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Attacks on schools quadruple in conflict-hit eastern Ukraine – UNICEF

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Since the start of eastern Ukraines five-year conflict, more than 750 educational facilities on both sides have been damaged or destroyed due to hostilities

KYIV/NEW YORK, 21 May 2019 – Schoolchildren in conflict-hit eastern Ukraine have suffered a four-fold increase in attacks on schools during the first four months of the year, compared to the same period in 2018, traumatizing students and putting them at risk of injury or death, UNICEF said today.

Between January and April 2019, there were 12 attacks on schools, compared to three incidents during the same period last year. The alarming increase is reminiscent of the violence experienced by schoolchildren and teachers in 2017, when there were more than 40 attacks on education facilities.

“Schoolchildren are bearing long-lasting mental and physical scars of eastern Ukraines conflict,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “Daily life at school is disrupted by shelling and shootings, forcing children to take cover in school basements and underground bomb shelters. In many cases, children have become too terrified to learn.”

Since the conflict began in early 2014, more than 750 educational facilities on both sides of the contact line have been damaged or destroyed due to hostilities. The proximity of military sites, bases and storage facilities as well as security checkpoints puts schoolchildren along both sides of the contact line in grave danger. In addition, mines and explosive remnants of war are threatening childrens safety and leading to trauma and emotional distress.

“Destroyed classrooms surrounded by sandbags to protect children from stray bullets are no place for a child to learn. All parties the conflict must protect schools and keep children safe,” Fore said.

UNICEF calls for an immediate end to the fighting and the protection of children at all times. UNICEF urges all governments, including Ukraine, to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, an intergovernmental political commitment to take concrete measures to protect students, educators and educational facilities from deliberate and indiscriminate attack during armed conflict.

Next week, the government of Spain will host the third International Conference on Safe Schools, an opportunity for states to highlight the progress they have made in implementing the Declaration.

UNICEF is working with partners across eastern Ukraine to provide much-needed counselling, psychosocial support, and information on the risks of mines to hundreds of thousands of children, youth and caregivers affected by the conflict. UNICEF is also providing support to education facilities so that repairs to damaged schools and kindergartens can be made, and education supplies such as educational kits, furniture and sport equipment can be replaced.

Notes to editors

New Report: Israel Aims to Change Jerusalem Identity by Shutting Down Institutions and Confiscating Land

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Geneva – The Israeli authorities have continued their human rights violations in Jerusalem in November 2019, as they escalated their attempts to end Palestinian presence and change the city’s identity by closing institutions, confiscating land, and displacing residents, according to a monthly report published by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.

The US Administration’s attitude towards the Palestinian issue encouraged the Israeli authorities to commit more violations in the Palestinian Territories, especially after the recent US decision to consider settlements in the West Bank legitimate and dont violate international law.

Anas Jirjawi, Euro-Med Monitors Director of the Middle East and North Africa[hhmc]

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Euro-Med Monitor said in its monthly report, which monitors Israeli violations in Jerusalem that the Israeli forces committed 400 violations in Jerusalem which fall under 18 types of human rights violations. The majority of these violations were raids, with a total of 25.8%, followed by arrests, with a total of 20.3%, and checkpoints and freedom of movement, with a total of 16.5%.

The report documented 25 shootings and direct assaults carried out by Israeli forces in the neighborhoods of Jerusalem, which resulted in the death of Fares Abu Nab, 23. This incident constitutes a use of excessive force without him posing any danger or threat to the lives of Israeli forces. In addition, 17 Palestinian civilians, including two women, were wounded with rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters, and dozens were suffocated by tear gas while 14 Palestinians were beaten by Israeli forces.

This month, Israeli authorities closed four Palestinian establishments, including the official Palestine Television headquarters, which suggests that Israel is proceeding with its policy that aims to end the existence and operation of official Palestinian institutions, restricting work of official Palestinian figures in the city, and preventing any manifestations of Palestinian sovereignty.

The report documented 103 raids into the towns and neighborhoods of Jerusalem by Israeli forces. The raids included the arrest of 78 Palestinian citizens, including 12 children, a woman, the Palestinian Minister and Governor of Jerusalem, and the Director of the Directorate of Education. The report said that Israeli forces summoned 11 Palestinians and imposed house arrests on at least eight citizens, including children, following imposing fines on them.

The report documented 20 demolitions of Palestinian homes and properties in occupied Jerusalem. Nine homes were demolished, one of which was destroyed by its owner to avoid paying huge fines. In addition, six barns and warehouses were demolished in the city while ten other facilities were notified of demolitions.

These demolitions are carried out by Israeli army forces as part of a systematic policy of forced displacement of Palestinians, in order to change the demographic character of the city, nothing that such actions amount to a war crime.

The report documented four confiscation orders issued by Israeli forces, which seized 790 dunums in Jerusalem for the purpose of building the separation wall as well as roads while 6,850 dunums in the West Bank were affected.

The report documented two Israeli decisions regarding the approval of the Jerusalem train plan and the establishment of 11,000 housing units in a new neighborhood in the abandoned Qalandia Airport to expand the settlement of Atarot north of Jerusalem. The Geneva-based group noted that an Israeli decision to ban the work of UNRWA in Jerusalem was also issued.

Cholera response plan launched in Sudan

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Humanitarian partners in Sudan have launched a three-month cholera response plan to urgently address the current outbreak that has killed eight and affected at least 231 people so far in the Blue Nile and Sennar states. Without immediate action the UN estimates over 13,000 cholera cases could result in the next 6 months in eight high-risk states in Sudan (Blue Nile, Sennar, Gezira, Khartoum, Gadaref, White Nile, Kassala, and River Nile).

Read more on United Nations OCHA

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s hunger strike is ‘heartbreaking situation’

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Amnesty supporters to visit Richard Ratcliffe at his parallel hunger strike protest outside Iranian Embassy in London

Its shocking that its come to this – Kate Allen

Responding to news that the jailed UK charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has started a hunger strike in protest at her continued imprisonment in Iran – while her husband Richard Ratcliffe has also gone on hunger strike outside the Iranian Embassy in London – Kate Allen, Amnesty International UKs Director, said:

“This is a truly heartbreaking situation.

“Nazanin has already been through so much, while her tireless husband Richard has strained every sinew to get Nazanin out of jail and back to the UK where she belongs.

“Nazanin is a prisoner of conscience, unfairly jailed after a sham trial and subjected to all manner of torments – including months in solitary conferment and endless game-playing over whether she would receive vital medical care.

“Its shocking that its come to this, and we and countless people across the county fervently hope the Iranian authorities will now finally do the right thing and release Nazanin.

“Ill be visiting Richard outside the Iranian Embassy to offer my support, and I know some of his many supporters will be doing the same.”

Richard Ratcliffe to camp outside Iranian Embassy

Amnestys campaign for Zaghari-Ratcliffes release has been supported by almost 200,000 people, and a number of Amnesty supporters are expected to visit Richard Ratcliffe outside the Iranian Embassy in central London in the coming days to offer their moral support as he embarks on a solidarity protest on behalf of his wife.

PSC graphics show apartheid South Africa-Israel parallels

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By Palestine Solidarity Campaign – PSC today published new graphics showing the parallels between state policies in apartheid-era South Africa and those of contemporary Israel towards Palestinians.

The visuals, produced by Visualizing Palestine, were co-released in the run up to our conference “Justice in Palestine: Ending Apartheid, Achieving Freedom and Equality”, where the graphics will be exhibited publicly for the first time worldwide.

Israels policies toward Palestinians are often described in Hebrew as hafrada (“separation”), a word strikingly similar in meaning to the Afrikaans word apartheid (“separateness” or “apart-hood”).

Although there are substantive differences between the policies of the Israeli government and those of the apartheid regime in South Africa, a 2017 UNESCWA report found that Israeli policies and practices meet the legal definition of the “Crime of Apartheid” as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

In July, the Israeli Knesset passed the Nation-State Law, making its discriminatory policies all the more explicit.

The new images highlight five striking parallels between apartheid-era South Africa and Israels policies towards Palestinians today:

  1. land expropriation
  2. racial classification
  3. mass displacement
  4. violent repression
  5. token independence

View the graphics below, or on our Twitter, Facebook or Instagram pages.

To view more brilliant infographics about life for Palestinians living under Israeli apartheid, visit the Visualizing Palestine site.

A limited number of tickets for our conference are still available. For more info and to book, click here.

WAR ON WANT’S COMMITMENT TO SAFEGUARDING AND CODE OF CONDUCT

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The recent reports regarding the conduct of staff working for international humanitarian and development charities, focusing on Oxfam, is a crucial reminder of the importance that charities should place on ensuring effective policies and practices in safeguarding, including commitments to recognise and uphold the dignity of local communities that the sector works with.

It is also a lesson on how unequal power relations can permeate the charity sector and replicate the kind of discriminatory and harmful behaviours that we see present in other sectors and in broader society.

Part of this picture is the very methodology of the traditional charitable approach to humanitarian crises and development in the global South – an approach where workers are brought in from largely Western countries to carry out and oversee humanitarian and development projects in communities that are very often living in extreme poverty, marginalised and seen as beneficiaries, as opposed to equal partners with agency, power and the ability to bring about their own change.

Throughout its history War on Want has focused on the structural causes of poverty and inequality rather than traditional aid projects. Our work with partners is what shapes the work that we do. These long-term partnerships ground our work in the aspirations of democratic social movements, ensuring that War on Wants politics remain true to the hopes of those on the front line in the struggle. Our programmes are partnerships of equals, based on full respect for the ambitions and politics of all we work with.

Violence against women is a fundamental and systematic abuse of womens human rights. It is an issue that War on Want works on together with womens rights organisations, as part of our ongoing work to address the root causes of poverty and human rights abuses. Many of War on Wants programme partnerships are directly focused on the empowerment of women as agents of change. We work in support of women challenging the dominance of male workers in national labour movements, striving to enable a new generation of women to break through the barriers of social and economic exploitation and take their place as leaders in the struggle. We work with women in the informal economy, fighting for equal recognition of their rights in the face of threats and violence at work and in the home.

We understand clearly our responsibility to ensure best practice from staff, trustees and volunteers alike in the work that we do, which includes exposing the ways in which traditional approaches to international development and aid reinforce unequal power relations. This applies to all of our relationships, including as trusted partners working with womens groups, who have been at the forefront of fighting for justice on these issues for many years, often with very few resources.

We have in place policies and procedures regarding staff and trustee conduct including whistle-blowing, fraud and safeguarding policies, and we operate a zero tolerance approach. This is the case whether our staff are working in the office or elsewhere, including on overseas trips. We regularly review our policies to ensure that they are consistent with best practice and are clear with our staff, trustees and partners of the values, principles and conduct that we expect from them.

This issue should be a priority for the charity sector, and we commit to ensuring that for our part, we endeavour to model best practice policies, approaches and behaviour.

By War on Want

Guatemala’s children bear brunt of prolonged drought and rising heat

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by Anastasia Moloney | @anastasiabogota | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 21 January 2020 17:14 GMT Image Caption and Rights Information

By Anastasia Moloney

BOGOTA, Jan 21 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Rising numbers of children in Guatemala are going hungry as drought linked to climate change reduces food harvests, fueling child malnutrition rates in the Central American nation, the United Nations and charities said.

Guatemala, which has one of the world’s high rates of child malnutrition, recorded more than 15,300 cases of acute malnutrition in children under 5 last year, up nearly 24% from 2018, according to government figures.

The number of children acutely malnourished was the highest since 2015, when a severe drought hit Central America.

Guatemala’s farmers are reeling from a series of prolonged droughts in recent years and from a lengthy heat wave last year as climate change brings drier conditions and erratic rainfall, U.N. officials said.

Children living in poor highland farming communities and along the “Dry Corridor” – running through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua – are bearing the brunt, they said.

“There is an increase in cases of acute malnutrition that are related to climate change and the long periods of drought from June to October (last year),” said Maria Claudia Santizo, a nutrition specialist at the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF.

Drought is also adding to the area of Guatemala suffering problems, she said.

“With climate change, the dry corridor has expanded,” Santizo told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

UN General Assembly set to vote on curbing trade in torture equipment

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China is major manufacturer of equipment like spiked batons, spiked electric-shock riot forks, electric-shock vests and heavy leg-irons

In past month alone, Hong Kong and Sudan have used tear gas against peaceful protesters

This secretive trade has gone unregulated for far too long – Ara Marcen Naval

Spiked batons, stun belts and leg irons are among the gruesome tools of torture which should be banned outright, Amnesty International has said, ahead of a crucial vote on a torture trade resolution at the UN General Assembly tomorrow (Friday 28 June).

Adopting the resolution would be a first step towards creating international laws to ban the trade in equipment which has no other purpose than torture. It would also be a chance to tighten regulations on equipment like batons and tear gas, which are regularly misused to crush peaceful protests.

As well as calling for inherently abusive equipment to be banned, Amnesty is calling for countries to strictly regulate the export of policing equipment to stop transfers to places where it risks being used for torture, ill-treatment or other abuses.

Ara Marcen Naval, Amnesty Internationals Arms Control and Human Rights Deputy Director, said:

“Every year governments attend and host international trade fairs where they can browse stalls selling horrifying torture devices – this secretive trade has gone unregulated for far too long.

“Torturers around the world have benefited from loose regulations which allow them to access all the latest technologies in inflicting pain and fear.

“Its time for states to send a clear message that they are committed to eradicating torture for good. We are calling on governments to adopt this resolution, and then work towards adopting regulations that will curb this business and protect people all over the world from the scourge of torture and ill-treatment.”

Russian and Lankan officials to meet regarding tea ban today

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A special meeting will be held between a Sri Lankan team of officials and officials from the Russian Plant Quarantine institute in Moscow today (December 25).

The main focus of the meeting is to hold comprehensive discussions on the temporary ban that Russia recently imposed on Sri Lankan tea. A team of nine members consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Plantation and Ceylon Tea Board left for Russia last morning, in a bid to negotiate the relaxation of the ban.

Russia imposed temporary restrictions on Sri Lankan tea on Dec. 18 after an insect was found in the packaging of one consignment of tea.

A special meeting will be held between a Sri Lankan team of officials and officials from the Russian Plant Quarantine institute in Moscow today (December 25).

The main focus of the meeting is to hold comprehensive discussions on the temporary ban that Russia recently imposed on Sri Lankan tea. A team of nine members consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Plantation and Ceylon Tea Board left for Russia last morning, in a bid to negotiate the relaxation of the ban.

Russia imposed temporary restrictions on Sri Lankan tea on Dec. 18 after an insect was found in the packaging of one consignment of tea.

A special meeting will be held between a Sri Lankan team of officials and officials from the Russian Plant Quarantine institute in Moscow today (December 25).

The main focus of the meeting is to hold comprehensive discussions on the temporary ban that Russia recently imposed on Sri Lankan tea. A team of nine members consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Plantation and Ceylon Tea Board left for Russia last morning, in a bid to negotiate the relaxation of the ban.

Russia imposed temporary restrictions on Sri Lankan tea on Dec. 18 after an insect was found in the packaging of one consignment of tea.

The post Russian and Lankan officials to meet regarding tea ban today appeared first on News Wire Now.

Facebook culls another three billion fake profiles

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Facebook has published its latest “enforcement report”, which details how many posts and accounts it took action on between October 2018 and March 2019.
During that six-month period, Facebook removed more than three billion fake accounts – more than ever before.

More than seven million “hate speech” posts were removed, also a record high.
For the first time, Facebook also reported how many deleted posts were appealed, and how many were put back online after review.

Facebook said the rise in the number of deleted fake accounts was because “bad actors” were using automated methods to create large numbers of them.
But it said it spotted and deleted a majority of them within minutes, before they had any opportunity to “cause harm”.

The social network will now also report how many posts were removed for selling “regulated goods” such as drugs and guns.
It said it took action on more than one million posts selling guns in the six-month period covered by the report.
For some types of content, such as child sex abuse imagery, violence and terrorist propaganda, the report estimates how often such content was actually seen by people on Facebook.

The report said that out of every 10,000 pieces of content viewed on Facebook:
* fewer than 14 people saw nudity
* about 25 people saw violence or graphic content
* fewer than three people saw child abuse imagery or terrorist propaganda
Overall, about 5% of the monthly active users on Facebook were fake accounts.

For the first time, the report reveals that between January and March 2019 more than one million appeals were made after posts were deleted for “hate speech”.
About 150,000 posts that were found not to have broken the hate speech policy were restored during that period.
Facebook said the report highlighted “areas where we could be more open in order to build more accountability and responsiveness to the people who use our platform”.

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