ONU – “Iraqi civilians suffering ‘horrific’ persecution, ethnic cleansing – UN rights chief”

The United Nations human rights chief today condemned the appalling and horrific crimes against humanity being committed daily in Iraq by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and associated armed groups.

“[ISIL] is systematically targeting men, women and children based on their ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation and is ruthlessly carrying out widespread ethnic and religious cleansing in the areas under its control,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, in a statement to the press.

The violations include targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, trafficking, slavery, sexual abuse, destruction of places of religious and cultural significance, and the besieging of entire communities because of ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation.

Ms. Pillay said among those directly targeted have been Christians, Yezidi, Shabaks, Turkomen, Kaka’e and Sabaeans.

In Nineveh Governorate, hundreds of mostly Yezidi individuals were reported killed and up to 2,500 kidnapped at the beginning of August. Of those who refused to convert, witnesses report that the men were executed while the women and their children were handed over to ISIL fighters as slaves.

Similarly, in Cotcho village in Southern Sinjar, ISIL killed and abducted hundreds of Yezidis on 15 August. Reports indicate, again, that the male villagers were killed while women and children were taken away to unknown locations.

“UN staff members in Iraq have been receiving harrowing phone calls from besieged civilians who are surviving in terrible conditions, with little or no access to humanitarian aid,” Ms. Pillay said. “One of the women abducted by ISIL managed to call our staff, and told them that her teenage son and daughter were among the many who had been raped and sexually assaulted by IS gunmen. Another said her son had been raped at a checkpoint.”

At least 13,000 members of the Shia Turkmen community in Amirli in Salah al-Din Governorate, among them 10,000 women and children, have been besieged by ISIL since 15 June. Residents are enduring harsh conditions with severe food and water shortages, and a complete absence of medical services – and there are fears of a possible imminent massacre, said Ms. Pillay.

“The Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and the international community must take all necessary measures and spare no effort to protect members of ethnic and religious communities, who are particularly vulnerable, and to secure their return to their places of origin in safety and dignity,” said the High Commissioner.

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The effect of the ongoing conflict on children is catastrophic, she said. According to interviews by UN human rights monitors with displaced families, ISIL is forcibly recruiting boys aged 15 and above. ISIL has also reportedly been deliberately positioning the boys at the front-line in battle situations, as human shields.

The Human Rights Office of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq has also verified reports of a massacre of prisoners and detainees in Mosul’s Badoush Prison on 10 June. According to interviews with 20 survivors and 16 witnesses of the massacre, ISIL gunmen loaded between 1,000 and 1,500 prisoners onto trucks and transported them to a nearby uninhabited area, Ms. Pillay said.

There, armed men asked the Sunnis to separate themselves from the others. Around 100 prisoners who joined the Sunni group were suspected by ISIL not to be Sunni and were subjected to individual checks based on how they prayed and their place of origin. Sunni inmates were ordered back on the trucks and left the scene. ISIL gunmen then yelled insults at the remaining prisoners, lined them up in four rows, ordered them to kneel and opened fire. Up to 670 prisoners were reportedly killed.

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“Such cold-blooded, systematic and intentional killings of civilians, after singling them out for their religious affiliation may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Ms. Pillay said.

“I urge the international community to ensure that the perpetrators of these vicious crimes do not enjoy impunity. Any individual committing, or assisting in the commission of international crimes, must be held accountable according to law.”

Fonte: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48551#.U_zRT_ldVBu

ONU – “UN Rights Council appoints members of commission to investigate purported Gaza violations”

The United Nations Human Rights Council announced today the appointment of three members to its independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate purported violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and particularly in the Gaza Strip since the conflict began on 13 June.

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In a statement released this afternoon, the Council’s President, Ambassador Baudelaire Ndong Ella (Gabon), announced that the human rights body appointed Amal Alamuddin (United Kingdom), Doudou Diène (Senegal) and William Schabas (Canada) to serve as members on the international Commission. Mr. Schabas will also serve as the Commission’s Chair.

The Commission aims to establish the facts and circumstances of violations and crimes perpetrated and to identify those responsible. It will also make recommendations, in particular on accountability measures, all with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring that those responsible are held accountable, and on ways to protect civilians against any further assaults.

At least 1,948 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict, along with 67 Israelis, according to figures cited by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In addition, some 425,000 people are seeking shelter either in UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) facilities, government shelters or with host families.

Around 11,855 housing units in Gaza have been destroyed or severely damaged by Israeli attacks, and another 36,000 have suffered damage, according to OCHA.

The Council had decided- by a vote of 29 countries in favour, with 17 abstentions and a sole negative vote by the United States- to launch the inquiry at its emergency meeting on 23 July.

The same resolution requested that the Commission present a written report to the Human Rights Council at its session in March 2015.

Appointed to the Commission today is Ms. Alamuddin, a London-based British-Lebanese lawyer, specialising in international law and human rights. She has worked at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and as legal adviser to the Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Mr. Diène was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance from 2002 to 2008. He also served as Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire from 2011 to 2014.

Ms. Schabas, a professor of international criminal law and human rights, served on the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission until 2004. Mr. Schabas was also a member of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in Human Rights.

Fonte: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48459#.U-oPz_ldVBs

ONU – “Comunidade Internacional debate conflito em Gaza e Israel”

Publicado em 23/07/2014

“Não somos números. Somos seres humanos”, disse Riyad Mansour, observador permanente da Palestina junto às Nações Unidas, em uma reunião do Conselho de Segurança da ONU sobre as mortes em Gaza. O vice-representante de Israel na ONU, David Yitshak Roet, disse que o presidente palestino, Mahmoud Abbas, deveria “dissolver a unidade de governo” da Palestina.

“Estes são os rostos humanos de nossas vítimas”, acrescentou Mansour, mostrando fotos das crianças palestinas mortas e feridas no conflito — até esta quarta-feira (23), mais de 160 crianças palestinas haviam sido assassinadas, com pelo menos 1.100 feridas, segundo o UNICEF.

Por videoconferência, o secretário-geral da ONU, Ban Ki-moon — que está visitando diversos países na região –, afirmou: “Um cessar-fogo é essencial, mas se não enfrentarmos as questões mais profundas, nós nunca resolveremos o problema. Nós só iremos postergá-lo para um outro momento”.

Em Genebra, o Conselho de Direitos Humanos da ONU fez uma reunião emergencial sobre o tema. A chefe de direitos humanos da ONU, Navi Pillay, alertou para potenciais crimes de guerra e contra a humanidade que estão sendo cometidos.

Assista nesta matéria especial da ONU e saiba mais em http://www.onu.org.br/especial/gaza

ONU – “Israel agrees to ‘humanitarian pause’ in war-torn Gaza Strip, UN envoy confirms”

After days of escalating violence and follow-on civilian suffering in the Gaza Strip, the United Nations special envoy for the Middle East confirmed today that Israel has agreed to a five hour humanitarian pause – set to begin tomorrow morning – and repeated his call on Hamas to respect the lull “in the interest of the people of Gaza.”

In a statement issued by his spokesperson in Jerusalem, Robert Serry UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process confirmed that the Government of Israel agreed the five hour humanitarian pause, which will start at tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., local time and end at 3:00 p.m.

“Mr. Serry appreciates this Israeli decision and repeats his call on Hamas and other factions to respect the humanitarian pause from their side, in the interest of the people of Gaza,” said the statement.

It goes on to say that Mr. Serry reiterates the importance of arriving at a durable ceasefire understanding, also addressing underlying issues in Gaza, as soon as possible. “The United Nations, together with other international actors, will continue to support efforts in this regard,” the statement concluded.

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This news comes as media reports suggest that Israel previously had agreed to a pause for several hours Tuesday after Egypt put forward a cease-fire proposal that subsequently collapsed.

Israeli-Palestinian violence has flared ago in the wake of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in late June and the subsequent kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian teenager from East Jerusalem earlier this month.

And with militants in Gaza stepping up rocket attacks against Israel, and Israeli airstrikes on the enclave intensifying, Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and a host of other senior UN officials, as well as the members of the Security Council, have repeatedly urged all actors to exercise maximum restraint and avoid further civilian casualties and overall destabilization.

Meanwhile, earlier today, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator reminded both Israelis and Palestinians of their obligations under international law to protect civilians and to distinguish between military and civilian targets, as she warned that innocent men, women and children continue to bear the brunt of the deadly violence that has engulfed the region.

Extremely concerned by the escalation of hostilities and its impact on civilians, Valerie Amos, in a statement issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which she heads, said that according to preliminary estimates, as of 15 July, 194 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli attacks, including 149 civilians.

Ms. Amos said that hundreds of homes have been directly targeted by Israeli airstrikes, many of which were allegedly the residences of members of armed groups. More than 1,300 families have been forced to seek shelter with relatives and neighbours. Nearly 80 schools have been damaged because of their proximity to targeted sites. In one incident, an Israeli airstrike killed 18 people in one house, including six children and three women.

Public services have been suspended and the water supply is at risk after two maintenance engineers were killed by an Israeli missile, she added.

“Armed groups are firing rockets from residential areas in Gaza towards populated areas in Israel, reportedly killing one civilian so far and putting at risk the lives of thousands more, both Israeli and Palestinian,” Ms Amos said, and underscored: “Sustained bombardment is terrifying for everyone but particularly for children, who will need psycho-social support long after the violence subsides.”

She went on to remind the parties to conflict that they have responsibilities under international humanitarian law, emphasizing that “they must take precautions to protect civilians and must distinguish between civilian and military targets.”

“This is the third major military confrontation in Gaza in six years, and civilians have borne the brunt each time. They are paying the price for a collective failure to break the cycle of violence and reach a lasting political solution,” declared Ms. Amos.

Fonte: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48284#.U8fX4fldVBs

ONU – “Level of human loss, destruction in Gaza ‘immense,’ says UN agency”

The level of human loss and destruction in Gaza as a result of the ongoing conflict with Israel has been “immense,” the United Nations agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees said today, noting that eight days of hostilities has claimed 174 lives and injured well over 1,100 people.

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“The numbers are increasing by the hour,” Sami Mshasha, from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), told a news conference in Geneva.

“We also notice that a good number of those killed and injured are women and children, and that is a cause of concern for UNRWA,” he said, speaking by phone from Jerusalem.

Mr. Mshasha added that 560 homes were completely destroyed and thousands of other buildings damaged in Israeli airstrikes.

Since the latest hostilities began a week ago, senior UN officials and the Security Council have called on the parties to de-escalate the situation, restore calm, and reinstitute the November 2012 ceasefire that ended eight days of violence in Gaza and Israel.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Sunday, has expressed his full support for the Egyptian initiative for a cease-fire agreement.

“He is deeply worried that the fighting has not stopped, despite Israel’s readiness to accept the ceasefire proposal and the Palestinian Authority’s support,” UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters in New York.

“He calls on Hamas to cooperate with the Egyptian initiative, and urges all sides to build on this opening of a diplomatic channel. All parties must respect international humanitarian law.”

Mr. Haq added that the UN will in the meantime continue providing much-needed emergency humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

UNRWA said it is extremely worried that if the ceasefire being negotiated does not succeed, an Israeli ground offensive and military incursion into Gaza will take place, bringing more death and destruction.

“There is a high level of anticipation for the ceasefire to take effect today or tomorrow, and if it doesn’t, I am afraid that the civilians in Gaza will end up paying again the ultimate price,” said Mr. Mshasha.

Fonte: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48277#.U8ZvDPldVBs

ONU – “Ban says Israel’s construction of West Bank wall violates international law, fuels Mid-East tensions”

At a special meeting to mark the 10th anniversary of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory ruling declaring illegal Israel’s construction of a separation wall in the West Bank, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today called for a halt to the current violence between Israelis and Palestinians, while also the need all Member States to comply with international law.

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In a statement to the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, delivered by Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr. Ban urged all sides to abide by their international obligations, emphasizing that the wall and increased settlement activity were fuelling tensions.

“The implications of the wall go far beyond its legality,” he stated, pointing out that 10 years ago today, the ICJ in its Advisory Opinion on the “Legal Consequences of a Wall in the Occupied Territory” found that the Israeli construction of the Wall within the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, violated Israel’s obligation under international law.

On 09 July 2004, the Advisory Opinion called on Israel to cease the construction of the Wall, bring down the parts that had already been built, and halt the severe restrictions on the freedom of movement of Palestinians living in the West Bank. In addition, the Advisory Opinion pointed out that all States were not only under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall, but that States Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention had the additional obligation to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law.

“The wall severely restricts Palestinian movement and access throughout the West Bank, cuts off land and access to resources needed for Palestinian development, and continues to undermine agricultural and rural livelihoods throughout the West Bank,” Mr. Ban said.

The wall and increased settlement expansion have worsened the fragmentation of the Palestinian Territory, compounding the increasing isolation of East Jerusalem from the rest of the Territory, Mr. Ban continued. Israel’s Government, however, claims that the wall is a temporary security measure.

Since 2008, a UN office collecting data on the damage caused by the construction of the wall, has collected 42,600 claims and over 1.1 million supporting documents.

Also today, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released a new report which summarizes the continuing humanitarian impact of the barrier on Palestinian rural and urban communities. It notes that after a decade, 62 per cent of the wall has been constructed, including 200 kilometres since the ICJ Advisory Opinion.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Committee approved a statement by which it reaffirmed all aspects of the ICJ decision and reiterated the call by the Court on the UN General Assembly and the Security Council to consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from Israel’s construction of the wall and the associated regime.

By its statement, the Committee deeply regretted that the Security Council has “remained silent” on the critical matter of Israel’s construction of the Wall, and has failed in recent years to take action to condemn and bring a halt to Israel’s continuing violations of international law, especially those related to the illegal settlement expansion and the Wall.

Calling on the Security Council to act urgently and decisively to compel Israel to end its violations of international law, the Committee also stressed that more active steps from the international community, Governments, international organizations, parliamentarians and civil society, are required to salvage the two-State solution in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid principles and the Arab Peace Initiative, the Quartet Roadmap, and to assist the Palestinian people to realize their inalienable rights, justice, freedom and peace.

Fonte: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48236#.U76hfPldVBs