Global perspective Human stories

World News in Brief: Support for Haiti mission, challenge of ‘commodity dependence’, Iran's 'strict' hijab law

The crisis in Haiti is taking a toll on health care facilities in the country.
© UNICEF/Herold Joseph
The crisis in Haiti is taking a toll on health care facilities in the country.

World News in Brief: Support for Haiti mission, challenge of ‘commodity dependence’, Iran's 'strict' hijab law

Peace and Security

Following the installation of a transitional council in Haiti, seven countries officially notified the UN Secretary-General on Friday of their intention to contribute personnel to the Security Council-backed support mission for the crisis-wracked Caribbean nation. 

Kenya has offered to lead the multinational mission that aims to provide much needed back up to the national police in a bid to regain control of the streets from gang rule, which has plunged the country into chaos in recent months. 

Kenya was joined by the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Chad and Jamaica in pledging support. The UN Spokesperson’s Office said “other countries have expressed interest, including publicly, but have not notified the Secretary-General yet.” 

Currently, $18 million has been deposited in the support mission’s Trust Fund, provided by Canada ($8.7 million), France ($3.2 million) and the United States ($6 million). 

Meanwhile, armed violence continues across the country, with Port-au-Prince and the Ouest department the worst hit. 

The situation also remains volatile at the national port, said UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric. 

“The Varreux fuel terminal is now closed after several attacks by gangs. However, on a more positive note, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that in the past three weeks, more than 100 humanitarian containers were retrieved at the Caribbean Port Service.” 

Meanwhile, the humanitarian response continues, and the World Food Programme (WFP) has provided daily food assistance to displaced people in Port-au-Prince, and in other departments.  

UN health agency WHO and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have set up mobile clinics at displacement sites to provide medical consultations. Migration agency IOM is also providing basic medical and psychosocial services to people displaced. 

General Assembly President raises alert over ‘commodity dependence’ 

The President of the General Assembly on Friday called for Member States and stakeholders to address commodity dependence in countries and its effect on the global economy during an informal dialogue on the issue. 

According to Dennis Francis, commodity dependence is “a scenario where 60 per cent or more of a country's export revenue depends on basic goods”, disproportionately affecting mainly developing countries. 

While commodity markets are important to the global economy, excessive commodity dependence leaves countries and their citizens vulnerable to economic instability, he said.  

Mr. Francis called for the issue to be addressed urgently amid ongoing global discussions over debt sustainability and reform of the international financial architecture. 

“I believe that breaking free from commodity dependence, while challenging, is achievable,” Mr. Francis said.  

Dependent nations 

Based on UN trade and development body UNCTAD’s State of Commodity Dependence report, 85 per cent of the world’s least-developed countries are commodity dependent along with many landlocked developing nations and small island developing States, leaving their economies “vulnerable and highly susceptible to external shocks”. 

The Assembly President said the two-decade long increase in countries impacted should “sound the alarm bell” for Member States as addressing the issue is necessary for achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals

Tweet URL

Iran police enforces ‘strict’ hijab rules, OHCHR says

Police in Iran are enforcing a violent crackdown against women and girls under the country’s hijab laws, resulting in the arrest and harassment of girls between ages 15 and 17, said Jeremy Laurence, spokesperson for the UN human rights office, OHCHR, on Friday. 

The Tehran head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced on 21 April a new body that would allow them to enforce existing mandatory hijab laws; members of the IRGC are reportedly allowed to implement these laws “in a more serious manner” when in public.

OHCHR is concerned about the Supporting the Family by Promoting the Culture of Chastity and Hijab draft bill, which, in its earlier form, states that violators of the mandated dress code could face flogging, fines or up to 10 years in prison.

Mr. Laurence reiterated that corporal punishment is arbitrary under international law.

As the draft bill is nearing final approval by the Guardian Council, OHCHR is calling for its shelving.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, is calling on the Iranian government to remove “all forms of gender-based discrimination and violence, including through the revision and the repeal of harmful laws, policies and practices, in line with international human rights norms and standards”.