Special Envoy for Syria reiterates urgent need for ceasefire in eastern Ghouta and Damascus
The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has called on Russia, Iran and Turkey to urgently meet to reinstall the de-escalation zones.
He reiterated that the humanitarian situation of the civilians in besieged eastern Ghouta is appalling, and called for a ceasefire that stops both the “horrific” bombardment there and the indiscriminate mortar shelling on Damascus, according to UN spokesperson Alessandra Vellucci, in an update on Friday.
Mr. de Mistura added that the ceasefire needs to be followed by immediate unhindered humanitarian access and a facilitated evacuation of medical cases out of eastern Ghouta.
UN humanitarian convoys are on standby and ready to deliver aid and allow medical evacuations.
The special envoy participated in the ceasefire task force which took place in Geneva on Thursday.
Human rights commission collects evidence to hold 40 South Sudanese officials accountable for crimes against humanity
More than 40 senior military officials who may bear individual responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity have been identified in South Sudan.
The Human Rights Commission on South Sudan was mandated to collect and preserve evidence of human rights violations, to be used in a so-called “hybrid court”, which would allow for the officials to be held accountable for serious violations of human rights.
The hybrid nature of this court allows it to investigate and prosecute individuals responsible for violation of international law or South Sudanese law.
It was negotiated as part of the peace agreement of August 2015, but has not yet been set up.
On Friday, the Commission released its first report, which chronicles appalling instances of cruelty against civilians, who have had their eyes gouged out, their throats slit or have been castrated.
Victims have also been forced to engage in unspeakable acts, and some, including children, compelled to rape close family members.
Speaking in Geneva on Friday, Commissioner Andrew Clapham said he was confident that the establishment of the hybrid court will not “take years and years”.
“I am convinced that the African Union is serious about this, yes. We have had discussions with them and this is an important thing for them. It’s built into the peace agreement, they have been making preparations. I don’t think this is just hand waving. I think the issue now is to get the South Sudanese and the African Union to agree on this quickly.”
He added that holding those accountable for the intentional suffering they inflict on their own people is “crucial to stemming this humanitarian catastrophe”.
UNHCR welcomes launch of birth certification for Malian refugees in Mauritania
In a ground-breaking development for refugee protection, the Mauritanian authorities have started issuing birth certificates for 7,600 Malian children who were born in Mbera camp in the south-east.
They have also set up a system allowing for all newborns in the camp to be directly registered from now on.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) welcomes the launch, as relayed by spokesperson Cécile Pouilly.
“This is good news because it will help us fight against early and forced marriages, and it is also important if at one point people are able to repatriate, on a voluntary basis of course and when security allows.”
Mauritania now hosts over 51,000 Malian refugees, 1,200 of whom were registered in Mbera in January this year alone.