UNITED NATIONS New
York (Xinhua) -- At a press conference
at the UN headquarters in New York, Muhannad Hadi, the WFP’s
Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa, Central
Asia and East Europe, said he welcomes the resolution and looks
forward to celebrating it with the people he serves.
In the past seven to eight years, the people who became food
insecure are mainly results from armed conflict in the Middle
East, he said.
In Yemen alone, the WFP is reaching more than seven million
people in need of food aid, he said, while recalling the
shocking scenes he saw during his trip about 10 days ago to the
The WFP is addressing the needs of over 4 million Internally
Displaced Persons in Syria as well as close to 2 million in its
neighboring countries, he added.
Hadi pledged the WFP "has the intention to continue
supporting these people until the conflicts are ending," noting
women and children are in most need.
Put forward by Cote d’Ivoire, Kuwait, the Netherlands and
Sweden, Thursday’s resolution urges states to conduct
investigations within their jurisdiction into violations of
international humanitarian law related to the use of starvation
of civilians as a method of warfare.
The majority of food insecure people and 75 percent of all
stunted children under the age of five are living in countries
affected by armed conflict, amounting to 74 million people
facing food insecurity or worse conditions, according to the UN.
The WFP said on its website that of the 13 largest food
crises in the world today, 10 crises in Afghanistan, Burundi,
Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen are
In this light, the resolution recalls the link between armed
conflict and food insecurity and recognizes the need to break
the vicious cycle between them.
Echoing this, the WFP website quoted its executive director
David Beasley as saying "the Security Council vote is a huge
step forward in the effort to break the cycle of conflict and
To this end, the resolution calls on all parties to armed
conflict to spare civilian objects including those necessary for
food production and distribution such as farms, markets, water
systems, mills, food processing and storage sites and so on.
It further urges all parties to protect civilian
infrastructure critical to the delivery of humanitarian aid and
to ensure the proper functioning of food systems and markets in
situations of armed conflict.
In addition, the resolution requests UN Secretary-General
Antonio Guterres to continue to provide information on the risk
of famine and food insecurity in countries with armed conflict,
and to brief the Security Council every 12 months on its
United Nations Security
Council underscores humanitarian
challenges in protecting civilians in armed conflict
UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) --
A United Nations Security Council (UNSC) debate underscored
Tuesday humanitarian challenges faced by health workers,
peacekeepers and host countries in protecting civilians affected
by armed conflict, calling for measures to rectify them.
More than 128 million people around the world need immediate
humanitarian aid, mainly driven by conflict, said UN
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, addressing the UNSC open
Last year, the UN recorded the death and injury of more than
26,000 civilians in just six countries: Afghanistan, the Central
African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo),
Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen, said Guterres, adding that "Ten
thousand of these were in Afghanistan."
Civilians in conflicts are also subject to horrific
violations of human rights, including rape and other sexual
The UN documented more than 800 cases of conflict-related
sexual violence in the DR Congo alone last year—a 56-percent
increase over 2016.
Millions of people have been forced to flee their homes for
an uncertain future, and at the end of 2016, 65.6 million people
were uprooted by war, violence and persecution, said Guterres.
In particular, the UN chief called attention to the
fatalities caused by explosive weapons, saying bombing and
shelling of towns and cities kill and injure tens of thousands
of civilians every year.
Guterres’ concern was echoed by the International Committee
of the Red Cross (ICRC) Director-General Yves Daccord, who
further underscored the vulnerabilities of civilians living in
population centers, calling on parties to armed conflict to
reassess and adapt their choice of weapons in urban warfare.
Participants of the debate highlighted the severe insecurity
of health care facilities and personnel in conflict, with many
of them referring to an international law on the protection of
health care in armed conflict, or UNSC resolution 2286.
However, during the two years since its adoption, from May
2016 to April 2018, the ICRC recorded over 1,200 incidents of
violence against health care in 16 countries.
"The gap between words and action is deplorable," said
Daccord, urging all states to uphold international commitments
and take the protection of health care a national priority.
Olof Skoog, Swedish envoy to the UN, said that last year
Syria alone witnessed 112 attacks against medical facilities and
workers, and that 645,000 medical items were removed from
inter-agency cross-line convoys.
Skoog said the Swedish government, together with the ICRC and
the Swedish Red Cross, will launch a project addressing armed
forces’ obligation to ensure protection and respect for health
care in armed conflict.
Karel J.G. van Oosterom, the Netherlands’ envoy to the UN,
stressed the need to "step up our coordinated efforts to ensure
accountability for such international crimes (attacks on health
Professional performance by peacekeepers on the protection of
civilians was widely called for at Tuesday’s debate.
"UN peace operations should prioritize the protection of
civilians," said Galymzhan Koishybayev, deputy foreign minister
Syed Akbaruddin, Indian ambassador to the UN, stressed that
resources need to be made available to peacekeepers to fulfill
their mandated tasks.
Meanwhile, though "protection of civilians is a system-wide
responsibility," host countries bear the primary responsibility
for it, said Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistani ambassador to the UN.
Moreover, Guterres called upon all governments to develop
national policy frameworks to protect civilians in conflict,
adding governments should set out proactive measures that
mitigate and respond to civilian harm by national militaries,
partner forces and international coalitions.
He also called upon member states to support the UN and
others in engaging with non-state armed groups to develop
policies, codes of conduct and action plans to protect
civilians, as well as to support advocacy of the protection of
United Nations chief
shares grave figures on civilians in armed conflicts
UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) --
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
said Tuesday that more than 128 million around the world need
immediate humanitarian aid and this staggering figure is mainly
driven by conflict.
In a statement to the security council convened for the
protection of civilians in armed conflicts, Guterres shared
alarming figures on the issue.
"Last year, the United Nations recorded the death and injury
of more than 26,000 civilians in just six countries affected by
conflict: Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the
Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen," he
"Ten thousand of these were in Afghanistan."
The UN chief noted civilians in conflict zones are also
subject to horrific violations of human rights, including rape
and other sexual violence.
He took the Democratic Republic of Congo for example, saying
the UN documented more than 800 cases of conflict-related sexual
violence last year — a 56 percent increase on 2016.
In regard to refugees and internally displaced persons,
Guterres said conflicts continue to force millions of people to
flee their homes for an uncertain future, revealing that at the
end of 2016, 65.6 million people were uprooted by war, violence
The UN chief went on to point out that bombing and shelling
of towns and cities killed and injured tens of thousands of
civilians every year.
As for Syria, he said, attacks reportedly killed and injured
significant numbers of civilians in Aleppo, Dayr al-Zawr, Homs,
Idlib, Raqqah and Rif Dimashq, destroying essential
infrastructure, schools and hospitals.
On infrastructure destruction, Guterres elaborated on the
attacks targeting medical facilities as well as humanitarian and
"In 2017, the World Health Organization recorded 322 attacks
resulting in 242 deaths among medical personnel and patients."
Guterres also lamented the impediment of the accessibility of
medical supplies and health care, citing looting of convoys as
well as threats and bureaucracy on part of conflict parties.
On conflicts’ impact on global food security, the UN chief
noted ten of the 13 major food crises in 2017 were
He took Yemen for example, saying "nearly 3 million women and
children are acutely malnourished and more than 8 million people
do not know where their next meal is coming from."
Global meeting on
prevention of mass atrocities opens in Uganda
KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) --
Government representatives, civil society
and experts on Wednesday started a three day meeting to devise
ways of preventing mass atrocities like genocide, war crimes,
and crimes against humanity.
Over 200 delegates, convening under Global Action Against
Mass Atrocity Crimes (GAAMAC), a state-led network, are
exchanging good practice and lessons learned from ongoing
experiences of prevention like early warning systems, prevention
of hate speech, role of politicians among others.
Adama Dieng, the Special Adviser of the Secretary General on
the Prevention of Genocide, told reporters that there is a lot
of conflict in the world which can or has led to mass
"It is extremely worrying, we are seeing intolerance being on
the rise, we are seeing far right-wing groups emerging in
Europe, we are seeing cynical western politicians using all
types of issues like migration to cast blame on people, all this
leads to hatred, leading to committing of atrocities," Dieng
He said in Africa, the situation on South Sudan is worrying
noting that atrocities are being committed in the eastern
African country since fighting broke out in December 2013.
UN figures show that over one million South Sudanese have
crossed into Uganda fleeing fight back home.
"It is really time that we invested more in prevention.
"The (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres reminded us a
couple of months ago that in the last 10 years, the
international community spent 233 billion U.S. dollars on
humanitarian intervention, peacekeeping and refugees.
"Imagine that even one percent of that amount was is being
used on prevention," Dieng said.
Nicholas Opio, a human rights advocate, argued that issues
that cause conflict like corruption, poor governance need to be
addressed to avoid leading to situations that cause mass
One key feature of the meeting will be the presentation of
the Africa Working Group Manual on "Best Practices on the
Establishment and Management of National Mechanisms for Genocide
and Mass Atrocities Prevention."
Dieng said he hopes that manual will be used as a blue print
to prevent or stop factors that lead to the committing of mass
atrocities around the world.
The last biannual GAAMAC meeting was held in Costa Rica and