This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
‘Deliberate starvation’ tactics used in South Sudan could be a war crime
The people of South Sudan have been “deliberately starved” in different parts of the country for ethnic and political reasons, and sexual violence against women and men as a weapon of war is ongoing.
That’s according to investigators appointed by the Human Rights Council, who said on Thursday that South Sudan’s leaders have been ‘oblivious’ to the suffering of civilians.
They’ve warned of intercommunal conflict and terrible rights violations “in large swathes of territory”, as a new deadline approaches the formation of a unity Government after years of conflict.
Here’s Professor Andrew Clapham, Member of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan: “The fact of destruction of crops or taking away the possibility of getting access to water through boreholes and so on, that can constitute the war crime of starvation, because your intention is to starve the civilian population….in this case by both sides, as we’ve documented.”
In the Commission’s report, which will be presented to the Human Rights Council on 9 March, both the Government and armed groups are said to have pursued starvation policies in Wau and Unity states.
Massive corruption which has siphoned off “millions of dollars” from the National Revenue Authority may also amount to economic crimes by senior Government officials, the investigators say.
UN refugee agency chief appeals to Syria’s civilians trapped in Idlib
To Syria now, where UN refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi has urged Turkey and other neighbouring countries to take in more fleeing Syrians.
In an appeal for a ceasefire in the war-torn north-west, Mr. Grandi said that the move was needed “so that those most in danger can reach safety”.
More than 900,000 people have fled violence in Idlib and Aleppo governorates in recent months as Government forces backed by Russia have advanced against opposition armed groups close to the border with Turkey.
The situation is dire as mainly women and children endure freezing temperatures, aid agencies have frequently warned.
In a statement, Mr. Grandi noted that Syria’s neighbours were already hosting 5.6 million refugees from its nine-year conflict, particularly in Turkey, and that international support for them “must be sustained and stepped up”.
19 children among dead in Yemen strikes
Finally, to Yemen, where it’s been confirmed that eight boys and 11 girls children died in air strikes in the opposition-controlled north of the country at the weekend.
According to the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, the 19 children were killed in attacks on Saturday in the Al Hayjah area of Al Jawf Governorate.
Violence in Yemen has increased since mid-January, with escalating clashes along several front lines. More than 30,000 people have fled their homes in recent weeks, and humanitarians are providing assistance in affected areas.
In a briefing to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said that Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with nearly 80 per cent of the population in need of some form of humanitarian assistance and protection.
Ten million people are a step away from famine and seven million people are malnourished.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.