Tag Archives: UN

Civilians Killed/Wounded in Afghanistan Rises to Highest Record Since 2009

Posted on in Afghanistan title_rule

The United Nations reported that the number of civilians killed or wounded in Afghanistan last year was the highest recorded since 2009, with children paying a particularly heavy price.

In its annual report on Afghan civilians in armed conflict, the UN disclosed that there were 11,002 civilian casualties in 2015, including 3,545 deaths. This is a four percent rise over the previous high in 2014. The report stated that fighting and attacks in populated areas and major cities were described as the main causes of civilian deaths in 2015, underscoring a push by Taliban militants into urban centres “with ah high likelihood of causing civilian harm.” The UN began compiling the annular report in 2009. Including Taliban-claimed attacks, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan assigned responsibility for 62 percent of total civilian casualties in 2015 to anti-government elements. However the report also noted that a 28 percent year-on-year surge in the number of causalities caused by pro-government forces, including the Afghan army and international troops. The report stated that seventeen percent of all casualties in 2015 were caused by such forces. It was not possible to say which side caused the remaining 21 percent of casualties. One in every four causalities in 2015 was a child, with the report documenting a 14 percent increase in child casualties over the year. While fighting and improvised explosive devices were the top two killers of children, unexploded ordnance picked up and played with by curious and unsuspecting youngers also claimed a heavy toll, killing 113 children – an average of two a week – an injuring 252 more in 2015. Women also paid a heavy price, with a 37 percent surge in female casualties. According to the report, one in every ten causalities recorded was a woman. The document also highlighted an increase in women being targeted for alleged moral crimes, calling the executions and lashings a “disturbing trend,” and adding that the UN plans to release a separate report on such incidents soon. Chillingly, the report documented a doubling of civilian causalities due to the deliberate targeting by militants of judges, prosecutors and juridical institutions. There were 188 such cases last year, of which 46 involved fatalities. The Taliban claimed 95 percent of such targeted attacks. While ground engagements were the largest cause of civilian causalities, improvised explosive devices came second, with the report adding that the use of such weaponry violated international law and could constitute war crimes. The report also criticized Afghan forces in particular for their reliance on explosives in populated areas.   The UN’s special representative for Afghanistan, Nicholay Haysom, has disclosed that “the harm done to civilians is totally unacceptable…We call on those inflicting this pain on the people of Afghanistan to take concrete action to protect civilians and put a stop to the killing and maiming.”

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Haysom stated that the statistics in the report do not “reflect the real horror,” adding that “the real cost…is measured in the maimed bodies of children, the communities who have to live with loss, the grief of colleagues and relatives, the families who make do without a breadwinner, the parents who grieved the lost children, the children who grieved the lost parents.” On 1 January 2015, US and other international troops moved from a combat to a training, advisory and assistance role in Afghanistan, effectively leaving Afghan forces to take the lead in fighting the resurgent militants as they targeted towns and cities.

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NATO Steps Into Migrant Crisis

Posted on in Greece, Turkey title_rule

According to NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, NATO ships are being deployed to the Aegean sea in a bid to deter people-smugglers taking migrants from Turkey to Greece. The announcement follows a request from Turkey, Greece and Germany at a defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels.

MR Stoltenberg has disclosed that the mission would not be about “stopping or pushing back refugee boats,” adding that instead, NATO will contribute “critical information and surveillance to help counter human trafficking.” He further disclosed that the decision was made in order to help Greece and Turkey “manage a human tragedy in a better way then we have managed to do so far.” Earlier, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter commented that targeting the “criminal syndicate that is exploiting these poor people” would have the greatest humanitarian impact.

NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2, which is under German command, will lead the operation in co-operation with Greek and Turkish authorities. According to the United Nations refugee agency, almost 75,000 migrants and refugees have already arrived in Greece by sea in 2016.

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From Aleppo to Safety: Turkish Dilemma

Posted on in Turkey title_rule

Thousands of Syrians, mostly women and children, remain stuck at Turkish borders after fleeing offensive in Aleppo. The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, on the 9th of February 2016 called on Turkey to admit all civilians who are fleeing danger and seeking international protection. Tens of thousands of Syrians escaped intense air strikes in the northern province of Aleppo. Recent months have been dominated by intensive Russian air strikes and attacks on civilians have become a near-everyday occurrence. At least 500 reported killed in the province this month.

Turkey has already taken in more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees over the past five years hosting the largest number of refugees in the world. Its borders are considered the gateway to safety, leaving many stranded across them. The Turkish government has recently expressed frustration over the worsening migrant crisis saying that it has now reached the end of its “capacity to absorb”. Turkey applies strict controls on admission of refugees while maintaining an open door policy for those fleeing immediate harm to their lives.

The United Nations’ refugee agency has called on Turkey to open the border to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing a government offensive in Aleppo province, who are stranded near the Bab al-Salameh crossing. According to UN officials half of all Syrians have been forced to leave their homes, often multiple times, making Syria the largest displacement crisis globally. More than a quarter million Syrians lost their lives since the onset of the crisis in 2011. Protests escalated into civil war and the armed rebellion led to the rise of Islamists and jihadists, the so-called Islamic State, whose brutal tactics caused global outrage.

Today UK, U.S and Russia are leading air strikes in order to regain rebel parts of the country. Situation is worsening following the intensified Russian air operation in the province of Aleppo, an area divided between government and rebel control for years. Moreover according to ICRC the harshening of winter is pushing people’s resilience to the limits.

The United Nation Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs from March 2012 until February 2016 registered a total of 13.5M Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance; 4.6M fled the country and 6.6M have been displaced within the borders due to violence. Internally displaced the population struggles to survive and they are chasing after charities. The displacement of refugees is across several neighbour countries and Europe.

Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu attended the Informal Meeting of EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs on the 6th of February 2016. The prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus envisaged a further 600,000 refugees at the borders raising criticism on the Russian tactics. European member states requested immediate steps from Ankara to improve the situation for refugees in Turkey deploying without delay the €3 billion pledged by the European Union.

Turkey is currently under pressure to allow in 30,000 Syrian refugees stranded on its border. Migrants have inflicted a “huge strain” on the country’s economy, and called on the international community to assist Ankara in handling the burgeoning crisis. The main route from the north into Aleppo has been cut off and humanitarian aid cannot be efficiently delivered. The current situation is leading to a severe geopolitical turmoil.

Turkey is facing multiple problems and an internal division. The Russian power play in Syria vanished Turkish hopes for instituting a no-fly zone on the other side of the Syrian border and as Syria burns, Turkey’s Kurdish problem is getting worse. There is an increasing concern that the PYD’s success in Syria will dangerously strengthen the PKK in its fight against Turkey.

The Assad regime received support on the ground by the Iranian militias and the intensified Russian aerial bombardment led the United States to lose control over the entire operation. Within the next weeks the Assad’s bombing campaign will continue costing the lives of many other civilians.

The likelihood of Aleppo becoming the “Sarajevo” of Syria is increasing on a daily basis.

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IMO: North Korea Has Issued Shipping Warning for Satellite Launch

Posted on in North Korea title_rule

On Tuesday (2 February 2015) North Korea issued a formal notification of an imminent satellite rocket launch, effectively flagging a second major breach of United Nations resolutions following its nuclear test last month. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has disclosed that it has received a shipping warning from North Korea of its intention to launch an earth observation satellite between 8 – 25 February 2015.

While Pyongyang insists that its space programme is purely scientific in nature, the international community views such launches as disguised ballistic missile tests. UN resolutions forbid North Korea from any use of ballistic missile technology. It imposed sanctions following its last rocket launch in December 2012.

If the notified launched does go ahead, it will be a particularly defiant slap in the face of the United States, which has spent the last month seeking international support for tough sanctions on Pyongyang over its 6 January nuclear test. That test, which drew international condemnation, was its fourth nuclear bomb test.

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African Union Abandons Plans to Deploy Peacekeepers to Burundi

Posted on in Burundi title_rule


The African Union (AU) has abandoned its plan to deploy 5,000 peacekeepers to help restore stability to troubled Burundi. Officials have disclosed that they would instead encourage political dialogue between Burundi’s opposing sides. Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza had fiercely opposed the AU’s plans to deploy peacekeepers. His decision last April to seek a third term in office has led to ongoing violence and fears that Burundi is sliding into ethnic conflict. According to United Nations figures, at least 439 people have died and 240,000 have fled abroad since last April.

The AU could have deployed troops without Burundi’s consent, a clause in its charter effectively allows it to intervene in a member state because of grave circumstances, which include war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, however it would have been the first time it had done so. Top AU diplomat Ibrahima Fall has disclosed that such a move would have been “unimaginable.” After the bloc’s meeting in Ethiopia, AU Peace and Security Council Chief Smail Chergui stated that “we want dialogue with the government, and the summit decided to dispatch a high-level delegation.”

The announcement comes just days after human rights group Amnesty International published satellite images last week, stating that the images were believed to be five mass graves near Burundi’s capital, where security forces were accused of killing scores of people in December 2015. A fact-finding mission by the AU has reported arbitrary killings, torture and the “closure of some civil society organizations and the media.”

Timeline of Events

  • April 2015: Protests erupt after President Pierre Nkurunziza announces that he will seek a third term in office.
  • May 2015: Constitutional court rules in favor of Mr Nkurunziza, amidst reports of judges being intimidated. Tens of thousands flee violence amidst protests.
  • May 2015: Army officers launch a coup attempt, which ultimately fails.
  • July 2015: Elections are held, with Mr Nkurunziza re-elected. The polls are disputed, with opposition leader Agathon Rwasa describing them as “a joke.”
  • November 2015: Burundi government gives those opposing President Nkurunzia’s third term five days in order to surrender their weapons ahead of a promised crackdown.
  • November 2015: UN warns it is less equipped to deal with violence in Burundi than it was for the Rwandan genocide.
  • December 2015: 87 people killed on one day as soldiers respond to an attack on military sites in Bujumbura.
  • January 2016: Amnesty International publishes satellite images which it says are believed to be mass grave located close to where December’s killings took place.
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