Libya: UN human rights office warns of abuses as battle for Derna continues
Fighting in the Libyan city of Derna has led to allegations of arbitrary detention and shortages of food, water and medicine, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said on Friday.
The North African country has faced massive insecurity since the late President Muammar Gadaffi was overthrown in 2011.
Various armed groups vie for control outside the UN-backed government zone in the centre of the country.
OHCHR has sounded the alarm over the eastern port city of Derna after documenting what it called “serious violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law” during fighting for control of oil-rich areas in the east, and for parts of Benghazi city last year.
Spokesperson Liz Throssell made an appeal to armed groups including the Libyan National Army, or LNA, on behalf of the 125,000 people in Derna:
“We urge all parties to the conflict in Derna, including the LNA and the Derna Protection Forces, to take all feasible measures to protect civilians. We call on the LNA to allow unimpeded humanitarian assistance to reach the city. We also call on all parties to the conflict to ensure that the wounded and sick, both civilians and those who have participated in hostilities, are cared for, including through medical evacuations. They should also facilitate safe passage for civilians wishing to leave the city.”
Ms Throssel added that Derna’s only hospital is closed and three women have died amid a lack of oxygen supplies.
Mali community teaching initiative aims to keep extremists at bay
Efforts are underway to help more than 1.25 million Malian children who are out of school amid a spike in violence and humanitarian needs, UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said on Friday.
Insecurity linked to years of insurgency has spread from northern to central regions.
Some 750 schools are closed, raising the possibility of youngsters being radicalized by extremists, UNICEF says.
To counter this threat - and to fill the educational gap – communities are getting help so that they can recruit their own teachers.
Here’s UNICEF’s Representative in Mali, Lucia Elmi:
“The communities wanted to have support, and when there is a gap, other groups like to take advantage of those gaps, so something that we are doing is really to support like an intra-community, inter-cultural intra-religious dialogue to make sure the community supports their education and that education is flexible to include also religious teaching …so that groups coming from outside and under pressure they will not find fertile ground to provide their services.”
According to the UN agency, armed individuals have burned schools in Central Mali as part of their campaign to combat State institutions and secular education.
Access remains uncertain to the Northern regions of the country including Timbuktu, Gao, Menaka, Taoudeni, and Kidal, as well to the central regions of Mopti and Segou.
250,000 people ‘may lose everything - even their lives’ in assault on Yemen’s Hodeidah: UN’s Grande
An attack on the port city of Hodeidah in Yemen may lead to “a quarter of a million (people) losing everything - even their lives” - the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the war-torn country has warned.
Lise Grande’s comments come amid ongoing fighting in the Arabian peninsula State, where 22 million people are in need of aid and protection - three-quarters of the population.
Hodeida is a particular concern because it is “the single most important point of entry for the food and basic supplies” in Yemen, Ms Grande said in a statement.
Her comments were taken up in Geneva by Jens Laerke from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):
“A military attack or siege on Hodeidah will impact hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. Humanitarian organizations have rushed to develop a contingency plan. In a prolonged worst case, we fear that as many as 250,000 people may lose everything— even their lives.”
OCHA has warned repeatedly of the risks to ordinary Yemenis since a military campaign involving a Saudi-backed international coalition and Houthi opposition forces which escalated in March 2015.
Since then, according to the UN human rights office, OHCHR, 6,439 civilians have been killed and more than 10,000 have been injured.
Daniel Johnson, UN News