News in Brief 9 September 2020

News in Brief 9 September 2020

 This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Fresh war crimes fears highlighted in new Yemen report

The war in Yemen continues to ravage the country and its people, senior UN-appointed rights investigators said on Wednesday, in a call for an international probe into suspected war crimes, and sanctions against the perpetrators.

In a new report, the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen said that “all parties continue to show no regard for international law or the lives, dignity, and rights” of the civilians who are suffering.

There were “no clean hands” in the violence which has likely killed well over 100,000 people, destroyed vital public infrastructure and created a humanitarian catastrophe affecting many millions, they said.

Here’s rights expert and report co-author, Melissa Park:

“For too many people in Yemen there is simply no safe place to escape the ravages of war,” Ms Parke insisted. “There is for instance no safe place for those near the front lines who face the risk of indiscriminate attacks, for children playing in fields in which landmines have been planted, for schoolchildren at risk of being recruited into armed forces or groups, or for human rights advocates or journalists who are targeted because of their work.”

Responsibility for violations “rests with all parties to the conflict”, the experts said, citing the Government of Yemen, the Houthis and the independent Southern Transitional Council.

Members of the international coalition led by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates that support the Government of Yemen were also responsible for potential serious rights violations, the experts maintained.

They also voiced concern about the continued flow of weapons flow into Yemen from countries including the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy and Spain.

$50 million aid boost for suffering Yemenis

In a related story, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a more than $50 million funding boost from the European Union to help Yemenis facing starvation.

WFP Executive Director David Beasley warned on Wednesday that people in the war-ravaged country were “on a knife’s edge” – especially with the new threat of coronavirus.

“Millions are sliding toward starvation at a time when resources are severely stretched”, Mr. Beasley said, adding that the EU donation would help to deliver lifesaving assistance to the most vulnerable children, women and men.

The funds will also enable WFP to distribute cash assistance in areas where market conditions allow, so that people can purchase food and other items locally and help to support local producers.

Providing humanitarian support for Yemen is WFP’s largest operation, benefitting almost 13 million people a month and – the agency insists - saving millions from starvation.

But its work has been complicated by an upsurge in fighting since the start of the year, coupled with a rapid deterioration in the economic situation and the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic – all things that may push many more people into severe levels of hunger.

Between now and the end of the year, WFP has warned that it may have to reduce its operations if additional funding is not secured soon.

It needs $703 million to maintain this vital safety net for the next six months.

Human rights experts urge Mali to end slavery once and for all

Mali should end slavery once and for all, UN-appointed rights experts have said, after four men believed to have been born into slavery, were beaten to death.

Condemning the incident, Special Rapporteurs Alioune Tine and Tomoya Obokata urged the Government to act, noting that an 80-year-old woman and two other people had been seriously injured last week in a related incident.

Such acts are barbaric, criminal and violate the right to life, physical integrity and human dignity, the rights experts said – and “too often they go unpunished” – despite the fact that slavery was officially abolished in Mali in 1905.

They’ve called for an investigation into the attack on 1 September, as well as and justice for the victims.

One of them, a 69-year-old man, had recently won a court ruling against the village imam over farmland.

He died after villagers surrounded the houses of the so-called slaves and beat them; 11 people have been arrested.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

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  • Yemen war crimes fears highlighted
  • WFP welcomes $50 million Yemen boost
  • Mali must end slavery: UN rights experts
Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Audio Duration
3'51"
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IOM/Rami Ibrahim