deal signed last year. Writing to the Right to Health office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, the organisations argued that “the arrangement will significantly undermine the public health system as Uganda suffers from an acute shortage of health workers at all levels” and urged the U.N. to intervene.

– Last weekend, the BBC reported on efforts to break the stigma around mental illness in a country where are only 30 working psychiatrists for a population of 35 million and an estimated 90% of sufferers never get treated


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