24 Aug 2016

[afrocarpus] Bilinguals are more attractive, say 71% of Americans

 

Bilinguals are more attractive, say 71% of Americans

Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT) August 24, 2016




A tourist poses in front of the "House of Flags" installation in London's Parliament Square in 2012.
A tourist poses in front of the "House of Flags" installation in London's Parliament Square in 2012.

Story highlights

  • 71% of Americans and 61% of Britons believe being multilingual makes a person more attractive
  • Around a quarter of Americans and Britons think being monolingual has held them back professionally
  • One in eight admits to exaggerating their language skills on a resume
(CNN)Want greater success in your career and your love life, as well as a healthy brain long into old age?
The answer could be to learn another language.
Or at least that's the case according to a majority of Americans and Britons polled in a new survey by language app Babbel.
Apparently, 71% of Americans and 61% of Britons believe speaking more than one language makes a person seem more attractive.
Oui, c'est vrai!
Of 3,000 English-speakers polled in the US and the UK, nine out of 10 admitted they'd learn a new language in pursuit of love.
About half said they'd dreamed about a romance with someone from another country.
And moving from the bedroom to boardroom, about one in four Americans and Britons think that being monolingual has held them back professionally.
So it's probably no surprise that one in eight confessed to having exaggerated their language skills on a resume.

Expanding skillsets

"Languages not only enable you to expand yourself in terms of perspective and skillset, but they also open doors and help you better understand other cultures and peoples," Miriam Plieninger, director of didactics at Babbel, tells CNN.
"Knowing another language helps to break barriers and to connect on a special level of mutual understanding; be it while on the street, traveling, or in business."
Globally, more than half the world can speak at least two languages -- but Western English-speakers are lagging behind.
A 2001 Gallup poll found about a quarter of Americans could hold a conversation in a second language -- mostly Spanish -- while a 2014 study by Eurobarometer revealed about 60% of people in the UK and Ireland are monolingual.
Translation apps can only get you so far.
Translation apps can only get you so far.

Influential factors

"Different factors influence how easy (or difficult) it is to learn a new language," says Plieninger.
"If the language you are learning is part of the same family as your mother tongue, it is generally much easier to access."
Theoretically, English-speakers should therefore be more comfortable with Germanic languages like German or Dutch, as both are historically very close to English.
However, familiarity picked up in everyday life or in the classroom makes a big difference, which is why Americans feel at ease with Spanish and Brits with French -- both romantic languages.
US English-speakers think Spanish is easiest to pick up, while Britons prefer French.
US English-speakers think Spanish is easiest to pick up, while Britons prefer French.
And although the majority of Americans and Britons polled thought Russian was the trickiest to pick up, it's actually "part of the same Indo-European language family as English," Plieninger adds.
"What makes it difficult, however, is that it uses the Cyrillic alphabet, which is a big hurdle for beginners, and it also has a different grammar structure to English."

Romantic language is most romantic

And which languages have the most sex appeal -- in UK and US eyes, at least?
Well, the Babbel guys asked that in a previous survey.
French was considered the "sexiest" language by respondents on both sides of the Atlantic (US 40%, UK 32%) and the hottest foreign accent in which to hear English (US 38%, UK 40%).
So being multilingual can make you more appealing, more successful and more compassionate. And it's also good for your health.
In 2011, Canadian neuroscientist Ellen Bialystok found that speaking more than one language regularly from an early age enhances cognitive abilities and can also delay symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
It's "a great way to train your brain," says Plieninger.

How it breaks down

Romance
  • 71% of Americans and 64% of Britons believe speaking more than one language makes a person seem more attractive.
  • Nine out of ten Americans, and the same number of Britons, confess they would learn a language in the pursuit of love.
Professional, US
  • One in eight Americans (12%) admit to having exaggerated their language skills on a resume to impress potential employers.
  • Over a quarter (26%) feel that a lack of language skills has held them back professionally.
  • French is the top second-language that Americans perceive as making someone seem intelligent (37%), followed by German (19%).
  • Nearly half of Americans (40%) view Russian as the most difficult language to learn.
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) feel that Spanish is the easiest to pick up.
Professional, UK
  • One in eight Britons (13%) admit to having exaggerated their language skills on a resume to impress potential employers.
  • Nearly a quarter of Britons (23%) feel that a lack of language skills has held them back professionally.
  • Russian is the second-language that most Britons perceive as making someone seem intelligent (32%), followed by French (21%), and German (17%).
  • Nearly half of Brits (45%) view Russian as the most difficult language to learn.
  • Just over a third (36%) feel that French is the easiest to pick up, followed by Spanish (28%).
Gender differences
  • Men (USA 53%, UK 55%) are considerably more likely to dream about a romance with a foreigner than women (USA 49%, UK 43%).
  • Men (USA 73%, UK 68%) are also much more inclined than women (USA 65%, UK 57%) to believe that speaking a second language makes them more attractive.
Age differences
  • In both the US and the UK, people under 45 are much more likely to have dreamed about a romance with a foreigner (USA 71%, UK 70%) than those over 45 (USA 46%, UK 40%).
  • They are also much more likely to have exaggerated their linguistic skills on their resume (Under 45: USA 20%, UK 21% ; Over 45: USA 8%, UK 9%).
 

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23 Aug 2016

[afrocarpus] UN DAILY NEWS from the UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE

 

UN DAILY NEWS from the
UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE

22 August, 2016

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________



PUT DIFFERENCES ASIDE AND END 'HUMANITARIAN SHAME' IN SYRIA, UN AID CHIEF TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

Stressing the need for a 48-hour pause to the fighting in the Syrian city of Aleppo, the United Nations humanitarian chief today urged the United States and Russia to rapidly reach agreement on the security guarantees and operational modalities for a ceasefire there so aid workers can deliver life-saving assistance to those in desperate need.

"I'm not going to pretend – I'm angry, very angry" about what is happening in Aleppo today and throughout Syria over the last five years, said Stephen O'Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator in his briefing to the Security Council.

"This callous carnage that is Syria has long since moved from the cynical, to the sinful," he said, warning that it is the failure of politics and the 15-member Council.

"So please: now is the moment, this instant, to put differences aside, come together as one, and stop this humanitarian shame upon us all, once and for all," he told Council members.

Aleppo has become the "apex of horror' at its most horrific extent of the suffering of people, with up to 275,000 people in eastern Aleppo almost entirely cut off from vital supplies, while access also remains extremely difficult to the estimated 1.5 million people in western parts of the city, Mr. O'Brien said.

"This is a race against time, as fighting rages on," he said, warning that Aleppo risks seeing a humanitarian catastrophe unparalleled in the over five years of bloodshed and carnage in the Syrian conflict.

Russia's announcement of support for 48-hour pause

Welcoming the announcement by Russia on 18 August to support the call for a 48-hour ceasefire, Mr. O'Brien said he and his office are working with all sides to seek to ensure that should the announcement by Russia translates into a comprehensive pause, that will enable aid to safely make its way to those who so desperately need it.

Russia and the United States are the co-chairs of the taskforces for humanitarian aid and a cessation of hostilities – created by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), which comprises the UN, the Arab League, the European Union and 16 other countries – and which have been meeting separately since early this year on a way forward on the Syrian crisis.

A humanitarian pause is "not a negotiating tactic" but needed to put confidence into the hundreds of truck drivers to jump back in their cabs, load their trucks, and set off on the slow journey over shell-cratered roads, all the time wondering whether the sniper will take the shot, or an IED (improvised explosive device) will catapult them into the air.

"As we sit here round this safe table, humanitarian rescue workers are risking their lives in search for those buried under the debris," he told Council members, noting that more than 130 'white helmets' volunteers have lost their lives since 2013, mostly caught in the so-called "double tap attacks," in which a helicopter or a jet bombs a building, then waits some time – just enough for rescue and medical workers to arrive – before attacking again.

He said that the UN and partners are ready to move assistance within 48 to 72 hours once the green light is given. "Plans are in place, but we need the agreement of all parties to let us do our job," he said.

UN convoys await green light

Outlining the plan, he said that 50 trucks of assistance are ready to move from western Aleppo into the east and preparation is under way for the cross-border movement of assistance into eastern Aleppo. An initial movement would send 20 trucks with much needed food into eastern Aleppo during the first pause. This would then be scaled up as appropriate for future pauses, and include additional humanitarian assistance based on assessed need.

According to the plan, the loading of items would be monitored by the UN Monitoring Mission, which would then seal the trucks so that any tampering would be evident on arrival, he said.

All trucks would include UN identifying markers. Once cleared, the trucks travel across the border into Syria along the same routes as used prior to 7 July. They travel along the Castello Road and into eastern Aleppo city directly to the warehouses of our partners. Once at the warehouses, trucks will be confirmed as not having been tampered with, and then the seals would be broken and assistance off-loaded, he said.

He began his briefing by saluting the life of Khaled Omar Harrah, a member of the White Helmets, killed on 11 August, by airstrikes. He is remembered for brushing aside debris and reaching through a hole in the wall to pull out a 10-day-old baby from the rubble of a collapsed building in 2014.

Citing the haunting images of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, a silent face covered in blood and dust, after being pulled from the rubble caused by a recent airstrike, Mr. O'Brien told Council members that "imagine this was your child, a child that has known nothing but horrific war."

"All we need is for the guns to fall silent," he said, not the politicking and posturing, or the power games and defensiveness.

Progress has been made this year, with a net total of 1,275,750 people reached in besieged, hard-to-reach and priority locations across Syria. But regarding August inter-agency convoy plan submitted to the Syrian authorities, the UN was denied access to more than 50 per cent of requested beneficiaries, he said.

He reported that the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, Yacoub El Hillo ended his three-year appointment in Syria today.

* * *

NIGERIA: WITH THOUSANDS IN URGENT NEED, UN HEALTH AGENCY SCALES UP EMERGENCY RESPONSE

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is ramping up its response in north-eastern Nigeria, where initial assessments have revealed urgent health problems among populations in areas formerly held by Boko Haram insurgents.

"Protracted conflict situations, such as seen in northern Nigeria – and the surrounding Lake Chad basin countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger – are among the greatest threats to health, globally," Peter Salama, Executive Director of WHO's Health Emergencies Programme said in a news release today.

"Not only are they associated with the world's highest rates of death among children and pregnant women, they can also be breeding grounds for infectious diseases and outbreaks – but are too often neglected by the international community," he added.

According to WHO, mortality rates are estimated at four times higher than emergency thresholds in some of the 15 local government areas (LGAs) formerly held by the insurgent group. Furthermore, the rate of severe acute malnutrition is estimated to be 14 per cent, measles cases have also been reported in the area, and both the cases of polio reported by the country for the first time in two years were in Borno state. One of the cases is from an LGA that is still inaccessible to health service delivery while the other is from a newly accessible one.

Highlighting the urgency of prompt action, WHO further noted: "The immediate goal […] is to urgently reduce the rates of death and disease by rapidly scaling up life-saving health services."

The agency said it will work closely with local officials and specialist agencies to address the health risks posed by malnutrition, disease outbreaks, and long-term lack of access to basic health services.

The working environment in the affected areas is extremely challenging
The release further noted that the working environment in the affected areas is extremely challenging and resources and capacities required to meet the enormous health service gaps are grossly inadequate.

Furthermore, insecurity is a major concern, with a number of recent attacks on humanitarian staff by insurgents, and access to the LGAs require military escort over long distances on poor roads.

The working environment is further complicated by the peaking annual wet season and there are forecasts of major floods in the coming weeks.

In response to the situation, WHO has deployed expert staff to the country for emergency operations, coordination, and data management and another team is on the ground in Borno state to help in dealing with the polio outbreak response. The agency has also dispatched emergency drugs and supplies and its emergency operations will be further reinforced by an expanded, experienced response team in coming days.

Additionally, the Government has also launched emergency polio vaccination programmes, with support from WHO and partners. The first round of vaccinations, targeting one million children, will soon be completed.

The agency said the emergency response is built on its long-standing work in the African country, supporting the delivery of vital health services including immunization, maternal, child and neonatal health, and HIV services.

It estimates that the funding needs for the health sector in Nigeria are estimated at about $25 million as part of the overall humanitarian response plan, which is currently being reviewed with partners in light of the latest events.

Much more needs to be done, says senior UN official for Sahel

In related news, Toby Lanzer, UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, having just concluded his fifth visit to the north-eastern parts of Nigeria noted "considerable improvements" since his last visit in April, but underscored that much more still needs to be done.

The Sahel is a region spanning across eight African countries – Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad – many of which are dealing with a volatile security situation.

In his statement, Mr. Lanzer highlighted that the scale of the crisis in the region is staggering: nine million people need emergency relief; 4.5 million people are severely food insecure; 2.5 million people have been forced from their homes.

Noting the recent re-emergence of polio in Borno state, Mr. Lanzer said: "The re-emergence […] is another blow to the people of the region and a challenge for the authorities and aid agencies, alike."

"Our stated purpose is to meet people's needs and I have no doubt that, together with an increasingly engaged donor community, much more good work must and can take place," he added.

He further stressed that they key for sustainable peace is addressing the abject poverty in the region and said that continued security and a greater engagement by civilian authorities and development and environment organizations is vital.

"Re-establishing security in all towns and across the rural expanse is crucial to enable people to farm, tend to their livestock and trade," he said.

"Building on people's will, energy and resilience is the best way of ensuring a safer and more prosperous future for the people of Nigeria and the neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger," concluded Mr. Lanzer.

* * *

AS ICC TRIAL OPENS, MALIAN EXTREMIST ADMITS GUILT TO DESTROYING HISTORIC SITES IN TIMBUKTU

An alleged Malian Islamist accused of destroying historical and religious monuments in the fabled city of Timbuktu pleaded guilty in the first-ever international war crimes trial focusing on destruction of cultural heritage, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on the opening day of the landmark case, which was welcomed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi admitted guilt to the war crime consisting in the destruction of historical and religious monuments in Timbuktu, between around 30 June 2012 and 11 July 2012, the ICC said in a press release, which noted that "this is the first international trial focusing on the destruction of historical and religious monuments, and the first ICC case where the defendant made an admission of guilt."

According to the release, the trial in The Hague, Netherlands, started with the reading of an extract of the confirmed charge against the accused, and the presiding judge asked him to confirm that he understood the charge. Mr. Al Mahdi admitted guilt to the charge.

In her presentation, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that the destroyed buildings of immeasurable value, notably the mausoleums of Muslim saints, were a major part of the historic heritage of the ancient city of Timbuktu.

"They were also more generally a part of the heritage of Mali, of Africa and of the world. All, except one, were inscribed on the World Heritage List," she said.

"These buildings were deliberately destroyed by Mr. Al Mahdi and his co-perpetrators before the very eyes of the people of Timbuktu, who looked on powerlessly," she continued. Mr. Al Mahdi, a member of Ansar Dine, was directly involved in the entities established by the armed groups Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Ansar Dine during the occupation of Timbuktu in 2012, the Prosecutor said.

"Today's trial is indeed historic," she stressed, noting that "it is all the more historic in view of the destructive rage that marks our times, in which humanity's common heritage is subject to repeated and planned ravages by individuals and groups whose goal is to eradicate any representation of a world that differs from theirs by eliminating the physical manifestations that are at the heart of communities."

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the landmark case and commended the Court for bringing the significant issue to the forefront of efforts to ensure international justice and accountability, his spokesperson said in a statement.

"It draws our attention to an increasingly worrying trend of deliberate destruction of cultural heritage in situations of armed conflict," said the statement, which also noted that "such attacks represent a callous assault on the dignity and identity of entire populations and their religious and historical roots."

The Secretary-General "strongly condemns" all such acts, and call on all concerned to ensure perpetrators are held accountable, the statement said.

The judges will pronounce a decision and a possible sentence after further proceedings.


* * *

UN HEALTH AGENCY'S AFRICAN MEMBER STATES ADOPT NEW MALARIA FRAMEWORK

With Africa still accounting for more than 90 per cent of global malaria deaths in 2015, the United Nations health agency's member States in the region have adopted a new framework on implementing a strategy towards a malaria-free continent.

In an annual meeting of the World Health Organization's (WHO) regional commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Sunday, all 47 African member States unanimously adopted the new framework on how to implement the Global Technical Strategy for malaria in the region. It proposes specific priority interventions and actions to be implemented by member states to reach "an African region free of malaria."

"Malaria is no longer the leading cause of death among children in sub-Saharan Africa," said WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti in a news release. "We have made substantial progress in controlling malaria within our region. Since 2000, malaria death rates have plunged by 66 per cent, translating into 6.2 million lives saved, the vast majority of them being children."

Between 2000 and 2015, the number of malaria cases and deaths within Africa declined by 42 per cent and 66 per cent, respectively. However, Africa still bears the biggest malaria burden with roughly 190 million cases and 400,000 deaths in 2015 alone, accounting for 89 per cent and 91 per cent of the world's total, respectively.

In addition, over 800 million people in Africa are still at risk of malaria. In line with the Sustainable Development Goals, WHO reassures a firm commitment to eliminate the epidemic from the African continent by 2030, a target that would require an estimated $66 billion to achieve.

"In 2015, two in three households in Africa did have their own insecticide-treated mosquito net, compared to only 2 per cent back in 2000," said Ms. Moeti. "More and more children get to sleep under a net, and we need to continue to invest in changing people's behaviours."

Some of the main challenges to tackle malaria include gaps in access to available prevention methods, the limited number of interventions available and increasing resistance to medicines and insecticides. In addition, weak health systems present a very high risk to malaria control and elimination. During the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, malaria control gains were lost in the severely affected countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.


* * *

MORE THAN THREE MILLION DISPLACED IN YEMEN – JOINT UN AGENCY REPORT

A joint report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has found that the conflict in Yemen has resulted in the displacement of some 3,154,572 people, of which 2,205,102 remain displaced across the country and some 949,470 have attempted to return home.

"The crisis is forcing more and more people to leave their homes in search of safety," Ita Schuette, UNHCR's Deputy Representative in Yemen said in a news release on Friday, announcing the report.

The news release added that due to the escalating conflict and worsening humanitarian conditions, displacement across the country has seen an increase of about seven per cent since April, with 152,009 individuals fleeing from violence during this period.

The report, prepared by the Task Force on Population Movement, a technical working group led by the two agencies as part of the humanitarian response to the crisis in Yemen, also said that a significant number of those displaced are attempting to return home, a 24 per cent increase of some 184,491 individuals. However, it cautioned that movements remained fluid and correlated to moments of lulls or perceived improvements in the conflict.

"IDP returnees are considered to remain within the displacement cycle as long as they have not achieved a sustainable reintegration and their needs remain high, as is also the case for the non-displaced host community," said Laurent De Boeck, IOM Chief of Mission to Yemen.

The news release further added that prolonged displacement had adversely impacted the communities hosting uprooted populations, substantially increasing pressures on already scarce resources. The majority of those displaced, some 62 per cent, are being hosted by their family and friends while others are using unsuitable shelters.

It further said that for those displaced, the primary challenges continued to be the basic essentials: food, shelter and drinking water.

According to the figures, as the conflict continues, the average length of time people having to spend away from their homes has also increased. Most of those uprooted, some 89 per cent, have been displaced for more than ten months.

The report also includes data on displacement due to natural disasters: at present, 24,744 individuals remain displaced due to cyclones and floods.

Cumulatively, owing to conflict and natural disasters, eight per cent of Yemen's population now remains displaced.

According to the news release, the report consolidates data from the UNHCR Population Movement Tracking system and the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix, enabling the release of the most comprehensive estimates of displaced population figures and trends in Yemen to date.


* * *

'PRESSURE' ON PALESTINIAN HOUSEHOLDS TO MOVE RAISES RISK OF FORCIBLE TRANSFERS – UN OFFICIAL

A senior United Nations official has cautioned that many Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank are facing a heightened risk of forcible transfer as there has been a recent surge in the number of demolitions in the area.

"Repeated rounds of demolitions, restrictions on access to basic services and regular visits by Israeli security personnel promoting 'relocation plans' are all part of a coercive environment that now surrounds these vulnerable Palestinian households," Robert Piper, UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance and Development Aid in the occupied Palestinian territory said today in a news release after returning from a visit to the Palestinian community of Abu Nuwar in the Jerusalem governorate.

"The cumulative pressure to move to other parts of the West Bank continues to be ratcheted-up; in this environment, we cannot expect people to make decisions based on genuine consent so the risk of forcible transfers remains high," he added.

According to the release, there has been a surge in demolitions and confiscations across the West Bank this year, with 786 Palestinian-owned structures demolished so far in 2016. These demolitions have cumulatively displaced 1,197 people, including 558 children. Over 200 of the demolished structures had been provided as humanitarian relief.

Since the start of August, Israeli security forces have destroyed or confiscated a total of 85 civilian structures across 28 West Bank communities. 29 structures across eight locations were demolished in the last week alone, resulting in the displacement of 64 Palestinians, including 24 children.

The structures demolished in August included emergency shelters following previous home demolitions, animal sheds, latrines, a community centre and a new drinking water network.

Damage to the water network, that was supported by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), has affected nearly 1,000 Palestinians in five herding communities in the Jordan Valley who suffer extreme water scarcity especially during summer months, added the release.

"As the occupying power, international law requires that Israel ensures that the basic needs of Palestinians are met and that the conditions necessary for their development are present, including a fair and lawful planning and zoning regime," it further noted.

The news release also said that facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid is also a legal obligation whilst the forcible transfer of populations is prohibited under International Humanitarian Law, as is the destruction of property unless absolutely necessary for military operations.

There is also renewed concern for the community of Susiya in the southern West Bank, where over 170 civilian structures are under threat of demolition and where the Israeli authorities abruptly ended negotiations with community representatives last month.

"Dkaika. Khan al Ahmar. Um al Kheir. Abu Nuwar. Susiya… these are just some of the highly vulnerable communities where families, many of whom are Palestine refugees, live in permanent fear of becoming homeless and children wonder if they will still have a school to attend tomorrow," said Mr. Piper.


* * *

UN CHIEF URGES ALL TO BUILD ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT EFFECTS OF 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has congratulated Brazil, the city of Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian people, the Rio 2016 Local Organizing Committee and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for having successfully concluded the 2016 Olympic Games.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson today, Mr. Ban expressed deep appreciation 'for the hospitality, diversity and capabilities of the Brazilian people and the world of sport, displayed at the first-ever Olympic Games in Latin America."

He also recalled, with pleasure and honour, his participation at the opening ceremony, in the Olympic Torch relay, visit to the Olympic Village and attending some of the events.

In the statement, the Secretary-General also Applauded [the] historic achievement and encouraged all stakeholders "to secure and build on the sustainable development effects of the Games."

The UN chief also recalled his meeting with the 10-member Refugee Olympic Team that participated in the Games under the Olympic flag.

The team was supported by the UN refugee agency and the IOC, and their participation brought global attention to the global refugee crisis and served as a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide.


* * *


 







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    UN DAILY NEWS from the 
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    19 August, 2016
     
    ______________________________ ______________________________ ______________________________ __________________




    PHOTO OF BOY PULLED FROM RUBBLE REMINDER OF 'UNIMAGINABLE HORRORS' SYRIAN CHILDREN FACE – UNICEF 

    The heart breaking photograph of Omran Daqneesh, the little boy sitting alone in an ambulance with his face and body covered in blood and dirt after being pulled from a destroyed building has reminded the world, yet again, of the unimaginable horrors that Syrian children face every day, a spokesperson for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said today. 

    "No child in Syria [is] safe while the conflict drags on," Christophe Boulierac, a spokesperson for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) told the press at a regular briefing in Geneva, referring to the photograph which went viral on social media yesterday and has galvanized world attention to the suffering in Aleppo, Syria's iconic second city. 

    "More than 3.7 million Syrian children under the age of five know nothing but displacement, violence and uncertainty," he added underscoring the sheer desperation of the situation facing them and millions more in need of humanitarian aid in Syria and neighbouring countries. 

    According to UNICEF, the situation in Aleppo has continued to deteriorate in the past two weeks. It is particularly dire for civilians living in eastern parts of the city where taps have gone dry and the population, including approximately 100,000 children, rely on water from wells potentially contaminated by faecal matter and are unsafe to drink. 

    Heavy fighting and escalation of violence since 4 August have also prevented technicians from repairing the severely-damaged electricity and water systems. 

    Furthermore, children living in those parts also face risks of outbreaks of water-borne diseases. 

    In the midst of this situation, the UN children's agency has been able to deliver 300,000 litres of fuel to water pumping stations in western parts of Aleppo, providing water to some 1.2 million people. It has also provided water purification tablets and suppled four million litres of drinking water, via trucks, on a daily basis to the western parts of the city. 

    However, these supplies were "not enough and it was not a solution," said Mr. Boulierac. 

    "It [is] critical for UNICEF to be able to reach all parts of the war-torn city and to provide much needed assistance," he stressed, reiterating the agency's call on all parties to the conflict to immediately allow safe and protected access for technicians to conduct urgent repairs to restore electricity and water networks. 

    "The fighting [must be] stopped in order to do that," he underlined. 

    Aid would never be suspended 

    At the same briefing, Bettina Luescher, a spokesperson for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said the agency is deeply concerned about the situation in Aleppo and that during the week, it had been able to feed some 20,000 people in eastern parts of the city. 

    "Aid would never be suspended. [We are] ensuring that the little kids, grandmothers, mothers and fathers got food whatever it took," she stated. 

    Responding to a question, she said that in June, 30 per cent of the food went into opposition-controlled areas, and that political opinions of people did not matter. "[The] number one goal [is] to feed civilians," she stressed. 

    Furthermore, she explained that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the ground need a 48-hour pause immediately. 

    "Many little boys and girls need help, as they were in the same situation as little Omran," she said, stressing that the siege has to stop. 

    "It [is] hard, but not impossible to come up with a 48-hour pause," she added. 

    UN envoy welcomes evacuation of persons with urgent needs 

    In related news, Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria welcomed the reports of evacuation of some 39 people, including several children and those in need of medical treatment from the besieged towns of Fouah (in Syria's north-west) and Madaya (in the country's south-west). 

    The evacuations were conducted by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC). 

    Thanking all those who were involved in the extraction, Mr. de Mistura said: "While this is a positive step, areas remain besieged by parties to the conflict and Syrians are in need of food and medical assistance to enter these areas" 

    He reiterated that in some places, including in the two towns, convoys have not been allowed to enter for over 110 days. He added that there are also reports of desperate need for food and other assistance in towns such as Darayya, a suburb of the capital Damascus. 

    The Special Envoy urged all parties to the conflict to allow humanitarian access and to evacuate those Syrians in need of medical assistance. 

    * * * 

    CITING UN'S MORAL RESPONSIBILITY, BAN PLEDGES SUPPORT TO HAITI IN OVERCOMING CHOLERA EPIDEMIC 

    Noting that a United States federal appeals court has upheld the United Nations' immunity from a damage claim filed on behalf cholera victims in Haiti, the Organization today said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deeply regrets the "terrible suffering" of the Haitian people and that the UN has a moral responsibility to the support the victims and the country in overcoming the epidemic. 

    "The Secretary-General notes yesterday's decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which upheld the immunity of the Organization from legal proceedings in the case of Georges et al v. United Nations et. al, in accordance with the UN Charter and other international treaties," said a statement issued by Mr. Ban's spokesperson in New York. 

    The class action lawsuit was filed in October 2013 in US Federal Court in New York in connection with the cholera outbreak in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010. The suit called on the UN to compensate victims of the epidemic. 

    The cholera outbreak has affected an estimated 780,000 people and claimed the lives of over 9,100 people. The disease is typically contracted through contaminated food or water. 

    "The Secretary-General deeply regrets the terrible suffering the people of Haiti have endured as a result of the cholera epidemic," said the statement issued today, which added: "The United Nations has a moral responsibility to the victims of the cholera epidemic and for supporting Haiti in overcoming the epidemic and building sound water, sanitation and health systems." 

    Sustained efforts by national authorities and the international community have contributed to a 90 per cent reduction in the number of cases since the peak in 2011. "However, eliminating cholera from Haiti will take the full commitment of the Haitian Government and the international community and, crucially, the resources to fulfil our shared duty," the statement explained. 

    According to the statement, Mr. Ban is actively working to develop a package that would provide material assistance and support to those Haitians most directly affected by cholera. These efforts must include, as a central focus, the victims of the disease and their families. 

    Further, the UN intends to intensify its support to reduce, and ultimately end, the transmission of cholera, improve access to care and treatment and address the longer-term issues of water, sanitation and health systems in Haiti. 

    "Despite repeated appeals, these efforts have been seriously underfunded, and severe and persistent funding shortfalls remain. The Secretary-General urges Member States to demonstrate their solidarity with the people of Haiti by increasing their contributions to eliminate cholera and provide assistance to those affected," said the statement. 

    For decades, the UN has stood by the Haitian people, supporting them in their quest for democracy and the strengthening of their institutions and helping to rebuild the nation after the tragic earthquake of 2010, the statement said and added: "The Secretary-General and the United Nations as a whole are determined to continue this support, honour the people of Haiti and help them usher in a more peaceful and prosperous future." 


    * * * 

    NIGERIA'S MILITARY GAINS AGAINST BOKO HARAM UNCOVER VAST HUMANITARIAN NEEDS – UN 

    The United Nations refugee agency said today that it is increasingly alarmed at the unfolding situation in north-east Nigeria where the advancing military campaign against Boko Haram has exposed "catastrophic" levels of suffering among a population outside humanitarian reach over months or years. 

    "While many areas are still beyond reach, in Borno and Yobe states, the picture of suffering is shocking," Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva. 

    He said that numerous reports of human rights violations, including deaths, sexual violence, disappearances, forced recruitment, forced religious conversions, and attacks on civilian sites, have been received. Some 800,000 additional internally displaced people have been identified as needing help. 

    "Severe malnutrition on a wide scale is being reported, and the needs are growing with each day," he said, noting that in Borno state, 51,474 people are on the refugee agency's critically vulnerable list, 21,912 of these being children – more than three quarters of whom have lost one or both parents. 

    An additional displacement complication has arisen from the knock-on effect of the military activity and the resulting further spread of insecurity to the north and west across the borders and into parts of Cameroon, Chad and Niger. The violent attacks against military personnel in the town of Bosso in south-eastern Niger on 3 June resulted in the worst displacement there since the beginning of the crisis in 2013. 

    Amid this, some 106,000 Nigerian refugees have been pressed back into homeland, with Borno receiving 67,000, Adamawa 22,000 and Yobe 17,000. These people, who became new internally displaced people in the process, need reception, registration and other protection help, plus shelter, psycho-social support and material assistance, Mr. Edwards said. 

    UNHCR is responding by scaling up its operations, he said, explaining that the immediate focus is the needs of some 488,000 highly vulnerable people in critical condition and now concentrated in ten newly liberated local government areas in Borno state, as well as the needs of the returned refugees. 

    The insurgency in northeast Nigeria has mutated into a vast regional crisis confronting Nigeria and its three Lake Chad Basin neighbours – Chad, Cameroon and Niger. Insecurity has driven more than 187,000 Nigerians across the border, but incursions by Boko Haram into the surrounding countries have generated growing numbers of internally displaced people too. There are 157,000 internally displaced people in Cameroon, 74,800 in Chad and over 127,000 in Niger. 

    As of the most recent available date there are 2,066,783 internally displaced persons in Nigeria. 


    * * * 

    'WE CANNOT AND WILL NOT LEAVE ANYONE BEHIND,' SAYS UN CHIEF ON WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY 

    With a record 130 million people worldwide now dependent on humanitarian assistance, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that though solutions to the crises that plunged these people into such desperate hardship are neither simple nor quick, "there are things we can all do – today, and every day. We can show compassion, we can raise our voices against injustice, and we can work for change." 

    "World Humanitarian Day is an annual reminder of the need to act to alleviate the suffering," said Mr. Ban in his message on the Day, which he said is also an occasion to honour the humanitarian workers and volunteers toiling on the frontlines of crises and pay tribute to these dedicated women and men who brave danger to help others at far greater risk. 

    Noting that a record 130 million people are dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive, he said while these figures are truly staggering, they tell only a fraction of the story. Hidden behind the statistics are individual's families and communities whose lives have been devastated. 

    "From parents who must choose between buying food or medicine for their children to families who must risk bombing at home or a perilous escape by sea; their stories have led up to the creation of these initiatives," said the UN chief. 

    "Today, I urge everyone to sign on to the United Nations World You'd Rather campaign, which is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), said Mr. Ban. The 17 global goals offer a 15-year plan to reduce need and vulnerability, promoting a world of peace, dignity and opportunity for all. 

    "We need everyone to play their part. Each one of us can make a difference, "continued Mr. Ban. 

    Earlier this year, 9,000 participants gathered in Istanbul for the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit. World leaders committed to transform the lives of people living in conflict, disaster and acute vulnerability. They rallied behind the Agenda for Humanity and its pledge to leave no one behind. 

    The Secretary-General encouraged involvement as well as raising awareness and building empathy, the new campaign has a concrete goal: to raise money for the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and to enrol the support of individuals everywhere as Messengers of Humanity. 

    "On this World Humanitarian Day, let us unite in the name of humanity and show that we cannot and will not leave anyone behind," said the Secretary-General. 

    At today's annual memorial service in honour of fallen UN staff on the anniversary of the Canal Hotel bombing in Iraq, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said that "those who attack the United Nations want to make us afraid, feel weak and to retreat" but "those we honour today inspire us to be bold and determined to go forward." 

    "This challenge we meet all over the world today – from Syria to South Sudan, from Yemen to Libya, from Somalia to Afghanistan, where humanitarian workers and peacekeepers have lost or are risking their lives," he said. 

    Noting that 22 people were killed in the hotel bombing in Baghdad on 19 August 2003, Mr. Eliasson said that World Humanitarian Day is an occasion to recall and remember colleagues who lost their lives in their mission to help people in conflict and in desperate need. 

    "This tragedy touched all of us who believe in the United Nations and who understand that our blue flag only flies because committed people wave it – like our friends and colleagues in Baghdad," he said. 

    He concluded that having lost colleagues not only in Iraq but all over the world before and since then – the most important thing is to work in an even more determined way, never losing faith in the role of the UN and in "our own responsibility to work for peace, development and human rights." 

    UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O'Brien warned that crises around the world, from Syria to South Sudan, are forcing people to make impossible choices – risking violence for food or risking drowning in search of a safe haven, calling on all global citizens to show solidarity, use their voice and demand that world leaders take action. 

    "At the heart of World Humanitarian Day are the aid workers and volunteers who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty," he noted. 

    Joining the call for action are renowned Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer, Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf, Tony Award winner and former Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr., Quantico actress Yasmine Al Massri and The Voice Season 10 winner Alisan Porter, who will attend a commemorative event at the UN Headquarters in New York tonight. 

    Syrian refugee Hala Kamil, who fled Aleppo with her four children to find safety in Germany, will also speak at the event. Their story is the subject of the film "Watani, My Homeland" by director Marcel Mettelsiefen, which is now streaming on PBS as the documentary "Children of Syria." 

    Addressing an audience in the iconic General Assembly Hall just one month ahead of the UN Summit on refugees and migrants, Kamil will call on world leaders to uphold their responsibilities to help the women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes due to conflict. 

    More than halfway through the year, the UN and its partners have received less than a third of the $21.6 billion required to meet the most urgent humanitarian needs in 2016. 

    Celebrity activists and influencers, including actress Rosario Dawson, entrepreneur Richard Branson, and Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya, will amplify this call for change through the "The World You'd Rather" campaign. 

    * * * 

    SOUTH SUDAN: HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN RECRUITED INTO ARMED GROUPS, REPORTS UNICEF 

    Reporting that 650 children have been recruited into armed groups in South Sudan since January, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNCEF) called today for an immediate end to recruitment and an unconditional release of all children by armed actors. 

    "The dream we all shared for the children of this young country has become a nightmare," said Justin Forsyth, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director said today in a news release issued by the agency. 

    "At this precarious stage in South Sudan's short history, UNICEF fears that a further spike in child recruitment could be imminent," he added. 

    The agency also warned that renewed conflict could put tens of thousands of children at an even greater risk. It further noted that despite widespread political commitment to end the practice children continue to be recruited and used by armed groups and forces. 

    According to estimates, some 16,000 children have been recruited by the armed groups and armed forces since the crisis first began in the country in December 2013. 

    The news release added that in 2015, UNICEF oversaw the release of 1,775 former child soldiers in what was one of the largest demobilizations of children ever. However, renewed fighting and recruitment in the world's youngest country risks undermining much of this progress, it noted. 

    The agency also highlighted increased grave violations in the country, noting that gender-based violence, already pervasive, has greatly intensified during the current crisis. 

    "Children continue to endure horrific ordeals," stressed Mr. Forsyth. 

    "Recent reports point to widespread sexual violence against girls and women. The systematic use of rape, sexual exploitation and abduction as a weapon of war in South Sudan must cease, together with the impunity for all perpetrators," he said. 

    The UN agency further underscored that unconditional access for all humanitarian interventions in Juba and all other parts of the country is urgently needed to provide support, protection, and assistance to children and women across the country. 

    "Without a fully operational humanitarian sector, the consequences for children and their families will be catastrophic," concluded Mr. Forsyth, recently returning from a trip to the country's capital, Juba, and the northern town of Bentiu. 


    * * * 

    HONDURAS: KILLING OF RIGHTS DEFENDERS HIGHLIGHT PERILS THEY FACE, SAYS UN RIGHTS OFFICE 

    With at least eight human rights defenders killed in Honduras this year, two United Nations and international rights experts today said the country is one of the most hostile and dangerous for rights defenders and urged the Government to take urgent steps to ensure their protection. 

    "The Government of Honduras must immediately adopt and apply effective measures to protect human rights defenders, so they can carry out their human rights work, without fear or threat of violence or murder," Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, and José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez, Inter-American Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, said today in a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). 

    "Violence and attacks against news release not only affect the basic guarantees owed to every individual. They also undermine the fundamental role that human rights defenders play in building a society that is more equal, just and democratic," they added. 

    In the most recent violence, Kevin Ferrera, a lawyer and outspoken youth leader of Juventud Liberal (Liberal Youth, a section of the Liberal Party of Honduras) and founding member of the organization Oposicion Indignada (Indignant Opposition), on 9 August. 

    According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), so far this year, at least eight rights defenders have been killed. 

    Expressing serious concern at the killing of Mr. Ferrera, who also worked to empower citizens to denounce corruption and impunity as well as helped organize recent protests against the proposals for re-election of the current President of the country, Mr. Forst and Mr. Orozco Henríquez urged the Government to conduct an investigation and "bring to account both the material perpetrators and the intellectual authors of the heinous crime." 

    "The investigation should be exhaustive, effective, impartial and undertaken with due diligence," they stressed. 

    In the news release, the two experts also recalled that a mechanism for protection of human rights defenders and other groups in Honduras in was created in 2015, and acknowledged the country's efforts to make the mechanism fully functional. 

    "However, the implementation of the mechanism is yet to be tested," they noted. 

    "Crimes against human rights defenders, especially cold-blooded assassinations, must not go unpunished. Impunity is the enemy – and the undoing – of any protection scheme in place, no matter how comprehensive it may be," concluded Mr. Forst and Mr. Orozco. 


    * * * 

    'ALARMING' DISPARITY IN BROADBAND CONNECTIVITY WITHIN ASIA-PACIFIC, UN REGIONAL STUDY FINDS 

    New findings by the economic and social development arm of the United Nations in the Asia-Pacific have revealed that nearly 75 per cent of the region's broadband capabilities and access are concentrated in countries in East and North-East Asia while the Pacific subregion accounts for a mere 1.93 per cent. 

    "As a result of this digital divide, millions of people are shut out from transformative digital opportunities in education, health, business and financial services," Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said today in a news release. 

    She also stressed that broadband connectivity is vital for the digital economy and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region. 

    The report, State of ICT in Asia and the Pacific 2016: Uncovering the Widening Broadband Divide, also notes that according to 2015 data, the other three subregions: South and South-West Asia, North and Central Asia, and South-East Asia have a combined 23.19 per cent fixed broadband subscriptions in the region, three times less than the East and North-East subregion. 

    According to the regional form, the findings confirm that gap between advanced and developing countries in fixed broadband access is indeed widening, and unless targeted policy interventions are put in place, the trend will continue to the detriment of future development opportunities. 

    "In response to the widening gap, ESCAP is promoting the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway initiative, to increase the availability and affordability of broadband Internet across Asia and the Pacific, by strengthening the underlying Internet infrastructure in the region," added Ms. Akhtar. 

    The report also finds that the ESCAP region has witnessed a dramatic increase from 38.1 per cent of the global fixed broadband subscriptions in 2005 to 52.3 per cent in 2015. 

    However, the report also shows that less than two per cent of the region's population has adopted fixed broadband in as many as twenty countries, widening the 'digital divide' between high-income and low-income countries at an alarming speed. 

    It further shows that the penetration of e-commerce is directly linked to access to broadband connectivity. 

    "[This suggests] that enhancing information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure connectivity would increase business-to-business e-commerce in the region," said ESCAP. 

    The report also looked at emerging trends in developing online content, differential patterns of mobile broadband expansion and usage, as well as the impact of regulatory quality and investment in broadband adoption. 


    * * * 

    SECURITY COUNCIL EXPRESSES 'REGRET' OVER POSTPONED ELECTORAL PROCESS IN SOMALIA 

    The United Nations Security Council today expressed regret over a postponed timeline for this year's parliamentary and presidential elections in Somalia, calling on all stakeholders to follow the revised 2016 electoral calendar "without further delay." 

    Through a Presidential Statement adopted by the body, the Council's 15 members welcomed the continued political and security progress in Somalia since 2012, underscoring the need to maintain the momentum towards democratic governance, with an inclusive, transparent and credible electoral process in 2016 as a stepping stone to universal suffrage elections in 2020. 

    The Council noted the consensus decision of the National Leadership Forum (NLF) to extend the timeline for the parliamentary electoral process until 25 October, and the timeline for the presidential electoral process until 30 October, to allow for the implementation of technical modalities for an inclusive process. 

    Further in the statement, the Council noted the NLF's consensual decision to extend the current mandates of the federal institutions to respect this revised timeline. 

    Also noting that this electoral process is "an historic opportunity" to deliver more representative governance to the people of Somalia and to reflect Somalia's diversity, the Council welcomed the NLF's decision on representation of minority clans and the Banadiri community. 

    The Council urged all parties to take necessary steps to implement the provisions in the NLF communiqué of 9 August 2016, including the Government's commitment to reserve 30 per cent of upper and lower house seats for women. 

    The Council urged the Government to ensure the transparent and credible electoral process in a climate of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedoms of expression and association, and commended the establishment of an electoral dispute resolution mechanism. 


    * * * 

    UN EXPERTS PRESS TURKEY TO ADHERE TO HUMAN RIGHTS OBLIGATIONS DESPITE STATE OF EMERGENCY 

    United Nations human rights experts today urged Turkey to uphold its obligations under international human rights law despite the attempted mid-July coup and during the subsequent state of emergency. 

    "One cannot avoid, even in times of emergency, obligations to protect the right to life, prohibit torture, adhere to fundamental elements of due process and non-discrimination, and protect everyone's right to belief and opinion," the experts underscored in a press release. 

    Their call comes as Turkey's Article 4 – which, within certain narrow conditions, temporarily relaxes some obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – enters into effect, and the Government declared a state of emergency. Turkey signed the ICCPR in 2000 and ratified it in 2003. 

    "The invocation of Article 4 is lawful only if there is a threat to the life of the nation, a condition that arguably is not met in this case," the experts noted. "Even in situations that meet this high threshold, Article 4 establishes limits to how much a State may deviate from its obligations under the Covenant." 

    Since the 15 July attempted coup, and particularly from the 20 July declared state of emergency, detentions and purges have spiked in Turkey – most notably in the education, media, military and justice sectors. 

    "The derogation provision under Article 4 does not give a carte blanche to ignore all obligations under the ICCPR," the experts said. "Even where derogation is permitted, the Government has a legal obligation to limit such measures to those that are strictly required by the needs of the situation," he added. 

    Additionally, allegations of torture and poor detention conditions have risen following legislative provisions that enable indiscriminate administrative powers to affect core human rights. 

    "While we understand the sense of crisis in Turkey," the experts said, "we are concerned that the Government's steps to limit a broad range of human rights guarantees go beyond what can be justified in light of the current situation." 

    In recent statements, UN human rights experts have urged the Turkish Government to uphold the rule of law in time of crisis, voicing their concern about the use of emergency measures to target dissent and criticism. 

    The experts stressed, "Turkey is going through a critical period. Derogation measures must not be used in a way that will push the country deeper into crisis." 

    Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work. 


    * * * 

    CONCERNED BY CURBS ON FREE EXPRESSION IN THAILAND, UN RIGHTS OFFICE CALLS FOR 'PROMPT RETURN TO CIVILIAN RULE' 

    The United Nations human rights arm today expressed concern about the mounting constraints on the democratic space in Thailand – calling for a prompt return to civilian rule. 

    "Following the military coup in May 2014, severe restrictions on freedoms of expression and opinion and assembly have been in place through the use of criminal and military laws and orders, said spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani of the Geneva-based Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). 

    She elaborated that restrictions spiked in the lead-up to this month's Constitutional Referendum. 

    "Overall, at least 1,300 people have been summoned, arrested or charged, and 1,629 civilians tried before the military courts," the spokesperson explained. "Since June, at least 115 people have been arrested or charged under military orders, criminal codes and the Constitution Referendum Act for expressing their opinion on the draft constitution or reporting human rights violations, including torture," she added. 

    Twelve people arrested in the Chiang Mai Province in late July remained in detention, along with a student activist who was incarcerated on 6 August. The others were released, but have been charged or remained under investigation. 

    "We urge Thailand to immediately drop all charges against political activists and human rights defenders, and to release those jailed for voicing dissent on the draft charter in the run-up to the referendum," underscored Ms. Shamdasani. "We also call on the authorities to suspend the use of military courts and military orders in cases involving civilians." 

    She made clear of the urgency in implementing the measures as Thailand moves towards its 2017 election – as proposed in the military Government's roadmap to restore democracy. 

    The election next year represents an opportunity for Thailand to meet the commitment it made at the UN Human Rights Council during its Universal Periodic Review in May to respect freedom of expression and, therefore, guarantee a more inclusive and participatory process that involves all political parties, civil society and the media in an open and non-threatening environment. 


    * * * 

    UN RIGHTS OFFICE URGES ETHIOPIA TO ENSURE INDEPENDENT PROBE OF REPORTED VIOLATIONS IN OROMIA REGION 

    Voicing concern over serious human rights violations in the Oromia and Amhara regions of Ethiopia earlier this month, the United Nations human rights chief today urged the Government to ensure access for independent observers to affected areas and to work towards opening up political and democratic reforms. 

    Against the backdrop of extremely alarming reports on human rights abuses during public protests over the weekend of 6-8 August, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, appealed to the Ethiopian authorities for allowing human rights experts to access to the conflict zones and evaluate the situation. 

    "We welcome the decision to launch an independent investigation, and we urge the Government to ensure that the investigation has a mandate to cover allegations of human rights violations since the unrest in Oromia began in November 2015," Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva. 

    She went on to stress that the probe should be "indeed independent, transparent, thorough and effective, with a view to establishing whether the use of excessive force occurred and with a view to bringing to justice the perpetrators of any human rights violations." 

    The UN rights office is ready to assist in ensuring that the investigation is abide by international human rights standards. However, she said, it is critical to have access to areas where have been reported of ongoing arbitrary arrests, intimidation and harassment of people in the regions. 

    "We call on the Government to ensure that the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression are protected and that those detained for exercising these rights are promptly released," said Ms. Shamdasani. 

    She further urged the Government to work towards opening up the political and democratic space, including comprehensive security sector, legislative, and institutional reforms. 


    * * * 

    INTERVIEW: FUNDING TO PREVENT CHOLERA IS CRUCIAL TO ADVANCE DEVELOPMENT IN HAITI – UNICEF'S MARC VINCENT 

    Earlier today, the spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke about how the UN system is actively working to develop a package that would provide material assistance and support to those Haitians most directly affected by the outbreak of cholera in the Caribbean nation. 

    "The United Nations also intends to intensify its support to reduce, and ultimately end, the transmission of cholera, improve access to care and treatment and address the longer-term issues of water, sanitation and health systems in Haiti," the spokesperson added in a statement issued at UN Headquarters in New York. 

    Following the statement, the UN News Centre spoke with the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Representative for Haiti, Marc Vincent, for an update on the situation on the ground. 

    UN News Centre: What progress has there been in the fight against cholera in Haiti? 

    Marc Vincent: In terms of progress, I think we have come a long way and there is still a long way to go. For UNICEF, we are active in about 120 communities and some 20,000 people in the country benefit now from living in an open defecation-free environment. In regard to the rapid response to cholera here, I think the mechanisms put in place have been very successful in controlling the disease and bringing it down from a peak of 350,000 suspected cases in 2011 to 36,000 last year. 

    Also, for example, when you visit three of the 16 priority communities in the country's southeast and see how proud they are of having their own toilets, building them themselves, how proud people are of protecting their families and children – when you see that pride it gives you hope; at the personal level, this is the most rewarding experience. 

    But what we would like to do is totally eliminate cholera. That means we need to continue working on the rapid response mechanisms and we need to ensure that the long-term access to sanitation and water eventually covers all the country. But the National Sanitation is a development program, and it will take time to change behaviour and to ensure universal access. So, in the meantime, we really need to maintain the rapid response mechanisms in place. 

    UN News Centre: What approaches has the UN taken to respond to the disease? 

    Marc Vincent: We have approaches based on the short-term, the medium-term and the long-term. The short-term approach is largely an emergency response, supporting a system of rapid response and community based alert. When a cholera case is identified, there is an alert sent out and an emergency rapid response team goes to the particular household affected and sets up a 'cordon sanitaire' to decontaminate the surroundings, chlorinate water and advise the family on what preventive steps are needed, as well as to distribute chlorination tablets and rehydration salts. This is linked to other elements of the rapid response, such as coordination among partners in each department and epidemiological analysis, in order to make sure that we are tracking the disease. 

    The long-term response is to improve access to water and sanitation for all Haitians. At this point, 28 per cent of the population has access to proper sanitation facilities and 58 per cent has access to clean drinking water. What we are trying to do is to increase access to clean water, and to change behaviour in terms of open defecation, which is one of the main sources of contamination in the water system – what happens is that the cholera Vibrio gets spread through water. So, if everyone has a toilet and we can eliminate open defecation, we will go a long way to reducing cholera transmission in the country. Finally, the mid-term response is a combination of efforts to both improve chlorination within urban and rural areas and to improve access to water. In addition, we are in the process of planning a vaccination campaign at a larger level to boost the population´s immunity to the cholera Vibrio. 

    UN News Centre: What are the so-called WASH interventions and why are they important? 

    Marc Vincent: WASH stands for water, sanitation and hygiene. But, first of all, we have to look at cholera as one amongst many water-borne diseases. Water-borne diseases, particularly diarrhea, are the second major cause of mortality for children in Haiti. WASH actions are a combination to improve access to clean water and access to sanitation facilities, as well as behaviour change. It takes time to increase people's awareness of the risks of open defecation. 

    UN News Centre: The Total Sanitation Campaign was launched some time ago – how is it faring? 

    Marc Vincent: The campaign was launched by the Prime Minister and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2014. It targets initially 16 priority communities, identified according to the persistence of cholera. The campaign addresses access to water, rehabilitating water systems and ensuring chlorination to address contamination. At the same time, we are also supporting communities to build toilets and to reduce the contamination of water through open defecation. 

    What we found is that it is really important that they build them themselves, because then they are more likely to continue using them and they understand their significance. We are also working with schools to improve access to water and sanitation facilities. Children in Haiti are the change agents. When we talk to children in schools and explain to them the challenges of cholera, they go back home and explain it to their parents. Therefore, you create greater awareness. In addition, we are using communication to change behaviour and to make sure that people understand why they need to have toilets, why it is important for their children and how they will save lives. 

    UN News Centre: What are the links between the rapid response and the longer-term response? 

    Marc Vincent: We all have to work together to resolve the cholera situation, but also to bring clean water to all children in Haiti. We have excellent partnerships with DINEPA and the Ministry of Health, and we have very good relationships with donors such as the World Bank, the Spanish Agency of Cooperation and the Inter-American Development Bank. Now it is important that we all agree on the priorities and we all target first these 16 priority communities and really ensure good coverage. One case of cholera in Haiti is one too many – one child that dies of cholera is one too many. We really need to eliminate this disease. It is preventable with adequate financing and with a good plan in place we really have a strong case of doing that. 

    UN News Centre: You mention "adequate financing" - just how important is it for the long-term? 

    Marc Vincent: One of the challenges that we have is funding the rapid response mechanisms. We need predictable funding. Since humanitarian funding is of a short duration, it is so difficult to know from one year to the next how much money you will be able to plan for. We are hoping to put the rapid response on a longer-term development footing, and then many of these mechanisms can be used, as I said, to prevent water-borne diseases, as well other contagious diseases. Therefore, one of the challenges we have is mobilizing development funds to keep these mechanisms in place and build up the capacity of the Ministry of Health. 

    UN News Centre: From UNICEF's perspective, investing in water and sanitation to prevent cholera and other water-borne diseases can have knock-on effects in other areas beyond health? 

    Marc Vincent: Access to water and sanitation affects so many other areas of life – in a child's life and for Haitian communities in general. If you have clean water then you will reduce the number of water-borne diseases, you will promote good sanitation practices, and you will reduce the school absentee rate. Since 2010 more than 700 children have died of cholera and more than a 100,000 thousand have been affected. If you take four days of school away for every suspected case, we're talking about hundreds of thousands of lost school days in Haiti. So it has an impact on education, it has an impact on nutrition. There are a large variety of benefits of improving access to clean water and sanitation – basically, it's crucial for development. 

    * * *



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    -“The enemies of Freedom do not argue ; they shout and they shoot.”

    The principal key root causes that lead to the Rwandan genocide of 1994 that affected all Rwandan ethnic groups were:

    1)The majority Hutu community’s fear of the return of the discriminatory monarchy system that was practiced by the minority Tutsi community against the enslaved majority Hutu community for about 500 years

    2)The Hutu community’s fear of Kagame’s guerrilla that committed massacres in the North of the country and other parts of the countries including assassinations of Rwandan politicians.

    3) The Rwandan people felt abandoned by the international community ( who was believed to support Kagame’s guerrilla) and then decided to defend themselves with whatever means they had against the advance of Kagame’ guerrilla supported by Ugandan, Tanzanian and Ethiopian armies and other Western powers.

    -“The enemies of Freedom do not argue ; they shout and they shoot.”

    -“The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.”

    -“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”

    -“I have loved justice and hated iniquity: therefore I die in exile.”

    The Rwanda war of 1990-1994 had multiple dimensions.

    The Rwanda war of 1990-1994 had multiple dimensions. Among Kagame’s rebels who were fighting against the Rwandan government, there were foreigners, mainly Ugandan fighters who were hired to kill and rape innocent Rwandan people in Rwanda and refugees in DRC.

    READ MORE RECENT NEWS AND OPINIONS

    SUMMARY : THE TRAGIC CONSEQUENCES OF THE BRITISH BUDGET SUPPORT AND GEO-STRATEGIC AMBITIONS

    United Kingdom's Proxy Wars in Africa: The Case of Rwanda and DR Congo:

    The Rwandan genocide and 6,000,000 Congolese and Hutu refugees killed are the culminating point of a long UK’s battle to expand their influence to the African Great Lakes Region. UK supported Kagame’s guerrilla war by providing military support and money. The UK refused to intervene in Rwanda during the genocide to allow Kagame to take power by military means that triggered the genocide. Kagame’s fighters and their families were on the Ugandan payroll paid by UK budget support.


    · 4 Heads of State assassinated in the francophone African Great Lakes Region.
    · 2,000,000 people died in Hutu and Tutsi genocides in Rwanda, Burundi and RD.Congo.
    · 600,000 Hutu refugees killed in R.D.Congo, Uganda, Central African Republic and Rep of Congo.
    · 6,000,000 Congolese dead.
    · 8,000,000 internal displaced people in Rwanda, Burundi and DR. Congo.
    · 500,000 permanent Rwandan and Burundian Hutu refugees, and Congolese refugees around the world.
    · English language expansion to Rwanda to replace the French language.
    · 20,000 Kagame’s fighters paid salaries from the British Budget Support from 1986 to present.
    · £500,000 of British taxpayer’s money paid, so far, to Kagame and his cronies through the budget support, SWAPs, Tutsi-dominated parliament, consultancy, British and Tutsi-owned NGOs.
    · Kagame has paid back the British aid received to invade Rwanda and to strengthen his political power by joining the East African Community together with Burundi, joining the Commonwealth, imposing the English Language to Rwandans to replace the French language; helping the British to establish businesses and to access to jobs in Rwanda, and to exploit minerals in D.R.Congo.



    Thousands of Hutu murdered by Kagame inside Rwanda, e.g. Kibeho massacres

    Thousands of Hutu murdered by Kagame inside Rwanda, e.g. Kibeho massacres
    Kagame killed 200,000 Hutus from all regions of the country, the elderly and children who were left by their relatives, the disabled were burned alive. Other thousands of people were killed in several camps of displaced persons including Kibeho camp. All these war crimes remain unpunished.The British news reporters were accompanying Kagame’s fighters on day-by-day basis and witnessed these massacres, but they never reported on this.

    Download Documents from Amnesty International

    25,000 Hutu bodies floated down River Akagera into Lake Victoria in Uganda.

    25,000  Hutu bodies  floated down River Akagera into Lake Victoria in Uganda.
    The British irrational, extremist, partisan,biased, one-sided media and politicians have disregarded Kagame war crimes e.g. the Kibeho camp massacres, massacres of innocents Hutu refugees in DR. Congo. The British media have been supporting Kagame since he invaded Rwanda by organising the propaganda against the French over the Rwandan genocide, suppressing the truth about the genocide and promoting the impunity of Kagame and his cronies in the African Great Lakes Region. For the British, Rwanda does not need democracy, Rwanda is the African Israel; and Kagame and his guerilla fighters are heroes.The extremist British news reporters including Fergal Keane, Chris Simpson, Chris McGreal, Mark Doyle, etc. continue to hate the Hutus communities and to polarise the Rwandan society.

    Kagame political ambitions triggered the genocide.

    Kagame  political  ambitions triggered the genocide.
    Kagame’s guerrilla war was aimed at accessing to power at any cost. He rejected all attempts and advice that could stop his military adventures including the cease-fire, political negotiations and cohabitation, and UN peacekeeping interventions. He ignored all warnings that could have helped him to manage the war without tragic consequences. Either you supported Kagame’ s wars and you are now his friend, or you were against his wars and you are his enemy. Therefore, Kagame as the Rwandan strong man now, you have to apologise to him for having been against his war and condemned his war crimes, or accept to be labelled as having been involved in the genocide. All key Kagame’s fighters who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity are the ones who hold key positions in Rwandan army and government for the last 15 years. They continue to be supported and advised by the British including Tony Blair, Andrew Mitchell MP, and the British army senior officials.

    Aid that kills: The British Budget Support financed Museveni and Kagame’s wars in Rwanda and DRC.

    Aid that kills: The British Budget Support  financed Museveni and Kagame’s wars in Rwanda and DRC.
    Genocide propaganda and fabrications are used by the so-called British scholars, news reporters and investigative journalists to promote their CVs and to get income out of the genocide through the selling of their books, providing testimonies against the French, access to consultancy contracts from the UN and Kagame, and participation in conferences and lectures in Rwanda, UK and internationally about genocide. Genocide propaganda has become a lucrative business for Kagame and the British. Anyone who condemned or did not support Kagame’s war is now in jail in Rwanda under the gacaca courts system suuported by British tax payer's money, or his/she is on arrest warrant if he/she managed to flee the Kagame’s regime. Others have fled the country and are still fleeing now. Many others Rwandans are being persecuted in their own country. Kagame is waiting indefinitely for the apologies from other players who warn him or who wanted to help to ensure that political negotiations take place between Kagame and the former government he was fighting against. Britain continues to supply foreign aid to Kagame and his cronies with media reports highlighting economic successes of Rwanda. Such reports are flawed and are aimed at misleading the British public to justify the use of British taxpayers’ money. Kagame and his cronies continue to milk British taxpayers’ money under the British budget support. This started from 1986 through the British budget support to Uganda until now.

    Dictator Kagame: No remorse for his unwise actions and ambitions that led to the Rwandan genocide.

    Dictator Kagame: No remorse for his unwise actions and ambitions that led to the  Rwandan genocide.
    No apologies yet to the Rwandan people. The assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana by Kagame was the only gateway for Kagame to access power in Rwanda. The British media, politicians, and the so-called British scholars took the role of obstructing the search for the truth and justice; and of denying this assassination on behalf of General Kagame. General Paul Kagame has been obliging the whole world to apologise for his mistakes and war crimes. The UK’s way to apologise has been pumping massive aid into Rwanda's crony government and parliement; and supporting Kagame though media campaigns.

    Fanatical, partisan, suspicious, childish and fawning relations between UK and Kagame

    Fanatical, partisan, suspicious, childish and fawning relations between UK and Kagame
    Kagame receives the British massive aid through the budget support, British excessive consultancy, sector wide programmes, the Tutsi-dominated parliament, British and Tutsi-owned NGOs; for political, economic and English language expansion to Rwanda. The British aid to Rwanda is not for all Rwandans. It is for Kagame himself and his Tutsi cronies.

    Paul Kagame' actvities as former rebel

    Africa

    UN News Centre - Africa

    The Africa Report - Latest

    IRIN - Great Lakes

    This blog reports the crimes that remain unpunished and the impunity that has generated a continuous cycle of massacres in many parts of Africa. In many cases, the perpetrators of the crimes seem to have acted in the knowledge that they would not be held to account for their actions.

    The need to fight this impunity has become even clearer with the massacres and genocide in many parts of Africa and beyond.

    The blog also addresses issues such as Rwanda War Crimes, Rwandan Refugee massacres in Dr Congo, genocide, African leaders’ war crimes and crimes against humanity, Africa war criminals, Africa crimes against humanity, Africa Justice.

    -The British relentless and long running battle to become the sole player and gain new grounds of influence in the francophone African Great Lakes Region has led to the expulsion of other traditional players from the region, or strained diplomatic relations between the countries of the region and their traditional friends. These new tensions are even encouraged by the British using a variety of political and economic manoeuvres.

    -General Kagame has been echoing the British advice that Rwanda does not need any loan or aid from Rwandan traditional development partners, meaning that British aid is enough to solve all Rwandan problems.

    -The British obsession for the English Language expansion has become a tyranny that has led to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, dictatorial regimes, human rights violations, mass killings, destruction of families, communities and cultures, permanent refugees and displaced persons in the African Great Lakes region.


    - Rwanda, a country that is run by a corrupt clique of minority-tutsi is governed with institutional discrmination, human rights violations, dictatorship, authoritarianism and autocracy, as everybody would expect.