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24 October 2014
News from HART:
- This week, HART and other organisations signed a letter pressing Tony Blair to exert influence on Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to hand over Sudanese President Omar al Bashir to authorities for the crimes he has been indicted by the International Criminal Court. To read the full letter click here.
- On the HART blog: a new blog post by guest blogger Nick Wood analyses the Boko Haram movement in the context of Nigeria’s troubled and bloody history.
- Last Friday, the Burma Partnership, a group of over 650 Burmese civil society organisations, published a statement assessing the current situation of reforms in the country. The statement concludes that “there have been very limited positive changes and in some cases situations have regressed.” The full statement can be downloaded in English here.
- Members of the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSP/SSA) met representatives of the government’s Union Peacemaking Work Committee (UPWC) in Lashio, Shan State, on Saturday 18th. An agreement has been reached to avoid further skirmishes between the SSP/SSA and the army.
- In a press conference on Monday, the Chairman of the Union Election Commission, Tin Aye, announced that multiparty elections will be held in October/November 2015. Aye also invited civil society organisations to give feedback and suggestions on the electoral process.
- The Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) published an update on Wednesday reporting Burmese troops’ human rights abuses during October 12-18 in Ke See township during their offensive against the SSA-North. SHRF reported the arrest and torture of 12 villagers Pan Ze village, and the direct shelling of villagers that led 180 civilians to seek refuge in a local temple.
- Burma’s Joint House Committee on Constitutional Amendment presented a report to the Parliament on Wednesday, recommending the inclusion of a provision (dating from the 2008 military regime’s constitution) limiting the eligibility of a presidential candidate if his or her close relatives are foreign citizens. This is a clear plan to avoid Aung San Suu Kyi running in the presidential elections, as she is the widow of a British academic and both of her sons are British nationals.
- Following recent negotiations between the French and Nagorno-Karabakh governments, French Minister of Foreign Affairs made a statement assuring that France did not recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state and as co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group it was fully committed to the search for a political and diplomatic solution to the conflict. The French President suggested that Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents should meet in Paris to discuss ways to resolve the conflict.
- Chairman of Azerbaijani Delegation to Euronest Parliamentary Assembly has sent a letter to the European People’s Party protesting against the introduction of a Nagorno-Karabakh group in the EP, suggesting that this move threatened the relation of Azerbaijan with Europe and could support the escalation of tensions in the contact area of Nagorno-Karabakh. He argued that it could be seen as a signal of support for violent military aggression and the violation of territorial integrity of other countries.
- Doubts increase on the ceasefire between Boko Haram and the Federal Government, as there have been reports of attacks by BH militants on four different villages over the weekend: Shaffa, Abadam and Damboa in Borno State, and Waga Chakawa in Adamawa. More than 40 people were killed over the weekend and 60 women were also abducted. However, Danladi Ahmadu, the supposed Boko Haram spokesperson in ceasefire talks, blames these attacks on a “faceless group” that acts in Boko Haram’s name but has nothing to do with the militant organisation.
- On Saturday, an official told the News Agency of Nigeria that the Federal Government has spent over 1.5 billion Naira (~ £5.63 million) on providing relief materials to those displaced in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states by Boko Haram’s insurgency.
- On Sunday, the Borno State Government declared public schools to reopen in the state by November, after they had been closed down on March 14th following Boko Haram’s attacks on schools in the neighbouring state of Yobe.
- A bomb blast killed 5 and injured 12 at the bus station of Azare town, Bauchi State, on Wednesday night. Although no group has claimed responsibility, Boko Haram is the main suspect due to their high level of activity in Bauchi State.
- The ‘South Sudan Crisis Situation Report N. 58’ (16/10/14), published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, presents astonishing data for the humanitarian consequences of the conflict: 467,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries, 1.4 million have been displaced, and an estimated 3.8 million people will need to be assisted by the end of the year. Download full report here.
- Following her visit to South Sudan, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, told reporters: “In my 30 years of experience, I’ve never witnessed anything like what I saw in Bentiu”. Ms Bangura reported that 74% of victims of sexual violence during conflict were under 18, with the youngest victim treated being 2 years-old.
- President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar signed a new peace agreement in Tanzania on Monday, brokered by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete. The agreement included both leaders assuming mutual responsibility for the civil war.
- Alfred Taban, a South Sudanese journalist and editor, told South Sudan in Focus that he had been approached on Monday by the National Security Services (NSS) and was ordered not to publish “opinions from outside” (i.e. rebel opinions).
- Derk Segaar, Head of the UN Resident’s Coordinators Office Relief, Reintegration and Protection, announced the opening of new sites for displaced peoples in Juba, Malakal and Bor to accommodate a further 28,000 new internally displaced persons.
- UN Humanitarian Envoy Dr. Abdullah Al-Matouq and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres arrived in Sudan on Monday to investigate the humanitarian situation in the country and the situation of refugees from South Sudan.
- Abdalla Ahmed al-Rayah, leader of the Sudanes Araki-Qadiri sufi sect, launched a new initiative on Tuesday inviting all opposition leaders to meet in his headquarters, in order to reconcile their differences and to join forces to bring true change to Sudan.
- On Tuesday, Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) chose the incumbent President Omar Hassan al-Bashir as its presidential candidate for the 2015 elections. His nomination was confirmed by the NCP’s Shura Council on Thursday.
- Tuesday 21st October marked the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution of 1964, which overthrew the first military regime of Ibrahim Abboud.
- As part of a celebration for the World Food Day, two agreements were signed that would promote aquaculture as a means to improve nutrition and reduce poverty in Timor-Leste, the country with the second highest rate of childhood stunting in the world according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. The partners will support the implementation of Timor-Leste’s National Aquaculture Development Strategy (2012-2030), which aims to increase per capita fish consumption to reduce undernourishment.