Friday’s Daily Brief: human rights in Sudan, sombre anniversaries for Rwanda and Nigeria, and fears of ‘chaos’ in Libya
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Top news on Friday included: a call for respect for human rights in Sudan’s protests; the 25th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda; five years since the Chibok girls were abducted in Nigeria; the UN chief condemning a deadly terrorist attack in Pakistan; continued fighting in Libya’s capital; and an update on Colombia’s peace process.
Sudan military committed to ‘ensuring stability’ and ‘peaceful transition’ says senior diplomat, as UN rights chief appeals for protesters’ rights to be upheld
Sudan’s military has an “overarching duty” to refrain from using violence against protesters and ensure that their human rights are protected amid concerns of a further escalation, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Friday.
Her comments followed the ousting of President Omar al-Bashir, announced on State television on Thursday, accompanied by the declaration from the defence minister, that a military council would govern the country for up to two years.
From ‘dead on the inside’ to ‘truly alive’: Survivor of genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda recounts her story as UN marks 25th anniversary
“Miraculously I had no machete marks” a survivor of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda told a solemn United Nations event in New York on Friday, 25 years on, to remember the systematic killing of more than one million people, over less than three months.
“Most of the survivors we have today were broken in their bodies and their souls”, Esther Mujawayo-Keiner told those gathered in the General Assembly Hall.
Five years since mass-abduction of Nigeria’s Chibok girls
In Nigeria, it’s been almost five years since 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by armed separatists Boko Haram in the town of Chibok. Today, more than 100 of the abducted girls remain missing.
Those that have been rescued or escaped, have been receiving help from UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, which says that since 2013, more than 3,500 children have been recruited and used by non-state armed groups in the north-east of the country.
It has warned that these numbers are only those that have been verified, while the true figures are likely to be higher. In addition to these children, last year, 432 children were killed and maimed, 180 were abducted, and 43 girls were sexually abused in this conflict-wracked part of the Lake Chad region.
Ahead of the 14 April Chibok anniversary, UNICEF appealed to all parties to the on-going violence, to end violations against children and to stop targeting civilian infrastructure, including schools.
This is the only way to make lasting improvements in the lives of children in this devastated part of Nigeria, it said in a statement.
UN chief condemns attack in Pakistan
The UN Spokesperson issued a statement saying the Secretary-General is shocked at today’s attack in Quetta, Pakistan. He strongly condemns this cowardly act and extends his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Pakistan. He wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.
The United Nations expresses its fully solidarity with the Government of Pakistan in its fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
Airstrikes and heavy artillery exchanges increase fears of ‘chaos’ in Libya’s Tripoli
Concern continues to grow for civilians in and around the Libyan capital Tripoli, amid reports of increasingly heavy fighting on the outskirts of the city, between government and opposition forces.
In an update from Tripoli on Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that airstrikes and heavy artillery had been deployed during clashes between the internationally-recognized Government forces and the self-styled Libyan National Army, or LNA.
Here’s WHO’s Dr Jaffar Hussain Syed, speaking from the capital: “Our major worry of escalation is increasing the airstrikes which we have witnessed in the last few days; they have increased from both sides and heavy artillery. If at all the LNA forces manage to cross the current front line and come closer to the more densely populated city areas that obviously will increase the chaos inside the centre of Tripoli and will obviously end up with more casualties. But so far the centre of Tripoli is relatively calm and we have not witnessed any direct artillery shells coming or airstrikes taking place on the centre of Tripoli.”
Since clashes erupted a week ago, hundreds of people have been injured and dozens have died, including seven civilians – four of them health workers. More than 9,500 people have also fled fighting – 3,500 in the last 24 hours.
Head of UN mission in Colombia updates Security Council on peace process
Carlos Ruiz Massieu, who heads the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, told the Security Council about the latest developments in the country’s peace process implementation. He emphasized the need for the Statutory Law – which is the last missing element to enable the Special Jurisdiction for Peace to operate with independence and autonomy – to be put in place so the peace process can move forward.
Colombian President Iván Duque has delayed the process by objecting to six articles of the draft Statutory Law; the Chamber of Representatives rejected these said objections earlier this week. Now, the Senate’s decision on these objections is pending.
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace is a critical component of the peace process as it is the transitional body in charge of deciding responsibility for crimes committed during the armed conflict. The body started working over a year ago and has now initiated seven large cases concerning “significant violations affecting 820,000 victims.”
“In a climate of uncertainty – for victims, for those subject to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, for FARC members awaiting funding for social and economic reintegration and for communities who have suffered from the conflict – the greatest uncertainty would be to reopen core elements of the underlying Peace Agreement itself,” said Mr. Ruiz Massieu, calling for the Security Council’s “firm and unified support”.