News in Brief 12 February 2018

12 February 2018

UN rights chief alarmed at civilian casualties in Yemen

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is alarmed at continued casualties in Yemen as hostilities increase and spread.

In a statement issued on Monday, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed particular concern over the upsurge in fighting in the governorate of Taizz, located in the south-west.

Yemen has been in the grip of civil war since March 2015, with government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition battling rebels known as Houthis.

The fighting has generated more than 15,400 civilian casualties, with nearly 6,000 killed and more than 9,000 injured.

Zeid said civilians in Taizz are “under fire on all sides”, with the rebels and their affiliates carrying out sniper attacks and indiscriminate shelling, while the Saudi-led coalition continues to conduct air strikes.

The UN Human Rights Office has verified several recent incidents including the killing of three children when Houthi forces shelled an area of northern Taizz on 6 February.

Two days later, a field monitor with the Yemen National Commission of Inquiry was killed in shelling in another district.

Zeid said the woman, Reeham Badr Al Dhubhani, had received training from his Office.

Step up action to stop child soldiers: UN expert

Although armed groups released more than 5,000 child recruits last year, tens of thousands still remain in their ranks, according to latest figures from the United Nations.

The Organization’s expert on children caught in conflict, Virginia Gamba, said children freed from these groups still have to face what she described as “the complex and long reintegration process into their communities”; something which not only contributes to their well-being but also to ending cycles of violence.

Her comments came in a statement marking the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, observed on Monday, 12 February.

Ms. Gamba said “children can only be freed from armed groups and forces through a comprehensive reintegration process, including medical and psycho-social support, as well as educational programmes and trainings”.

However, she added that “without a strong political and financial commitment to the reintegration process, re-recruitment is unfortunately likely to happen in many conflict situations”.

Ms. Gamba called for more action to achieve universal ratification of a global commitment to protect children from fighting in hostilities by setting the minimum age for recruitment into armed forces at 18.

So far, nearly 170 States have ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

UN concerned about misconduct allegations at DRC Mission

The UN has expressed grave concern over four allegations of misconduct at its mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

They include three allegations of sexual exploitation involving adult victims, which include a paternity and child support claim.

The fourth incident concerns physical violence inflicted by peacekeepers on a 17-year-old boy.

Here’s UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday.

“Ensuring the provision of assistance to the victims is our priority. The UN Mission and other UN agencies and partners with the support of the Victims’ Rights Advocate will continue to maintain the well-being of the victims and monitor their needs. The UN Peacekeeping Mission will provide any additional assistance such as the collection of DNA samples. The UN has informed the Member State of these four allegations and has requested that National Investigation Officers be appointed within five days, and for investigations to be completed within the reduced 90-day time frame, due to the serious concerns raised by these allegations — that will be done jointly with a team from the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).”

Mr. Dujarric said the UN has welcomed South Africa’s commitment to investigate the allegations.

Audio Credit:
Dianne Penn, United Nations
Audio Duration:
4'7"