This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
More than 70,000 flee spike in violence in Burkina Faso in just two months
Burkina Faso is facing “unprecedented” displacement, triggered by armed groups and intercommunal clashes and long-term food insecurity, UN aid officials said on Tuesday.
According to OCHA, the UN humanitarian coordination office, more than 70,000 have fled their homes in the last two months.
Here’s spokesperson Jens Laerke:
“So it is intercommunal clashes, clashes between communities and laid over that is the emergence of armed groups which are fighting each other, fighting Government forces and attacking civilians. That has escalated in the second half of last year and really it took off at the beginning of this year, there were some very violent clashes in the beginning of January.”
Today, around 1.2 million people are in need of assistance in Burkina Faso’s Sahel, North, North-Centre and Eastern regions.
A $100 million appeal to assist 900,000 of those hardest-hit in the landlocked country is only 16 per cent funded, a month after it was launched.
On Monday, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) allocated $4 million to boost assistance to internally displaced people and host communities, and also provide services for 15,500 women and girls.
UN rights chief’s ‘deep regret’ at Burundi office closure
To Burundi now, where the closure of the UN’s Human Rights Office at the insistence of the Government is a source of “deep regret”, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Tuesday.
In a statement, Ms. Bachelet explained that it brings to an end her office’s more than 20-year presence in the country amid a worsening rights environment since 2015.
Here’s spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani, speaking to journalists in Geneva:
“The High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, pays tribute to the many human rights defenders and civil society actors in Burundi who have worked with inspiring dedication, courage, perseverance and expertise through many political and social crises in the country. She notes with concern that in recent years, many of them have been detained or forced into exile. Even as our office in Burundi closes, we will continue to explore other ways to work to shed light on human rights concerns and support the advocacy, promotion and protection of human rights in the country.”
The UN rights office was set up in 1995, in the context of massive violations perpetrated in the country following the assassination of then President Melchior Ndadaye.
The office’s tasks involved ensuring the incorporation of a human rights dimension to the implementation of the Arusha Agreement, which was widely seen as the bedrock of the country's stability for many years.
The Office also played a leading role in the establishment of the independent National Commission on Human Rights, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in legislative reforms and in the emergence of strong civil society organizations.
Growing number of women parliamentarians worldwide
And finally, news that nearly one in four parliamentarians around the world is a woman – a significant development since the 1990s, when the number was just over one in 10.
The finding - by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) – was welcomed by Secretary General Martin Chungong.
He noted that more than 130 countries have enforced quotas for female MPs, and that countries in the Americas came closest to gender parity, with almost a third of parliamentary seats represented by women.
“We have to avoid complacency if we want to achieve parity. It is something we have to do all the time. Advocacy, education is very important, in some countries there are some practices, there are some perceptions that women are not needed in politics, but we need to explain why woman have to be at the table.”
The IPU chief added that when women are represented in parliament, policies are better designed and problems such as harassment and sexism, are “tackled head on”.
According to IPU’s report, after elections in Asia last year, the overall share of women in parliament rose to almost one in five.
Rwanda maintains the highest level of representation, with more than six in 10 women in the chamber.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.