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Libya: Heavy shelling and civilian deaths ‘blatant violation’ of international law - UN envoy

INTERNATIONAL, 17 April 2019, Peace and Security - Heavy shelling overnight on Tuesday which hit a densely-populated neighbourhood of Libya’s capital, Tripoli, was condemned “in the strongest terms” by the head of the UN Mission there, after “scores” of civilians were reportedly killed and injured.
“Horrible night of random shelling of residential areas”, tweeted UN Special Representative Ghassan Salame on Wednesday, after the Abu Salim district was hit. “For the sake of 3 million civilians living in Greater Tripoli, these attacks should stop. NOW!” 

Khalifa Haftar, leader of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), which controls much of eastern and southern Libya, has waged a two-week military campaign to take Tripoli from fighters loyal to the UN-recognized Government.  

According to initial medical reports, civilian casualties from the overnight attack, include women and children injured, and one family where the mother, daughter and grand-daughter were all killed. 

“The use of indiscriminate, explosive weapons in civilian areas constitutes a war crime,” Mr. Salame, who also heads the UN Support Mission (UNSMIL), said in a statement. He extended “with great sadness”, his “deepest condolences” to the victim’s families and wished the injured a speedy recovery.  

His statement pointed out that as of yesterday, there have been 54 confirmed civilian casualties, including 14 dead and 40 wounded, four of whom were health workers.  

 “Liability for such actions lies not only with the individuals who committed the indiscriminate attacks, but also potentially with those who ordered them”, stressed the Special Representative. 

International humanitarian and human rights laws must be fully respected and all possible measures to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure must be taken, he added.  

Grave statistics 

As sustained fighting continues in and around Tripoli, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHAreported that displacement is currently at its highest level since the current crisis started. 

UNOCHA
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Libya: Tripoli Clashes as of 16 April 2019.

With more than 4,500 people newly on the move, the total of number of internally displaced people (IDPs) stands at 25,000.  

According to OCHA, many civilians trapped in conflict areas face the dilemma of not knowing whether to remain in their homes or leave and face the uncertainty of clashes and shelling. This is further exacerbated as food and other essential items in some neighborhoods are running low. 

The UN’s humanitarian wing sets the current conflict against a backdrop of years of conflict that have driven a socio-economic crisis in Libya and left public services deficient and people vulnerable.  

At least 820,000 people, including some 250,000 children, are currently in dire need of humanitarian assistance. 

Meanwhile, OCHA has transferred defenseless migrants and refugees from Abusliem detention centre in the conflict area and says that the humanitarian community is maintaining efforts to ensure safe passage for civilians and medical supplies and services. 

As of 16 April, OCHA reported apart from the 25,000 people internally displaced by ongoing hostilities, 6,000 have received some form of humanitarian assistance since the crisis began; and the 2019 Humanitarian Response Programme is facing a $190 million funding gap. 

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Violence on the rise in Darfur following Sudan military takeover, but UN-AU peacekeeping mission maintains ‘robust posture’

INTERNATIONAL, 17 April 2019, Peace and Security - Security across the volatile Darfur region of Sudan has deteriorated since last week’s military takeover in Khartoum, the UN Security Council heard on Wednesday, but the peacekeeping mission in Darfur has “remained vigilant” in the face of rising violence. 

Jeremiah Mamabolo,  Joint Special Representative for the UN-African Union Hybrid mission, UNAMID, updated members on events since the ousting of former president of 30 years, Omar al-Bashir, with news reports suggesting on Wednesday that he had now been transferred to prison. 

Mr. Mamabolo said that with one General already forced out of office in the face of continuing protests, the daily curfew has now been lifted, and political detainees are due to be released, with a nationwide ceasefire now in place.  

“Yesterday, the Chief Justice and the Attorney General were replaced”, he said, adding that the new military leader, General Abdel Fattah Al-Burnhan, had announced a “military transitional phase” which would last two year at most, before a handover to civilian control. 

But protests are continuing he said, noting that some internally-displaced people, or IDPs in Darfur – where military action by the former president against civilians led to war crimes charges against him by the International Criminal Court a decade ago – had “engaged in violent acts” targeting Government locations, and those seen as collaborators with the former regime. 

“Let me assure the Council that in the midst of all these developments, UNAMID has remained vigilant, maintaining a robust posture, particularly in the Jebel Marra area of responsibility, which is where we have peacekeeping troops”, he added. 

The mission is currently drawing down, but the political landscape “has drastically changed, and has the potential to affect our mandate implementation going forward”, said the top official in Darfur, citing a postponement of a sector headquarters handover that was due to take place on Monday.  

“The incidents of violence in Darfur IDP camps in reaction to the events in Khartoum, attest to the fragility of the security situation in Darfur, which had hitherto been increasingly calm and stable”, excepting Jebel Marra, said Mr. Mamabolo.  

He urged Council members that the international community now “has an opportunity to initiate and sustain dialogue with the new authorities in Sudan. This would help create a conducive environment for UNAMID’s departure, and the international community’s follow-on engagement in Darfur. 

‘Regular operations’ continue for humanitarians in Sudan: UN deputy relief chief 

Although regular operations have not been affected by the political crisis, the UN deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator told Council members that humanitarians across Sudan were “very concerned about the protection of civilians” - particularly in Darfur, where localized fighting is continuing.   

The start of the school year has been delayed she noted, and the country’s burgeoning economic crisis “has had a significant impact” on need-levels nationwide, as one of the main drivers of the initial mass-protests that began in December, against the rule of the former president.  

She noted that rampant inflation, currency devaluation and soaring prices had contributed to rising numbers of those in need, with 5.8 million now food insecure, up from 3.8 million, this time a year ago. This includes 1.9 million in Darfur; a number likely to rise with the onset of the lean season in May. 

In all, around 1.9 million remain displaced by fighting she noted, the vast majority in Darfur. “More support is needed” from the international community, she stressed, and humanitarians are appealing for $1.1 billion to help the most vulnerable. 

Ms. Muller reminded members that Sudan had been a vital conduit for aid into South Sudan, and as host country to around 150,000 refugees from its war-ravaged neighbour. “We continue to call on all parties in Sudan to allow the humanitarian community to assist people in need”, she said. 

“We also call on the Government to take further measures to improve the operating environment for humanitarian organizations, especially the lifting of bureaucratic impediments to movement”.  

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Progress against torture in Afghan detention centres, but Government needs to do more, says UN report

INTERNATIONAL, 17 April 2019, Human Rights - Torture is likely still widespread in Afghanistan’s State-run prisons for detainees linked to ongoing conflict there, the UN said on Wednesday, while also noting an “encouraging reduction” in the level of abuse since 2016. 

Based on interviews with more than 600 detainees and published jointly by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), their latest report on the treatment of prisoners indicates that an average of nearly one in three, provided “credible and reliable” accounts of suffering. 

In the previous reporting period, covering 2015 and 2016, the ratio was closer to four in 10. 

Beatings represented the most common form of torture and ill-treatment, according to the data, which also noted that “the vast majority” of detainees held for alleged links to extremist group ISIL (also known as Daesh) or other opposition forces, said they had been tortured or ill-treated to force them to confess - and that the treatment stopped once they did so. 

Significant differences in the treatment of detainees were found depending on where they were held, with one Afghan National Police (ANP) facility in Kandahar, linked to a 77 per cent torture rate - well above the 31 per cent ANP average. 

The Kandahar findings included allegations of “brutal” forms of torture such as “suffocation, electric shocks, pulling of genitals and suspension from ceilings”, UNAMA and OHCHR said, while underlining that abuse allegations in ANP detention centres had fallen - from a 45 per cent average – since 2016. 

The report, which finds that youngsters are at higher risk of suffering mistreatment, discusses how detainees’ rights are violated in other areas. 

These include a lack of legal safeguards to prevent torture, difficulties in gaining access to lawyers and the continued absence of accountability for perpetrators, with very limited referrals to prosecution. 

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Michelle Bachelet, said the report’s findings demonstrated that the embattled Government’s policies put in place to combat torture and ill-treatment were having an effect, but they were far from sufficient. 

“A year ago, on this day, the Government of Afghanistan committed itself to the prevention of torture by acceding to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture,” Ms. Bachelet said. 

“I urge the Government to work swiftly to create a National Preventive Mechanism to ensure independent, impartial scrutiny of the treatment of detainees. A well-resourced watchdog of this sort, which is able to make unannounced visits to places of detention and raise awareness of what constitutes torture and ill-treatment according to international human rights law, can go a long way towards the ultimate goal of fully eradicating torture.” 

Also highlighted in the report are concerns over an Afghan National Army-run detention facility in Parwan, in the north-east of the country. 

These include overcrowding and the use of solitary confinement as the sole disciplinary measure, despite progress and “tangible results” made by the Government in implementing a national plan to eliminate torture. 

“We welcome the steps taken by the Government to prevent and investigate cases of torture and ill-treatment over the past two years,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Special Representative for Afghanistan. 

“However…there is still a long way to go to eradicate this horrendous practice among conflict-related detainees,” he added. “Respect for the rule of law and human rights is the best way to create the conditions for sustainable peace.” 

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Turn toxic e-waste into a source of ‘decent work’, UN labour agency urges

INTERNATIONAL, 17 April 2019, SDGs - A “toxic flood of electric and electronic waste” that is growing by the day across the world, should be urgently converted into a source of decent work, that can also protect populations from its harmful effects, the United Nations labour agency said on Wednesday. 

Governments, workers and employer organizations reached agreement at a meeting of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva, urging that “at all levels”, countries should look to increase and invest in better waste management infrastructure and systems to deal with “the rapidly growing flows of e-waste in ways that advance decent work”. 

“Every stage of the reuse, recycling, refurbishing, resale” process, when it comes to technology “has to be looked at in much more systematic ways”, said Nikhil Seth, Chair of the ILO Global Dialogue Forum on Decent Work in the Management of Electrical and Electronic Waste. 

Countries also recognized the crucial need to protect those working with toxic and hazardous e-waste, which negatively affects both them and the environment. 

“Workers handling e-waste have no voice, no bargaining power”, said worker vice-chairperson, James Towers, pointing out that “they are breaking hazardous materials by their hands.” 

Moreover, he added that “these workers are unaware of the many risks associated with handling e-waste”.  

A ‘great business opportunity’ 

The world produces as much as 50 million tonnes of e-waste a year, and although it is valued at 55 billion euros, or more than 60 billion dollars, only 20 per cent of e-waste is formally recycled, according to ILO. 

It is, however, becoming an increasingly important resource for in the informal work sector. Along the e-waste value chain, they recover, refurbish, repurpose and recycle electrical and electronic equipment, bringing innovative services and products to the market, aiding the whole “circular” recycling economy.   

“There is [a] great business opportunity in the e-waste sector”, stressed employer vice-chairperson, Patrick Van den Bossche  

“We need to step up our efforts in creating decent and sustainable jobs, fostering an enabling environment for sustainable enterprises, offering new products and new services, and adding value through enhancing the circular economy”, he affirmed.  

Government vice-chairperson Aniefiok Etim Essah spoke about how e-waste is littering the landscape of his country, Nigeria, as well as other African nations, arguing that this can be turned into a positive: “Our youth possesses the creativity and potential for learning skills to manage e-waste, giving us the opportunity to increase youth employment,” he said. 

ILO is a member of the UN E-Waste Coalition, formed to increase collaboration, build partnerships and more efficiently provide support to help States address the e-waste challenge. 

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UN Security Council condemns Taliban offensive as a blow against ‘sustainable peace’

INTERNATIONAL, 16 April 2019, Peace and Security - The United Nations Security Council has condemned the announcement by Taliban militants in Afghanistan of its spring offensive, saying it will result in more “unnecessary suffering and destruction for the Afghan people”.

Recognizing citizens’ “strong desire for sustainable peace in Afghanistan”, the Council underscored that “calls for more fighting will not advance the goal of making a sustainable peace”.

According to news reports, the announcement, which came as the UN lifted travel bans on the Taliban’s senior leaders to facilitate United States-led peace talks, signals that although negotiations are gaining momentum, fighting is likely to intensify around the country.

“Seize the opportunity to begin an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations that result in a political settlement”, the Security Council urged all parties to the conflict.

Number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, 2009-2018., by UNAMA report

The Council members reiterated “the importance of an inclusive Afghan-led and-owned peace process for the long-term prosperity and stability” of the country and expressed their “full support for the Afghan Government’s efforts to that end”.

“The members of the Security Council reiterated that, as mandated by the Security Council, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General stand ready to provide their good offices to support the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, if requested by and in close consultation with the Afghan Government”, they concluded.

The cost of violence

In February, UNAMA released devastating figures showing the direct impact of the conflict on civilians, with 3,804 deaths recorded last year, the highest number since the UN started keeping records ten years ago. In addition, 7,189 people were injured in 2018, five per cent more than in 2017.

“But even these figures do not capture the full human cost of the war,” the UN Special Representative in Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, informed the Council last month – noting that over half the population of the country lives under the poverty line and that 13.5 million people “survive on less than one meal a day,” which was compounded by last year’s severe drought.

At the same time, Afghanistan’s presidential election, originally due to take place this coming weekend, has been pushed back twice, from April to July, and most recently to September.

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UNESCO experts ready to assist reconstruction of iconic Notre Dame, following devastating blaze

INTERNATIONAL, 16 April 2019, Culture and Education - Two-thirds of the largely medieval roof of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris have “gone” after the devastating fire in Paris on Monday evening, but UN cultural experts are standing by to offer help where it is needed in rebuilding the iconic structure.

That’s what UNESCO World Heritage Centre Director Mechtild Rössler told UN News after visiting the site on Tuesday.

It’s a universal symbol, and it’s the centre of France…I think this is really shocking people profoundly – UNESCO heritage chief, Mechtild Rössler

She described seeing people praying outside the stricken symbol of the city and the nation, still trying to take in the scale of the disaster:

“I saw many, many people going from the Metro, to the site of Notre Dame, and I have to say many are still in a state of shock, because it’s not only the Christian community, it’s a building for all of us”, she said. “Really, it’s a universal symbol and it’s the centre of France …I think this is really shocking people profoundly and they lost something that is part of their identity.”    

Dr Rössler said that a team of UNESCO experts is on hand to investigate the stability of the stonework and potential damage to stained glass windows, echoing a statement by the UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, in which she announced that a “rapid damage assessment” would be carried out as soon as possible with the authorities.

After visiting the site of Notre Dame on Monday night Ms. Azoulay said “we are all heartbroken.” The Cathedral is part of the World Heritage site officially known as “Paris, Banks of the Seine”, inscribed on the World Heritage List, in 1991.

 “Notre Dame represents a historically, architecturally, and spiritually, outstanding universal heritage. It is also a monument of literary heritage, a place that is unique in our collective imagination”, said the UNESCO chief, adding that the inferno which engulfed the cathedral, but appears to have left the medieval stonework intact, “reminds us of the power of heritage that connects us to one another. We are receiving messages of support from all over the world.”

 The cathedral, where construction began in the 1160s extending for more than a century, is considered to be the finest example of the French Gothic style of architecture, with its groundbreaking use of rib vaults and buttresses, stained glass rosettes and sculpted ornaments.

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Nicaragua crisis: One year in, more than 60,000 have fled, seeking refuge

INTERNATIONAL, 16 April 2019, Migrants and Refugees - Doctors, journalists, students and farmers are among more than 60,000 Nicaraguans who have fled the country in fear of their lives since anti-Government demonstrations began last April, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said on Tuesday.

Echoing concerns from the UN’s human rights office, OHCHR, and others about the deteriorating situation in the Central American country, UNHCR said that families with young children are now taking extreme measures to cross the border.

“The kinds of reasons that people have been giving for fleeing are the fear of losing their lives, being attacked or kidnapped by paramilitary groups,” spokesperson Elizabeth Throssell told journalists in Geneva.

According to OHCHR, hundreds of activists have been arrested in Nicaragua in recent months in protests, while some 300 people reportedly died between April and August last year alone, the Office said in a 2018 report.

Costa Rica’s capacity, overstretched

She noted that of an estimated 62,000 people who had fled abroad, 55,500 had sought refuge in neighbouring Costa Rica.

“Some have received direct threats or have been persecuted; others fear for their lives because their communities have been a target of violence; or some, because their relatives are being sought,” she said. “So, we do feel that it is overwhelmingly a refugee flow.”

Latest information from the Costa Rican authorities indicates that at least 29,500 Nicaraguans have filed asylum applications to date. UNHCR has commended the country’s open-door policy, but noted that capacity to shelter everyone remains overstretched, meaning that 26,000 others are waiting to have their claims formalized.

© UNHCR/Roberto Carlos Sanchez
A young girl and her family apply for asylum in San Jose, Costa Rica, after fleeing Nicaragua.

People ‘hiding in trucks, amongst sacks, to escape’

“The people who are fleeing are coming from different parts of Nicaragua and they are travelling to the Costa Rican border, trying to avoid contact with the police and paramilitary groups,” Ms. Throssell explained. “Some are travelling in trucks, hidden amongst sacks.”

“Among those seeking asylum are students, former public officials, opposition figures, journalists, doctors, human rights defenders and farmers,” she said. “A significant number arrive in need of healthcare, psychological support, shelter and food assistance.”

Without a political solution to the crisis in Nicaragua, people are likely to continue to flee, UNHCR has warned.

Funds are urgently needed to strengthen the agency’s humanitarian response to allow asylum-seekers in dire need of assistance to access aid, Ms. Throssell said, instead of having to resort to informal jobs to pay for somewhere to live, and food prices which are beyond their reach.

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‘A global measles crisis’ is well underway, UN agency chiefs warn

INTERNATIONAL, 15 April 2019, Health - Noting a 300 per cent surge in the number of measles cases during the first three months of this year, compared to the same period last year, two UN agency heads declared on Monday that we now stand “in the middle of a global measles crisis”.

“Cases have soared across the world, including in places where measles had previously been eliminated, like the United States”, asserted Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Measles is almost entirely preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine, despite being highly contagious. The UN agency chiefs painted “an alarming picture” of the rate of infection, saying that “by the time you finish reading this, we estimate that at least 40 people – most of them children – will be infected by this fast-moving, life-threatening disease”.

A clear and dangerous trend

Following two years of consecutive increases, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine, are all in the midst of current outbreaks. It is also spreading fast among clusters of people, who are resisting vaccination, in countries with high overall vaccination rates, including the United States, Israel, Thailand and Tunisia.

“We're worried not only because measles can be so severe, it still causes over 100,000 deaths every year, but also because it is extremely contagious” said the agency chiefs.

Referring to measles as “the canary in the coalmine of vaccine preventable illnesses”, the UNICEF and WHO heads explained that “around the world, millions of children are still missing out on lifesaving vaccines, leaving them and their communities vulnerable to disease and deadly outbreaks”.

Living in countries where healthcare systems are challenged by poverty and conflict, many lack access to effective vaccines.  But “in several high- and middle-income countries", the UN agency heads lamented, “there are parents who are delaying or refusing to vaccinate their children because they're unsure of the need for vaccines or that vaccines are safe”.

Moreover, the UN agencies revealed that uncertainty is often fueled by confusing, contradictory online information, which spreads fast, with harmful content transmitted on digital channels; amplified by algorithms that reward controversy and clicks; and exploited by anti-vaccine activists to sow

A young boy is administered measles and rubella vaccine at a health post in Gorkha District, Nepal., by UNICEF/Kiran Panday

Additionally, scientists and health advocates have even been harassed for sharing information, according to the agencies, while unproven so-called vaccine alternatives are being marketed for profit.

‘Collective’ response needed

“It is a collective responsibility to support parents and build a more positive environment for vaccination, on and offline”, the UNICEF and WHO chiefs said.

Both agencies welcomed initial steps taken by digital companies, including Facebook and Amazon, to quarantine myths over vaccination safety, but say “it will take much more…to make sure all children get their vaccines at the right time”.

To reverse the trend, they flagged that everyone must advocate for vaccines, including by promoting scientific literacy on health and vaccines.

“It means governments must invest in primary care and immunization, and make sure these services are affordable, accessible and truly responsive to parents' needs, especially those in the poorest, most disadvantaged communities” the two stressed.

For their part, WHO and UNICEF, are working with other partners, such as the Vaccine Alliance, a public-private partnership known as Gavi, to ensure that vaccines reach more people in more countries than ever before.

 “It will take long-term efforts, political commitment and continuous investment, in vaccine access, in service quality and in trust, to ensure we are, and remain, protected together”, said the agency heads.

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‘Horror’ at Notre Dame fire disaster

INTERNATIONAL - As Notre Dame Cathedral burned on Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his “horror” at the images of the fire, shown live around the world.

The UN chief said that his thoughts are with the people and government of France.

Audrey Azouley, head of UNESCO – the Paris-based UN agency for education, science and culture – also expressed her “deep emotion” on social media.

Ms. Azouley wrote that UNESCO is closely monitoring the situation and is standing by France’s side to “safeguard and restore this invaluable heritage.”

The organization elevated Notre-Dame, widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French gothic architecture, to world heritage status in 1991.

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Plan for troop pullback ‘now accepted’ by rival forces around key Yemen port, but fighting intensifying elsewhere, Security Council warned

INTERNATIONAL, 15 April 2019, Peace and Security - A plan to withdraw forces from front lines in and around the key Yemeni port of Hudaydah has been accepted by pro-Government forces and Houthi rebels, the UN Special Envoy to the country told the Security Council on Monday, warning however that war shows “no sign of abating” elsewhere.

Martin Griffiths said that after a “long and difficult process” agreeing the details of a UN-backed plan, which the warring parties signed up to in Sweden last December to de-escalate fighting around Hudaydah, as the start of a process to hopefully end the fighting nationwide, “both parties have now accepted the detailed redeployment plan for phase one”, and the UN was now “moving with all speed towards resolving the final outstanding issues”.

He said the breakthrough would mark the “first voluntary withdrawals of forces in this long conflict”, noting that violence had “significantly reduced” around the Red Sea port city, which is the entry point for the vast majority of aid and goods for the whole country, since the fragile ceasefire began.

Mr. Griffiths told Council members he was committed to helping facilitate a political solution to end the war: “My primary responsibility in the next few weeks will be to winnow down differences between the parties so that when they meet they can, in all efficiency, be asked to answer precise questions about the nature of the arrangements to end the war”, he said.

“I seek the support of this Council for this approach. I ask you to put your faith in the desperate need for peace which is the daily prayer of the millions of Yemenis who still believe in its prospect.

Without more support ‘the end is nigh’ for Yemenis: Lowcock

UN Affairs Chief, Mark Lowcock, was next to brief the chamber, also via video-link, picking up Martin Griffith’s passionate plea for the international community to act now, to save countless Yemeni lives.

He reiterated his earlier call for a nationwide ceasefire, adding that "all the men with guns and bombs need to stop the violence. We again remind the parties that international humanitarian law binds them in all locations and at all times.”

But bullets are not the only risk to life and limb he warned, citing that so far this year, 200,000 suspected cases of deadly cholera had been reported, almost three times the same period last year.

“We see the consequences of the destruction of the health system elsewhere too. More than 3,300 cases of diphtheria have been reported since 2018 - the first outbreak in Yemen since 1982. Earlier this year, new measles cases surged to nearly twice the levels reported at the same time in 2018”.

Looming over everything, the risk of famine continues, he warned, saying that the World Food Programme (WFP) was upping the reach of support for the world’s largest aid operation, from nine million a month, to 12 million “in the coming months”.

Access to the vulnerable remains a key challenge he said, making clear that grain that could feed 3.7 million hungry Yemenis in Hudaydah’s Red Sea Mills, remained trapped due to conflict. Secondly, money was running out to save lives, he said, with only $267 million received so far, out of $2.6 billion pledged.

WHO, he said, “projects that 60 per cent of diarrhoea treatment centres could close in the coming weeks, and services at 50 per cent of secondary care facilities, could be disrupted.”

“We remain keenly aware that a sustainable peace - as Martin has said many times - would be the most effective remedy for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen”, Mr. Lowcock concluded. “Without peace, we will simply go on treating the symptoms of this crisis, instead addressing the cause.”

“Let me summarize. Violence has again increased. The relief operation is running out of money. Barring changes, the end is nigh.”

Level of violence, abuse against children ‘simply unacceptable’: Gamba

The UN’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, focussed on how Yemen’s most vulnerable had borne the brunt of war with a “staggering” figure of more than 3,000 children “verified as recruited and used”, while more than 7,500 were killed and maimed, with over 800 cases of humanitarian access denied, during nearly five years of fighting.

Almost half of those killed and maimed, she said, were victims of airstrikes, for which the Saudi-led coalition supporting the Government, “bears the main responsibility”.

On the ground however, “the Houthis were responsible for the majority” of casualties, predominantly through shelling, mortar and small arms fire.

Ms. Gamba said she had secured agreements with both warring parties during her time in office, to strengthen the protection of child lives, and to cut down on the recruitment of children as part of the war effort.

“The violence Yemeni children have been subjected to - and still are - is simply unacceptable. I urge all parties to the conflict to take immediate measures to ensure that their military operations are conducted in full compliance with international law, including through respecting the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution.”

She too, called on the international community to prioritize funding for Yemen, “in order to provide children with a chance to survive, learn, and construct the Yemen of the future”.

The Stockholm Agreement had provided hope, “yet as fighting continues and intensifies in parts of the country”, said the Special Representative, “I urge the parties to swiftly implement the commitments made. The tragedy of Yemeni children and their role in the Yemen of tomorrow emphasizes the need to put them at the heart of the peace process.

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