Posts Tagged ‘NGOs’

WHO urges Yemen to accept vaccines as cholera crisis deepens, much of the country near famine

September 18, 2017


© AFP/File | A child suspected of having cholera is checked by a doctor at a makeshift hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the northern district of Abs in war-battered Yemen’s Hajjah province, on July 16, 2017

GENEVA (AFP) – The World Health Organization on Monday urged Yemen to approve cholera vaccinations it has offered to help contain an epidemic that could affect nearly a million people by year’s end.

Yemen, where a multinational conflict has caused a humanitarian crisis, had asked the UN health agency earlier this year for doses of the vaccine, said Dominique Legros, the agency’s cholera specialist.

The WHO sent a million doses in June only to see the Yemeni government change its mind, leading the United Nations to reassign the vaccines to Somalia and Sudan, Legros told reporters in Geneva.

Asked about Yemen’s reversal, Legros said only that discussions with countries about vaccinations could be “complicated”, noting the lack of familiarity with them in affected communities, especially in the case of newer vaccines like the one for cholera.

“We are still in negotiation with the government in Yemen to make sure we can also use (vaccines) to help control” the outbreak, he said.

Last week, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the rampant cholera crisis in Yemen had reached “colossal proportions”, warning that it could affect 850,000 people by the end of the year.

More than 2,000 people have perished from the disease, according to the WHO.

The epidemic has put further strain on a ravaged health system in Yemen, where less than half of healthcare facilities are functioning as the conflict drags on.

Since March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition has been waging a war on behalf of the internationally recognised government against Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

More than 8,000 people have been killed, including at least 1,500 children, and millions displaced in the conflict which has pushed the impoverished country to the brink of famine.


Doctors Without Borders Says It’s Being Forced Out Of Pakistan Tribal Area

September 15, 2017

September 14, 2017 18:31 GMT

A man who was injured in twin bomb blasts in Parachinar in the Kurram tribal agency is brought to a hospital on June 24. The Kurram region has been the scene of several deadly militant attacks against its Shi’ite population in recent years.

A man who was injured in twin bomb blasts in Parachinar in the Kurram tribal agency is brought to a hospital on June 24. The Kurram region has been the scene of several deadly militant attacks against its Shi’ite population in recent years.

The international medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says the government of Pakistan is forcing it to pull out of a violence-plagued northwestern tribal region after a 14-year presence.

In a statement published on September 14, MSF said the authorities have refused to issue it a “no objection certificate” (NoC), leaving it unable to provide medical services in the Kurram district of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

“Without a valid NoC, MSF cannot continue to provide medical services in Kurram Agency,” said the group, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres.

“MSF is saddened by the decision from the authorities responsible for NGOs working in Kurram Agency,” said Catherine Moody, the MSF country representative in Pakistan.

“The closure brings to an end 14 years of MSF working with the FATA Health Services in Kurram Agency,” she added.

MSF has most recently been providing medical services in cooperation with the Sadda and Alizai hospitals in the region.

The group said it carried out 36,498 outpatient consultations in Sadda and 6,416 in Alizai last year.

MSF said the necessary measures to end its operation at the hospitals and elsewhere will be completed within a week.

The Kurram region near the Afghan border has been the scene of several deadly militant attacks against its Shi’ite population in recent years and has been the location of U.S. drone strikes on suspected extremists.

In June, two explosions at a crowded market in the Kurram city of Parachinar killed at least 70 people in an attack claimed by the Sunni extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

MSF said it continues to provide medical care in Bajaur Agency in FATA, as well in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Balochistan provinces.

Red Cross fills U.N. void in Myanmar’s violence-torn region (Another tragic misfire by the UN)

September 9, 2017

Rights Group: China Must Stop Pressuring Advocates at UN — “Arm twisting is how the Chinese intend to get what they want. Everybody knows that.”

September 5, 2017

GENEVA — A human rights group said in a new report on Tuesday that China has tried to intimidate, blacklist and squelch the voices of rights advocates who operate within the U.N. system, calling on Beijing to stop such pressure and urging U.N. agencies to resist.

In the Human Rights Watch report , the group’s president, Kenneth Roth, said that China’s influence and crackdown on civil society at home “make it a model of bad faith that challenges the integrity of the U.N. rights system.”

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Kenneth Roth

The New York-based group said the report is based on interviews with 55 people including U.N. officials, diplomats and civil society representatives, conducted between May 2016 and March. China holds a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and has growing economic and political clout.

China didn’t immediately comment on the report.

The report said that some U.N. officials have pushed back at “improper Chinese pressure” at times, while they “have capitulated” at others. It points to detention, travel restrictions and reprisals faced by Chinese activists, as well as efforts to hinder supporters of the Dalai Lama when he travels even within the vicinity of U.N. venues. It also cited efforts to minimize possible opposition to Chinese leaders.

In one instance, the group said, U.N. officials sent home many of the 3,000 staffers at the U.N. Geneva campus during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Switzerland in January, and barred NGOs from attending his speech there.

The report, in essence, pieces together individual incidents into a broader whole to suggest that China is thwarting efforts to monitor and protect human rights — not just in China but abroad, too. It cites examples of China failing to ratify language on protection of individuals, working to slash funding for human rights officers in U.N. peacekeeping missions and refusing to affirm civil society’s role in a 2015 resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council on public health.

“Taken individually, many of China’s actions against NGOs might be viewed as an annoyance or an irritant,” the report says. “But taken together, they amount to what appears to be a systematic attempt to subvert the ability of the U.N. human rights system to confront abuses in China and beyond.”

The group also warns about China serving as an example that other countries might follow.

“China’s efforts to subvert the U.N. human rights system also need to be scrutinized because they have been adopted by other countries. China should not become a model for others that hope to hobble or obstruct U.N. human rights bodies,” it said. “The dangers to human rights posed by an assertive China at the U.N. are likely to increase as the rights situation in China under President Xi (Jinping) worsens.”

Keith Harper, who served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, said Beijing “absolutely” had the ability to intimidate other countries into keeping quiet about its human rights record.

Image result for Keith Harper, U.N., photos

Keith Harper

“China’s response could be crippling economically . and other countries know that,” Harper said by phone. “China will be very clear that if you vote against them, they deeply care about China’s interests, and they will take steps to punish countries. Given their power economically — in Africa, for example — that matters.”

Harper said the United States all but stood alone in criticizing China’s rights record, or at least leading group criticism about it, as in a council session in March 2016 when he spoke out.

“Other counties feel that they can do it as a group — whereas they can’t be singled out,” said Harper, who is now a partner with Kilpatrick, Townsend and Stockton law firm in the United States. “There has to be one country that has to take the leadership, and the U.S. is the only one who can do that.”

He noted how Norway, a rich developed country, faced reaction from China that was “quite hostile for a long time” after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in Oslo in 2010 to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Liu died in Chinese custody in July.


We at Peace and Freedom asked several retired diplomats their impression of Chinese-style diplomacy. One answered, “Arm twisting is how the Chinese intend to get what they want. Everybody knows that. This is about a future United Nations of China. A Chinese diplomat who goes back to Beijing with his mission unfulfilled faces a dismal future or death in the Communist system. Everybody knows that too. This is not child’s play. To China, human rights are for women. Weak women.”

Italy Denies Supporting Libyan Traffickers to Stop Migrants

August 30, 2017

ROME — Italy denied on Wednesday that it supported a deal to pay armed groups implicated in human trafficking to prevent migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that Libya’s U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, as part of a deal backed by Italy, was paying militias and giving them equipment and boats to prevent migrant vessels setting off.

“The foreign ministry firmly denies that there is an agreement between Libyan traffickers and the Italian government,” an official from the Italian ministry’s press office said.

“The Italian government does not deal with traffickers”, the official added.

A new force in the Libyan coastal town of Sabratha is preventing people leaving, often by locking them up, sources in the area have told Reuters, prompting a sudden drop in departures at what is usually the busiest time of year for migration.

Arrivals from North Africa dropped by more than 50 percent in July and more than 80 percent so far in August. Some 600,000 have made it to southern Italy by sea since 2014.

© AFP | New figures have revealed a sharp drop in the number of Migrants arriving in Italy from Libya

Progress in Libya is likely to be fragile, as two governments are vying for power, and local militias are battling over territory and smuggling profits.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

U.N. Supported NGOs Used to Defend Terrorists That Attack, Kill Israelis, Bereaved Families Tell UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

August 30, 2017
 AUGUST 30, 2017 19:48

The families said only people who attacked Israelis received this kind of legal aid from the UN.

UN SECRETARY General Antonio Guterres delivers a statement during his meeting with Israeli President

UN SECRETARY General Antonio Guterres delivers a statement during his meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem on Monday.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Over 40 bereaved families demanded that the United Nations stop funding Israeli organizations that defend terrorists in Israel’s Supreme Court, in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday.

Guterres made his first visit to Israel in his capacity as secretary-general this week.

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“In recent years, the United Nations has been a prominent sponsor and supporter of Israeli organizations that are leading the lawfare efforts against Israel,” the families wrote.

According to the letter, written in conjunction with right-wing organization Im Tirtzu, the UN gave over NIS 2 million to HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual and to Arab legal aid organization Adalah.

The families said only people who attacked Israelis received this kind of legal aid from the UN.

“Is the purpose of the UN treasury to lay the groundwork for the next murder of Israelis? The blood of our parents, children, brothers, sisters and other loved ones, cries out from the earth,” they wrote.

The letter’s signatories include Rina Ariel, mother of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, who was murdered in her Kiryat Arba bedroom in June 2016; Tzvika Mark, brother of Rabbi Miki Mark who was murdered near Hebron in a drive-by shooting in July 2016; Merav and Herzl Hajaj, parents of Shir Hajaj who was murdered in a car-ramming attack in Jerusalem in January 2017; and Dvorah Gonen, mother of Danny Gonen who was murdered while hiking near the village of Dolev in June 2015.

The families also came out against the UN’s funding of far-left organizations, such as B’Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, which they said “delegitimize Israel and defame IDF soldiers.”

“The time has come to cease this callous interference with Israel’s internal affairs,” the letter concluded.

Merav and Herzl Hajaj called the UN funding of the aforementioned NGOs “an industry… surrounding the murder of Jews.”

Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg said that “the outcry of the bereaved families is not only a struggle for justice, but a struggle for Israeli democracy as a whole. We expect the new UN secretary-general to end this disgraceful funding perpetrated by the organization that he heads.”


EU, African leaders meet in Paris to discuss migrant crisis — 125,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean by boat this year

August 28, 2017



© Carlo Hermann, AFP file picture | Migrants rescued from the sea stand on the deck of the Italian rescue ship Vos Prudence as it arrives in the port of Salerno July 14, 2017


Latest update : 2017-08-28

Leaders from seven African and European countries meet in Paris on Monday for a mini-summit to discuss how to ease the EU’s migrant crisis.

French President Emmanuel Macron has invited his counterparts from Niger and Chad as well as the head of the Libyan unity government Fayez al-Sarraj, whose countries lie on the main transit route for migrants heading to Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish and Italian prime ministers Mariano Rajoy and Paulo Gentiloni, and Europe’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, will join the talks.

European nations are keen to offer development aid and funding to their African partners in return for help in stemming the flow of economic migrants and asylum seekers.

A total of 125,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean by boat this year, according to UN figures, with the vast majority arriving in Italy before travelling on to other EU members. An estimated 2,400 have died en route.

France is seeking improved border controls and patrolling of the waters around Libya complicated by the country’s competing governments and state of lawlessness as well as development aid to create jobs in Africa.

“The fight against illegal migration is being led on two fronts: development and security,” said a source in the French presidency, asking not to be named.

In July, Macron also proposed without consulting his allies the creation of so-called “hotspots” in Africa where asylum seekers fleeing persecution or war could lodge a request to travel to the EU.

would mean they would not need to make the perilous trip across the Mediterranean with the help of people traffickers, who frequently pack too many people onto flimsy boats and often mistreat the migrants.

Sharp fall in crossings

The meeting might also provide information on why arrivals have plummeted in recent weeks from Libya, the main route into Europe since a separate pathway from Turkey into Greece was shut down in 2016.

The numbers arriving in Italy have fallen by around 50 percent in July and August compared with last year, leaving experts scrambling for an answer.

Improved action by the Libyan coastguard, tougher border controls in transit countries inland, as well as Libyan militias joining efforts to stop boats leaving have all been touted as possible reasons.

The president of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, will tell his European counterparts that the number of migrants passing through the transit town of Agadez in his country has fallen by 80 percent thanks to government efforts, a source in his team told AFP.

Libya has also sought to restrict the work of NGOs operating rescue boats in the Mediterranean which pick up migrants stranded on inflatable dinghies or other unseaworthy crafts.

Italy has also sought to impose a code of conduct on the NGOs, which face accusations from some critics that their operations have encouraged migrants to attempt the crossing, knowing that they will be picked up in an emergency.

The code has been signed by five out of seven NGOs with rescue ships only the French organisation Doctors Without Borders and Germany’s Sea-Watch have refused out of principle.

The code is set to be approved by all the countries present on Monday, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.

After the talks about immigration during the day, the European leaders are set to meet together in the evening to discuss reforming the EU and joint efforts to prevent terror attacks.

Egypt criticises US decision to cut aid

August 23, 2017



© AFP/File | US President Donald Trump’s arrival in office initially saw an improvement in relations with Egypt, after Barack Obama had given President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi the cold shoulder over rights issues
CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt on Wednesday criticised a US decision to reduce financial aid and withhold some military assistance as a “misjudgment” of strategic ties between the two allies.The foreign ministry said it “regrets the decision” to reduce some funds allocated under a US assistance programme and withhold the disbursement of other military aid.

It provided no details of the cuts, but US media reports said Washington on Tuesday denied Egypt $96 million in aid and delayed $195 million in military funding because of concerns over its human rights record.

“Egypt considers this step as a misjudgment of the nature of the strategic relations that binds the two countries over decades,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The move “reflects the lack of understanding of the importance of supporting the stability and success of Egypt” and “implies a mixing of cards that may have negative repercussions,” it said.

The New York Times quoted the State Department as saying the move followed a lack progress on human rights and a new law restricting activities of nongovernmental organisations.

US President Donald Trump’s arrival in office earlier this year initially saw an improvement in relations with Egypt, after his predecessor Barack Obama had given President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi the cold shoulder over rights issues.

Obama temporarily suspended military aid to Egypt after the July 2013 overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and a bloody crackdown on Morsi’s supporters that followed.

Sisi in May ratified the NGO law, which critics say will severely restrict the work of civil society, including by banning the carrying out and publishing of studies without prior permission from the state, with large fines for violating the law.

Trump set aside criticism of Sisi’s rights record while pledging to maintain support for the key US ally, which receives an annual $1.3 billion in military aid.

Egyptian authorities have been fighting an insurgency based in the north of the Sinai Peninsula, where an Islamic State group affiliate has killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen.

The Pentagon is also concerned with preventing jihadists from crossing Libya’s porous border with Egypt.


U.S. to Withhold Up to $290 Million in Aid From Egypt

August 22, 2017

WASHINGTON — The United States has decided to deny Egypt $95.7 million in aid and to delay a further $195 million because of its failure to make progress on respecting human rights and democratic norms, two sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The decision reflects a U.S. desire to continue security cooperation as well as frustration with Cairo’s stance on civil liberties, notably a new law that regulates non-governmental organizations that is widely seen as part a growing crackdown on dissent, said the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Spokespeople for the White House and the State Department were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed and Warren Strobel; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

Migrant boats in Black Sea spark fears of new route

August 21, 2017


© AFP/File | A boat carrying Iraqis and Syrians, including 23 children, was intercepted late Sunday in the Black Sea in Romania’s southeastern Constanta region, officials said
BUCHAREST (AFP) – Romanian authorities said Monday that they had caught a fishing boat with 68 asylum seekers off Romania’s coast, the second such incident in a week, raising fears that a new migrant route to Europe is opening up.

The boat carrying Iraqis and Syrians, including 23 children, was intercepted late Sunday in the Black Sea in Romania’s southeastern Constanta region, officials said.

“They were accompanied by two Turkish traffickers,” Ionela Pasat, a spokeswoman for the Constanta coastguard, told AFP.

The group was brought to the port of Mangalia for medical examinations on Monday before being handed over to the immigration authorities, she said.

On August 13, coastguards discovered a boat with 69 Iraqi migrants in Romanian waters. One Bulgarian and one Cypriot were taken into custody on suspicion of human trafficking.

EU member Romania, which is not part of the bloc’s passport-free Schengen zone, has largely been spared the continent’s worst migration crisis since World War II.

But Bucharest worries that the Black Sea could become an alternative route to the dangerous Mediterranean crossing.

More than 111,000 migrants have reached Europe by sea so far this year, most of them arriving in Italy from Libya, according to the most recent figures.

Over 2,300 have died attempting the crossing.

This month, NGO rescue ships were banned from patrolling waters off Libya where hundreds of thousands of people have been rescued in recent years and brought to Italy.