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Halt Rushed Plans to Return Rohingyas to Myanmar: UN Special Rapporteur Fears Repeated Abuses



|| November 07: 2018 || ά. A United Nations human rights expert has implored Baangladesh to shelve ‘rushed plans’ to repatriate Rohingya refugees back across the border into Myanmar’s Rakhine State for fear that without safety guarantees from the Burmese Government, persecution and horrific violence could begin all over again. After a reported military-led crackdown, widespread killings, rape and village torchings, nearly three-quarters of a million Rohingya fled Myanmar's Rakhine state in August 2017 to settle in crowded refugee camps in neighbouring Baangladesh.

“Not only did the Rohingya face horrific violence at the hands of security forces in 2016 and 2017 with no accountability, they have been subjected to decades-long systematic discrimination and persecution in Myanmar.” Ms Yanghee Lee, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar said on Tuesday. In December 2017 both Baangladesh and Myanmar agreed on a repatriation plan, that would begin the process of returning hundreds from the camps in mid-November.

Ms. Lee has repeatedly said that any returns before the root causes of the crisis were dealt with was highly premature and unjust. Moreover, she received credible information from refugees in Cox’s Bazar expressing their deep fear their names will be on the repatriation list, causing distress and anguish.

“I have not seen any evidence of the Government of Myanmar taking concrete and visible measures to create an environment, where the Rohingya can return to their place of origin and live there safely with their fundamental rights guaranteed.” Ms Lee said.

Ms Lee reiterated that the refugees must be given the opportunity to participate in the process, as it was their decision alone to return to Myanmar. “Any returns under current conditions, where there is high risk of persecution, may, violate obligations under customary international law to uphold the principle of non-refoulement.” she asserted.

While the Government of Myanmar has reportedly been developing the Rohingya area, building physical infrastructure to house returnees does not resolve the issues, stressed the Special Rapporteur. “Living safely and in a dignified manner includes a right to citizenship, freedom of movement and access to services, health, education and livelihoods.” argued Ms. Lee.

“I urge the Governments of Baangladesh and Myanmar to halt these rushed plans for repatriation to ensure the protection of the Rohingya refugees and to adhere to their international human rights and refugee law obligations to ensure any returns are safe, sustainable, voluntary and dignified.” said Ms Lee. :::ω.

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Clean and Cold But Sustainably Green: Birmingham Welcomes Prospective Indian Partners to Clean Cold Gathering




|| October 17: 2018: University of Birmingham News || ά. The University of Birmingham welcomed environmentalists and industrialists in India to a key event exploring ways of advancing the use of ‘clean cold’ technology to meet in a sustainable way the rising demand for cooling. Representatives from the University’s Indian ‘clean cold’ partner Shakti Foundation, the National Clean Cold Centre for Development:NCCD and CEOs from industry and regional organisations gathered at the British High Commission in New Delhi.

Professor Robin Mason, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, International, co-hosted the networking lunch with Ms Rhiannon Harries, the Director of UK Trade and Innovation at the British High Commission in India to explore opportunities for further joint projects with partners. The event followed an agreement signed this year by the University and the State Government of Haryana to develop centres of excellence for clean cold chains, that will help to map a blueprint and delivery plan for sustainable cooling across the north Indian state.

Effective refrigeration is essential to preserve food and medicine. It underpins industry and economic growth, is key to sustainable urbanisation and provides a ladder out of rural poverty. It makes much of the world bearable or, even, safe, to live in. The signing of the Haryana agreement followed the world’s first-ever Congress on Clean Cold held at the University, which was supported by the University of Birmingham India Institute. The India Institute, also, sponsored the first Birmingham-Haryana clean cold workshop last year.

Professor Robin Mason said, “The University of Birmingham is a civic university with a global outlook. There exists a special bond between Birmingham and India, which stretches back to the arrival of our first Indian students in 1909. The launch this year of the University of Birmingham India Institute affirms our deep and continued commitment to engagement with this great country. I am delighted to welcome so many influential people today.

Together with them, we are looking to grow our contribution to Indian society; as our researchers forge links with their counterparts, we hope to change millions of lives for the better.”

The networking lunch followed a visit to the University of Birmingham by the British Deputy High Commissioner Mr Andrew Ayre from Chandigarh, a keen advocate of the University’s drive to support development of a sustainable cooling chain in India.

Mr Ayre was welcomed to the University by Professor Mason and, as well as, meeting Professor Toby Peters, Birmingham’s world-leading expert on the cold economy. Mr Ayre, also, met a number of the University’s key academic experts to discuss engagement with India, including, Dr Sudha Sundar, Senior Lecturer in Gynaecological Oncology and President-elect of the British Gynaecological Cancer Society, Dr Jagbir Jhutti-Johal, Senior Lecturer in Sikh Studies, Professor Peter Brocklehurst, Director of Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit:BCTU, Professor Francis Pope, Professor of Atmospheric Science.

Professor Toby Peters said, “Sustainable cooling poses formidable challenges but will be instrumental in achieving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s target of doubling Indian farmers’ income by 2022. A seamless ‘cold chain’ is needed to move food swiftly from farm to consumer, reducing food loss to raise farmers’ income and give them bigger markets, whilst expanding their selling range.

But at the same time, it, must be, clean and sustainable cooling. Climate change and toxic air pollution, must be, tackled by reducing use of conventional, highly polluting cooling technologies and adopting zero-emission technologies.”

The agreement with the Haryana Government builds on the University’s work with partners in India to deliver sustainable refrigerated distribution chains and so help boost farmers’ income.

Caption: Professor Robin Mason and Rhiannon Harries welcome guests to the networking lunch: Image: University of Birmingham:::ω.

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The Finnish Meteorological Institute Launches the Third Development Co-operation Project in Nepal to Develop Natural Disaster Preparedness



|| October 16: 2018 || ά. The Finnish Meteorological Institute:FMI launches the third development co-operation project in Nepal. The objective of the co-operation is to improve Nepal's preparedness for natural disasters, caused by weather conditions and to support the service development and personnel competence of the local weather services. The third development co-operation project of FMI and the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology in Nepal:DHM, funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, was launched in September in Kathmandu.

The FNEP3 project covers years 2018–2021. The project is geared to develop customer-oriented weather services and personnel competence. The FNEP3 project, of Institutional Co-operation Instrument:ICI, continues the work of the FNEP2 and FNEP1 projects, which were implemented in 2013–2016 and 2010–2012 respectively. "It is great that the long-term co-operation between the FMI and the DHM continues. Extensive investments have been made in Nepal's weather services lately, especially, in the weather infrastructure. When deploying new sensor instruments and weather forecasting tools and building new weather and climate services, the support provided by a professionally competent and reliable long-term partner is priceless." Says Ms  Riikka Pusa, the Project Manager at the FMI.  

The FNEP3 project continues developing the results achieved in the earlier projects and trains personnel in all fields of Meteorology. In addition, the project provides support in the deployment of the investments, made in connection with a project funded by the World Bank and in creating customer-oriented end products. The project, also, involves taking Finnish technology to Nepal: Vaisala's weather sensors and a weather camera will be installed.  

"Due to the developments achieved in the earlier projects, we are now able to build elements visible to the general public in the FNEP3 project. Within the next three years, the public can expect new weather and climate products published through the DHM's website, for example, better flight weather services and advance warning services tailored to meet the needs on the village level. The village-level warning services are prepared jointly with the Finnish Red Cross and a large Finnish water project." says Ma Riikka Pusa.  

According to various investigations, Nepal is, particularly, vulnerable to the effects of the climate change. On average, disasters related to natural phenomena annually take hundreds of lives and the material damages exceed 10 million euros. The adverse effects to the economy and the people caused by the climate change and extreme weather phenomena can be controlled more effectively with high-quality weather and climate services.

The results of the socio-economic research conducted in the FNEP1 project clearly state the benefits of the investments: each euro invested in Nepal's weather and climate services produces 06-11 euros to the society's functions through better preparedness achieved through the investment.  

The Institutional Co-operation Instrument:ICI promotes Finnish public operators' direct co-operation with the partner countries' public operators with the objective of improving the know-how of state agencies and institutions in developing countries. The projects focus on taking the solid know-how and good practices of Finnish organisations to the partner countries.  

Further information: Project Manager: Riikka Pusa: Tele: +358 50 407 3967: email: riikka.pusa atω.

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Senior UN Official Calls on Israel to Stop Demolition of Palestinian Village in the West Bank




|| September 17: 2018|| ά. The United Nations Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Mr Nickolay Mladenov, expressed concern on Monday at the intention of the Israeli authorities to demolish the Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar:Abu Al-Helu in the West Bank,  where 181 Palestinians currently live, more than half of whom are children. “I call on the authorities not to proceed with the demolition and to cease efforts to relocate Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank.” said Mr. Mladenov, denouncing such actions as ‘contrary to international law’.

Mr Mladenov warned that they could undermine the chances for the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state. According to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs:OCHA, Khan Al-Ahmar:Abu Al-Helu, located in the outskirts of East Jerusalem, is one of 18 communities located in or next to an area slated in part for an Israeli settlement reorganisation plan, that would reportedly create a continuous built-up area, between the Ma’ale Adummim settlement and East Jerusalem.

On May 24, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected the community’s petition to prevent demolition and nearly all of Khan Al-Ahmar:Abu Al-Helu’s structures are now at immediate risk of being torn down, including, the school, built with donor support, which serves several communities in the area.

On June 01, the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Mr Jamie McGoldrick, issued a statement noting that Israel’s obligations as an occupying power to protect the residents of Khan al Ahmar are clear.

“Should the Israeli authorities choose to implement the outstanding demolition orders in the community and force the people to leave, they would not only generate significant humanitarian hardship but, also, commit one of the grave breaches of international humanitarian law.” said Mr McGoldrick.

In July, the UN Human Rights office:OHCHR, also, denounced the planned demolitions as breaching international humanitarian law as they would likely result in the forcible relocation of dozens of families. :::ω.

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Yemen: WHO Airlifts Over 500 Tonnes of Essential Medicines and Medical Supplies: But Who is to Pour an End on This Insane War of Annihilating a People





|| September 04: 2018 || ά. The World Health Organidation:WHO airlifted, through several shipments in August, over 500 tonnrs of essential medicines and medical supplies to Sana’a airport, to be distributed to affected governorates including Aden and southern governorates. These shipments contain critical life-saving anti-cancer drugs to cover almost 50% of pressing needs of cancer patients for one year.

The supplies include 100 nutrition kits sufficient to meet the needs of more than 5,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition with medical complications for three months, in addition to various types of rapid diagnostic tests and laboratory reagents to cover the urgent needs and strengthen the capacity of central laboratories and blood banks.

Medicines to treat non-communicable diseases:NCDs, surgical instruments, interagency emergency health kits, intravenous:IV fluids and various types of medications needed by health facilities across the country were, also, among the medical supplies. Likewise, 50,000 rapid diagnostic tests to effectively diagnose cholera and 21 trauma kits for mass casualty management were delivered to Aden from Djibouti port.

“This prolonged war has caused many of the acute health needs to go unmet, due to severe shortages of life-saving medical supplies, which is why the arrival of these life-saving cargos has been critical to the response.” said Dr Nevio Zagaria, WHO Representative to Yemen.

“Nearly 16.4 million people require assistance to ensure adequate access to healthcare and the scale of struggle keeps mounting, with more people joining the list of sufferings. Chronic diseases, noncommunicable diseases, malnutrition and preventable diseases continue to plague people. Tripling our efforts is not even enough, we need to do the impossible to relieve the pain of civilians who are facing unimaginable hardships.”

In Yemen, only 50% of the total health facilities are fully functioning, and, yet, these health facilities face severe shortages in medicines, equipment and staff due not only to difficulties in importing medicines and critical supplies but, also, to lack of operational funds.

WHO is working hard with its partners to advocate for increased response to these pressing health needs and these supplies were successfully brought to the country thanks to the generous support of the World Bank, USAID:/OFDA, the EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations:ECHO, UN Central Emergency Response Fund:CERF, Germany, Emirates Red Crescent, King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre:KSRelief, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:UNOCHA and Japan. .:::ω.

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Despite Major Outbreaks Being Averted and Thousands of Lives Saved the Funding Shortfalls Remain a Big Problem for WHO and Its Partners to Scale Up Support for the Rohingyas in Baangladesh



|| August 27: 2018 || ά. In the past year concerted efforts by the Baangladesh Government, the World Health Organisation:WHO and health partners have helped save thousands of lives and prevented and rapidly curtailed deadly disease outbreaks among the nearly one million Rohingya refugees, who, despite these efforts, remain vulnerable even today with their evolving health needs and severe funding shortfalls threatening continuity of life saving health services in their camps.

“Unprecedented efforts have been made in the last year and in the most challenging conditions. Deadly diseases, such as , cholera, have been prevented and measles and diphtheria curtailed rapidly with quick roll-out and scale-up of health services and mass vaccination campaigns. It is remarkable that not only has the mortality rate among the Rohingyas remained lower than expected in an emergency of such a scale, it has, also, reduced significantly in the last six months., said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, commending the Government of Baangladesh and health partners’ work on the ground.

The arrival of nearly 700,000 Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar beginning August 25, 2017 was one of the largest ever population influxes over such a short span of time. Women, children and the elderly arrived with injuries, low immunisation coverage, high rates of malnutrition, in need of reproductive health care and psycho-social support and at risk of deadly disease outbreaks.

In response, WHO, with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, co-ordinated emergency health services provided by the nearly 107 health partners on the ground, to ensure access to essential services for the Rohingyas across the area they settled, in mega and small camps and many with their host communities.

In the last year, 155 health posts have been established, each catering to around 7,700 people. In addition, 60 primary health care facilities covering 20,000 people each and 11 secondary care facilities being accessed by nearly 115,000 people, each has, also, been established. With generous support from KSrelief, 86 staff has been added to the workforce of the Cox’s Bazar district hospital, the only facility providing referral services to the vulnerable population and the host community.

“We have done things, that collectively we can be proud of. However, we need to continue to support the health needs of this vulnerable population and remain vigilant against the spread of diseases. This is still a very fragile situation.” said Dr Peter Salama, WHO’s Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response, who recently visited the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar. 

Four million doses of vaccines against cholera, polio, measles and rubella, as well as, diphtheria and tetanus, have been administered to children, adolescents and adults through multiple mass vaccination campaigns, preventing major disease outbreaks and saving thousands of lives. Childhood immunisation has been established with 94 sites delivering lifesaving vaccines to children across the Rohingya camps.

WHO helped establish and strengthen disease surveillance to enable early detection and timely response to outbreaks, as the Rohingyas settled in crowded camps with sub-optimal water and sanitation conditions, prone to water and vector borne diseases, such as, cholera, polio, measles, malaria, chikungunya etc. At least 152 health facilities covering 98% of the population are now implementing disease surveillance through the Early Warning Alert and Response System.

Laboratory capacity has been strengthened in Dhaka and established in Cox’s Bazar, while field health facility staff continues to be trained in the use of diagnostics for diseases, such as, malaria. Co-ordinating monsoon contingency plan, preparedness and response for acute watery diarrhoea and diphtheria outbreak, WHO has delivered nearly 175 tonnes of medicines and supplies and pre-positioned emergency supplies in three locations for the monsoon and cyclone season. WHO has distributed water filters prioritising health posts and centres and households with pregnant women.

WHO continues to build the capacity of health workers to provide mental health and psychosocial support services to the Rohingya refugees. Despite these efforts, challenges remain. Floods and landslides in the ongoing monsoon season continue to displace people and affect the functioning of health facilities. The Rohingya population is reluctant to access sexual and reproductive health services and as a result 70% of births are still taking place outside of health facilities.

The biggest challenge is the need to further scale up services to meet the complex, evolving and long-term health needs of this highly vulnerable population amidst a funding shortfall, that, also, threatens to undo the gains and progress made so far. WHO has appealed for US$16.5 million for its continued support to the Rohingya response, which is part of the US$113.1 million being sought by all health partners together under the Joint Response Plan until March 2019.

Thanking all partners, who have contributed to health response in Cox’s Bazar, Dr Bardan Jang Rana, WHO Representative to Baangladesh, said, “We need generous and continued support of our partners. It is important that the Rohingya people do not suffer anymore. We need to find sustainable ways of meeting their needs for health, water, sanitation, education and livelihood.” :::ω.

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Afghanistan: The Student Massacre is a War Crime: Amnesty International




|| August 19: 2018 || ά. Responding to the attack on a Shi’a education centre in Kabul on August 15, where a bomber stormed in and killed 34 people and injured, at least, 56 others, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner, Ms Samira Hamidi, said, “The deliberate targeting of civilians and the targeting of places of education is a war crime.

The students killed were preparing for their university entrance exams, when the bomber struck. The tragedy is compounded by the fact that this appears to have been an attack, that was motivated by sectarian hatred, targeting members of the minority Shi’a religious community. The mounting civilian casualties show beyond any doubt that Afghanistan and, in particular, its capital Kabul, are not safe. Violence across the country over the first six months of 2018 has been at record levels.

And, yet, people fleeing the conflict, making desperate journeys to neighbouring countries and to Europe, are being turned away in the thousands. These returns are a violation of international law, breaching the principle of non-refoulement by forcing people into harm’s away.”

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Health revised the death toll from Wednesday’s bombing downwards, from 48 deaths to 34.

According to UN figures released last month, 1,692 people were killed in the first six months of 2018, more than at any comparable period of time since records began being compiled a decade ago. Over that same period of time, 3,430 people were, also, injured. ::::ω.

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Yemen: Action Against Hunger Denounces the Dozens Killed in Explosions Outside of Hodeidah’s Main Hospital



|| August 03: 2018 || ά. Dozens of people were killed in an attack on Al Thawarah Hospital in the Almahwat area of Hodeidah city on August 02. Action Against Hunger runs Hodeida’s largest diarrhoea treatment centre:DTC located on the hospital grounds. The explosion occurred roughly 10 meters from the hospital entrance and 20-25 meters from the DTC. Hospital staff are still struggling to cope with the large number of injuries and the attack has caused widespread panic among the already traumatised population of Hodeidah.

Al Thawarah Hospital is the main and one of the few, functioning hospitals in Hodeidah where many civilians come to seek health care on a daily basis. ACF’s diarrhoea treatment centre has a capacity of 100 beds and is crucial in treating the steadily increasing number of acute watery diarrhoea and suspected cholera cases. The hospital itself has not been damaged in the explosion but the attack has caused widespread panic among staff and the 23 patients inside, including, confirmed cholera cases.

“We can not move patients, who have tested positive for cholera with severe symptoms, as this will risk contamination and the spread of the disease across the city.” says Ms Stephanie Lord, Action Against Hunger’s Field Co-ordinator in Hodeida and Hajjah.

“Patients are now scared and understandably some tried to leave the centre. Some have actually left, which risks exacerbating the probability that many more people could become infectious.”  

In the midst of a military offensive and a breakdown in all basic services, of Hodeida, the area where the Al Thawarah hospital is located has recently been the target of a number of airstrikes, causing further suffering among the remaining population in the city. Many local and international organisations are increasingly struggling to deliver aid and services as a result.

“While civilians are being targeted by attacks on hospitals, we can not treat acute watery diarrhoea and cholera outbreaks properly.” says Ms Valentina Ferrante, Action Against Hunger’s Yemen Country Director.

“The Al Thawarah Hospital site should have been omitted as a target by all parties and any military activities. Belligerents must abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law so that we can continue with our work to stem acute diarrhoea and cholera outbreaks and to ensure that civilians have an unimpeded access to one of the few health facilities remaining in the city.” :::ω.

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Yemen: Attacks on the Water Facilities and Civilian infrastructure are Breach of Basic Laws of War: UNICEF




|| August 01: 2018 || ά. Ongoing violence and attacks on civilian infrastructure in Hudaydah directly threaten hundreds of thousands of children and their families in Yemen, according to the Head of the United Nations Children’s Fund:UNICEF in a statement released on Wednesday. “Attacks against civilian facilities and services are unacceptable, inhumane and in breach of the basic laws of war.” said UNICEF Executive Director Ms Henrietta Fore.

“Yet, the past few days have seen an escalation in the targeting of systems and facilities, that are essential to sustaining the lives of children and families.” she said. It was reported at the weekend that a UNICEF-supported warehouse containing humanitarian provisions, including, hygiene and water-related supplies, was hit by two airstrikes. On Saturday, a UNICEF-supported sanitation centre in the Zabid District came under attack, damaging the facility’s fuel tank. A day earlier, the al-Mina District water station was hit, which is the main source of water for the key port city.

Overall, 22 million people need some kind of assistance in Yemen after years of grinding conflict between government and Saudi-led coalition forces, who’ve been battling the Houthi rebels for control of the country. Hudaydah is the main port for the shattered import-dependent economy, as more than 70 per cent of all humanitarian supplies, commercial goods and food brought into the country, passes through the docks there.

The UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Yemen, Ms Lise Grande, on Sunday described Hudaydah as just ‘one airstrike away from an unstoppable epidemic’ due to the looming risk of a fresh outbreak of deadly water-borne cholera.

The UNICEF Head said on Wednesday that the country was already facing a severe shortage of drinking water, which is directly linked to outbreaks of cholera and acute watery diarrhoea and that attacks on water infrastructure jeopardize efforts to prevent another outbreak of cholera and acute watery diarrhoea in Yemen.

The World Health Organisation:WHO said that Hudaydah had registered the highest incidences of suspected cholera cases of any city; around 14 per cent of those reported nationwide since the start of a crippling outbreak, in April 2017.

Ms. Fore again called on everyone involved in fighting to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure. “The war in Yemen has no winners. It is robbing Yemeni children of their futures.” she said. :::ω.

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The Palestinian Authorities Must Rein in the Security Forces and Allow Peaceful Protests




|| July 29: 2018 || ά. With protests against sanctions imposed by West Bank based Palestinian Authorities on Gaza set to take place in Ramallah, Amnesty International is calling on the Palestinian Authorities to exercise restraint and respect human rights, including, the right to peaceful protest. At least 52 demonstrators and bystanders were arbitrarily arrested and beaten during a similar demonstration in Ramallah on June 13, 2018. Among them was Amnesty International Campaigner Mr Laith Abu Zeyad, who was detained for several hours and beaten by the authorities.

“The Palestinian authorities have an obligation to uphold the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly.  Palestinians, whose rights have been routinely crushed by Israel’s occupation, must not be brutalised and repressed by their own government. There must be no repeat of the arbitrary and abusive force we have seen from the Palestinian security forces during recent demonstrations.” said Mr Saleh Higazi, the Head of Office in Jerusalem for Amnesty International.

‘’The State of Palestine is a party to the main international human rights treaties and, as such, the authorities are obligated to uphold human rights, including, the rights to liberty and security of person, freedom of expression and assembly and the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment. They are, also, duty bound to investigate and remedy any violations of these rights.”

Over the past two months, a group of Palestinian activists have been campaigning for the Palestinian authorities to lift their sanctions on Gaza. According to the organisers, these sanctions include cutting the wages of over 63,000 government employees, refusing to pay Gaza's electricity bill, ending all spending on government functions in Gaza and severely limiting support to Gaza's healthcare ministry and system, including, decreasing permits for patients to leave the Gaza Strip for treatment elsewhere.

Demonstrations were held throughout last month and as recently as last week. On June 13 West Bank-based security forces quashed a demonstration and used excessive force, arbitrary detention and torture against peaceful demonstrators and bystanders. There has been no indication that the Palestinian authorities have taken any measures to ensure accountability or investigate any violations thus far. 

“The Palestinian authorities must ensure that the security forces’ refrain from using unnecessary or excessive force. Anyone suspected of responsibility for arbitrary or abusive use of force must be prosecuted in a fair trial.” Said Mr Saleh Higazi.:::ω.

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Laos: Dam Collapse Killing Many and Many are Feared Dead




|| July 25: 2018 || ά. Following reports that dozens of people are dead or missing following the collapse of a dam, that was under construction in Laos, the United Nations Secretary-General said on Tuesday that the world body stood ready to support the rescue and relief efforts, if, the country’s authorities request it.

According to news reports, the collapse of the dam created flash flooding conditions, that swept through Attapeu province in south-eastern Laos, submerging villages and leaving more than 6,000 homeless. “The Secretary-General is saddened by the loss of life and significant damage caused by a break in the hydroelectric dam under construction adding to the previous destruction caused by Tropical Storm Son,. said his Spokesman Mr Stéphane Dujarric in a statement.

At least 20 people are believed to have died and many more, who are missing, are feared dead. It was reported that continuous rainstorms had caused a high volume of water to flow into the project’s reservoir, putting pressure on the dam.

‘’The Secretary-General extended his condolences to the victims’ families and to the Government and people of the Southeast Asian country, while, also, expressing the UN’s readiness to support the national rescue and relief efforts, if, required.’’ Mr Dujarric said.:::ω.

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Hong Kong: Proposed Ban on Pro-Independence Political Party is a Dangerous Blow for Freedoms of Association and Expression: Amnesty International




|| July 18: 2018 || ά. Responding to news that the Hong Kong authorities have initiated a procedure to ban the Hong Kong National Party, which advocates for Hong Kong independence from China, Mr Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International, said, “This is a chilling day for freedom of association and freedom of expression in Hong Kong, with potentially far-reaching consequences. To use sweeping references to ‘national security’ to silence dissenting voices is a tactic favoured by repressive governments.

The authorities must stop using vague laws to intimidate people who hold different political views. The attempt to ban the Hong Kong National Party raises alarm bells as to what the government will look to curtail next in the name of national security. Under international law and standards, any prohibition of an organization is subject to a strict test of justification, with the burden of proof on the government to demonstrate that a real, not just hypothetical, danger to national security exists.”

The Hong Kong authorities have written to notify the Hong Kong National Party, a local organisation advocating for Hong Kong independence, of its plan to ban it. Among the reasons for the proposed ban are speeches made and rallies attended by the party’s Leader, Mr Andy Chan Ho-tin, in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The proposed ban is based on the Societies Ordinance, which stipulates that the government can prohibit the operation of any organisation ‘for the interests of national security or public safety, public order or the protection of the rights and freedom of others’ or, if, the organisation is a political body, that has a connection with a foreign political organisation or a political organisation of Taiwan.

Any operations, member recruitment and fundraising activities of a banned organisation could result in up to three years’ imprisonment.

The Societies Ordinance has been criticised by human rights groups for the potential impact on freedom of expression and association. In 1999, a United Nations human rights body called on the Hong Kong government to review the Societies Ordinance, noting that it could be applied in a way to unduly restrict the right to freedom of association. :::ω.

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The World Health Organisation Expresses Concern About Access to Health Services for the Displaced People in Southern Syria



|| July 12: 2018 || ά. The World Health Organisation:WHO today called for the protection of health facilities and increased access to southern Syria, where the recent hostilities have left over 210,000 people displaced and in need of urgent health services. Up to 160,000 displaced Syrians, currently seeking safety in Quneitra, are inaccessible to health partners, raising concerns for their health. “People in Dar’a and Quneitra are waiting for the humanitarian community to reach them with urgently needed aid and we can not let them down. Access must be granted.” said Dr Michel Thieren, WHO’s Regional Emergencies Director.

“We call on all parties to open the door to people in southern Syria and allow the safe delivery of medicines and medical items they need and to grant severely injured patients safe passage to hospitals outside the area that can save their lives.” The majority of people displaced are exposed to soaring summer temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius and dusty desert winds, with limited access to clean drinking-water, sanitation services and adequate health care. In the past week, at least 15 Syrians, 12 children, two women and one elderly man, have died due to dehydration and diseases transmitted through contaminated water.

Almost, 75% of all public hospitals and health centres in  Dar’a and Quneitra are closed or only partially functioning, leaving injured people, including, hundreds of innocent children and pregnant women, in need of emergency obstetric services, with limited access to medical care.

The WHO-supported blood bank was relocated after the health facility in which it was located was destroyed and continues to function with minimum capacity.

Since the escalation of violence, WHO has provided medicines and supplies to health partners, hospitals and primary health care centres for, almost, 200,000 medical treatments, including, to facilities receiving critically injured patients.

WHO is, also supporting health service delivery in Dar’a, Jbab and other newly accessible areas through fixed and mobile health teams, which have provided more than 4,500 consultations to date and screened more than 660 children for malnutrition. Vaccination activities are ongoing with the health authorities and partners. :::ω.

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