Secretary-General message on International Migrants Day – 18 December 2014

Ban Ki-moonNew York, 18 December 2014 - On International Migrants Day, we call for the fulfilment and protection of the human rights of the world’s 232 million migrants.

Far too many migrants live and work in precarious and unjust conditions. Many risk their lives at sea, attempting to seek sanctuary. They and their children are extremely vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Many are deprived of their liberty, rather than met with empathy and necessary protection. Persistent discrimination against migrants generates sharp inequalities, threatens the social fabric and, all too often, leads to violent and deadly attacks. Continue reading

DRC: Conviction of ‘Colonel 106’ major boost in fight against impunity – Zeid

10-16-2014Zeid_HusseinGeneva, 18 December 2014 – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein today welcomed the conviction and sentencing of Lieutenant Colonel Bedi Mobuli Engangela for committing crimes against humanity between 2005 and 2007 in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Engangela, better known as ‘Colonel 106’ after the battalion he commanded, was on Monday sentenced to life in prison for murder, rape, sexual slavery, torture, abduction, and “imprisonment and other forms of grave deprivation of physical liberty.” Continue reading

Central African Republic: UNICEF warns two out of five children without vital aid

Severely malnourished refugee child from the Central African Republic at a feeding centre in Batouri hospital, Cameroon. Photo: UNHCR/F.Noy

Severely malnourished refugee child from the Central African Republic at a feeding centre in Batouri hospital, Cameroon. Photo: UNHCR/F.Noy

Central African Republic, 17 December 2014 – Two out of five children urgently needing humanitarian aid in Central African Republic are without it, thanks to a critical lack of funding and continued conflict, a year after extreme violence tore through the country, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said today.

“Children in the Central African Republic (CAR) are no longer making headlines, but over 2.5 million of them continue to live in constant fear,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “They have little access to essential services and rely entirely on humanitarian aid. As we prepare to mark the New Year, we must seize the chance to give these children a better future.” Continue reading

UN capacities ‘pushed to the limit’ in 2014, Ban says in year-end wrap-up

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses journalists at UN Headquarters. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses journalists at UN Headquarters. UN Photo/Mark Garten

New York, 17 December 2014 – After a year of “discord, disease and disruption” that saw peace operations, diplomacy and humanitarian capacities “pushed to the limit” responding to West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, terrorist groups and ongoing conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed reporters today at United Nations Headquarters, where he summed up the year and looked ahead to 2015.

Recapping the challenges the UN family tackled over the past year, Mr. Ban noted that over 100 million people need humanitarian assistance and more than 50 million have been displaced by various crises around the world – the most since the Second World War. Continue reading

Security Council renews cross-border aid delivery to Syria for a year

A UN truck with humanitarian supplies at the Turkish side of the border awaiting green light to cross to the Syrian side, in March 2014. Photo: OCHA

A UN truck with humanitarian supplies at the Turkish side of the border awaiting green light to cross to the Syrian side, in March 2014. Photo: OCHA

Syria, 17 December 2014 – The United Nations Security Council has today renewed for 12 months the use of routes across conflict lines and several border crossings in Syria so that humanitarian assistance can reach communities in need, as it expressed outrage at the escalating violence that has killed nearly 200,000 people.

Unanimously adopting a new resolution this morning, the 15-member Council said it was “gravely distressed” by the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria and by the fact that now, more than 12.2 million people need relief aid. Continue reading

Libya: UN mission encouraged by “step in the right direction” towards dialogue

Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Bernardino Léon. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Bernardino Léon. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

Libya, 17 December 2014 – The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said today that it is encouraged by the positive response it has received to its invitation for a UN-convened Libyan political dialogue.

“The move by the parties to identify their respective delegations to the talks is a step in the right direction,” UNSMIL said in a statement about the dialogue. “In agreeing to take part in this dialogue, all the parties have clearly signalled their determination to spare no effort towards safeguarding Libya’s political transition and forging ahead with building a modern democratic state based on the rule of law and respect for human rights.” Continue reading

UN Child Rights Committee condemns cold-blooded murder of schoolchildren

downloadGeneva, 17 December 2014 – Statement by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child: “We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the cold-blooded murder of more than 140 people – including 132 children – in a calculated terrorist attack by the Pakistani Taliban in Peshawar yesterday. Many other children have been injured, lost parents or other loved ones, and many – too many – have been left deeply traumatized. We also deplore the killing of 15 schoolgirls in Yemen yesterday when a passing school bus was struck by a car bomb. Continue reading

Ebola: UN says health workers in Sierra Leone to receive hazard pay using mobile money

Ambulance depot near an emergency response centre, in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Ambulances and drivers have to be disinfected after each trip carrying suspected Ebola cases. UN Photo/Martine Perret

Ambulance depot near an emergency response centre, in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Ambulances and drivers have to be disinfected after each trip carrying suspected Ebola cases. UN Photo/Martine Perret

Sierra Leone, 16 December 2014 – Response workers battling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa will receive “hazard pay” for the first time in Sierra Leone using mobile money because “unless there is a certain element of incentives, or danger pay, it’s very difficult to attract and retain people,” the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced today.

“One of the most difficult things about tackling the Ebola crisis is in the area of human resources,” said Sudipto Mukerjee, UNDP’s Country Director for Sierra Leone. “You can construct a treatment centre in a couple of months. You can construct a community care centre in two to three weeks. But getting trained people to come and run them has been a major challenge.” Continue reading

Syria: UN food agency’s operations secure after funding drive; must raise more in 2015

A Syrian refugee family shopping for food in one of the stores with which WFP cooperates in Chtoura town, in Bekaa valley, Lebanon. Photo: WFP/Sandy Maroun

A Syrian refugee family shopping for food in one of the stores with which WFP cooperates in Chtoura town, in Bekaa valley, Lebanon. Photo: WFP/Sandy Maroun

Syria, 16 December 2014 – Having raised $88 million in a 10-day global fundraising effort, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today said its funding for December 2014 was secure and the agency could resume providing food assistance through electronic vouchers to 1.7 million refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey.

“The humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate as winter arrives,” said WFP spokesperson, Elisabeth Byrs, during a press briefing in Geneva. “WFP plans to reach 4.25 million people inside the country in December. In November, we distributed enough food to feed just over 4 million people.” Continue reading

‘A dark day in a bleak year for children’: UNICEF condemns attack on schoolchildren in Yemen

Two displaced girls stand in front of the classroom where their family has been living in Aden, Yemen (September 2012). Photo: UNHCR/P. Rubio Larrauri

Two displaced girls stand in front of the classroom where their family has been living in Aden, Yemen (September 2012). Photo: UNHCR/P. Rubio Larrauri

Yemen, 16 December 2014 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has deplored the killing of at least 15 school girls in a car bombing in Yemen adding to the grim toll of what it described as “a dark day in the closing weeks of a bleak year” for children around the world.

According to media reports, a school bus carrying the 15 school girls was hit by a car bomb as it passed a checkpoint in the Yemeni province of Al Bayda, south of the country’s capital of Sana’a. The deaths come on a day already marked the mass killing of children in a school in Peshawar, Pakistan where 132 children were murdered by Taliban militants earlier this morning. Continue reading