News in Brief 19 February 2021

News in Brief 19 February 2021

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Violence engulfs South Sudan, ‘Children all have guns’ 

Extreme violence involving thousands of fighters at a time has engulfed most of South Sudan, a decade after independence, UN human Rights Council-appointed investigators said on Friday.

According to the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, the bloodshed and exactions faced by civilians are “the worst recorded” since the country’s civil war began in December 2013.

Some of the most brutal attacks have been carried out in the states of Central Equatoria, Warrap, Jonglei, and Greater Pibor Administrative Area, with up to 50,000 fighters involved in one attack on the village of Likuangole, in Jonglei.

Here’s Commission Chairperson Yasmin Sooka:

“We have documented the new levels of militia violence engulfing more than three-quarters of the country at a localized level in which children carry weapons and women are traded as spoils of war like chattels…Abducted boys have been forced to fight and, in some instances, forcibly assimilated into rival armed groups.”

The Commission’s warning comes two years since the Revitalized Peace Agreement was signed, which Ms. Sooka explained had “led to a reduction in hostilities” nationally, without resolving South Sudan’s “increasingly bitter, polarised” identity where ethnicity was prized above all.

The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan is due to present its report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 10 March.

Vital humanitarian air links at risk, humanitarian operations under threat, warns WFP

An alert now that the UN Humanitarian Air Service, UNHAS, a critical aid lifeline that reaches some of the most challenging locations on earth, urgently needs $204 million to continue operating beyond the end of the month. 

UNHAS coordinator the World Food Programme, WFP, warned that without it, major aid operations could be crippled.

Disruptions to flights could impact assistance in Yemen, Syria and Haiti, “where conditions continue to worsen” amid ongoing conflict and the impact of COVID-19, said Amir Abdulla, WFP Deputy Executive Director.

Mr. Abdullah added that in many cases, the air service was “the only way” to reach “some of the most in-need people on the planet” - particularly in countries at war and where access by road or sea is not possible.

Established in 2004, UNHAS runs 21 operations, carrying humanitarian workers and cargo to vulnerable communities; during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also helped national responses to the crisis by transporting test samples and critical medical supplies.

UN human rights office alarmed by ‘attacks’ on judicial independence in Haiti

The UN human rights office (OHCHR) has said that it is very concerned over attacks against judicial independence in Haiti, amid political and institutional instability. 

Spokesperson Liz Throssell said on Friday that a judge of the Haitian Supreme Court, was arrested earlier this month, in what may amount to unlawful or arbitrary arrest. 

Twenty-two others were arrested and 17 remain in pre-trial detention.

The judge, although subsequently released, was “forced to retire and later replaced”, along with two others, Ms. Throssell continued.

She stressed that respecting the rule of law and the system of checks and balances at all times was paramount – and “even more crucial, given the growing political tensions and the increasing expression of dissent in demonstrations”.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.  

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  • Violence engulfs South Sudan, ‘Children all have guns’ 

  • Vital humanitarian air links at risk, humanitarian operations under threat, warns WFP

  • UN human rights office alarmed by ‘attacks’ on judicial independence in Haiti

Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Audio Duration
3'4"
Photo Credit
UNICEF/Sebastian Rich