Connect with us

Human Rights

Much work needed to ‘target unacceptable levels’ of racism in Ecuador

Published

on

A child stands in front of his house in Cayapas, Ecuador. In this area community schools have been set up by UNICEF in partnership with the local Catholic church, to provide basic quality education to children living in this remote area, where the vast majority of the population is Afro-descendant. © UNICEF/Donata Lodi

Ecuador must implement and enforce laws and policies to protect the rights of Afro-Ecuadorians, the UN Working Group on People of African Descent said on Monday, calling for an end to the “discrimination, exclusion and extreme poverty they suffer.”

After visiting the country, the independent UN human rights experts concluded that the Government must step up efforts to enforce the law and implement plans to end racial discrimination suffered by Afro-Ecuadorians and people of African descent.

“People are suffering particularly in their ability to access justice, security, land, clean water, education, healthcare, housing and economic opportunity,” said Ahmed Reid, Working Group Chair, in a statement he presented.

He pointed out that although only 7.2 percent of the population are Afro-Ecuadorians, they constitute 40 per cent of those living in poverty.

Esmeraldas

 The Working Group drew particular attention to the province of Esmeraldas, where nearly 70 per cent of the population is of African heritage.

 “Esmeraldas is one of the poorest provinces in Ecuador”, said Mr. Reid, noting that 85 per cent of people live below the poverty line, less than a quarter are able to access the most basic services and 15 per cent are illiterate”.

 While welcoming the Government’s national initiatives to combat racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance faced by Afro Ecuadorians, the UN experts maintained that “much work remains to be done to target these unacceptable levels of exclusion and poverty”.

Environmental racism

With systematic contamination of the environment and their water supplies, intimidation of their communities, and an insufficient response by the State, the experts lamented that people of African descent are also suffering “environmental racism”.

 In conclusion, they said that “the State should not remain indifferent to human rights abuses and violations by extractive industries and other companies”, but instead “end impunity for human rights violations and environmental racism.”

For his part, Ricardo Sunga, one of the human rights experts, praised the progressive provisions of the country’s Constitution that recognized the collective rights of people of African descent.

Independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN 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.

 The full report and recommendations of their 16 to 20 December visit will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in September.

Continue Reading
Comments

Human Rights

UNRWA seeks $1.6 billion to support Palestinian refugees in 2022

Published

on

A young girl takes part in UNRWA's Keeping Kids Cool summer activities in Gaza. © UNRWA 2021/Mohamed Hinnawi

The UN agency that supports Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, on Tuesday appealed for $1.6 billion to support its lifesaving work this year amid acute regional crises and chronic funding shortfalls. 

UNRWA provides services and programmes, including education, health and food assistance, to more than five million Palestinians across the Middle East. 

The 2022 budget proposal includes additional emergency funding to address humanitarian needs arising from crises in Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, and Lebanon. 

‘Indispensable’ to stability 

Philippe Lazzarini, the agency’s Commissioner-General, said budget shortfalls pose a serious threat to its ability to maintain operations. 

“The international community recognizes the lifesaving role of UNRWA and its indispensable contribution to stability in the Middle East. It also recognizes how cost-efficient and agile UNRWA is. In 2022, that recognition must be supported by the adequate level of funding to meet this critical moment for Palestine refugees,” he said

The budget proposal comes as UNRWA confronts chronic funding gaps as needs keep rising. 

Distress and despair 

It is estimated that 2.3 million Palestinian refugees are living in poverty, and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten health and livelihoods. 

Distress and despair have become the norm among Palestinian refugees, according to UNRWA.  Many, particularly in Gaza, Syria and Lebanon, report that they are ready to use any means to try to migrate outside of the region. 

Breaking the cycle 

UNRWA has committed to investing in comprehensive programmatic reform and modernization to meet needs in an even more cost-effective and efficient manner.  

The agency said that being fully-funded across its full range of services, will assist its efforts towards breaking the cycle of despair among Palestinian refugees through measures such as providing some $31.2 million in microfinance loans and carrying out vital structural improvements to refugee camps. 

 “The amount that UNRWA is requesting for 2022 will directly contribute to the wellbeing of Palestine refugees, to efforts to combat and contain COVID-19 and to regional stability,” said Mr. Lazzarini. urging donors to step up. 

“The international community must give UNRWA sufficient and predictable funding so we may continue to provide Palestine refugees with a sense of security and normality they deserve.” 

Continue Reading

Human Rights

55 journalists killed in 2021, impunity ‘alarmingly widespread’

Published

on

Journalists covering a terrorist attack in Kenya. ©UNESCO/ Enos Teche

Fifty-five journalists and media professionals were killed last year, latest UN data showed on Thursday, with nearly nine in 10 killings since 2006 still unresolved. 

Impunity is “alarmingly widespread”, said the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 

“Once again in 2021, far too many journalists paid the ultimate price to bring truth to light”, said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.  

“Right now, the world needs independent, factual information more than ever. We must do more to ensure that those who work tirelessly to provide this can do so without fear.” 

Although the number of victims stands at its lowest for a decade, UNESCO underlined the many dangers that reporters face in trying to cover stories and expose wrongdoing.  

In 2021, as in previous years, journalists faced high rates of imprisonment, physical attack, intimidation and harassment, including when reporting on protests. 

No distinction 

Women journalists continue to be particularly at risk as they are subjected to “a shocking prevalence of harassment online”, UNESCO said, citing data which showed that nearly three-quarters of female media professionals surveyed had experienced online violence linked to their work. 

According to the UNESCO Observatory of Killed Journalists, two-thirds of victims in 2021 died in countries where there is no armed conflict.  

This marks a complete reversal of the situation in 2013, when two-thirds of killings took place in countries experiencing conflict. 

Regional dangers  

Most deaths in 2021 occurred in just two regions, Asia-Pacific – with 23 killings, and Latin America and the Caribbean – with 14. 

On Wednesday, Ms. Azoulay condemned the killing of Myanmar journalist Sai Win Aung. 

Mr. Aung – also known as A Sai K – died on 25 December while covering the plight of refugees in the southeastern state of Kayin. 

During his assignment for the Federal News Journal, he was shot in an artillery attack by the Myanmar armed forces, UNESCO said citing reports, making him the second journalist to be killed in Myanmar last month. 

Bold platform  

UNESCO has a global mandate to ensure freedom of expression and the safety of journalists worldwide.  

Every time a journalist or media professional is killed, the agency systematically urges authorities to conduct a full investigation. 

The agency also coordinates the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which marks its 10-year anniversary in 2022.  

UNESCO also provides training for journalists and judicial actors, works with Governments to develop supportive policies and laws and raises global awareness through events such as World Press Freedom Day, commemorated annually on 3 May. 

Continue Reading

Human Rights

Harsh winter fuels ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

Published

on

UN humanitarians warned on Tuesday that a harsh winter in Afghanistan is aggravating already severe conditions faced by millions across the country.

In the past 24 hours, heavy snowfall and rain have impacted a number of areas, disrupting flights to and from Kabul Airport, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“Further snow and low temperatures are forecast in the coming days”, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists at the daily briefing for correspondents in New York.

Scaling up

An already dire humanitarian situation in Afghanistan worsened following the takeover by Taliban forces last August, and the subsequent suspension of aid, coupled with freezing of assets by many countries and international organisations.

Late last month, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution clearing the way for aid to reach Afghans in desperate need of basic support, while preventing funds from falling into the hands of the Taliban, a move welcomed by the head of OCHA as a “milestone” decision that will save lives.

Meanwhile, humanitarian partners are racing against time to deliver aid and supplies – in line with commitments to scale up operations.

“During December, our humanitarian partners have reached seven million people with relief food supplies across the country”, said Mr. Dujarric. 

“Provision of winterization support, including cash and non-food items, is also under way in various parts of the country”. 

In 2021, donors provided $1.5 billion for two humanitarian appeals, including $776 million of the $606 million required for the Flash Appeal launched in September by the Secretary-General, and $730 million of the $869 million sought in the Humanitarian Response Plan.

Raising concerns

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has expressed its continuing concern for the millions of internally-displaced in Afghanistan while the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, is scaling up its response to disseminate timely winterization assistance – particularly to the most vulnerable of displaced families.

UNHCR said that it is providing ongoing multipurpose cash assistance to meet their immediate needs for warmth, and security.

Sustained support is critical”, the agency tweeted.

At the same time, Ezatullah Noori, the national emergency coordinator for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Afghanistan, pointed out that this is the third season of drought in five years.

“If we don’t support the agricultural sector in time, we will lose an essential pillar of the Afghan economy”, he warned.

Aid in numbers

Since 1 September, humanitarian partners in Afghanistan have reached:

  • 9M people with food assistanc.
  • 201K children with treatment for acute malnutrition.
  • 4M people with healthcare.
  • 110K people with winterization assistance.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

South Asia1 hour ago

India’s Unclear Neighbourhood Policy: How to Overcome ?

India has witnessed multiple trends with regards to its relations with its neighbours at a time vaccine diplomacy is gaining...

Central Asia3 hours ago

Post-Protest Kazakhstan Faces Three Major Crises

Kazakhstan suffered greatly from the biggest protest since its independence.  As I recently returned to Almaty, I saw that everyday...

Southeast Asia5 hours ago

Maximizing Indonesia’s Public Diplomacy Through Indonesia’s First Mosque in London

Indonesia and UK have established bilateral cooperation in December 1949 in which the bilateral cooperation includes economic cooperation, tourism, energy,...

Europe7 hours ago

Is British Democracy in Danger?

On Sunday 12th of December 2021 Boris Johnson went on national television to warn about a tidal wave that would...

East Asia9 hours ago

The Global (Dis) Order Warfare: The Chinese Way

Since the ascension of Xi Jinping, two important developments have come to dominate the global headlines. One, the so-called wolf...

Americas11 hours ago

Perils of Belligerent Nationalism: The Urgent Obligations of Planetary Community

“…the worst are full of passionate intensity, while the best lack all conviction.”-William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming By definition,...

South Asia13 hours ago

India is in big trouble as UK stands for Kashmiris

 A London-based law firm has filed an application with British police seeking the arrest of India’s army chief and a...

Trending