Tropical storm Erika kills at least 20 in Dominica, blows through Caribbean
Source: Agence France-Presse
Country: Bahamas, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico (The United States of America)
The system swept over the tiny island nation of Dominica, damaging infrastructure and houses, as it barrelled through the Caribbean threatening Haiti.
Roseau, Dominica | AFP | Friday 8/29/2015 - 06:25 GMT
by Alexander MARTINEZ
Tropical Storm Erika left at least 20 people dead when it swept over the tiny island nation of Dominica, officials reported Friday, as the system barreled through the Caribbean.
While crews rushed to search for survivors and clean up scenes of chaos on Caribbean islands, Haitian authorities issued travel restrictions and opened emergency shelters ahead of the storm's arrival.
The US state of Florida declared a state of emergency and Cuba issued an alert as well, as the storm, which is forecast to weaken on Saturday, rolled towards them.
In an evening press conference, Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said he had spent the day looking at damage and had seen "monumental destruction" that left at least 20 people dead.
"The visual damage I saw today, I fear, may have set our development process back by 20 years," Skerrit said in an address after surveying the island country, which has a population of only about 72,000.
"Of greatest concern however, is the loss of life. So far we have confirmed that at least 20 citizens have died, and some are missing," he said.
Skerrit reported that massive damage had been inflicted on key infrastructure facilities and roads, and that "hundreds of homes around the country have been destroyed or rendered unsafe to occupy."
Highways sustained widespread damage and bridges were washed away, he said.
"I have been assessing the damage all day. The extent of devastation is monumental. It is far worse that expected," he said.
- Haiti drenched -
Haitian authorities announced Friday afternoon that emergency shelters had been opened across the country. Hygiene kits, mattresses and food were stocked at some 2,000 temporary shelters, which are able to accommodate more than 47,000 people.
According to an early tally, three people were injured in the Port-au-Prince region when a house collapsed. Flooding was reported in two regions after heavy rains.
Many homes in Haiti are rickety at best and more than 60,000 people are still living in emergency housing around Port-au-Prince following the country's devastating 2010 earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people and crippled the nation's infrastructure.
The government called for preventative evacuations in vulnerable areas ahead of the storm's arrival.
It also closed the country's airspace until early Saturday, banned highway travel between departments and prohibited small boats from sailing.
"Tropical storm conditions will continue to affect Haiti, and spread into the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas during the next few hours, and the central Bahamas later today," the US National Hurricane Center said early Saturday.
It added that Erika could weaken to a tropical depression later in the day.
Haiti is located on the western half of the island of Hispaniola, which also includes the Dominican Republic.
- Dominican Republic lashed -
Erika pummeled Hispaniola's eastern half on Friday, as residents were inundated with heavy rains.
Dominican Republic authorities issued a red alert as schools, beaches and ports were closed and civil protection organizations were ordered to be at the ready.
The National Hurricane Center said Erika was expected to produce total rainfall of three to six inches (seven to 15 centimeters) but could produce up to 10 inches of rain across parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti through Saturday.
Similar amounts of rain were expected in Turks and Caicos, eastern Cuba and the southeastern and central Bahamas, it said.
- Florida declares emergency -
In Puerto Rico, Erika left nearly 150,000 people without power, but appeared not to have caused major damage.
The storm's approach also set off a scramble as far north as Florida, where the governor declared a state of emergency.
"Tropical Storm Erika poses a severe threat to the entire state of Florida and requires that timely precautions are taken to protect the communities, critical infrastructure and general welfare of this state," Governor Rick Scott said.
© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse
New release of 163 children by armed group in CAR
Source: UN Children's Fund
Country: Central African Republic
The children were released by the anti-Balaka militia during a ceremony Friday, bringing the number of children liberated to 645. The agreement to release all children was made at a reconciliation forum in Bangui this past May.
BATANGAFO, Central African Republic, August 28 2015 – An additional 163 children – including 5 girls - have been released by an armed group in the Central African Republic.
The children were released by the anti-Balaka militia during a ceremony Friday in the town of Batangafo.
Today’s handover, which was facilitated by UNICEF and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), comes three months after 357 children were released following an agreement between the country’s 10 armed groups to release all children from their ranks.
“This release is a sign that the process of implementing the commitment made by the leaders of these groups, as a part of the peace and reconciliation process, is on track,” said Mohamed Malick Fall, UNICEF’s Representative, who attended the ceremonies. "We fully expect to see hundreds more children released before the end of this year.”
The children released received medical care and spoke to social workers. They were then taken to a transition center where they will be supported in either going back to school or enrolling in vocational training. UNICEF and partners will also begin the process of tracing and reunifying the children with their families.
“Today marks an important step forward towards the end of the recruitment and use of children by armed groups in the Central African Republic and of course a step towards concrete peace in the country,” said Diane Corner, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, who was represented at the ceremony. “This ceremony is the result of long and arduous work done by different partners including UNICEF, MINUSCA, the government as well as armed groups, to whom I extend my appreciation. MINUSCA is resolved with all partners to ensure the protection of children and I herewith reaffirm its determination to multiply efforts to identify and separate children who are waiting to return to normal life.”
Smaller release ceremonies also took place in the capital Bangui last week, and earlier in August in Basse Kotto and Mobaye districts during which a total of 125 children were freed, bringing the number of children liberated since May to 645.
UNICEF estimates that between 6,000 and 10,000 children have been associated with armed factions in CAR since 2013. This includes children serving as combatants, as well as those working as cooks, messengers and in other roles.
The agreement to release all children was made at a reconciliation forum in Bangui this past May. It also commits the groups to ending additional recruitment of children and gives UNICEF and its partners immediate and unrestricted access to the areas under the groups’ control in order to identify and verify the number of affected children and to secure their release.
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Syria refugee numbers approach 20% of pre-war population
Source: Agence France-Presse
Country: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, World
Syria's four-and-a-half year conflict has driven half of the country's people to flee their homes. At least 7.6 million people are displaced within Syria, which counted 23 million inhabitants at the start of the civil war.
BEIRUT, Lebanon | AFP | Friday 8/28/2015 - 15:47 GMT
Syria's four-and-a-half year conflict has driven half of the country's people to flee their homes, with the number of those who have left the country approaching 20 percent of the pre-war population.
At least 7.6 million people are displaced within Syria, which counted 23 million inhabitants at the start of the civil war.
More than four million have become refugees.
According to the head of UN humanitarian operations, aid in Syria continues to be blocked by belligerents, particularly in difficult-to-access zones or those occupied by regime or opposition forces.
Some 4.6 million civilians live in these areas and 422,000 are living in a state of siege.
"This is the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation," UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres said in July.
"It is a population that needs the support of the world but is instead living in dire conditions and sinking deeper into poverty," he said.
In July, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the number of refugees had surged by one million in 10 months, forecasting that the total will reach 4.27 million by year end.
Most of the refugees have gone to neighbouring countries but, with a lack of jobs and inadequate humanitarian assistance, thousands are now seeking to emigrate to Europe.
Turkey, at 1.8 million, and Lebanon, at 1.1 million, have so far taken in the largest number of refugees.
The UNHCR says another 600,000 are in Jordan, but the government there puts the number at 1.4 million, a figure equal to 20 percent of the kingdom's population.
There are also 225,000 Syrians in Iraq and 137,000 in Egypt.
Refugees face poverty, health problems and tensions with local inhabitants where they live in temporary housing and extremely difficult conditions.
In late June, the United Nations and partner humanitarian agencies pointed to an acute shortage of money to provide aid to the refugees and their hosts. They appealed for funding to be speeded up, speaking of a "massive crisis."
The Syrian rebellion erupted in March 2011 after the repression of peaceful pro-reform protests prompted an armed uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
More than 240,000 have so far been killed in the conflict, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Aid agencies facing major challenges accessing most vulnerable in eastern Ukraine
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Most of the 2 million people, identified as the most vulnerable, have received limited or no assistance from humanitarian agencies due to insecurity and bureaucratic hurdles.
Overview of humanitarian access and challenges
Humanitarian organizations are facing the major challenge of accessing the most vulnerable of an estimated 5 million people affected by the conflict that began in April 2014 in eastern Ukraine. Access challenges vary from security concerns, bureaucratic impediments, and logistical and legal constraints. An estimated 2 million people living in areas along the contact line between Government forces and armed groups are the most vulnerable and the highest priority group in terms of aid operations. Half of these people are estimated to be living in Government-controlled areas (GCAs), while the remainder live in non-GCAs (NGCAs). Fire exchanges and shelling in many hot-spot locations along the contact line are constantly endangering the lives of many civilians and exacerbating their suffering. Their plight has been compounded by their inability to flee to safety, particularly across the contact line (from NGCAs to GCAs) due to complicated procedures on population movements in the area. This has been further aggravated by the lack of social services, disruption of trade, lack of access to pensions and other social-benefit payments, and lack of functioning banking systems in NGCAs. People living in GCAs have been similarly affected and cannot access basic services.
Most of the 2 million people have received limited or no assistance from humanitarian agencies, as aid organizations have been unable to reach these people due to insecurity and bureaucratic hurdles.
An additional 2 million people in NGCAs, further away from the contact line, are another priority group for humanitarian organizations, as they are trying to eke out living while facing similar everyday challenges of a lack of social-welfare payments, livelihood opportunities and functioning banking systems.
Humanitarian agencies are also concerned about the protracted displacement of 1.4 million people in GCAs. About 60 per cent of the registered IDPs are elderly people and about 13 per cent are children. Meeting their needs requires interventions by humanitarian and recovery/development actors in the immediate and longer term.
The humanitarian community has repeatedly advocated to all parties to the conflict to guarantee free and unimpeded humanitarian access, including limiting bureaucratic procedures to the strict minimum. Under international humanitarian law (IHL) and customary IHL, parties to the conflict are responsible for facilitating access for humanitarian organizations to affected people. Intense discussions are under way at various levels to resolve the issue and find practical solutions, focusing on the humanitarian imperative of providing assistance to the people who need it most.
Positive steps have been undertaken to engage with the Government of Ukraine on facilitating access to vulnerable people, and on bringing various laws and by-laws and the temporary order on population movements and movement of humanitarian cargo and personnel in line with the laws of Ukraine and international humanitarian principles. The Government recently announced many positive changes in terms of facilitating humanitarian cargo to NGCAs, including opening two new crossing lines, simplifying procedures, ensuring fast-track processes and dedicated lines for humanitarian cargo, and establishing staging areas away from the contact line.
The Government also announced that special humanitarian logistics centres will be established near operating crossing points, from which civilians from NGCAs will be able to access various services. However, concerns remain, partly because these logistics centres are located in insecure areas.
Aid organizations have been unable to reach vulnerable people in NGCAs since 21 July.
Aid convoys have been suspended since then. This came after 14 July, when the de-facto authorities in NGCAs of Donetska oblast issued a decree regarding registration to all aid agencies operating in the area.
The Logistics Cluster leads, organizes and facilitates inter-agency aid convoys to NGCAs. However, since the suspension on 21 July, the cluster has more than 5,000 metric tonnes (MT) of humanitarian assistance in the pipeline, including food, shelter and non-food relief supplies, pending to be delivered to thousands of people in NGCAs. More than 16,000 MT of relief aid are in the pipeline for delivery to NGCAs up to the end of 2015, according to the Logistics Cluster.
Malnutrition rates deteriorate in Somalia
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Somalia, Yemen
An alarming three-fold increase in severe acute malnutrition (SAM) between June (5.5 percent) and July (19.1 per cent) has been observed in areas of South-central Somalia.
Critical malnutrition rates in hard-to-reach areas of southcentral Somalia, including Bulo Burto and Xudur
More than 20,000 people have fled their homes due to military operations
Mid-year review shows some progress towards strategic objectives but more funding is still needed.
UNHCR welcomes South Sudan peace deal as refugee and IDP numbers surpass 2.6 million
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Country: Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda
More than 750,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries. Some 620,762 South Sudanese refugees have been received in Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Kenya since December 2013.
GENEVA, Aug 28 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency has welcomed the signing of the South Sudan peace agreement this week which comes as refugee and IDP figures have passed the 2.6 million mark, a marked increase on the number reported at the time of the fourth anniversary of the country's independence.
Daily arrival rates in Ethiopia remain high, with almost 200 new arrivals registered per day, while in other receiving countries, most notably Sudan, the rainy season has reduced the number of new arrivals in August compared to June and July.
However, Sudan experienced the highest growth in refugee arrivals this quarter up by 47 per cent.
"Some 4,000 South Sudanese have reportedly fled from their homes in Eastern Equatoria's Nyongwa, Kerepi and Pageri following recent clashes between government and opposition forces in Pageri, along the Juba-Nimule road," UNHCR said in a press statement.
It said the vast majority have sought safety in the bush while some have reportedly crossed into neighbouring Uganda. In Kenya, convoys to the border and border monitoring missions continue but arrivals rates remain low with only 71 people arriving between 14 and 21 August.
The statement said over 750,000 people have now fled South Sudan to neighbouring countries. Some 620,762 South Sudanese refugees have been received in Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Kenya since December 2013. A further 133,762 'pre-December 2013' refugees are also being hosted in those four countries, making a total of 754,544 South Sudanese refugees in the region. Some 68 per cent of these new arrivals are children (under 18 years of age).
Ethiopia is home to the greatest number of South Sudanese refugees. A total of 221,376 new arrivals have been registered since December 2013 and with an existing caseload of 63,543, it is hosting 284,919 refugees, mainly in Gambella region. This week, relocation of 17,000 refugees from border crossing points and transit centres commenced to a new camp, Pugnido 2.
Sudan currently hosts 191,624 refugees from South Sudan who have arrived since December 2013, surpassing the planning figure of 186,000.
In Uganda, a total of 161,196 refugees have been registered since December 2013 along with some 25,000 'old caseload' refugees, making a total of 186,196.
Kenya is home to 91,805 South Sudanese refugees, almost equally split between new arrivals – 46,566 – and pre December 2013 arrivals – 45,239.
In South Sudan, there are 1.6 million internally displaced people and 265,296 Sudanese refugees.
INCREASE SINCE ANNIVERSARY
UNHCR reported less than two months ago (7 July), in advance of the fourth anniversary of South Sudan's independence, that 2.25 million people were displaced, including 730,000 refugees and 1.5 million internally displaced. A further 250,000 Sudanese refugees were registered at that time.
UNHCR's regional response to the South Sudan situation remains underfunded at just 28 per cent.
IFRC launches emergency appeal as floods affect 1.5 million in Pakistan
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies
The IFRC’s 1.5 million Swiss franc appeal ($1.53 million) aims to help the Pakistan Red Crescent reach 40,000 people with humanitarian assistance across nine districts.
Geneva / Islamabad, 28 August 2015: Today, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an emergency appeal to support efforts by the Pakistan Red Crescent Society to provide emergency assistance to thousands of people affected by flooding in various areas of Pakistan.
Since mid-July, heavy monsoon rains all over the country, coupled with glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) in the north have caused flooding that has affected the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Gilgit Baltistan (GB), Punjab, Baluchistan and Sindh.
219 people have died and around 1.5 million have been affected by the floods which have destroyed about 24,000 homes and damaged infrastructure and a vast acreage of fruit orchards and ready to harvest crops.
The IFRC’s 1.5 million Swiss franc appeal (USD 1.53 million, 1.3 million Euros) aims to help the Pakistan Red Crescent reach 40,000 people with humanitarian assistance across nine districts in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and Sindh provinces.
Rapid assessments indicate the priority needs are emergency shelter, food, safe drinking water and medical care. So far, the Red Crescent has distributed over 1,420 emergency shelters together with essential household items.
“Since 2010, flooding has become a chronic problem for Pakistan which is posing challenges for humanitarians. It is an undeniable fact that these floods are the result of climate change due to a shift in the weather patterns; the frequency and intensity of these types of disasters have changed in recent times,” said Gorkhmaz Huseynov, the IFRC’s Head of Delegation in Pakistan.
IFRC has already released funds from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund and is providing technical and in-kind support to the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, together with other partners in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement who have a presence in the country.
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WHO announces new global strategy to accelerate elimination of neglected tropical diseases
Source: World Health Organization
Targeted water and sanitation interventions are expected to bolster efforts in tackling 16 out of the 17 NTDs, which affect more than 1 billion of the world’s poorest populations.
WHO strengthens focus on water, sanitation and hygiene to accelerate elimination of neglected tropical diseases
27 August 2015 –– The World Health Organization (WHO) today unveiled a global plan to better integrate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services with four other public health interventions to accelerate progress in eliminating and eradicating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020.
“Millions suffer from devastating WASH-related neglected tropical diseases – such as soil-transmitted helminthiasis, guinea-worm disease, trachoma and schistosomiasis – all of which affect mainly children” said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “Solutions exist, such as access to safe water, managing human excreta, improving hygiene, and enhancing targeted environmental management. Such improvements not only lead to improved health, but also reduce poverty.”
Targeted water and sanitation interventions are expected to bolster ongoing efforts in tackling 16 out of the 17 NTDs, which affect more than 1 billion of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations.
A recent report showed that in 2015 more than 660 million people did not have access to improved water sources. The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation report also showed that almost 2.5 billion people lacked access to improved sanitation. Open defecation and lack of hygiene are also an important risk factors for the transmission of many NTDs. Over half a million lives are lost each year as a result of NTDs.
"Joint planning, resourcing and delivery of WASH interventions are key to eliminating neglected tropical diseases and in achieving many public health and human development goals" said Dr Dirk Engels, Director of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases. "The benefits are enormous - from alleviation of suffering through improved outcomes to healthier, wealthier and happier families, communities and nations."
Besides advocating for basic water, sanitation and hygiene, WHO uses four other key interventions in overcoming the global burden of NTDs. The four strategies are: preventive chemotherapy, innovative and intensified disease management, vector control and veterinary public health services. Prioritizing water and sanitation will address the determinants of many NTDs and support WHO’s drive for equitable and sustainable universal health coverage.
The five-year agenda for collaboration outlined in the new Strategy and Action Plan demonstrates global commitments for bringing together the WASH and public health spheres. It is in line with World Health Assembly Resolution 64/24 which calls for the formulation of a new, integrated WHO strategy including a specific focus on promotion of sanitation and hygiene behaviour.
Notes to editors
WHO’s Global Strategy on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for accelerating progress on Neglected Tropical Diseases 2015-2020 and detailed information on NTDs can be found at:
Water, sanitation and hygiene website
Neglected tropical diseases website
WHO Department of Public Health, Environmental & Social Determinants of Health
Tel: +41 22 791 4475, Mob: +41 79 445 1624
WHO Department of Neglected Tropical Diseases
Tel: +41 22 7911637 Mob: +4179 5405086
See the infographic
High food prices, conflict in South Sudan and Yemen leading to continued emergency
Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
Country: Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Yemen
Staple food prices in July were more than double pre-conflict levels. The conflicts have disrupted trade and market supply in the most affected areas.
High food prices and conflict in South Sudan and Yemen leading to continued Emergency
Staple food prices in July were more than double pre-conflict levels in parts of South Sudan and Yemen. The conflicts have disrupted trade and caused a precipitous drop in market supply in the most conflict-affected areas. With depreciation of the local currencies against the U.S. dollar (USD) and incredibly low household incomes, as livelihoods have been disrupted by conflict, traders have few incentives to supply the most food insecure areas. Large areas of southern and western Yemen and the Greater Upper Nile (GUN) States in South Sudan are currently in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).
Conflict in Yemen and South Sudan, along with political violence in Burundi, has displaced over 3.7 million people. From South Sudan, over 620,700 people fled to Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda, and 1.6 million people are internally displaced. Over 188,900 people have fled Burundi for Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). , Over 99,600 people have fled Yemen to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Sudan, and over 1.26 million are internally displaced. Most refugees, asylum seekers, and IDPs have constrained access to labor markets, other income-earning opportunities, and food markets. Many of the internally displaced also have difficulty accessing humanitarian assistance.
Acute food insecurity in South Sudan peaked in June and July during the lean season. The combination of conflict, macroeconomic pressures, and market shocks contributed to the decline in access to food and income far below the already low, lean season access. Security constraints have restricted humanitarian assistance to many areas of Unity and Upper Nile States in recent months, further limiting food access in the worst-off areas.
Ongoing conflict, insecurity, and displacement, restrictions on imports and movement of food and fuel, elevated prices of staple foods and cooking gas, and major disruptions to public- and private-sector sources of income are limiting food access for poor households in Yemen.
In southern Afar and Sitti (formerly Shinile) Zone of northern Somali Region in Ethiopia, the March to May Diraac/Sugum rains were well below average, and it has hardly rained at all since the July to September Karan/Karma rains started late. Dry conditions have led to poor livestock body conditions, declines in livestock production and productivity, and a high number of unusual livestock deaths. With below-average rainfall likely to continue for the rest of the rainy season through September, poor households will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) only with the presence of humanitarian assistance through at least December.
With below-average June to September rainfall in eastern Meher-producing areas in Ethiopia and central and eastern Sudan, October to December harvests may be below average. Also, planted area in the Greater Upper Nile (GUN) States due to the conflict, is likely to lead to a well below-average harvest in those areas.
With likely above-average October to December rainfall in the eastern Horn of Africa during the El Niño, crop and livestock production are likely to be higher than usual. However, flood-prone areas in southern Somalia, southern Ethiopia, coastal areas in Kenya and northern Tanzania, and areas surrounding Lake Victoria in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania may have widespread flooding, limiting or delaying cropping, labor migration, and other essential economic activities.
As stocks are being drawn down, food prices increased from April to July in Ethiopia, northwestern Somalia, the maize belt in Lower Shabelle in southern Somalia, southeastern Kenya, and parts of northern and central Tanzania. In areas currently harvesting or having recently harvested, staple food prices are declining seasonally, including in western Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, southern Tanzania, the sorghum belt in southern Somalia, and bimodal areas of Uganda. Food prices are expected to decline, from October to December across East Africa, as harvests allow households and traders to restock.
South Sudan: UN rights experts warn of increasing violence against the media
Source: UN Human Rights Council
Country: South Sudan
The UN Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression, David Kaye, and on extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns, condemned the latest killing of a journalist, the seventh so far this year.
GENEVA (27 August 2015) – “The frequency of attacks and violence committed against journalists and media workers in South Sudan is increasing, and has reached a critical level,” two United Nations human rights experts warned today.
The UN Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression, David Kaye, and on extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns, condemned the latest killing of a South Sudanese journalist, the seventh so far this year.
On 19 August 2015, Peter Moi, who worked for various newspapers and media outlets in South Sudan, was shot dead in Juba by two unidentified assailants as he made his way home from work. Earlier in May, James Raeth, a radio journalist based in Aboko, was also killed in an attack by unknown perpetrators.
Three days prior to Mr. Moi’s killing, President Kiir had reportedly threatened journalists and media workers at a news conference and declared that freedom of press does not mean that they may work against their country.
“Like others, I was outraged by the remarks attributed to President Kiir”, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression said. “However, I take note of the recent statement by the South Sudanese Information Minister denying any intention on the part of the authorities to target journalists.”
“I unequivocally condemn the recent killings of journalists in South Sudan. Any threats or attacks are completely unacceptable and only embolden perpetrators to commit further violence against journalists, with impunity,” Mr. Kaye added. “I urge the country’s authorities to promote a safe and enabling environment for them to perform their work independently and without interference.”
The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions further added: “I am deeply disturbed by the allegations of attacks against journalists in South Sudan. The brutal killing of Mr. Moi and Mr. Raeth need to be urgently and thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators must be held accountable.”
“Political leaders have a duty to refrain from making provocative statements against journalists,” Mr. Heyns noted. “The Government must take measures to prevent such killings and to conduct thorough, prompt and impartial investigations of all cases of summary executions of journalists in the country since the beginning of the year.”
The human rights experts warned that targeting media independence produces a ‘chilling effect’ that could deter the legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression and opinion and the right to seek, impart and receive information. They urged the Government of South Sudan to take immediate steps to allow space for open debate and freedom of expression.
The experts are in contact with the South Sudanese authorities to clarify the issues in question.
David Kaye (USA) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in August 2014 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx
The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns (South Africa), is a director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa and Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria, where he has also directed the Centre for Human Rights, and has engaged in wide-reaching initiatives on human rights in Africa. He has advised a number of international, regional and national entities on human rights issues. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx
The UN Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights, country page – South Sudan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/SSIndex.aspx
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