June 26th, 2015
Weekly News Round Up (26/06/15)
News from HART:
- This week we published three blogs for World Refugee Day. They include: “Adrift: The Record Number of Refugees and the Challenges They Face” by Jack Lindsay; “The plight of Nigerian Refugees and Internally Displaced continues as Boko Haram insurgency grows” by Elisabeth Pramendorfer and “Sargsyan v Azerbaijan Case – an ECHR ruling for an Armenian refugee and the importance of refugees’ legal rights” by Jamie Osborn. You can read all three blogs here.
- Baroness Cox received written answer from Baroness Anelay, Minister of State of the FCO, regarding the arrest of two South Sudanese pastors in Sudan. Reverend Yat Michael and Reverend Peter Reith face charges, of which two are punishable by the death sentence.
- HART and 82 other representatives of the Sudanese people and human rights organisations around the world signed an open letter to UN Security Council Members requesting the renewal of UNAMID’s Mandate in Darfur.
- To mark World Refugee Day on 20 June, the Karen Women’s Organisation (KWO) released a statement calling on the Burmese Government and the international community to do more to help refugees in Burma, particularly those along the Thai-Burma border. The report also draws attention to large-scale development projects that may leave ethnic communities vulnerable to exploitation.
- The Burmese Parliament voted against two changes to the constitution that would have removed the ban on anyone with foreign relatives becoming president and would have reduced the number of MPs required for a change to the constitution from 75% to 66%. This means that Aung San Suu Kyi will still be unable to become president, and that
- 17 Burmese journalists from the Eleven Media Group have been charged with contempt of court by the Burmese Government. Charges were brought after the journalists reported on the trial of 5 of their colleagues who have been accused of defaming the Ministry of Information when they reported on alleged corruption within the Ministry.
- A UNOCHA report states that over 500,000 refugees are in need of humanitarian assistance in Burma, including in Rakhine, Shan and Kachin States.
- Human Rights Watch released a report calling for Burma and Thailand to protect the Moken people, an ethnic minority of hunter-gatherer people who are vulnerable to abuse.
- Two young Dalit men were stoned allegedly as a result of anger at their academic success at the Indian Institute of Technology. The case was one of a number of incidents of violence, for various reasons, against Dalits.
- The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, has urged all sides to avoid continuing to adopt military stances over Nagorno-Karabakh.
- The former Chair of the OSCE, Jacques Faure, has said that returning Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia would be impossible, as the population of Armenians living there would not want to be forced to become Azeri.
- The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has changed the wording of its report on Nagorno-Karabakh from describing the situation as one of “occupation by Armenia” of Nagorno-Karabakh, which Armenia argued laid disproportionate blame for the situation on Armenia, to “the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict”
- PACE has also adopted a resolution on human rights abuses in Azerbaijan which includes the statement that PACE is “aware of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh”. This has been seen a sign of PACE’s increasing concern over Nagorno-Karabakh.
- Daily suicide attacks have been reported this week in northern Nigeria. On Monday, at least 20 fatalities were reported after two female suicide bombers attacked a fish market in Maiduguri. This was followed by a suicide attack allegedly carried out by 12 year old girl in the town of Gujba, killing at least 10 people on Tueday.
- With violence on behalf of Boko Haram increasing, neighbouring states increase their military activities towards crushing the Islamist militia. On Wednesday, an attack carried out by Niger’s army was reported to have killed 15 Boko Haram members and taken 20 into custody. According to the government of Niger, the attack was a response to Boko Haram killings the previous day in the village of Yebbi, leaving at least 5 people dead.
- In a month’s time, on July 20th, Buhari and President Obama will be discussing future US support for the regional country coalition against Boko Haram as well as potential increased US involvement in Nigeria’s military training.
- As many as a thousand child soldiers have been newly recruited in Upper Nile state in the north of the country since early June. Rebel soldiers, reportedly under the command of a notorious ex-government general turned militia commander by the name of Johnson Olony, conducted house to house searches kidnapping children aged between 13-17 and transporting them to training camps.
- Peace talks are underway between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy and leader of the rebel movement in South Sudan, Riek Machar. The two have not met since peace negotiations broke down in March and were followed by a renewed bout of fierce fighting that has displaced thousands in the past few months. The chief mediator said that he hopes a new ‘compromise’ proposal will put an end to the 18 month civil war.
- The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will be meeting on 30th of June to decide whether the United Nations and African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) should be renewed or abandoned. Sudanese and international rights groups have expressed grave concern over the pending decision and demand that UNAMID be renewed, as recent levels of violence and the subsequent displacement of hundreds of thousands indicate the absolute necessity of a continued peace keeping presence.
- South Africa is reportedly reviewing its status as a signatory to the Rome Statute, the international legislation that created the International Criminal Court (ICC), after the government’s controversial decision to allow Sudan president Omar al-Bashir to leave the country last week. South African cabinet officials have cited ‘contradictions’ in the Statue that are problematic due to its treaty commitments to the African Union (AU), which include immunity from prosecution to all sitting heads of state.
- An interview with Dr Rui Maria de Araujo, Prime Minister of Timor Leste, discussing reform plans and future challenges to social and economic development has been released earlier this week. Dr Rui Maria de Araujo took office around three months ago and now urges for public administration and fiscal reforms deemed to diversify the current oil dependent economy. Watch it online here.
- Earlier this week, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees expressed deep concern for the alarming levels of refugees arriving in Uganda. According to the UN refugee agency, an estimated 600 000 individuals are currently seeking asylum in the East African nation, and a vast number of these individuals are arriving from the conflict ridden neighbouring states of South Sudan, DRC, and recently, due to escalating violence and instability, Burundi. Charles Keith Yaxley, UNHCR external relations officer, stated that the current number of refugees is at an all time high, with fatal consequences for their imminent survival and well being. International agencies such as the World Food Program warn that current life saving protection and assistance is far from being sufficient. Uganda is among the 10 largest refugee hosting states
- Civil society organisations, activists and international NGOs expressed deep concern over a recently proposed NGO bill deemed to “regulate non-governmental organisations (…) and provide a conducive and enabling environment for civil society organisations”. Critic comes from human rights lawyer Nicholas Opio, arguing that if the bill is passed into law, it will “make them [NGOs] puppets of the state”. Read the full article here.
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