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UN Daily News
Issue DH/7103

Thursday, 25 February 2016

In the headlines:
Put peace above politics, Ban tells leaders of

UN health agency warns El Nio may increase

Humanitarian and ceasefire tracks for Syria

UN rights chief warns police agreement by five

South Sudan

'moving in the right direction' UN envoy

breeding grounds for mosquitoes spreading Zika


European countries will worsen refugee crisis

UN reports widespread human rights abuses in


Libya, where complete impunity prevails

Put peace above politics, Ban tells leaders of South Sudan


25 February - As part of the last day of his visit to South Sudan, United Nations SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon met with President Salva Kiir, stressing the urgency of forming a
Transitional Government, as well as spoke by phone with former Vice-President Riek
Machar and visited a protection of civilians site.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left)


meets with President Salva Kiir of South
Sudan, in Juba. UN Photo/Eskinder
Debebe

During his meeting with President Kiir, the UN chief emphasized that implementing the
peace agreement reached this past August must be a matter of priority for the Government
of South Sudan, including the urgent formation of a Transitional Government of National
Unity with opposition leader and newly appointed First Vice President Machar.

According to a statement issued by Mr. Bans office, in this regard, he welcomed the
Governments commitment to implement transitional security arrangements for Juba in accordance with a proposal put forth
earlier in the week by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission.
Mr. Ban also urged the President to work with Mr. Machar, upon his return, to rebuild mutual trust and confidence from the
people and the international community to set the country on a path to stability, the statement said.
The Secretary-General also strongly condemned the outbreak of violence at the UN protection of civilians site in Malakal
last week, and called on the Government to conduct a full investigation and bring perpetrators to account.
Mr. Ban reiterated the UNs commitment to the protection of civilians, both within established UN protection sites and
elsewhere in the country, and urged the Government to allow unfettered access to UN personnel and humanitarian
partners, the statement said.
At a press conference earlier today, the UN chief highlighted that he was concluding his visit to Juba, the South Sudanese
capital, at a critical time, and reiterated the UNs commitment to the peace process and the future of South Sudan.
Put peace above politics. Pursue compromise. Overcome obstacles. Establish the Transitional Government of National
Unity. And do not delay it, Mr. Ban stressed to the leaders of South Sudan.

For information media not an official record

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25 February 2016

The parties must know that responsibility does not end with the signing of an agreement. In many ways, it begins with the
signing of an agreement. And it must begin now, he added.
Mr. Ban also said he was profoundly moved by his visit earlier with students and others affected by the conflict at a
protection of civilians site run by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
I saw in the faces of the people of this country all that the flag represented. The pride. The spirit. The hope. And, yet,
tragically, that hope has been betrayed, he emphasized.
Reaffirming that attacks against civilians, peacekeepers and UN premises such as in Malakal violate international
humanitarian law and must stop, the UN chief noted that the protection camps are not a long-term solution.
As important as it is, humanitarian action can never be a substitute for political solutions, he said. The Government of
South Sudan must step up to its responsibility and protect its population.
In particular, Mr. Ban urged all parties to remove restrictions on the freedom of movement of the UN and humanitarian
actors and ensure access to people in need of protection, and life-saving aid.
As part of that goal, the UN chief announced earlier that he had allocated $21 million from the Central Emergency Response
Fund (CERF) for the people of South Sudan.
These much-needed resources will provide protection and relief when it is needed most, Mr. Ban said in a separate
statement. But this action is far from being enough, he stressed.
Noting that South Sudans Humanitarian Response Plan is only three per cent funded, Mr. Ban urged the international
community to show its commitment to the countrys people.
I hope that these funds will catalyze much more. Time lost means lives lost, the Secretary-General said.
The UN chief also said that over the past week, he had visited a number of places Burundi and the Democratic of the
Congo, in addition to South Sudan that were all tragically suffering from the impact of protracted conflict.
What I have seen underscores the need for the international community to do much more far, far much more to prevent
and end conflict; uphold international norms and accountability; reduce displacement; and invest to enhance resilience and
leave no one behind, Mr. Ban said.
Those are all major themes of the World Humanitarian Summit to be held in Istanbul on 23 and 24 May, the SecretaryGeneral said.
I have urged world leaders urge leaders to reduce, at least by 50 per cent, of displaced persons, by 2030. I urge leaders from
the region and around the globe to come in full force to re-imagine how the world deals with the crises and act on a true
Agenda for Humanity, Mr. Ban concluded, referring to his report, One Humanity: Shared responsibility.

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25 February 2016

Humanitarian and ceasefire tracks for Syria 'moving in the right


direction' UN envoy
25 February - International task forces established to ensure unimpeded humanitarian
access and a ceasefire in Syria are moving in the right direction, a United Nations
mediator said today, ahead of a Friday deadline to accept a truce.

UNRWA delivers humanitarian aid to


civilians in Yalda, including those
displaced from Yarmouk camp in Syria.
Photo: UNRWA

Speaking to the press in Geneva, Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria, said that
today's humanitarian task force meeting was useful and effective, reporting that
humanitarian aid on nearly 200 trucks had reached to 110,000 people in besieged areas and,
yesterday, a trial run began for air drops aimed at reaching another 200,000 people in need.
However, he stressed that nothing is enough and much more need to be done.

Tomorrow, 26 February, is a crucial day, Mr. De Mistura said, noting that, following a
midday deadline for the acceptance of the cessation of hostilities agreement, a ceasefire task force will meet to discuss the
modalities. He will then brief the UN Security Council via video link and will speak to the press to announce a date for the
resumption of intra-Syrian talks aimed at ending five years of bloody warfare there.
If the cessation of hostilities takes hold, humanitarian assistance would reach more people not just in the besieged areas but
everywhere in Syria, he said.
The mediator suspended the talks earlier this month following differences between Government and opposition delegations
on the priority of humanitarian issues. Then, top-level diplomats met in Munich and agreed on two deliverables one on
unimpeded humanitarian access to the besieged areas and the other on achieving the cessation of hostilities.
Both deliverables are moving in the right direction, Mr. De Mistura said.
The task forces were established as part of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), which consists of the Arab
League, the European Union, the United Nations, and 17 countries, including the United States and Russia.
Special Advisor Jan Egeland pointed out that there is still an active conflict in several areas that is preventing access.
Noting that a convoy took 48 hours to complete a delivery of humanitarian supplies to Madimayet, which is within an hour
drive from Damascus, he said the procedures are too cumbersome, and we are stopped at too many roadblocks.
On the trial airdrops by the World Food Programme (WFP), Mr. Egeland said Deir ez-Zor is the only location we cannot,
as humanitarians, reach by a negotiated land access.
He said there were two problems; pallets were drifting with their parachutes, so that some missed their targets, and other of
the pallets, the parachutes did not open and the food were destroyed.
Mr. Egeland said WFP is planning to continue the trial period for the next three months, noting that the best humanitarian
logisticians in the world are working on how to make this lifeline to 200,000 people in Deir Ezzor, mostly women and
children, work. He added that what I hope is that we continue this momentum, because in a way we have had diplomatic
support the last two weeks in getting access than we probably had through 2015. We need to have sustained engagement.

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25 February 2016

UN reports widespread human rights abuses in Libya, where


complete impunity prevails
25 February - A United Nations report published today has documented widespread
human rights violations and abuses committed in Libya since the beginning of 2014,
recommending urgent measures to address the complete impunity that prevails and to
strengthen and reform the justice sector.

Inside the cells of Libya's notorious jail,


Abu Salim. Photo: UNSMIL/Iason
Athanasiadis

Despite the human rights situation in Libya, the country only sporadically makes the
headlines. A multitude of actors both State and non-State are accused of very serious
violations and abuses that may, in many cases, amount to war crimes, UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein said in a press release.

The violations and abuses documented by the report from the High Commissioners Office
(OHCHR) relate to unlawful killings, including executions of people taken captive, detained, abducted or perceived to be
voicing dissent; indiscriminate attacks on highly populated residential areas; torture and ill-treatment; arbitrary detention;
abductions and disappearances; and gender-based violence and discrimination against women.

Child Recruitment by ISIL and Attacks Targeting Women


Human rights defenders and journalists, migrants, and children are among the targets of those acts. For instance, cases of
forced recruitment and use of children in hostilities by groups pledging allegiance to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or
ISIL/Daesh, are also documented.
There has been a series of attacks by armed groups against women activists since 2014. The assassination of well-known
activists, such as Salwa Bugaighis, Fareeha Al-Berkawi and Intissar Al-Hasaeri, and the threats, harassment and assaults
targeting many others appear designed to send a broader message that women should not be vocal in the public sphere,
notes the report.
One of the most striking elements of this report lies in the complete impunity which continues to prevail in Libya and the
systemic failures of the justice system, Mr. Zeid said, underscoring the lack of means and capacity in the justice system to
conduct prompt, independent and credible investigations or to prosecute those responsible for violations or abuses.
Since 2014, judges and prosecutors have been subject to killings, court bombings, assaults and abductions, he noted. As a
result, courts in Derna, Sirte and Benghazi ceased activities in 2014, with limited re-activation of courts in parts of Benghazi
in 2015, and victims have had little recourse to seek protection or to an effective remedy. This impunity is facilitating
further abuses, he said.
In the absence of proper protection, the judiciary cannot deliver justice, says the report, which notes that the system for
providing security is inadequate and flawed, as thousands of members of armed groups have been integrated into the
Judicial Police with limited vetting.

Recommendations
The report recommends urgent action to stop the proliferation of armed groups through disarmament, demobilization and
reintegration, and a vetting programme to remove and prevent the recruitment of individuals responsible for human rights
violations or abuses.
The report further calls upon the international community to ensure that the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has
jurisdiction in Libya, has the necessary resources to carry out its investigations and prosecutions.

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25 February 2016

Suggesting priority actions, it calls for addressing the security threats to administration of justice, reforming the Judicial
Police, creating a robust victim and witness protection programme, establishing a specialized judicial structure within the
Libyan courts to focus on crimes under international law, and organizing a high-level meeting to bring together Libyans
actors and international partners to discuss initiatives to increase accountability in Libya.

UN health agency warns El Nio may increase breeding grounds


for mosquitoes spreading Zika
25 February - The above-average rainfall caused by El Nio that is expected in parts of
South America until May could cause floods and increases in diseases spread by
mosquitoes, including malaria and the Zika virus, the World Health Organization (WHO)
has warned.
A recent report published by the agency on the health consequences of El Nio forecasts a
rise in vector-borne diseases, including diseases spread by mosquitoes which also include
dengue and chikungunya in Central and South America, particularly in Ecuador, Peru,
Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina. Severe drought, flooding, heavy rains and
temperature rises are all known effects of El Nio a warming of the central to eastern
tropical Pacific Ocean.

Mosquitoes in a laboratory. Removing


stagnant water used by these insects to
breed is crucial in combating the spread
of Zika. Photo: FAO/Simon Miana

We could expect more mosquitoes capable of spreading the Zika virus because of expanding and favourable breeding sites
due to the weather effects of El Nio, Raman Velayudhan, coordinator of vector ecology and management in WHOs
Department of Neglected Tropical Diseases, said earlier this week in a press release.
Zika is a virus spread to humans by Aedes mosquitoes the same mosquitoes that spread dengue, chikungunya and yellow
fever. The Aedes mosquito breeds in standing water. The symptoms known to be caused by Zika infection tend to be mild,
and it is estimated that three out of four infected do not show symptoms.
WHO noted that steps are being taken to prevent and reduce the health effects of El Nio, in particular by reducing the
mosquito populations that spread Zika virus.
Households can also help reduce mosquito populations, said Mr. Velayudhan. Containers that can hold even small
amounts of clear water such as drums, buckets, flower pots, roof gutters or used tyres should be emptied, cleaned or covered
so that mosquitoes cannot use them to breed, including during severe drought.
WHO and its partners are working together to provide support to ministries of health to strengthen actions that help control
mosquito populations, boost vector surveillance, monitor the impact of actions to control the mosquito populations; build
country and WHO response efforts to address El Nio-related disasters; and share information across the region for planning
a rapid response and recovery.
The current El Nio from 2015 to 2016 is expected to be the worst in recent years and comparable with the El Nio in 19971998, which had major health consequences worldwide. For example, in Ecuador, the 1997-1998 El Nio event affected 60
per cent of the population and outbreaks of malaria also spread by mosquitoes increased by 440 per cent.
While adverse weather effects of El Nio are expected to wind down by mid-2016, the health impacts may last throughout
2016 and beyond, WHO said.
Meanwhile WHO, today, released guidance for health workers to assess microcephaly and identify and manage GuillainBarr syndrome and other issues in relation to Zika virus and the current health emergency.

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25 February 2016

UN rights chief warns police agreement by five European


countries will worsen refugee crisis
25 February - The top United Nations human rights official expressed serious concern
today over security measures adopted last week by the police chiefs of five European
countries, which he warned are already negatively impacting the human rights of refugees
and migrants in southern and central Europe and compounding the already exceptionally
difficult situation in Greece.

A young child eats a sandwich next to the


tarpaulin that serves as a makeshift
shelter, close to the town of Gevgelija,
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,
on the border with Greece (September
2015). Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ20152191/Georgiev

Urging the five countries that adopted the measures Austria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia to carefully recalibrate the approach of
their police forces, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein
emphasized that the measures are exacerbating the chaos and misery all down the line,
and especially in Greece, which is already overwhelmed.

Alarmingly, given the primary duty of the police to protect people, the agreement contains
no measures aiming at protecting these extremely vulnerable women, children and men on
the move there is, for example, not even a mention of special measures to protect people who might be particularly at risk
of human rights violations, including children, persons with disabilities, LGBT persons, older people, victims of torture or
victims of gender-based violence or trafficking, Mr. Zeid said in a statement.
Instead, the agreement appears to be solely concerned with applying stringent limitations of entry on people travelling
along the so-called Balkan Land Route, and providing for the 'controlled transfer of migrants,' without sufficient
safeguards, he added.
The adoption of the police measures this past week followed the announcement by the Government of Austria of limitations
both on the number of refugees to be accepted in 2016, and on the number of people who will be allowed to transit the
country.
The latest reports suggest chain deportations are now taking place all the way down the Balkan land route, which includes
Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, towards Greece, Mr. Zeid said.
In addition, hundreds of Afghans were reportedly stranded for more than five days on the border between the former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, and many other Afghans have been blocked from entering the former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia from Greece, apparently solely on the basis of their nationality, he said.
Mr. Zeid also regretted certain authorities' reported refusal of entry to any people arriving at their borders, if they were
unable to produce the documents specified in the agreement. Whether someone possesses a particular document has no
bearing on whether they are a refugee, he said, adding that the lack of a valid document should never be a reason for
refusing entry into an asylum procedure.
I understand the challenge facing the authorities in some European countries who are trying to cope with large numbers of
migrants arriving on, or transiting, their territory, and efforts to improve the management of the situation would be very
welcome indeed. Mr. Zeid said. However, this extraordinary agreement by police chiefs establishes a policy across five
states that includes measures which seem to be incompatible with the human rights obligations of the countries concerned,
all of which are bound by international human rights and refugee law.
Noting that he was particularly troubled that the agreement appears to enable the collective expulsion of non-nationals
acts explicitly prohibited under international law Mr. Zeid said the prohibition against collective expulsion entitles every
non-national to an individualized examination of all the arguments used against his or her removal. Moreover, an integral
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25 February 2016

element of the right to protection from collective expulsion and the right of access to an effective remedy is that an
expulsion is stayed until its compliance with international human rights law has been finally determined.
Mr. Zeid also said the agreement by the five countries appears to authorize profiling people and limiting entry on
humanitarian grounds, solely on the basis of their nationality and possession of identification documents, rather than on an
individual assessment of whether or not they are in need of asylum or some other form of international protection of their
human rights.
The agreement also establishes extremely narrow criteria for allowing entry fleeing war with no mention of
persecution, which is the key criteria for recognizing refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol
and related international law, Mr. Zeid stressed.
He added that the narrow focus also appears to invalidate a number of other legitimate grounds according to which a
person may be permitted to enter another State's territory under international and European human rights law.
Mr. Zeid noted the repeated calls by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights
of migrants, Francois Crpeau, to the European Union (EU) to halt the continuous regression of the human rights of refugees
and migrants.
He also urged the EU and other European countries to take steps to counter the myth-making, stereotyping, racism and
xenophobia which have so distorted and politicized the migration debate, undermining efforts to govern the movements of
refugees and migrants in rational ways that both protect their rights and ease the management challenges the whole of
Europe is facing.

The UN Daily News is prepared at UN Headquarters in New York by the News Services Section
of the News and Media Division, Department of Public Information (DPI)