This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Almost daily attacks plunge Sahel into ‘three-country crisis’: WFP
Violent attacks by extremists “almost every day” in the Sahel nations of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have displaced nearly one million people and caused emergency levels of malnutrition affecting thousands of children, UN humanitarians have said.
The World Food Programme (WFP) warned on Tuesday that if nothing is done to tackle hunger in the region, a whole generation could be at risk.
Burkina Faso is worst hit, with one-third of the country now a conflict zone.
Here’s David Bulman, WFP Country Director in Burkina Faso:
“The armed groups that we’re seeing causing the conflict are active also in Mali and in Niger. So it’s a three country crisis. And we have some people fleeing across the border. And for those populations that don’t particularly notice the border, they just see their safest route away from insecurity and they take it…When they’re displaced it means that they basically leave everything behind, and most of them are doing farming and some animal raising so they are really very dependent.“
On Monday, in eastern Mali, more than 20 soldiers were killed in an attack on their patrol by militants, the latest in a series of deadly attacks linked to extremists who have exploited ethnic tensions and poor infrastructure.
According to Government data, nearly half a million people have been displaced in Burkina Faso in less than a year, but that figure is likely to reach 650,000 before the end of 2019.
While WFP has helped some 2.6 million people with food and nutrition assistance in the three Sahel countries this year, it has warned that in some displaced communities, severe acute malnutrition is skyrocketing.
Live ammunition reportedly used against protesters in Iran
To Iran now, where reports indicating that dozens of people have been killed in continuing protests – some by live ammunition - are deeply concerning, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Tuesday.
Citing Iranian media coverage since demonstrations began last Friday sparked by a rise in fuel prices, OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville said that the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, had acknowledged some of the fatalities.
“We are deeply concerned by reported violations of international norms and standards on the use of force, including the firing of live ammunition, against demonstrators in Iran on Friday and that have continued into this week…. It would suggest that it is not simply the immediate trigger to the protest which was a rise in fuel prices, but much deeper-seated problems persisting in the country.”
More than 1,000 protesters have also been arrested, the OHCHR official added, although details were difficult to verify, as OHCHR does not have an office in the country, and there was an internet shutdown late on Saturday.
In an appeal to security officials to avoid using excessive force, Mr. Colville said that firearms should only be used when there was an imminent threat to life.
Protesters should also demonstrate without resorting to physical violence or the destruction of property, he insisted, before urging the authorities to “engage in meaningful dialogue” with Iranians.
US declaration on Israeli settlements does not alter international law: OHCHR
And finally to the issue of Israeli settlement-building in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which the UN human rights office, OHCHR, insisted on Tuesday was in breach of international law – a long-held stance of the United Nations.
The development follows the declaration to the contrary on Monday by United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – reversing almost three decades of US policy on the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
In Geneva, Rupert Colville from the UN human rights office pointed out that Article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention – one of the most widely ratified international treaties in existence - clearly prohibits the transfer of an occupying power’s people into territory it controls.
Mr. Colville also noted that “numerous” Security Council resolutions had either declared that the settlements built on land taken in the 1967 conflict had no legal validity and constituted a flagrant violation of international law.
That view was shared by the International Court of Justice in an advisory opinion in 2004, Mr. Colville added , and by the European Court of Justice which noted that some of the Israeli population transfers were in violation of the rules of general international humanitarian law.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.