Archive | March, 2012

UN agency welcomes US contribution of $10 million to help Palestinian refugees

Posted on 27 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Tuesday, 27th  March 2012

UN News – Humanitarian Affairs – 26 March 2012 –

The head of the United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees today welcomed a $10 million contribution from the United States to its funding.The contribution was announced at a youth conference of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Brussels last week. Funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN Member States, UNRWA provides assistance, protection and advocacy for some five million registered Palestine refugees in the Middle East, pending a solution to their plight.

“I’m heartened that this donation came during such an important conference,” said UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Filippo Grandi. “The United States remains UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor and this latest contribution again demonstrates America’s strong support to the agency and its activities, of which improving the lives of Palestinian refugee youth, and the opportunities open to them, is such an important part.”

Contributions to UNRWA’s so-called General Fund are a critical means of supporting its work with Palestine refugees, particularly youth. Sixty per cent of the General Fund budget is dedicated to meeting the educational needs of the over 480,000 children who attend UNRWA schools.

The US’ latest contribution brings its total contribution to UNRWA to $65 million so far this year.

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Asked Army chief to act, but he did not: Antony

Posted on 27 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Tuesday, 27th  March 2012

PTI News  New Delhi: Def Min A K Antony appeared to blame Gen V K Singh for inaction, saying he had been asked to act but he did not want to pursue the matter for unknown reasons.

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Obama meets Hu after blunt words on North Korea

Posted on 26 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Monday, 26th  March 2012

PTI News  Seoul: US President Barack Obama meets President Hu Jintao today, after delivering a sharp public warning to China that its efforts to control its nuclear armed neighbor North Korea are not working. While sympathising with China’s lot in sharing a border with the erratic communist state, Obama suggested it was time for a change in Chinese strategy.

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On International Day, Ban pays tribute to all those seeking truth and justice

Posted on 26 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Monday, 26th  March 2012

UN News – Human Rights – 24 March 2012 –

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today paid tribute to all the brave individuals worldwide who have devoted their lives to protecting human rights and to promoting access to truth and justice.

The General Assembly in December 2010 proclaimed 24 March as the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims to honour the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations and promote the importance of the right to truth and justice.

It is also designed to pay tribute to those who have devoted their lives to, and lost their lives in, the struggle to promote and protect human rights for all, particularly Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, who was murdered in El Salvador on this day in 1980 for refusing to be silent in the face of violence, abuse and injustice.

In his message for the Day, Mr. Ban noted that the “dramatic and transformational” events of the past year, marked by widespread popular uprisings against long-entrenched dictators, showed yet again the acute need to preserve and reveal the truth about human rights violations committed during periods of repression and conflict.

“To deny victims this vital knowledge is to deny them justice, dignity and recognition of – as well as reparations for – their suffering and loss,” he stated.

“The implications reverberate well beyond individuals who have been directly affected by attempts to cover up human rights abuses. The rights to truth and justice are central to ending impunity for gross violations of human rights,” he added.

Mr. Ban said that in cases of enforced disappearance, families have the right to know the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones.

“In all instances, honouring this right puts others on notice that violations cannot stay hidden for long,” he stated.

He also highlighted the range of truth-seeking mechanisms supported by the United Nations that can play a powerful role in documenting gross human rights violations and which are central to the quest for justice and stability. These include truth and reconciliation commissions, international commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions.

He also welcomed the recent decision by the UN Human Rights Council to appoint a new Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.

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UN Human Rights Council demands end to violence and widespread abuses in Syria

Posted on 24 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Sunday, 25th  March 2012

UN News – Human Rights – 23 March 2012 –

The United Nations Human Rights Council today adopted a resolution demanding that the Syrian Government cease all violence, protect its people, and put an end to widespread and systematic abuses such as the killing and persecution of protesters.The text was adopted by a vote of 41 in favour to three against with two abstentions by the 47-member Council, which is wrapping up its current session in Geneva.

The Council strongly condemned the “sharply escalating widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms perpetrated by the Syrian authorities,” as well as the attacks against civilians and “extensive” violations of children’s rights.

The UN estimates that more than 8,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising – part of the broader Arab Spring movement across North Africa and the Middle East – began in March last year.

The Council also strongly urged that the Syrian authorities to put an immediate end to all violence and all human rights violations. It demanded that they meet their responsibility to protect their population, and respect the popular will, aspirations and demands of the Syrian people.

In its resolution, the Council – which is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing human rights violations – also extended the mandate of the three-member commission of inquiry that it set up last September to probe alleged abuses in Syria since last March, when the pro-democracy protests began.

The commission, which presented its report to the Council earlier this month, documented patterns of summary execution, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture, including sexual violence, as well as violations of children’s rights by Syrian security forces.

Gravely concerned that crimes against humanity had been committed, it called on the Government to put an immediate end to the violations and bring the perpetrators to justice.

“The only solution is a negotiated settlement with inclusive dialogue among all parties,” the commission’s chair, Paulo Pinheiro, told a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York.

The ongoing violence has displaced tens of thousands of Syrians within the country and thousands have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today appealed for $84 million to support an inter-agency plan to respond to the needs of Syrian refugees in those countries – currently estimated to number nearly 40,000.

“The plan is based on an estimate that in the next six months assistance will be needed to support some 100,000 people. This will mainly comprise Syrian refugees, as well as some third-country nationals,” a UNHCR spokesperson, Adrian Edwards, told reporters in Geneva.

A separate appeal, led by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), is expected in the near future to cover humanitarian needs inside Syria, Mr. Edwards added.

Also today, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) unveiled plans to address the urgent health, educational and other needs of tens of thousands of Syrian children being sheltered in surrounding countries.

UNICEF’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Maria Calivis, pointed out to media in Geneva that children had not been spared the violence sweeping Syria over the past year. At least 500 Syrian children have been killed in the violence thus far, while hundreds more have been injured, put in detention or abused.

Meanwhile, the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States for Syria, Kofi Annan, is to travel this weekend to Moscow and Beijing to discuss the ongoing crisis. In addition, the team of experts that went to Damascus to discuss ways to implement the six-point proposal that the envoy presented there has returned after three days of “intensive” talks.

The Syrian responses to the proposal were now being studied and negotiations continued, Mr. Annan’s spokesperson, Ahmad Fawzi, told reporters in Geneva.

“Negotiations are at a very difficult stage, and will not be conducted in public,” Mr. Fazwi said. “However, every minute counted and progress will need to be made soon.”

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Patnaik speaks to PC, briefs him on MLA abduction

Posted on 24 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Sunday, 25th  March 2012

PTI News  New Delhi: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today called up Home Minister P Chidambaram and briefed him about the situation arising out of the kidnapping of an MLA and two Italians by Naxals. Maoists abducted Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka from Koraput district early today.

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UN urges Sri Lanka to take ‘credible’ steps to ensure accountability for alleged war crimes

Posted on 23 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Saturday, 24th  March 2012

UN News – Human Rights – 22 March 2012 –

The top United Nations human rights body today called on the Government of Sri Lanka to take “credible” steps to ensure accountability for alleged serious violations committed during the final stages of the country’s civil war.In a resolution adopted today, the 47-member Human Rights Council called on the Government to take “all necessary additional steps to fulfil its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans.”

The text, tabled by the United States, was adopted by a vote of 24 in favour to 15 against, with 8 abstentions.

Sri Lankan Government forces declared victory over the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009 after a conflict that had raged on and off for nearly three decades and killed thousands of people. A report by the country’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission was released last December.

In its resolution, the Council – which is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing human rights violations – called on the Government to implement the recommendations made in that report and to present “as expeditiously as possible” a comprehensive action plan detailing the steps it has taken and will take towards that end, and also to address alleged violations of international law.

A three-member UN panel of experts on accountability issues during the civil war found there were credible reports that both Government forces and the LTTE committed war crimes during the final months of the conflict.

It recommended that the Government respond to the allegations by initiating an effective accountability process starting with genuine investigations.

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Key UPA constituents want Lokayukta provision deleted

Posted on 23 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Saturday, 24th  March 2012

PTI News  New Delhi: The contentious provision relating to Lokayuktas in the Lokpal Bill may undergo change as key UPA constituents joined the Opposition in demanding its deletion but differences still persist on some other provisions.

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UN-backed effort aims to vaccinate 111 million children against polio in four days

Posted on 22 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Friday, 23rd  March 2012

UN News – 21 March 2012 – A United Nations-backed campaign will seek to vaccinate more than 111 million children under the age of five against polio in 20 African countries in just four days.
“The upcoming campaign in West and Central Africa will aim to cover all children, immunized or not, in order to boost their protection levels and deprive the virus of the fertile seedbed on which it depends for survival,” said the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Luis Sambo. “This exercise should bring us closer to reaching our goal of interrupting wild polio virus transmission in our region in 2012.”
The campaign, which will kick off on Friday, is intended to serve as a massive boost in efforts to eradicate the disease, and will involve national health ministries and UN agencies, as well as tens of thousands of volunteers who will go from door-to-door immunizing children.
In a news release today, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) described the campaign as entering a “decisive phase.”
“Either we succeed in eradicating polio today or this initiative will falter tomorrow and polio will explode,” said UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, David Gressly. “We will then see millions of children being paralyzed by this disease.”
Out of the 20 targeted countries, Nigeria is the only polio endemic country, and throughout its immunization period – which will start a week later for logistical reasons – it aims to provide 57.7 million children with two drops of oral vaccine each.
The other 19 countries are Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR), Niger, Cameroon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. Together, the 19 countries account for nearly 53.3 million children who will be targeted in the campaign.
Due to the presence of the disease in Nigeria, the risk of importation of the polio virus remains high in West Africa, with Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali and Niger having seen the resurgence of the virus last year.
To reduce the risk of transmission of the polio virus, the oral polio vaccine coverage must be sustained for a number of years. However, a WHO assessment conducted in February shows that there have been gaps in routine vaccination in most West African countries. The upcoming campaign aims to address these gaps and boost the population’s immunity levels.
Since the 1988 launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative – spearheaded by national governments, WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – the incidence of polio has been reduced by more than 99 per cent. At the time, more than 350,000 children were paralyzed every year in more than 125 countries.
Last year, 650 cases were reported worldwide, and India – once regarded as the epicentre of polio – was declared to be free of the disease in January, reducing the number of polio-endemic countries to three: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

21 March 2012 – A United Nations-backed campaign will seek to vaccinate more than 111 million children under the age of five against polio in 20 African countries in just four days.“The upcoming campaign in West and Central Africa will aim to cover all children, immunized or not, in order to boost their protection levels and deprive the virus of the fertile seedbed on which it depends for survival,” said the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Luis Sambo. “This exercise should bring us closer to reaching our goal of interrupting wild polio virus transmission in our region in 2012.”The campaign, which will kick off on Friday, is intended to serve as a massive boost in efforts to eradicate the disease, and will involve national health ministries and UN agencies, as well as tens of thousands of volunteers who will go from door-to-door immunizing children.In a news release today, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) described the campaign as entering a “decisive phase.”“Either we succeed in eradicating polio today or this initiative will falter tomorrow and polio will explode,” said UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, David Gressly. “We will then see millions of children being paralyzed by this disease.”Out of the 20 targeted countries, Nigeria is the only polio endemic country, and throughout its immunization period – which will start a week later for logistical reasons – it aims to provide 57.7 million children with two drops of oral vaccine each.The other 19 countries are Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR), Niger, Cameroon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. Together, the 19 countries account for nearly 53.3 million children who will be targeted in the campaign.Due to the presence of the disease in Nigeria, the risk of importation of the polio virus remains high in West Africa, with Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali and Niger having seen the resurgence of the virus last year.To reduce the risk of transmission of the polio virus, the oral polio vaccine coverage must be sustained for a number of years. However, a WHO assessment conducted in February shows that there have been gaps in routine vaccination in most West African countries. The upcoming campaign aims to address these gaps and boost the population’s immunity levels.Since the 1988 launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative – spearheaded by national governments, WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – the incidence of polio has been reduced by more than 99 per cent. At the time, more than 350,000 children were paralyzed every year in more than 125 countries.Last year, 650 cases were reported worldwide, and India – once regarded as the epicentre of polio – was declared to be free of the disease in January, reducing the number of polio-endemic countries to three: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

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UNHRC votes against Lanka’s rights record; India joins West

Posted on 22 March 2012 by admin

AIHRA News Friday, 23rd  March 2012

PTI News Geneva: Sri Lanka today faced a major embarrassment as the UN’’s top human rights body adopted a resolution censuring it for alleged war crimes in the conflict with LTTE as India joined the West in backing the US-sponsored move.

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