In first statement, UNSC voices ‘deep concern’ over conflict in Ukraine
UNITED NATIONS, May 07 (APP):The United Nations Security Council has adopted its first unanimous statement expressing “deep concern” over the raging Ukrainian conflict and backed efforts by the U.N. chief to find a peaceful solution.
Security Council statements must be approved by all 15 of its members, and the one adopted on Friday appeared to have averted Russia’s veto by referring to the conflict as “disputes” rather than “war” — as Moscow insists that its Feb. 24 military offensive against Ukraine constitutes only a “special military operation.”
The brief statement, drafted by Norway and Mexico, was adopted by consensus, with support from Russia along with the other members.
The document is not legally binding and does not mention Russia by name. Only Security Council resolutions are legally binding.
The United States, this month’s holder of the rotating presidency, said in the statement that the Security Council “expresses deep concern regarding the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine.”
“The Security Council recalls that all member states have undertaken, under the Charter of the United Nations, the obligation to settle their international disputes by peaceful means,” it added.
“The Security Council expresses strong support for the efforts of the Secretary-General in the search for a peaceful solution,” reads the statement, which also requests U.N. chief Antonio Guterres brief the council again “in due course.”
Guterres welcomed the Council’s support on Friday, saying he would “spare no effort to save lives, reduce suffering and find the path of peace.”
“As I have often said, the world must come together to silence the guns and uphold the values of the UN Charter,” the UN chief said.
“For the first time, the Security Council spoke with one voice for peace in Ukraine”.
The UN chief met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv last week.
His visits paved the way for joint United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross operations that have evacuated some 500 civilians from Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol and the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the past week.
The Security Council statement was agreed despite a diplomatic tit-for-tat that has been escalating since Russia launched its military offensive and what Guterres blasted as Russia’s “absurd war.”
Russia vetoed a draft Security Council resolution on Feb. 25 that would have deplored Moscow’s invasion. China, the United Arab Emirates and India abstained from the vote. A council resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the United States, Russia, China, France or Britain to pass.
The 193-member U.N. General Assembly, where no country has a veto, has since overwhelmingly adopted two resolutions, reflecting Russia’s international isolation over Ukraine. Such resolutions are nonbinding, but they carry political weight.
The General Assembly has deplored Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine,” demanding both that Russian troops stop fighting and withdraw and that there be aid access and civilian protection. It also criticized Russia for creating a “dire” humanitarian situation. read more
UN slams Taliban order directing Afghan women to cover faces in public
UNITED NATIONS, May 08, 2022 (APP):The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has criticized an announcement made by the Taliban ordering all women to cover their faces in public in the country.
“UNAMA is deeply concerned with today’s announcement by the Taliban de facto authorities that all women must cover their faces in public, that women should only leave their homes in cases of necessity, and that violations of this directive will lead to the punishment of their male relatives,” the Mission said in a statement. According to information received by UNAMA, this is a formal directive rather than a recommendation, any violations of which will lead to the punishment of male relatives.
“This decision contradicts numerous assurances regarding respect for and protection of all Afghans’ human rights, including those of women and girls, that had been provided to the international community by Taliban representatives during discussions and negotiations over the past decade,” UNAMA said. Following the Taliban takeover in August 2021, the Taliban assured that women would be afforded their rights, whether in work, education, or society at large.
News reports on the decree, which calls for women to only show their eyes and recommends they wear the head-to-toe burqas, say that this latest whittling of their rights in the country evokes similar restrictions from the Taliban’s previous rule between 1996 and 2001. It also follows the reneging on an earlier promise to appease their hardline rule at the expense of further alienating the international community, which has been eager for signs that the de facto authority is ready for positive relations with the wider world.
After seizing power, the Taliban confirmed in September that secondary schools were reopening, but that only boys would be returning to the classroom. Women teachers throughout the country were also unable to resume work. Six weeks ago, the de facto authority decided again to postpone secondary schooling for Afghan girls –drawing wide international, regional, and local condemnation.
This latest decision by the Taliban threatens to further strain engagement with the international community. “UNAMA will immediately request meetings with the Taliban de facto authorities to seek clarification on the status of this decision,” the statement continued, adding that UNAMA would also engage in consultations with members of the international community regarding the implications of this latest decree.
Intense push-back against the Taliban have led to nations cutting development aid and enforcing strict sanctions on the country’s banking system, pushing Afghanistan towards economic ruin, it was pointed out. On August 30, 2021, the Security Council passed a resolution calling on the Taliban to provide safe passage for all those seeking to leave the country. During a high-level meeting in Geneva the following month, the international community pledged more than $1.2 billion in humanitarian and development aid to the Afghan people.
Meanwhile, the nation is becoming the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with needs surpassing those in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, leaving nearly 23 million people facing acute food insecurity. In January, the UN and partners launched a more than $5 billion funding appeal for Afghanistan, in the hope of shoring up collapsing basic services there.
Throughout, the UN has pledged to stay and continue to deliver lifesaving humanitarian aid to the Afghan people across the country.
Acute food insecurity in parts of world: UN
UNITED NATIONS, May 04, 2022 (APP):The number of people facing acute food insecurity and requiring life-saving food assistance is growing at an alarming rate, creating urgency for tackling the root causes of food crises rather than just responding after they occur, according to a joint UN report released Wednesday.
“Acute hunger is soaring to unprecedented levels and the global situation just keeps on getting worse,” David Beasley, Executive Director of the Rome-based World Food Programme (WFP), said in a statement. The annual report from the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC) – an international alliance of the UN, European Union (EU), governmental and non-governmental agencies – shines a light on the urgency of tackling root causes rather than just responding to emergencies after the fact.
The report focuses on countries and territories where the severity of the food crisis is outstripping local resources and capacities. It reveals that some 193 million people in 53 countries or territories experienced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels (IPC/CH Phase 3-5) in 2021, representing an increase of nearly 40 million people compared with 2020’s already record numbers.
Of those, 570,000 people in Ethiopia, southern Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen, were classified in the most severe phase of acute food insecurity, “catastrophe” phase 5, and required urgent action to avert widespread collapse of livelihoods, starvation and death. When looking at the same 39 countries or territories featured in all editions of the report, the number of people facing Phase 3 levels or above, nearly doubled between 2016 and 2021, rising unabatedly each year since 2018.
“The results of this year’s Global Report further demonstrate the need to collectively address acute food insecurity at the global level across humanitarian, development and peace context,” QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said. From conflict to environmental and climate crises, and economic to health crises with poverty and inequality as underlying causes, these worrying trends are the result of multiple drivers feeding into one another.
Weather extremes have crippled over 23 million people in eight countries/territories, an increase from 15.7 million in 15 countries/territories. And economic shocks have affected over 30 million people in 21 countries/territories, down from over 40 million people in 17 countries/territories in 2020 – mainly due to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, conflict remains the main driver of food insecurity, having pushed 139 million in 24 countries/territories into acute food insecurity – up from around 99 million in 23 countries/territories in in 2020. “Conflict, the climate crisis, COVID-19 and surging food and fuel costs have created a perfect storm,” Beasley said.
“Millions of people in dozens of countries are being driven to the edge of starvation,” he added appealing for “urgently need emergency funding to pull them back from the brink and turn this global crisis around before it’s too late”. While the analysis predates Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the report finds that the war has already exposed the interconnected nature and fragility of global food systems, with serious consequences for global food and nutrition security.
Countries already coping with high levels of acute hunger are particularly vulnerable to the risks created by the war in Eastern Europe, notably due to their high dependency on imports of food and agricultural inputs and vulnerability to global food price shocks, notes the report. “The tragic link between conflict and food insecurity is once again evident and alarming,” QU said.
“While the international community has courageously stepped up to the calls for urgent famine prevention and mitigation action, resource mobilization to efficiently tackle the root causes of food crises due to, among others, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, global hotspots and the war in Ukraine, still struggles to match the growing needs”.
The report’s findings demonstrate the need for a greater prioritization of smallholder agriculture as a frontline humanitarian response. Furthermore, it advocates for promoting structural changes to current external financing, to reduce humanitarian assistance over time through longer-term development investments, which can help tackle the root causes of hunger.
In parallel, humanitarian assistance must be provided more efficiently and sustainably. “The situation calls out for at-scale action to move towards integrated approaches to prevention, anticipation, and better targeting to sustainably address the root causes of food crises, including structural rural poverty, marginalization, population growth and fragile food systems,” the Global Network founding members said in a joint statement with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank.
PM Shehbazphones political bigwigs to extend Eid greetings
ISLAMABAD, May 4, 2022 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday telephoned President Dr Arif Alvi, chief ministers of different provinces, leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement, and senior political leaders to extend Eid greetings to them. A day after his similar telephonic conversations with the Muslim world leaders, the prime minister communicated with the local leadership and exchanged Eid greetings besides discussing the country’s political situation. The prime minister telephoned Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Tanvir Ilyas and conveyed greetings to the people of the territory.
Moreover, he also condemned the ban on Eid prayer congregations in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to continue extending political, moral and diplomatic support till the Kashmiri people got their right to self-determination. He also interacted with the chief ministers of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan as well as the acting governor of Balochistan. However, he could not converse with the Balochistan chief minister as he was abroad.
The prime minister telephoned ex-President Asif Ali Zardari and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and extended Eid greeting. They thanked the prime minister for the telephone and reciprocated the Eid greetings. Prime Minister Sharif also phoned the PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman who congratulated him on his successful visits of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In his conversation with Jamat-e-Islami leader Sirajul Haq, the prime minister exchanged Eid greetings and discussed the country’s political situation.
Shehbaz Sharif also telephonically interacted with Communications Minister Maulana Asad Mahmood, Mohsin Dawar, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Allama Sajid Mir, Khalid Magsi, Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Ali Nawaz Shah, Shahzain Bugti, Aslam Bhotani and Chaudhry Salik Hussain. The prime minister inquired from Chaudhry Salik about the health condition of Chaudhry Shujat Hussain and expressed good wishes for his early recovery.
US begins training Ukrainian forces in Germany
WASHINGTON: The US has begun training Ukrainian forces on new military systems at American military installations in Germany, the Pentagon announced on Friday. Ukrainian forces are being trained on howitzer artillery, radar systems and armoured vehicles the US is supplying to Kyiv amid its effort to defend against an over two-month long Russian offensive.
Defence Department spokesman John Kirby thanked Germany for its support, and said the training in Germany and elsewhere "is in direct support of recent US security assistance packages that are designed to help Ukraine win their battles today, and build strength for tomorrow." "These new systems, and the associated training will strengthen Ukraine's ability to counter Russia's renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine," he told reporters.
About 160 members of the Florida National Guard are carrying out the training. It comes on the heels of US President Joe Biden announcing over $1.6 billion in military assistance for Ukraine over the past three weeks. He requested Congress provide an additional $20.4 billion in new military and other security assistance as existing funding is running dry.
The US has provided Kyiv with droves of armaments to aid its battle, include drones, anti-tank and anti-air munitions and heavy artillery. The package Biden requested on Thursday includes additional artillery, armoured vehicles, anti-armour and anti-air capabilities, as well as what the US says are "accelerated cyber capabilities and advanced air defence systems." It has not specified the systems.
According to UN estimates, at least 2,899 civilians have been killed and 3,235 injured in Ukraine since Russia launched a war on Ukraine on Feb. 24, with the actual figure feared to be much higher. According to the UN refugee agency, more than 8.3 million Ukrainians have fled to neighbouring countries.