July 25, 2006
With elections in DR Congo less than a week away, UNICEF issued a report yesterday stating 1,200 people are killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) every day because of violence, disease or malnutrition.
The report, Child Alert: DRC, also states that more children under age five die each year in the African country than in China – a country with 23 times the population. It draws attention to the to the appalling fact that the total countrywide death toll every six months is similar to that for the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed more than 230,000 people in 12 countries.
This analogy is similar to the one made in the blog My Heart’s in Accra on how Western coverage is disproportionate to the Middle East conflict’s causalities in relation to Africa.
Nonetheless, UNICEF UK Ambassador for Humanitarian Emergencies Martin Bell, who wrote the report, said Sunday’s landmark elections could be a turning point.
“It is easy to be overwhelmed by what has happened in DRC because of the sheer scale of it. But we owe it to the children to give them the future they deserve and these elections may be the opportunity of their lifetime,” said Bell.
July 19, 2006
The human rights office of the U.N. Assistant Mission for Iraq- UNAMI– reported yesterday that more than 14,000 civilians had been killed during the first half of this year, including more than 3,000 in June. The death toll for the past month averaged more than 100 civilians a day.The report describes an increase in lawlessness and crime, including assassinations, bombings, kidnappings, torture and intimidation.
Hundreds of teachers, judges, religious leaders and doctors have been targeted for death, and thousands of people have fled, the report said. Evidence suggests militants also have begun to target homosexuals, the report said.
According to an article in the Washington Post, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, vowed is administration will do everything possible to tackle violence and foster reconciliation among Iraqis. His efforts to bridge the divisions among Iraq’s religious, ethnic and political groups rests on his national reconciliation initiative.
[This initiative is] “the only bridge and crossing point through which we can reach the safe shore that unites the sons of the Iraqi people, ends the violent situation, provides stability and puts an end to all discriminatory ideas, whether of sect, political party or race,” al-Maliki said.
June 20, 2006
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, marked World Refugee Day by requesting more long-term support for the millions of refugees who have returned home. In the last four years, more than six million people have returned home from other countries bringing the world’s number of refugees to its lowest level in more than 25 years.
“The international community needs to devote much more attention to the transition between relief and development, to rebuilding societies which have been ripped apart by violence,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.
The UN and international agencies have different events planned to mark this day. This year also marks the 55th anniversary of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, which was designed to lay the basis for the protection and then resettlement of people fleeing from persecution and tyranny.
This is a good time to be reminded that states have an obligation to protect and care for refugees once they have resettled and provide for their basic rights such as a freedom of religion and movement, the right to work, access to education and travel documents.
The BBC News reported that Mr. Guterres is spending the day with Liberian returnees coming back from Sierra Leone and accompany them on their journey home. Liberia is emerging from a protracted civil war that destroyed much of its infrastructure as its former president Charles Taylor is being brought in front of the ICC to face charges on crimes against humanity. Read the rest of this entry »
June 16, 2006
Today marks Day of the African Child. UNICEF issued a press release asking the international community to recognize that young people are Africa’s greatest resource and to help them overcome the challenged they face.
The Day of the African Child is celebrated every year since 1991 in honor of South African children killed by their government in 1976. Thousands of black school children in Soweto, South Africa, protested the sub-standard quality of their education under apartheid and demanded to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of boys and girls were shot and in the two weeks of protests that followed, more than 100 people were killed and 1,000 injured.
“This landmark event was a demonstration of great courage and conviction by the children of South Africa, who stood up for what they believed. It is a powerful reminder of the decisive role that children can have in bringing about change and of the importance of ensuring a quality basic education for all.” — UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman
The good thing about this release it that it shows us how violence is inter-related to other issues that marginalize the young. Violence against children is a serious threat in particular because of the continent’s disproportionate burden of conflict, extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS. Children living in conflict areas are at risk of gender-based violence because of the lack of family and community protection.
Women and children fleeing their homes because of armed conflict are more vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation. This exploitation increases their risk of HIV infection. In turn, HIV/AIDS has left many African children orphans. In sub-Saharan Africa, 12 million children under the age of 18 have lost one or both parents to AIDS. In turn, losing the people who would’ve protected them from violence.
May 23, 2006
I promise to keep this short. This is to follow up on yesterday’s post on sexual violence against women in refugee camps. Here is some information I found about the subject in the context of international law and human rights treaties. Amnesty International has a “Stop Violence Against Women” section on their website. This has a lot of great resources for activists, those that want to know more about women’s rights and what’s being done or are interested in being a campaign coordinator.
This is from Amnesty International:
Foundations of Women’s Human Rights in International Law
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that human rights apply to all people equally, “without distinction of any kind such as race, color, sex, language…or any other status”.
- The Convention on the Elimination of All Form of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW),or the International Women’s Human Rights Treaty, was adopted by the UN in 1979. CEDAW was the first document to comprehensively address women’s rights within political, cultural, economic, social and family spheres.
- The 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (DEVAW)set forth ways in which governments should act to prevent violence, and to protect and defend women’s rights. DEVAW holds states responsible to “exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the state or by private persons”.
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court includes as rape those situations where the victim is deprived of her ability to consent to sex, including providing sex to avoid harm or to obtain basic necessities. It recognizes rape and other forms of sexual violence by combatants in the conduct of armed conflict as war crimes. When rape and sexual violence are committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, they are considered crimes against humanity, and in some cases may constitute an element of genocide.