Tag Archives: UN

Borrell: CAR consolidation for peace

Brussels 27.12.2020 The Central African Republic elections are a crucial step for the “consolidation of democracy and peace”, the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell wrote in his Twitter micro blog. He called for the “mobilization of voters and the responsibility of all actors for credible, transparent, inclusive and peaceful elections”, especially mentioning the European Union – African Union ties in support of the democratic transition.

Meanwhile the former Central African Republic president Francois Bozize (pictured) backs the rebels, and urges people against voting in presidential and legislative elections today, AFP Africa reports.

Francois Bozize, president of the Central African Republic from 2003 to 2013 and a participant in two previous attempted coups d’etat, returned from exile in 2019 to run for his old job. In December, just three weeks ahead of the election, Bozize was barred by the Constitutional Court from running again. The court ruled that he had failed to meet the “good morality” requirement for candidates because of an international warrant for his arrest and UN sanctions on charges of assassination and torture. He has since been accused of plotting a new coup.

Despite a series of attacks in the run-up to the Central African Republic’s presidential and legislative elections — the first since a fragile peace deal was reached between the government and rebels in February 2019 — as well as threats against the centers where voter cards are distributed, the possibility of assaults on polling places and the killings of three UN peacekeepers on Saturday, the national elections authority, ANE, has reported that the vote will go on.

Despite threats against voting offices and polling places, the Central African Republic’s election authority has said Sunday’s, December 27, vote will go ahead. According to press reports Mankeur Ndiaye, the UN’s special envoy for CAR said the situation was under the control of the UN Blue Helmets, together with the Central African armed forces and the Central African domestic security forces, such as gendarmes and police. They were on the scene to react to any attacks or strategies of harassment by certain armed groups in alliance with Francois Bozize, the goal of which was to obstruct the election process by preventing Central African citizens from receiving their voting cards and going to polling places on December 27.

“We face attacks every day, but our response has been overwhelming” Mankeur Ndiaye concluded.

Saharawi: EU for UN-led talks

Brussels 14.12.2020 “Western Sahara future should be solved in political negotiations. We call for quick resumption of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) to find lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the issue”, the spokesperson of the European External Actions Service said, while reacting upon recent events around the status of Western Sakhara.
(Image: illustration).
The EU diplomat placed the issue into broader international context, not limiting it to the 27 bloc to Mediterranean neighborhood, while commenting on the future of Saharawi people, and possible autonomy status within the Kingdom of Morocco.
(Image: illustration, archive)

The EU diplomacy spokesperson also added that the negotiations should be conducted in compliance with the U.N. resolutions on Western Sahara, in particular the last one from October 2020. (Adopting resolution 2548 (2020) by 13 votes in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (Russian Federation, South Africa), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 October 2021).
“In this context we are looking forward to appointment of the new personal envoy of the United Nations in order to pursue this political process, but the future determination of the status of the Western Sahara, the future of its people – from European point of view – should be decided in political process under the auspices of the U.N.

The Sahrawis largely depend on outside help to survive. In the remote region where the refugee camps are located, access to basic resources such as food, water, healthcare, housing, and education is limited. The climate in the desert is extremely harsh. 

A 2019 nutrition survey (World Food Programme, June 2019) found increasing malnutrition among the Sahrawi refugee children, with global acute malnutrition among under the age of 5 at 7.6% compared to 4.7% in 2016. Half of the number children and women also suffer from anaemia.

The largely isolated camps offer almost no employment opportunities, making refugees dependent on remittances and international aid. In such a remote location, logistics also play a key role to ensure regular distributions of relief to the refugee population. 

Social cohesion and peace are extremely fragile in the camps, with young people growing frustrated by the lack of opportunities or change due to the political stalemate. Livelihood activities are therefore crucial to reduce the risk of radicalisation or social unrest. The Sahrawi desert refugee camps are prone to natural hazards such as flash floods and sandstorms. In February 2020, it was confirmed the coronavirus had spread to Algeria, leading to curfew measures across the country and in the camps.

South Sudan peace accord impeded

Brussels 03.12.2020 Implementation of South Sudan’s 2018 peace accord has stalled, while the authorities have blocked humanitarian access to areas where conflict has restarted, the U.N. panel of experts said.
Deng Dau Deng, the deputy minister of Foreign affairs, has underlined that the experts themselves had been allowed entry into South Sudan, which shows “that the government of South Sudan is committed to meet the U.N. resolutions on South Sudan”.

Experts have also underlined that there was a lack of transparency in how the government collected and spent oil and other revenues. The government disputed the findings, saying agencies had access to all areas and it was making efforts to make the economy function.

South Sudan erupted into civil war soon after securing independence from Sudan in 2011, leading to an estimated 400,000 deaths and one of the worst refugee crises on the continent since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. A fragile peace accord between President Salva Kiir and former rebel leader Riek Machar was agreed in 2018 and they formed a government of national unity in February, creating a frame for potential peace.

However since then implementation has “mostly stalled, as the signatories have failed to adhere to the deadlines set in the peace agreement and have backtracked on aspects of its political, security and economic provisions,” the U.N. experts said. While the sporadic fighting has erupted in areas across the country, the panel experts found that South Sudan People’s Defence Forces and National Security Service “routinely blocked the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and peace monitors from accessing conflict areas”.

The experts also noted that the government, which relies mainly on oil for its revenue, has turned to resource backed loans and contracts as it struggles to deal with budget deficit projected to hit $700 million.

“South Sudan is cooperative,” he told Reuters on Thursday. “The U.N. mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and other agencies have full access to all the areas.” He also said, without providing details, that his government was working to improve the deficit situation in the country.

W.Sahara: Borrell insists on respect of ceasefire

The High Representative Josep Borrell met this Sunday, November 15, with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco Nasser Bourita and of Algeria Sabri Boukadoum, to learn about the latest developments in the El Guerguerat area, following the latest events that took place there.

The High Representative recalled on this occasion the full support of the EU for the efforts of the United Nations and its Secretary General with a view to finding a peaceful settlement to the question of Western Sahara, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations. United Nations and especially of the last resolution (2548) adopted on October 30, 2020. In this context, he wished for a rapid resumption of discussions under the leadership of the United Nations and a new Personal Envoy of the Secretary General of the United Nations for Western Sahara.

In particular, the High Representative underlined the paramount importance of ensuring respect for the ceasefire agreements in place since 1991 and reiterated the full support of the EU for MINURSO’s efforts to this end. In this context, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs assured the High Representative of his country’s commitment to respect for the ceasefire.

The High Representative also particularly insisted on the preservation of freedom of movement and cross-border trade in the El Guerguerat area, and its significant impact on the entire Maghreb and Sahel region, a region of strategic importance. A political solution to the question of Western Sahara is essential for regional cooperation between the Maghreb countries, the stability, security and prosperity of the region, and this even more in view of the current economic difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic .

Spain categorically condemns the acts committed on Sunday by some participants in a rally (…) in front of the Consulate General of Morocco in Valencia,” said the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation in a statement.
These madmen entered the consulate building in an attempt to place the flag of the so-called “RASD” there, “thus undermining the inviolability, integrity and dignity of the consular headquarters”, underlines the Spanish ministry . “No demonstration exercised within the framework of the right of assembly can degenerate into illegal actions, like the attempt perpetrated on Sunday, which constitutes a flagrant violation of the legislation in force”, affirms the Spanish diplomacy”.

Ehtiopia: Tigray region conflict escalates

Brussels, 14.11.2020 The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls Tigray, said it had targeted the two sites in Amhara state and warned of further strikes. Tension between Ethiopia’s government in Addis Ababa and the TPLF in Mekelle has escalated into military clashes in the past month. Reportedly hundreds have died, with reports of a civilian massacre emerging this week. However the information is limited due to shutdown of the internet, and ban of press access to the region. (Image above: UN source).

However the Amnesty International NGO said it had confirmed that “scores, and likely hundreds of people were “stabbed or hacked to death” in the town of Mai-Kadra (or May Cadera) on 9 November. The experts confirmed the gruesome images of the massacre were authentic.

Prime Minister Abiy ordered a military operation against the TPLF earlier this month after he accused them of attacking a military camp hosting federal troops – claims the TPLF vividly denied.
There have since been a number of clashes and air strikes in the region.

The ongoing military operation of the Ethiopian army has forced at least 17,000 civilians to cross the border into Sudan, according to the UN sources, which has also published a video on their site.

UN Libya envoy expresses optimism

The United Nations’ acting envoy to Libya said she was “quite optimistic” that ongoing talks between the warring sides would lead to a lasting ceasefire, after they agreed to reopen land and air routes across front lines.

Speaking midway through marathon talks, Stephanie Williams said the sides had also agreed to maintain “the current state of calm on the front lines and avoid any military escalation”.

“After two days of the first face-to-face direct talks between the two Libyan delegations to the 5+5 Joint Military Commission, which have been marked by a great degree of patriotism and professionalism and insistence on maintaining Libya’s unity and defending the country’s sovereignty, I am pleased to report that the two sides have reached agreement on several important issues which directly impact the lives and welfare of the Libyan people, namely” the statement reads.

“That is why I continue to be very optimistic that the parties here are going to reach a more lasting and permanent ceasefire,” she told a news conference at the U.N. in Geneva.

The first flights between Tripoli Airport and the main eastern city Benghazi would resume this week, and the sides had agreed to make progress on an exchange of detainees, Williams has underlined.

This year, the conflict has aggravated due to support of foreign powers. The Tripoli Government of National Accord administration (GNA), with backing from Turkey, halted a 14-month assault by Haftar’s Libyan National Army to take control over the capital with the backing of Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Foreign countries involved in the conflict “need to take their hands off of Libya”, Williams warned. Both parties have previously agreed that after a lasting ceasefire agreement is reached, all foreign forces and mercenaries must withdraw within three months, under U.N. supervision, the envoy has underlined.

Libyan oil output resumed in August after an eight-month blockade by the LNA, but the state producer, the National Oil Corporation (NOC), has underlined that the risks are imposed by a force that guards oil sites. Williams said the sides had agreed to delegate commanders from both east and west to work with the NOC on a proposal to restructure the guards to ensure oil flow.

An announcement by GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj that he intends to step down by the end of this month “should help end the long period of transition” and move towards a democratically elected government, she said.

This week’s meeting between GNA-Tripoli and LNA-Benghazi military negotiators in Geneva will be followed by a political dialogue in Tunis from November 9, Williams informed.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. At present the East Libyan authoritity – the Tobruk parliament backed by the Libyan National Army, led by Marshall Khaftar – does not recognise the status of Tripoli administration of Al-Sarraj. They repeatedly underlined in various statesments that the Shkirat Agreement (December 17,2015, Morocco), which has given a mandate for one year to the reconciliation goverment in Tripoli, has been expired a long time ago. They reiterated, that the result of this failure to realised the mandate within one year led to the «unconstitutional» status of the Tripoli government, while the status of the Tobruk parliament has been recognised the UN Security Council as the Libya sole legislator.

Mali: Moctar OUANE transition Prime Minister

Moctar Ouane,64, the Malian career diplomat and politician has been appointed as transition Prime-minister of Mali. He served in the government of Mali as Minister of Foreign Affairs from May 2004 to April 2011. Among other high status appointments he served as Mali’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 1995 to 2002.

After leaving office as Foreign Minister in 2011, Ouane became Diplomatic Adviser to the West African Economic and Monetary Union (ECOWAS) in January 2014.

Mali suffocated by ECOWAS

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) continues the imperative demands to the military commanders supported by Malians who assended power by coup d’état, to ensure a “rapid” return of civilian rule. The Republic of Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou on September 7 at the opening of ‘a summit of the ECOWAS in Niamey once again has underlined the major request for a clear timetable, ensuring the transition of power to the civilans.

“It is the duty of our community to assist the Malians with a view to the rapid reestablishment of all democratic institutions. The military junta must help us to help Mali”, affirmed Mr. Issoufou, also current president of the ECOWAS.

“Other strategic partners of the Malian people have the same hope,” he insisted.

President Issoufou recalled that the ECOWAS had “taken sanctions and asked the military junta to return to the barracks (…) and the establishment of a transition, lasting a maximum of 12 months, led by civilians “.

However the talks conducted by the ECOWAS are not reduced to verbal promotion of the democratic demands, the regional orgainsation has decided to close all its borders with Mali and block all the economic and financial transactions, launching a total blockade of the landlocked country.

As consequence even Mali neighbours started to doubt the effectiness of this drastic measure of the West African politicians, causing immense damage to Malians, already being listed among the poorest nations in the world. In Ayorou, a Nigerien town close to the border, residents are worried about the consequences of this closure, Radio RFI reports.

The residents of Ayorou are seeing short, medium and long term damages of the ECOWAS blocade because exchanges with neighboring Mali are essential for the city, especially concerning the supply of food products for the large Sunday market.

“There are the foodstuffs that they export, there is also tea, sugar and pasta. So really, if the borders are closed, we can say that the prices of the products will increase” the inhabitants of Ayorou complain.

Another consequence for the locals in the closing of the borders is damaging the travel between the various family members on the outskirts of Mali.

“If I wanted to visit family in villages on the border, for example in Koutougou which is around or eight kilometers from the border, it is a problem because the police do not accept the passage of vehicles” the local residents explain.

However the major concern is in absence of clarity for the future, how long will this devastaing for local population strategy last. The food shortages among neighboring countries, depending on Mali exports, are just part of the problem caused by the ECOWAS borders shut down. Nowadays the situaiton of the Malian population enters a dramatic stage of food insecurity, which has been a considerable problem for the internaitonal community, attempting to assist and provide humanitarian aid for the population, ensuring their human rights, namely right to life.

Escalating violence and insecurity in Mali have sparked an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, rendering 3.9 million people in need of assistance and protection – an increase of 700,000 since the beginning of the year, the UN said in December 2019.

Mali has been the scene of perpetual conflict and displacement for nearly eight years, when in January 2012, tensions in the marginalized north came to a head as rebels took over almost one-third of the country. A peace agreement signed in 2015 between the complex web of warring groups, has failed in implementation.

The report notes that eight years after the onset of the political crisis that has destabilized Mali, “the international community remains heavily focused on stabilization and counterterrorism, at times to the detriment of the worsening humanitarian situation.”

While insurgent violence in the north rages on, anti-Government elements have spread south into central Mali, where they have inflamed intercommunal tensions.

Some 70% of the people affected live in the conflict regions of Mopti, Timbuktu and Gao.

Throughout the year, UN and humanitarian partners have assisted about 900,000 people with food assistance and in 2020, the Humanitarian Response Plan seeks $365.6 million to assist nearly three million in urgent need.

While the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has restored some degreed of peace and government control there, the country’s northern and central regions remain trapped in cycles of violence.

The UN report (2019) has concluded that there is no purely military solution to the country’s crisis.

Although international humanitarian aid must be strengthened, Mali’s citizens also require a government willing and able to meet the needs of its people and address grievances at the root of the conflict while implementing the terms of the peace agreement in a timely and transparent fashion.

“The real war will be won by whoever wins over the population. And for now, the state is perceived to not even be trying”, said one of the UN representatives quoted in the report.

So fare the EU diplomacy has not expressed its position towards the ECOWAS strategy blocade of Mali trade, and finance.

“The decision to close borders by ECOWAS countries was undertaken on volonuraly basis” said the European Extenal Action Service spokesperson, while commenting on the issue.

Lampedusa protests against «invasion»

The UN Refugee Agency expressed concern about 400 migrants boared by three ships in the Mediterranean, and insists it on their swift and safe disembarkation. (Image: SeaWatch4 courtesy).

A joint statement issued with the International Organization for Migration has underlined that it was a “humanitarian imperative to save lives”.

Italy’s coastguard evacuated 49 people from an overloaded rescue vessel funded by British artist Banksy.

Another rescue boat SeaWatch 4 later took the remaining 150 migrants on board.

The crew of Louise Michel had earlier called for immediate assistance.

The European authorities had not responded adequately, they complained. The Sea Watch 4 crew said late on Saturday, August 29, it was now carrying 350 people who needed to disembark as soon as possible.

A third boat also needs assistance. A group of 27 migrants, including a pregnant woman and children from Libyan coast, have been aboard the Maersk Etienne since their rescue on 5 August.

The UNHCR and the IOM has pointed out that absence of a deal on a regional landing system could not be an excuse to deny vulnerable people safe harbour.

Howeever the main migrant reception center on the island of Lampedusa (Italy) is saturated in the midst of the pandemic, the situation that causses concerns of the local authorities.

“…The national government continues to maintain a scary silence”, Toto Martello, Lampedusa Mayor, said in a statement, explaining that the Lampedusa emergency reception center already houses 1,160 migrants, ten times its maximum capacity. He is “overwhelmed beyond what is humanly possible to endure,” the Mayor underlined.

On the night of August 29 to 30 on Sunday, the island welcomed an old fishing boat that was carrying 367 migrants, according to a figure revised by local authorities.

Carrying 13 women and 33 minors, according to the mayor of Lampedusa, it was at risk of shipwreck due to high winds and was escorted by the Italian coast guard and police to the port, the Italian news agency said. Ansa.

The migrants, whose nationality is not known, were disembarked in small groups in the early hours of the morning and underwent temperature checks, before being taken to a hot spot center.

When they disembarked in the port, awaited them a demonstration organized by the League.

Since Friday August 28, around thirty small boats, mainly from the Tunisian coast, had already reached the island by disembarking some 500 migrants, according to the Italian press.

An unprecedented situation, according to the Mayor of Lampedusa.

Referring to “an unprecedented situation”, the mayor of Lampedusa announced the summons of representatives of the island’s professional associations to declare “a general strike” from Monday 31 August onwards.

“If a fishing boat of this size with hundreds of people comes here and no one notices, it means there are no controls in the Mediterranean. But what are the military ships doing? We are not in war, why are they not used for security interventions at sea and to transfer migrants? ” he asks himself.

Toto Martello also denounced the fact that the army was struggling to prevent migrants from escaping, despite strict protocols linked to the Covid-19 epidemic. Fearing for the sanitary situation of the island, the mayor warned: “People in danger must be helped, but humanitarian reception needs rules because here, now, we are in danger”.

The president of the Sicily region, Nello Musumeci, on Sunday, August 30 demanded from the government, via his Facebook account, a meeting of “humanitarian and health crisis”.

“Lampedusa can no longer do it. Sicily cannot continue to pay the indifference of Brussels and the silence of Rome”, announced the elected regional president pointing his criticism at the European Union institutions.
The Mayor himself is under fire of the local inhabitants: «Lampedusa, the wind is changing: the anger of the Lampedusans explodes … against the Mayor Salvatore Martello, first responsible for the indiscriminate invasion: “Enough illegal immigrants NOW!», says the tweet, explaining higly emotional scenes on the island.

The president Musumeci had issued a decree a week ago to close all reception centers for migrants in Sicily (of which Lampedusa is part), denouncing hygiene conditions incompatible with the Covid-19 epidemic sanitary norms, an approach rejected by the Italian justice.

The Italian coastguard also transported 49 people considered fragile, mainly women and children, to Lampedusa on Saturday, August 30, who had been rescued in the Mediterranean by the Louise Michel, chartered by the street artist Banksy.

The other 150 passengers of the Louise Michel were all transferred on Saturday evening to the Sea-Watch 4, which now totals 350 passengers.

According to the Twitter account of this boat chartered by the German NGO Sea-Watch and the organization Médecins sans frontières (MSF), migrants are being treated by their medical teams for “fuel burns, dehydration, hypothermia and traumatic injuries”.

The ship, named after a 19th-century French anarchist, is decorated with graffiti by British artist Banksy depicting a little girl in a life jacket wielding a heart-shaped buoy.

Its captain is Pia Klemp, a German human rights activist, known to have driven several other rescue ships, including the Sea-Watch 3. She is still under investigation by the Italian courts, in particular for “assissting the illegal immigration”.

Banksy, who maintains the mystery of his identity, explained in a video posted on the internet on Saturday, August 29, that he bought the boat because “the EU authorities are deliberately ignoring distress calls from non-Europeans”.

EU welcomes Libya ceasefire

“The European Union warmly welcomes the announcements issued on August 21, 2020 by the President of the Presidency Council Fayez Al-Serraj and Speaker of the House of Representatives Aguila Saleh. This is a constructive first step forward, which demonstrates the determination of the Libyan leaders to overcome the current stalemate and creates a new hope for a common ground towards a peaceful political solution to the longstanding Libyan crisis and the termination of all foreign interference throughout the country” reads the text of the declaration of the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on behalf of the EU27.

A positive step in Libya. The European Union warmly welcomes the announcements issued yesterday by the President of the Presidency Council Fayez Al-Serraj and Speaker of the House of Representatives Aguila Saleh” Borrell tweets.

“We fully support the agreement around the principles to immediately cease all military activities across Libya, requiring the departure of all foreign fighters and mercenaries present in Libya, and resume the negotiating process in the framework of the UN-led Berlin process.

“We now urge all the Libyan parties, and all those supporting them in any form, to translate these principles into concrete actions on the ground leading to a permanent ceasefire, as part of the discussions within the 5+5 joint military committee and to relaunch the political process.

“We took note of the announcements regarding the lifting of the blockade on oil infrastructure. We now call for these announcements to be followed by concrete developments in terms of a full resumption at full capacity throughout the country in the interest of all the Libyan people, along with the implementation of economic reforms with a view to agreeing on a fair and transparent distribution mechanism for oil revenues and to enhancing the governance of Libyan economic and financial institutions.

“The European Union reiterates its full support to the UN and the Libyans in implementing these principles. We reaffirm our commitment to the Libyan people in their efforts to establish a sovereign, united, stable and prosperous country”.

The Tripoli-based and UN and EU recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) published a statement that also calls for elections in March next year.

The truce was agreed by an ally of Marshall Khalifa Haftar, who controls the east and south of Libya.
Libya has been riven by violence since Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the leader, was deposed by Nato-backed forces in 2011.

Libya’s warring rival administrations announced they would cease all hostilities and hold nationwide elections separately.

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