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Sudan Partnership Conference: EU mobilises more support for Sudan’s transition

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Sudan, the European Union, Germany, and the United Nations co-hosted a virtual High-Level Sudan Partnership Conference.

The Joint Communiqué adopted by the participants, confirmed the support of the international community to the democratic and economic transition in Sudan headed by the civilian-led transitional Government.

In addition to displaying strong political support to the ongoing transition, partners pledged a total of $1.8 billion (€1.6 billion), with Team Europe – which includes the EU institutions and the EU Member States – providing $867 million (€770 million) in development andhumanitarian funding. Of this amount, the European Commission is contributing €312.25 million for medium and longer-term development assistance, immediate humanitarian aid, and support to stability and peace. This contribution comes at a critical moment, as the coronavirus pandemic further exacerbates the difficult socio-economic situation in the country.

Josep Borrell, High Representative/Vice-President, said: “History is in the making in Sudan. Supporting the transition here and now is not only an expression of solidarity, but an investment worth making: for Sudan, for stability and development in the region, and in order to set an example for the world. For any transition to be sustainable, people need to see concrete and quick dividends, hence our mobilization today. The message we send to the Sudanese people is clear: we will not fail you.

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “This conference marks the start of a renewed partnership between Sudan and the international community. Today’s EU pledge will economically empower women and youth, support social and economic development and the ambitious reforms of the civilian-led transitional Government, as well as strengthen stability and peace. Of this, €93 million will contribute to the Sudan Family Support Programme, which will allow Sudan to move ahead with critical economic reforms, laying the foundations of a social protection system. Sudan will be a priority partner for the EU for 2021 and beyond.

Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “Today’s support will help vulnerable Sudanese from sliding further below the poverty line. We are stepping up our humanitarian assistance in Sudan, as the country and its people are going through a fragile transition and face major challenges, worsened by the locust outbreak and the global coronavirus pandemic. The EU continues to stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable in Sudan and our support to them is crucial in these unprecedented times.”

EU support for Sudan’s economic reforms, social protection and immediate humanitarian needs

Today’s funding pledged by the European Commission includes:

  • €251.75 million in development funding. This includes €93 million to help start Sudan’s Family Support programme, which will be managed by the World Bank. The programme will deliver social assistance and cash transfers to vulnerable households, and contribute to developing an effective and comprehensive Government-owned social protection system, while addressing the immediate economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the most vulnerable. It also includes €65 million to finance four new programmes that will help improve public finance management, women and youth’s economic empowerment, human rights, and the civic space. €93.75 million will further support the political transition and the most vulnerable populations.
  • €60.5 million in humanitarian funding to help provide for the critical needs of the most vulnerable people. The EU has already announced €31.5 million in humanitarian aid for Sudan in 2020. The European Commission is mobilising an additional €29 million to provide further food assistance, especially in the context of the desert locust outbreak in the region, to increase access to health care for vulnerable people, including those affected by the coronavirus and to respond to new emergencies. €20 million of this package is subject to the approval of the budgetary authority.

Around 50 stakeholders, including international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, participated in the conference. The World Bank committed to providing an additional pre-arrears clearance grant up to $400 million (€355 million).

The Conference was opened by a panel discussion between Abdalla Hamdok, Prime Minister of the Republic of Sudan, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Heiko Maas, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, and António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations and. This discussion took stock of the achievements of the Sudanese political transition so far, as well as the challenges ahead. The EU pledge was delivered by Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, and Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič.

Background

Since 2016, the EU has supported the Sudanese population and the high number of refugees it hosts with development aid up to €242 million, mostly through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. These funds have been used, among others, to promote peace, support women and youth’s economic empowerment, and ensure inclusive and sustainable growth for all. Since the civilian-led Government took office in early September 2019, the EU has provided €88 million in development assistance to support political and economic reforms and contribute to stability and peace in Sudan.

Since 2011, humanitarian action in Sudan has been supported with around €580 million, including the amount pledged today. In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, two EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights were organised to Sudan , helping humanitarian relief items and staff to reach the people in need at a time where transport constraints are posing an additional challenge. So far, it is the biggest operation of the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge in terms of the total number of humanitarian workers and cargo taken together.

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“It looks like most of them were shot in the head…”

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Image source: NYT

The New York Times” confirmed the location of the farmhouse by comparing the aerial video of the episode with satellite imagery of Makiivka, Luhansk. A series of videos that surfaced on social media last week has ignited a debate over whether Ukrainian forces committed war crimes as they tried to capture a group of Russian soldiers who were then killed.

The videos show the grisly before-and-after scenes of the encounter earlier this month, in which at least 11 Russians, most of whom are seen lying on the ground (photo), appear to have been shot dead at close range.

The videos, detailed below and whose authenticity has been verified by “The New York Times”, offer a rare look into one gruesome moment among many in the war.

The videos were first circulated by Ukrainian news and social media channels that used them to laud the military prowess of their armed forces and publicize their heroic retaking of territory lost to Russia early in the war.

In Russia, however, the videos prompted a fierce response among Russian commentators, who urged the government to seek an international investigation.

“We are aware of the videos, and we are looking into them,” Marta Hurtado, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Human Rights Office, told Reuters. “Allegations of summary executions of people hors de combat should be promptly, fully and effectively investigated, and any perpetrators held to account.”

Under international law, the French term “hors de combat” refers to people who are “outside of combat” because of their surrender, being unarmed, unconscious or otherwise unable to defend themselves.

“It looks like most of them were shot in the head,” Dr. Rohini Haar, a forensic expert and faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health, said in an interview. “There are pools of blood. That indicates that they were just left there dead. There appears to have been no effort to pick them up or help them.”

Dr. Haar noted that when they surrendered, the Russian soldiers had been lying down, apparently unarmed, with their arms outstretched or behind their heads. “They’re considered hors de combat, or noncombatants — effectively prisoners of war,” Dr. Haar said.

The Rome Statute, the international treaty that established the International Criminal Court, could prosecute this under several of its articles if Ukraine were a party to the treaty, Dr. Haar said, including Article 8b (vi), which says, “Killing or wounding a combatant, who, having laid down his arms or having no longer means of defense, has surrendered at discretion” is a violation of the laws of international armed conflict.

…It is absolutely clear that the killers from the Ukrainian army vilely shot Russian soldiers who were captured by them.  The goal is simple and clear – to raise the level of hatred between the Russians and Ukrainians, cause more bloodshed. This inhuman act resembles very much a well-known British slogan: “Divide and rule”.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene: “We’re going to audit what’s happening in Ukraine”

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House Republicans critical of U.S. assistance to Ukraine during its war with Russia introduced a privileged resolution to audit the funds allocated by Congress. The resolution is being led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (photo) (R-Ga.) and backed by a group of GOP lawmakers.

The resolution, which calls for preserving administration documents and communications related to Ukraine funding distribution, speaks to other criticisms among some Republican lawmakers who support aid to Ukraine but say more oversight is needed.

The Biden administration has provided more than $20 billion in military assistance to Kyiv, as well as about $10 billion in humanitarian assistance and about $13 billion in economic assistance. President Biden has called for Congress to earmark $37.7 billion in additional funding for Ukraine.

Greene introduced the bill as a privileged resolution, meaning it will be referred to the relevant committee, where members will have 14 business days to either reject it, or approve it for a vote on the House floor.

Greene said she is prepared to reintroduce the resolution in the next Congress when Republicans hold the majority.

“I’ll introduce this resolution again, but I’ll also be calling for a full audit. We voted ‘no’ to send money over there, but we’re also going to audit what’s happening in Ukraine.”

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Overnight blasts near Ukraine nuclear plant are ‘playing with fire!’

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The Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Ⓒ IAEA

Powerful explosions shook the area of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), “abruptly ending a period of relative calm” at the facility, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency said on Sunday.In a statement issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said that that blasts yesterday evening and again this morning further underlined “the urgent need for measures to help prevent a nuclear accident there”.

“As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire!”.

Renewed shelling

In what appeared to be renewed shelling near and at the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, IAEA experts on the ground reported that more than a dozen blasts were heard within a short period of time in the morning local time.

The IAEA team were also able to see some of the explosions from their windows.

The news from our team yesterday and this morning is extremely disturbing”, said Mr. Grossi.

Citing information provided by plant management, the IAEA team said there had been damage to some buildings, systems, and equipment at the site, but noncritical for nuclear safety and security.

“Explosions occurred at the site of this major nuclear power plant, which is completely unacceptable”, he added. “Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately”.

According to news reports, Russian and Ukrainian nuclear energy authorities each blamed the other side’s forces for the strikes – triggering fears of a serious nuclear accident. So far, there have been no reports of any radiation leaks at the Russian-occupied plant.

Nuclear-free zone

The IAEA experts said that there were no reported casualties, and they are in close contact with site management.

Meanwhile as they continue to assess and relay updates on the situation, the IAEA chief renewed his urgent appeal that both sides of the conflict agree to implement a nuclear safety and security zone around the ZNPP as soon as possible.

In recent months, he has been engaging in intense consultations with Ukraine and Russia on establishing a zone – but, so far, no agreement has been reached.

“I’m not giving up until this zone has become a reality”, said Mr. Grossi. “As the ongoing apparent shelling demonstrates, it is needed more than ever”.

Gambling with lives

Even though there was no direct impact on key nuclear safety and security systems at the plant, the senior UN official said, “the shelling came dangerously close to them”.

“We are talking metres, not kilometres. Whoever is shelling at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, is taking huge risks and gambling with many people’s lives”.

The IAEA team of experts plan to conduct an assessment of the shelling impact on the site tomorrow.

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