Gender-based discrimination ‘invisible driver’ of sexual violence: UN deputy chief
Most crimes of sexual violence are rooted in the “invisible driver” of gender-based discrimination, said the deputy UN chief, Amina Mohammed, on Monday.
The Deputy Secretary-General was addressing the Security Council during an open debate on sexual violence in conflict.
She said the “widespread threat and use” of sexual violence continues as “a tactic to advance military, economic and ideological objectives”.
The UN’s Special Representative on the issue, Pramila Patten, said that while progress had been made, those responsible needed to be brought to account, or run the risk of wartime rape becoming “normalized” again in conflict zones.
The Council also heard testimony from the founder of Rohingya Women Welfare, an NGO which represents women and girls from the Myanmar ethnic minority.
Razia Sultana said that women refugees who’ve fled into neighbouring Bangladesh had been subjected to gang rape, torture and murder, based solely on their ethnicity.
She said some countries which continue to deal with the Myanmar Government were guilty of double-standards.
“It is hypocritical to condemn the human rights violations and express horror at the new violence, while then also selling arms to Myanmar and seek explorative licenses to mine its natural resources. Member States committed to conflict prevention and sustaining peace cannot turn a blind eye to State-sanctioned ethnic minority persecution, discrimination or other human rights violations including sexual violence, for trade. This applies to Myanmar and all crises elsewhere.”
‘No effort’ should be spared bringing killers of 3 Ecuadorian media workers to justice: UNESCO chief
The Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has condemned the killing of three Ecuadorian media workers, who were employed by the newspaper El Comercio.
Reporter Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas and their driver Efrain Segarra were kidnapped on 26 March close to the border between Ecuador and Colombia.
According to news reports, Ecuador’s President, Lenín Moreno, has offered a reward for information that leads to the capture of the dissident Colombian rebel leader who his Government believes was responsible for the kidnapping.
UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay “firmly condemned” the killings and said that “no effort must be spared to bring the culprits of this crime to justice”.
She added that investigative journalism was “crucial” in countries such as Colombia, which is going through a period of peacebuilding and democratic reconciliation.
Ms. Azoulay described the killing as a “great sacrifice for the profession and democracy at large”.
South Sudanese opposition group releases seven aid workers
The main South Sudanese opposition group known as the SPLM-IO, has released seven aid workers who were abducted three weeks ago, according to UN humanitarian staff in the country.
The South Sudan Health Association workers were seized by opposition fighters while they were delivering supplies to health centres which serve thousands of people in Central Equatoria.
They were released on Sunday along the border with Uganda.
The African Union and UN operation in Darfur (UNAMID) said that the release was ordered by the group’s leader Riek Marchar, who is the former Vice-President of South Sudan, currently in South Africa.
UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said that the security of aid workers was paramount.
“This is the second incident in six months in which aid workers have been taken captive by armed groups in South Sudan. Aid worker security in Africa’s youngest nation remains a key concern for humanitarian workers who are being harassed, intimidated, beaten and even killed. Since the conflict began in 2013, at least 99 aid workers have been killed in the line of duty in South Sudan, including two in April.”