Number Of Aid Workers Killed By Insurgents Doubled In 2019, Says UN

Boko Haram: 27,000 Civilians Killed In Three States – UN

 

The United Nations has condemned the spate of attacks on aid workers providing support to victims of insurgency in the north-eastern region of Nigeria.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, revealed on Thursday that the number of humanitarian workers killed by the insurgents last year was twice the figure recorded in the previous year.

“A total of twelve aid workers have lost their lives in 2019,” he said in a statement forwarded to Channels Television.

The UN envoy added, “This is twice more than in 2018, which we thought was amongst the most dangerous years for humanitarian actors in Nigeria.”

He blamed the killings on the environment in which aid workers carry out their duties, stressing that the level of insecurity in the region has been on the rise.

Kallon also decried the activities of the insurgents at various checkpoints in the region, saying the trend has exposed a lot of innocent citizens to attacks in recent times.

He said, “I am extremely worried by the increasingly insecure environment that humanitarians are working in to provide urgent and vital assistance to civilians affected by the crisis.

“The humanitarian community is troubled by the increased trend in vehicular checkpoints set up by non-state armed groups along main supply routes in the states of Borno and Yobe.”

“These checkpoints expose civilians and humanitarians to heightened risks of being killed or abducted,” the humanitarian coordinator said.

He, therefore, urged the Nigerian Government and all relevant agencies to protect the residents and aid workers from “grave violations” of international laws.

Kallon advised that special attention should be given to women and children who he said were among the most vulnerable people caught up in the violence.

According to him, aid workers and the assistance they provide to the most vulnerable populations make the difference between life and death for entire communities in crisis-affected Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.

“Their security is paramount, and I call on all parties to assure the safety of aid workers and the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid,” he said.

UN Warns Of More Extreme Weather Ahead After Hottest Decade On Record

 

The past decade has been the hottest on record, the UN said Wednesday, warning that the higher temperatures were expected to fuel numerous extreme weather events in 2020 and beyond.

The World Meteorological Organization, which based its findings on an analysis of leading international datasets, said increases in global temperatures had already had dire consequences, pointing to “retreating ice, record sea levels, increasing ocean heat and acidification, and extreme weather”.

WMO said its research also confirmed data released by the European Union’s climate monitor last week showing that 2019 was the second hottest year on record, after 2016.

“The year 2020 has started out where 2019 left off — with high-impact weather and climate-related events,” WMO chief Petteri Taalas said in a statement, pointing in particular to the devastating bushfires that have been raging in Australia for months.

The bushfires, unprecedented in their duration and intensity, have claimed 28 lives and highlighted the type of disasters that scientists say the world will increasingly face due to global warming.

The fires have already destroyed more than 2,000 homes and burnt 10 million hectares (100,000 square kilometres) of land — an area larger than South Korea or Portugal.

“Unfortunately, we expect to see much extreme weather throughout 2020 and the coming decades, fuelled by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” Taalas said.

The UN agency said that average global temperatures during both the past five-year (2015-2019) and 10-year (2010-2019) periods were the highest ever recorded.

“Since the 1980s each decade has been warmer than the previous one,” the UN agency said in a statement, warning that “this trend is expected to continue”.

The United Nations said last year that man-made greenhouse gas emissions needed to tumble 7.6 percent each year to 2030 in order to limit temperature rises to 1.5 Celsius — the more ambitious cap nations signed up to in the landmark Paris climate deal.

Current pledges to cut emissions put Earth on a path of several degrees warming by the end of the century.

‘Not a Fluke’

Taalas said that since modern records began in 1850, the average global temperature had risen by around 1.1 degrees Celsius, and warned of significant warming in the future.

“On the current path of carbon dioxide emissions, we are heading towards a temperature increase of three to five degrees Celsius by the end of the century,” he warned.

Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies which provided one of the datasets, added that the trend line was unmistakable and could not be attributed to normal climate variability — a position taken by US President Donald Trump.

“What’s happening is persistent, not a fluke due to some weather phenomenon: we know that the long-term trends are being driven by the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” he said.

Data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meanwhile revealed that polar sea ice coverage continued its downward trend in 2019.

Both the Arctic and Antarctic oceans recorded their second-smallest average annual sea-ice coverage during the 1979–2019 period of record, the agency said.

‘Broken Record’

WMO also highlighted a new study published this week in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences with data showing that ocean heat content was at a record high in 2019.

The past five years, and past decade, were also the warmest on record in terms of ocean heat content, that study showed.

Since more than 90 percent of excess heat is stored in the world’s oceans, their heat content is a good way to quantify the rate of global warming, WMO said.

Conservationists said the UN agency’s findings were to be expected.

“It is no surprise that 2019 was the second hottest year on record — nature has been persistently reminding us that we have to pick up the pace,” said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF’s global climate and energy practice, calling for dramatic measures to halt the warming trend.

“This is not so much a record as a broken record,” added Chris Rapley, a professor of climate science at University College London.

“The message repeats with grim regularity. Yet the pace and scale of action to address climate change remains muted and far from the need.”

UN Informed Me Of US Visa Denial, Says Iran Foreign Minister

ran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at a conference in Tehran on October 21, 2019. ATTA KENARE / AFP

 

Iran’s foreign minister said Tuesday he has been informed by UN chief Antonio Guterres that Washington has denied him a visa for a trip to UN headquarters in New York.

“What we know is that the US State Secretary (Mike Pompeo), in a call to the Secretary General of the United Nations, said: ‘We did not have time to issue a visa for Mohammad Javad Zarif and we will not issue a visa’,” Zarif said.

“The Secretary General responded by saying that it is Iran’s right to take part in this session,” Tehran’s top diplomat said, quoted by semi-official news agency ISNA.

So far there has been no official confirmation from Washington that it has rejected Zarif’s visa application.

Zarif was speaking to reporters in Tehran at a gathering to promote an Iranian peace plan for the Gulf.

His remarks came as Iran held funeral processions on Tuesday for one of its top military commanders killed in a US drone strike in Iraq.

Zarif later took to Twitter, saying the rejection violated the terms of a 1947 agreement on the travel of representatives of UN members to and from the headquarters.

But he said “denying me a visa… pales in comparison to” US sanctions and threats, as well as the “cowardly assassination” of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani last week.

“What are they really afraid of? Truth?” he tweeted.

Soleimani’s killing in the US strike Friday in Baghdad has sparked a war of words between the arch-foes, with Iran vowing “severe revenge” and US President Donald Trump threatening to hit back hard for any retaliation.

Trump warned on Saturday that Washington had lined up 52 targets if Tehran attacked US personnel or assets.

Zarif said the US visa decision was “a sign of the bankruptcy of the US government and Trump’s regime”, according to ISNA.

The Iranian foreign minister said he had been planning to go to UN headquarters on Thursday for an open debate on “Upholding the Charter of the United Nations”.

But he added that he had also intended to “raise America’s crimes” during his visit to New York.

It is not the first time that Iranian officials have encountered problems when travelling to New York for events at UN headquarters.

In December, the UN General Assembly called on the United States to lift restrictions on Iranian diplomats.

Since mid-2019, Iranian diplomats and ministers have been under strict movement restrictions when they are in the United States.

They are limited largely to the area around UN headquarters, the Iranian diplomatic mission and the ambassador’s residence.

In September, while taking part in the annual General Assembly, Zarif complained he was unable to visit the country’s UN ambassador in a US hospital.

AFP

300 Migrants Arrested Over UN Camp Fire

 

Niger police have arrested more than 300 Sudanese asylum seekers after accusing them of burning down a UN refugee camp in the north of the country, prosecutors said on Monday.

The Niger town of Agadez has become a major transit point for migrants from sub-Saharan Africa trying to reach Europe and for those escaping chaos in neighbouring Libya.

Agadez prosecutor Seyni Saidou told state television 335 asylum seekers had been arrested on Saturday after they were identified as taking part in burning their camp.

City officials said “incidents” erupted after security forces dislodged hundreds of asylum seekers from the local offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), where they were holding a sit-in to demand refugee status and placement in Europe.

“Once they were brought back in buses, they first set fire to the camp” before attacking security forces who escorted them, one official said.

According to a report by local authorities, 290 homes and the infirmary were burned down.

At least two people were injured by the demonstrators, who “broke bus windows”.

Charges include unarmed assembly on a public highway, rebellion by deliberate destruction of property and arson, prosecutors said.

Some 1,400 Sudanese who fled insecurity and slavery in Libya since 2017 live around the camp about 10 km from Agadez. Since 2018, the Sudanese have been demonstrating regularly in Niamey and Agadez for quicker settlement in host countries, especially in Europe.

Hundreds of refugees, particularly Ethiopians and Eritreans living in Niamey, have been resettled in France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland.

AFP

US Attack: ‘World Cannot Afford’ Another Gulf War – UN

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017. TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

 

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Friday the “world cannot afford” another Gulf war, following the killing of Iran’s top military commander by a US strike.

“The secretary-general has consistently advocated for de-escalation in the Gulf,” a spokesman for Guterres said in a statement.

“This is a moment in which leaders must exercise maximum restraint. The world cannot afford another war in the Gulf.”

The United States announced early Friday that it had killed Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, in a strike on Baghdad’s international airport.

UN Security Council Meets Over Syria

The UN Security Council meet at United Nations Headquarters in New York, on April 13, 2018.
HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP

 

The UN Security Council will meet behind closed doors on Friday to discuss an uptick in violence in the embattled Syrian opposition stronghold of Idlib, diplomats told AFP.

The meeting — which will begin at 10:00 am (1500 GMT) — comes at the request of Britain and France, with the backing of the United States, the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Thursday.

Some diplomats hope the session will provide an occasion to discuss the reauthorization of cross-border UN humanitarian aid deliveries to millions of Syrians.

Humanitarian aid currently flows into Syria through UN-designated checkpoints in Turkey and Iraq without the formal permission of the regime in Damascus, but that arrangement expires on January 10.

Last month, Russia and China vetoed a resolution that would have extended those deliveries for a year. Moscow says it will only approve a six-month extension using two checkpoints.

Three million people in the Idlib area benefit from that aid, according to the United Nations.

In a telephone call on Thursday, US President Donald Trump and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on “the need for de-escalation in Idlib, Syria, in order to protect civilians,” the White House said.

On Thursday, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta Fore called for an “immediate cessation of hostilities in the northwest of Syria.”

“We call on those fighting, especially in the northwest, and those with influence over them for the following: stop all attacks on children and services that provide for them, including health and education facilities and water systems,” she said in a statement.

According to UNICEF, at least 140,000 children have been displaced in the past three weeks due to fighting in and around Idlib.

Syrian ally Russia announced a ceasefire for Idlib in late August after months of deadly Russian and regime bombardment that killed around 1,000 civilians.

But sporadic clashes and bombardment persisted throughout the autumn before a spike in violence in the past month, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

AFP

UN, Pope Condemn Burkina Faso Terrorist Attack, Mourn Victims

 

 

A jihadist attack that left 42 dead in the north of Burkina Faso, the worst assault in the country for five years, plunged the nation into mourning over Christmas and sparked messages of solidarity from the United Nations and Pope Francis.

Thirty-five civilians, including 31 women, and seven soldiers were killed Tuesday in a morning raid which lasted for several hours and targeted both civilians and a military base in the northern town of Arbinda, the army said, adding that 80 assailants were killed.

Around a dozen soldiers also died in a separate night-time ambush 60 kilometres (37 miles) away in Hallele, in the same volatile northern province of Soum, security sources said Wednesday.

Burkina Faso, bordering Mali and Niger, has seen frequent jihadist attacks which have left hundreds of people dead since the start of 2015 when Islamist extremist violence began to spread across the Sahel region.

“A large group of terrorists simultaneously attacked the military base and the civilian population in Arbinda,” the army chief of staff said.

“While the (military) group was under heavy fire, another group of armed individuals attacked the civilian population, mainly women including displaced people who had taken refuge in Arbinda,” a security source told AFP.

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore confirmed that 35 civilians were killed in the “barbaric attack” in Arbinda and declared 48 hours of national mourning over Wednesday and Thursday.

Government spokesman Remis Dandjinou said 31 of the civilian victims were women.

 Pope’s prayers 

There was worldwide condemnation of the attack, as well as expressions of support for Burkina Faso.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the Christmas Eve attack and offered his “deep condolences” to the families of the victims, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

“The Secretary-General conveys the solidarity of the United Nations to the government and people of Burkina Faso,” he added, emphasising the UN’s continued support for the Sahel region in their efforts to fight terrorism and violent extremism.

In his traditional Christmas message, Pope Francis denounced attacks on Christians in Africa and prayed for victims of conflict, natural disasters and disease on the world’s poorest continent.

The pontiff urged “comfort to those who are persecuted for their religious faith, especially missionaries and members of the faithful who have been kidnapped, and to the victims of attacks by extremist groups, particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria”.

In Brussels, the head of the European Council Charles Michel tweeted: “Inates in Niger yesterday, Arbinda in Burkina Faso today… Martyr towns, victims of a rampant terrorism that threatens us all. The European Union stands by Africa in its battle against terrorism.”

Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou also expressed his “solidarity” and, speaking “in the name of the Nigerien people” offered his “condolences for all civilian and military victims.”

The morning raid in Burkina was carried out by more than 200 jihadists on motorbikes, triggering a fierce firefight that lasted about three hours before armed forces backed by the air force drove the militants back, a security source said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bloodshed, but jihadist violence in Burkina Faso has been blamed on militants linked to both Al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups.

 560,000 internally displaced 

Leaders of the G5 Sahel nations held summit talks in Niger earlier this month, calling for closer cooperation and international support in the battle against the Islamist threat.

France is also hosting another meeting next month.

Militant violence has spread across the vast Sahel region, especially in Burkina Faso and Niger, having started when armed Islamists revolted in northern Mali in 2012.

There are 4,500 French troops deployed in the region as well as a 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in Mali to fight insurgents, backing up national forces of the G5 — Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

In Burkina Faso, more than 700 people have been killed and around 560,000 internally displaced, according to the United Nations.

Attacks have targeted mostly the north and east of the country, though the capital Ouagadougou has been hit three times.

Prior to Tuesday’s attack, Burkina security forces said they had killed around 100 jihadists in several operations since November.

An ambush on a convoy transporting employees of a Canadian mining company in November killed 37 people.

Attacks have intensified this year as the under-equipped, poorly trained Burkina Faso army struggles to contain the Islamist militancy.

AFP

Over 235,000 Flee Northwest Syria In Two Weeks – UN

This picture taken on December 24, 2019, in the village of Hazano, about 20 kilometres northwest of the city of Idlib, shows Syrian families from the south of Idlib province driving through the town towards the Syrian-Turkish border as they flee from the assault led by government forces and their allies. Aaref WATAD / AFP

 

More than 235,000 people have fled the Idlib region over the past two weeks, the UN said Friday, amid heightened regime and Russian attacks on Syria’s last major opposition bastion. 

The mass displacement between 12 and 25 December has left the violence-plagued Maaret al-Numan region in southern Idlib “almost empty,” according to the UN humanitarian agency OCHA.

AFP correspondents in the area have seen people fleeing in droves in recent days.

The main highway connecting southern Idlib to the province’s north has been bustling with pick-up trucks ferrying civilians out of the flashpoint region.

Since mid-December, Russian-backed regime forces have pressed with an assault on jihadists in southern Idlib, despite an August ceasefire deal and calls for a de-escalation from Turkey, France and the United Nations.

The increased air strikes came as Damascus loyalists advance on the ground.

They have since December 19 seized dozens of towns and villages from jihadists amid clashes that have killed hundreds on both sides.

The advances have brought them less than four kilometres (two miles) away from Maaret al-Numan, one of Idlib’s largest urban centres.

According to OCHA, ongoing battles have amplified displacement from the area and the nearby town of Saraqeb.

“People from Saraqab and its eastern countryside are now fleeing in anticipation of fighting directly affecting their communities next,” it said.

Idlib is dominated by the country’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, whose chief this week urged jihadists and allied rebels to head to the frontlines and battle “the Russian occupiers” and the regime.

The region hosts some three million people, including many displaced by years of violence in other parts of Syria.

The Damascus regime, which now controls 70 percent of Syria, has repeatedly vowed to take back the area.

Backed by Moscow, Damascus launched a blistering offensive against Idlib in April, killing around 1,000 civilians and displacing more than 400,000 people.

Despite a ceasefire announced in August, the bombardment has continued, prompting Turkey this week to press for a fresh ceasefire deal during talks in Moscow.

France on Tuesday called for an “an immediate de-escalation,” warning of deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it began with anti-government demonstrations brutally crushed by security forces.

SERAP Petitions UN Over Violent Attacks On Deji Adeyanju, Other Protesters

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned the United Nations over violent attacks on activists, Deji Adeyanju and other protesters in Abuja.

SERAP wrote to the UN Special Rapporteur, Mr. Clement Voule, expressing concerns urging him to “publicly express concerns about the growing human rights violations and abuses in Nigeria and call on the authorities to end violent attacks on peaceful protesters.

In the petition dated 24 December 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP alleged that, “Nigerian authorities and police on Monday morning in Abuja failed to stop attacks on peaceful demonstrators by young men apparently armed with sticks and sharp objects. The police officers who were present did not intervene decisively to stop the attacks or arrest any attackers.”

READ ALSO: Two Groups Clash In Abuja Over Continued Detention Of Sowore

The organization said: “The government of President Muhammadu Buhari is responsible under the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and international law to protect the safety and rights of protesters and create an environment conducive to a diverse and pluralistic expression of ideas and dissent from government policy.

“The wave of protests against repression by both the Federal and State authorities illustrates a broken social contract between the authorities and Nigerians. The authorities have been failing to meet the demands of Nigerians to respect human rights, end restrictions on civic space, obey court orders and ensure the rule of law.

“Deji Adeyanju, one of the protesters, was hospitalised after sustaining bruises on his left arm. Protesters were reportedly chased from the Secretariat of the National Human Rights Commission where they had gathered to deliver a petition to the commission.”

The petition copied to Ms. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, read in part: “The failure to hold to account those responsible have continued to increase the vulnerability of protesters and activists in the country.”

Read the petition below:

24 December 2019

Mr. Clement Nyaletsossi Voule,

Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Palais Wilson

52 rue des Pâquis

CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland

Email: [email protected]

Re: Urgent appeal to request the Nigerian government to end violent attacks on peaceful protesters in Abuja, Nigeria

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) is sending you this urgent appeal to publicly express concerns about the growing human rights violations and abuses in Nigeria and to call on the Nigerian authorities to end violent attacks on peaceful protesters and to take urgent measures to respect and protect the rights of all Nigerians to protest anywhere in the country.

We urge you to call on the Nigerian authorities to address the root causes of protests and end persistent disobedience of court orders and impunity of perpetrators in the country.

SERAP is a non-profit, nonpartisan, legal and advocacy organization devoted to promoting transparency, accountability and respect for socio-economic rights in Nigeria. SERAP received the Wole Soyinka Anti-Corruption Defender Award in 2014, and was nominated for both the UN Civil Society Award and Ford Foundation’s Jubilee Transparency Award. SERAP serves as one of two Sub-Saharan African civil society representatives on the governing Committee of the UNCAC Coalition, a global anti-corruption network of over 380 civil society organizations (CSOs) in over 100 countries.

Nigerian authorities and police yesterday morning in Abuja failed to stop attacks on demonstrators by young men apparently armed with sticks and sharp objects. According to our information, the police officers who were present did not intervene decisively to stop the attack or arrest any attackers.

Deji Adeyanju, one of the protesters, was hospitalised after sustaining bruises on his left arm. Protesters were reportedly chased from the Secretariat of the National Human Rights Commission where they had gathered to deliver a petition to the commission. The attacks are coming on the heels of similar violent attacks on protesters demanding the release of prisoners of conscience in Abuja in November, and another apparently sponsored and coordinated attacks against Amnesty International’s office in Abuja in March 2017, following the launch of its human rights report on the military.

The demonstrations have taken place against a backdrop of the failure by the Nigerian authorities to respect human rights, release prisoners of conscience including Omoyele Sowore, Olawale Bakare and Agba Jalingo, obey court orders and respect the rule of law.

The government of President Muhammadu Buhari is responsible under the Nigerian Constitution and international law to protect the safety and rights of peaceful protesters and create an environment conducive to a diverse and pluralistic expression of ideas and dissent from government policy.

Freedom of peaceful assembly is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and regional and international human rights treaties including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

SERAP is seriously concerned that the Nigerian authorities have so far failed and/or neglected to address or redress the attacks on peaceful protesters, despite growing calls on the authorities to investigate the attacks and bring perpetrators to justice. The failure to hold to account those responsible has continued to increase the vulnerability of protesters and activists in the country.

The wave of protests against repression by both the Federal and State authorities illustrates a broken social contract between the authorities and Nigerians. The authorities have been failing to meet the demands of Nigerians to respect human rights end restrictions on civic space, obey court orders and ensure the rule of law.

We therefore urge you to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to take all feasible measures to protect peaceful protesters demanding the release of all prisoners of conscience, and full respect for the rule of law.

We urge you to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to immediately and thoroughly investigate the attacks, identify the perpetrators and ensure the prosecution of anyone found to be responsible for the violent attacks.

We urge you to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to make clear that they will not tolerate violent attacks on protesters. The authorities have a responsibility both to respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to protect protesters from violent attack.

We would be happy to provide further information or to discuss any of these human rights issues in more detail with you.

Please accept the expression of our highest consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Kolawole Oluwadare

Deputy Director

CC: Ms Michelle Bachelet

High Commissioner for Human Rights

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Email: [email protected]

UN Targets Electrifying All Of World’s Refugee Camps

 

51 Countries To Sign UN Treaty Outlawing Nuclear Weapons

 

The UN set itself a daunting challenge this week aimed at improving the lives of displaced people, reining in climate change and even preventing    conflict: to bring electric power to all refugee camps by 2030.

The target is enormously ambitious given that more than 90 percent of refugees living in camps currently have little or no access to electricity, while surrounding communities can also live with overloaded electrical systems and long power outages.

At a global refugee summit in Geneva this week, the UN stressed the urgency of the problem, which can significantly worsen the daily struggles of many displaced people.

Lack of power poses a challenge for cooking, keeping warm or studying, while women and girls especially face far greater safety risks in camps shrouded in darkness.

Electricity is vital, especially for women, Joelle Hangi, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo who has lived in the Kakuma camp in Kenya, told the gathering in Geneva.

“Energy is synonymous with protection, with security. It is this very protection we flee our countries to find,” she said.

Living without power usually means more pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, since people resort to burning firewood or charcoal to meet their household needs, while community facilities use diesel-guzzling generators to keep the lights on.

With many of the nearly 26 million refugees registered worldwide living in camps, the target of providing sustainable and reliable power to all such settlements and surrounding communities within a decade is staggering.

– ‘Ambitious undertaking’ –

“This is a massive and ambitious undertaking,” acknowledged Andrew Harper, who next month will become the UNHCR’s first special advisor on climate action.

“But I don’t think we’ve got any choice given the current situation,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Global Refugee Forum, pointing to the close interconnection between the climate crisis and surging numbers of displaced people.

A warming planet increases the risk of natural disasters that force people to flee, as well as creating resource shortages that can spark competition, tensions and even conflict — spurring even more displacement.

Already, the areas hardest hit by climate change also tend to host the most refugees, Harper noted.

“We’re seeing fragile countries potentially turning into areas of conflict,” he said, pointing to the Sahel region in Africa, where only 31 percent of the overall population has access to electricity.

Competition for resources like water and electrical power can “lead to additional tensions (and) social stress,” he said, adding: “Unfortunately this is often precursor to conflict,” he said.

The new UN challenge aims to mitigate that risk, and at the close of the summit Wednesday, 24 countries had already stepped forward vowing to do their part to get across the finish line.

A number of projects are already under way to improve the access to green, reliable power in refugee camps, such as installing solar panels at camps in Jordan and distributing clean cooking fuel in Niger.

But in a world where more than 80 percent of refugees are hosted by poor and developing countries, Harper said it was especially important for wealthy countries to step up to the challenge.

“The governments who are hosting refugees understand the issue,” he said.

“It’s the countries who are doing the most in regard to polluting and contributing to global warming who are the ones who are not acting,” he said.

Ugandan Energy Minister Mary Goretti Kimono, whose country hosts 1.3 million refugees, also appealed for more solidarity in addressing the energy needs of the displaced.

“We need your support,” she said at the summit, noting that refugees and local host communities “share resources, which can sometimes be a source of conflict.”

The DR Congo refugee Hangi meanwhile appealed for countries to invest in durable solutions for powering refugee settlements, in a world where conflicts and crises are becoming ever more protracted.

“Refugees’ situation is not temporary. We live in the camps for decades, so we need solutions that last,” she said.

AFP

UN Chief ‘Disappointed’ By Climate Talks Outcome

File Photo: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during Jordan’s King Abdullah II receiving the 2018 Templeton Prize at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC on November 13, 2018. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Sunday he was “disappointed” by the results of a major UN climate summit in Madrid, calling it a missed opportunity to tackle the global warming crisis.

Guterres issued the statement as the COP25 concluded its marathon meeting voicing “the urgent need” for new carbon-cutting commitments but falling well short of what was needed.

“I am disappointed with the results of COP25,” Guterres said. “The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis.”

UN Condemns Reported Killing Of Four Aid Workers In Borno

 

The United Nations has condemned the reported killing of four aid workers in Borno by Boko Haram terrorists.

This follows the condemnation of the murder by French aid group, Action Against Hunger .

In a statement issued on Saturday, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, sympathised with the families of the slain workers.

“I am deeply saddened and outraged by the news of the tragic killing of four aid workers who were held captive by armed groups for almost five months.

“My thoughts go to their families, friends and colleagues who are enduring unspeakable pain and hardship,” Kallon said.

The UN humanitarian chief however called for the immediate release of Grace Taku, the only woman he said was in the Action Against Hunger team.

READ ALSO: Jihadists Execute Four Hostages In Nigeria – NGO

Regretting the continued captivity of the voluntary staff, Kallon appealed for the “immediate release of Alice Loksha, a nurse and a mother, who was abducted during an attack in Rann in March 2018.”

The four aid workers were among six humanitarian workers from Action Against Hunger abducted by Boko Haram near Damasak in Mobbar Local Government in the northern part of Borno on July 25.

One of the abductee aid workers was reportedly executed in September, leaving only Grace Taku, the only woman still in Boko Haram captivity.

See Full Statement Here:

Press release

NIGERIA: THE HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR CONDEMNS THE REPORTED KILLING OF FOUR AID WORKERS

ABUJA, 13 December – The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, condemns the announced execution of four aid workers by armed groups in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno State on 13 December.

“I am deeply saddened and outraged by the news of the tragic killing of four aid workers who were held captive by armed groups for almost five months,” stated Mr Kallon. “My thoughts go to their families, friends and colleagues who are enduring unspeakable pain and hardship.”

The four men were amongst the six aid workers who were abducted on 26 July when their convoy came under attack near Damasak, in the Mobbar LGA. They were working on a health project implemented by the INGO Action Against Hunger. One of the drivers was killed during the attack and another was reportedly executed on 24 September 2019.

“I plead for the immediate release of Grace Taku, the only woman who was in the ACF team, and whose whereabouts remain unknown,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator. “I also call for the immediate release of Alice Loksha, a nurse and a mother, who was abducted during an attack in Rann in March 2018.”

“This is another sad day for the people of Nigeria and the humanitarian community supporting them,” regreted Mr Kallon. “These colleagues were devoting their lives to helping the most vulnerable communities in Borno State. Despite the risks, they were driven by the values of solidarity and humanity.”

The United Nations and NGO partners in Nigeria are working to bring vital assistance to over seven million people in the crisis-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. They are increasingly the target of violent attacks. Seven aid workers have been killed since the beginning of the year, amongst 26 UN and NGO workers having lost their lives in the conflict since 2011.

“Violence against humanitarian actors jeopardizes access to much needed assistance for people affected by the armed conflict,” stressed the Humanitarian Coordinator. “I renew the call for all armed actors to respect the principles of humanity, neutrality, independence and impartiality which guide humanitarian assistance, and to ensure the protection of aid workers.”