#AceNewsReport – Jan.15: Citing anonymous sources, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that American diplomats in the two cities have been struck down with suspected cases of the unusual illness.
#AceDailyNews says according to RT News Report: Havana Syndrome’ reported among US diplomats in Europe according to the WSJ, Washington became aware of the cases when they were originally reported in the summer.
At least three American officials serving in Geneva were reportedly taken ill with the ailment and at least one of those was medevaced from Switzerland to the US for treatment. The mission apparently later informed staff about the cases at a town hall meeting.
Diplomats were encouraged to report any unusual symptoms in Paris after senior embassy officials highlighted a suspected case.
Responding to the report on Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told MSNBC that US intelligence agencies had not worked out what was causing the symptoms.
The affected officials are among as many as 200 others who have fallen ill with the unexplained ailment in China, South America, and elsewhere in Europe. Some reports suggest that half of the sufferers have been CIA employees.
Speaking in November, Blinken insisted that the Biden administration was “intently focused” on finding the source of the malady which has afflicted so many US officials. His administration has dubbed it an “anomalous health incident.”
The ailment was first reported by diplomats serving at the US Embassy in Havana more than five years ago with symptoms including headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, and vertigo, as well as trouble with vision, hearing, and balance.
Sufferers have reported symptoms years after first falling ill, while a study revealed that some patients had experienced traumatic brain injuries.
US media have suggested it may be caused by a top-secret weapon emitting energy waves, pointing the finger at China or Russia.
However, the US government has yet to get to the bottom of the illness, and has not determined what mechanisms could possibly have been used to cause it.
In September, Cuban scientists dismissed claims of a secret sonic weapon, stating there was “no scientific evidence of attacks.” They claimed the symptoms were related to mass psychosis among US spies.You can share this story on social media:
#AceNewsReport – Jan.12: Current Western responses are clear. First, diplomacy is the preferred US and NATO means to reconcile and defuse this crisis. Second, further Russian aggression against Ukraine is to be deterred by threats of sanctions and other punitive retaliatory actions. Third, US counter-proposals include limiting missile deployments and military exercises as a confidence-building measure. Lastly, Moscow has been well informed of the painful consequences should negotiations fail.
The American approach to this foreign policy crisis is understandable, predictable, and conventional. Given the many simultaneous pressures on the White House, which currently range from the Covid pandemic and inflation to the obstacles preventing passage of the Voting Rights and Build Back Better bills, the amount of time to reflect on and create a strategic plan for Ukraine has been understandably limited. Could a less conventional approach prove more effective when dealing with Putin, especially as China looks on?
As the principal author of the “shock and awe” doctrine, I have often been distressed by how badly this concept has been misunderstood, distorted, and misapplied. The aim of “shock and awe” was to win by not fighting or to win with minimal use of military force by affecting, influencing, and even controlling the will and perception of the adversary.
Could this help us deal with Putin? The answer is decidedly yes. The objective should be to turn intimidation against Putin by attacking his strategy of intimidation.
UkraineAlert is a comprehensive online publication that provides regular news and analysis on developments in Ukraine’s politics, economy, civil society, and culture.
Putin is employing a textbook case of intimidation. This playbook includes threatening rhetoric, the use of military force to signal intent, unacceptable demands, misinformation, disinformation, influence operations, and the weaponization of energy supplies.
Putin also clearly believes he is in a strong position as he has the initiative while the West reacts. It is reasonable to assume he will exploit any differences and gaps in the three current tracks of negotiations.
One of Putin’s most important aims is to prevent NATO’s expansion eastward and, in the process, divide and neuter the alliance. Instead of constraining NATO, suppose Putin’s actions in and around Ukraine, and possibly Kazakhstan, have the opposite effect of provoking NATO expansion?
This is worth exploring further. What other option would NATO have except to consider expanding membership and increasing the alliance’s military power on its eastern flank, should the current round of negotiations founder? Intimidation cuts several ways.
EURASIA CONGRESSIONAL FELLOWSHIP
The Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Congressional Fellowship Program aims to educate Congressional staff on current events in the Eurasia region and engage staff with the Council’s latest research. The program connects Congressional fellows with our larger community, which includes leading experts on Ukraine, Russia, Central Asia, and the South Caucasus.
Applications are open! For questions about the program, please contact Shelby Magid.
In light of the current crisis, Finland and Sweden have recently expressed greater interest in NATO membership. At the 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest, as a sop to Georgia and Ukraine for not being granted Membership Action Plans, US President George W. Bush almost casually offered the promise of future alliance membership to both countries. At the time, Putin was said to be furious. This led to Russia’s occupation of Georgia’s South Ossetia later that year.
Reaffirming the NATO commitment to Georgia and Ukraine as well as inferring that discussions with Finland and Sweden might be forthcoming is precisely the outcome Putin is currently trying to prevent.
And to make its point clearer, NATO must apply the 1997 NATO-Ukraine Charter that called for consultations “whenever Ukraine perceives a direct threat to its territorial integrity, political independence or security.”
Concurrently, an information campaign is important in order to show how costly an assault into Ukraine would be for Russia. The obvious and painful reference is to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which began at the end of 1979. Ukraine was also the site of some of the Second World War’s bloodiest fighting. The number of Ukrainians willing to defend their country today far exceeds the number of Afghan fighters who defeated the Soviets.
Estimates of potential Russian dead and wounded from a fresh invasion of Ukraine should be publicized. Thirty thousand or more casualties are likely. Plans for a Porcupine Defense (advocated in detail in my latest book) should be reinforced by reports of Stinger and Javelin anti-air and anti-armor missiles as well as Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) en route to Ukraine.
The off-ramp from the current confrontation for Putin would be a framework that makes Europe safer, more secure, and stable. This is something which both sides could claim credit for.
Of course, a counter-intimidation strategy could fail and escalate the danger. But this is not Munich in 1938. In virtually every category of military power, NATO’s thirty members are collectively superior to Russia.
It is time to take the fight to Putin. Make him succumb to a reverse shock and awe. The bet is he will.
The views expressed in UkraineAlert are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Atlantic Council, its staff, or its supporters.
The Eurasia Center’s mission is to enhance transatlantic cooperation in promoting stability, democratic values and prosperity in Eurasia, from Eastern Europe and Turkey in the West to the Caucasus, Russia and Central Asia in the East.EXPLORE THE PROGRAM
#AceNewsReport – Nov.30: Building on lessons learned from our collective experience with dose donations over the past several months, the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and COVAX wish to draw the attention of the international community to the situation of donations of #COVID19 vaccines to Africa, and other COVAX participating economies, particularly those supported by the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
#AceDailyNews Vaccine Release Report: Joint Statement on Dose Donations of #COVID19 Vaccines to African Countries: AVAT and COVAX complement each other’s efforts to support African countries to meet theirimmunisation targets, recognising the global goal of immunising 70% of the African population.
Dose donations have been an important source of supply while other sources are stepping up, but the quality of donations needs to improve.
AVAT and COVAX are focused on accelerating access to and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa. Together we are rapidly expanding supply to the continent, and providing countries with the support to be able to utilise the doses they receive. To date, over 90 million donated doses have been delivered to the continent via COVAX and AVAT and millions more via bilateral arrangements.
However, the majority of the donations to-date have been ad hoc, provided with little notice and short shelf lives. This has made it extremely challenging for countries to plan vaccination campaigns and increase absorptive capacity. To achieve higher coverage rates across the continent, and for donations to be a sustainable source of supply that can complement supply from AVAT and COVAX purchase agreements, this trend must change.
Countries need predictable and reliable supply. Having to plan at short notice and ensure uptake of doses with short shelf lives exponentially magnifies the logistical burden on health systems that are already stretched. Furthermore, ad hoc supply of this kind utilises capacity – human resources, infrastructure, cold chain – that could be directed towards long-term successful and sustainable rollout. It also dramatically increases the risks of expiry once doses with already short shelf-lives arrive in country, which may have long-term repercussions for vaccine confidence.
Donations to COVAX, AVAT, and African countries must be made in a way that allows countries to effectively mobilise domestic resources in support of rollout and enables long-term planning to increase coverage rates. We call on the international community, particularly donors and manufacturers, to commit to this effort by adhering to the following standards, beginning from 1 January 2022:
Quantity and predictability: Donor countries should endeavour to release donated doses in large volumes and in a predictable manner, to reduce transaction costs. We acknowledge and welcome the progress being made in this area, but note that the frequency of exceptions to this approach places increased burden on countries, AVAT and COVAX.
Earmarking: These doses should be unearmarked for greatest effectiveness and to support long-term planning. Earmarking makes it far more difficult to allocate supply based on equity, and to account for specific countries’ absorptive capacity. It also increases the risk that short shelf-life donations utilise countries’ cold chain capacity – capacity that is then unavailable when AVAT or COVAX are allocating doses with longer shelf lives under their own purchase agreements.
Shelf life: As a default, donated doses should have a minimum of 10 weeks shelf life when they arrive in-country, with limited exceptions only where recipient countries indicate willingness and ability to absorb doses with shorter shelf lives.
Early notice: Recipient countries need to be made aware of the availability of donated doses not less than 4 weeks before their tentative arrival in-country.
Response times: All stakeholders should seek to provide rapid response on essential information. This includes essential supply information from manufacturers (total volumes available for donation, shelf life, manufacturing site), confirmation of donation offer from donors, and acceptance/refusal of allocations from countries. Last minute information can further complicate processes, increasing transaction costs, reducing available shelf life and increasing risk of expiry.
Ancillaries: The majority of donations to-date do not include the necessary vaccination supplies such as syringes and diluent, nor do they cover freight costs – meaning these have to be sourced separately – leading to additional costs, complexity and delay. Donated doses should be accompanied with all essential ancillaries to ensure rapid allocation and absorption.
AVAT, Africa CDC and COVAX remain committed to collaborate with donor countries, vaccine manufacturers and partners on ensuring these standards are upheld, as we continue to work together towards achieving Africa’s vaccination goals.
The African Union (AU) is a continental body consisting of the 55 Member States that make up the countries of the African Continent. It was officially launched in 2002 as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU, 1963-1999).https://au.int/en/overview
About Africa CDC
Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), is a specialized technical institution of the African Union that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programmes. Learn more at: www.africacdc.org
About the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT)
The African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) is a special purpose vehicle, incorporated in Mauritius. AVAT acts as a centralised purchasing agent on behalf of the African Union (AU) Member States, to secure the necessary vaccines and blended financing resources for achieving Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy which targets vaccinating a minimum of 70% of Africa’s population based on a whole-of-Africa approach. AVAT was established by the COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, which was set up in November 2020 by His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa, in his capacity as Chairperson of the African Union (AU), as a support component to the COVID-19 Immunisation Strategy that was endorsed by the AU Bureau of Heads of State and Government in August 2020. AVAT’s main partner institutions are the African Union’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by CEPI, Gavi and WHO – working in partnership with UNICEF and PAHO as delivery partners, developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both high-income and lower-income countries.
#AceHealthReport – Nov.29: Pfizer & BioNTech is ready to adapt an existing vaccine from coronavirus to a new strain. The company is waiting for a large amount of laboratory test data no later than two weeks to confirm that the strain requires adjustments to the vaccine production technology.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna develop vaccines against new dangerous #COVID19 strain “OMICRON” PCR test does not detect any of the genes of the new strain: This was reported by CNBC .
The Johnson & Johnson; and AstraZeneca is already conducting research at the sites of the first Omicron outbreaks.
Moderna said Friday that the combination of mutations in the new strain “has a significant potential risk of accelerating the weakening of natural and vaccine-induced immunity.”
The company explained that the only way to somehow protect themselves from the risks of “omicron” while there is a third booster dose of injection. The Moderna study will involve volunteers who have received the third dose of the vaccine.
The new strain has a large number of mutations, some of which are of concern to the WHO. It was first reported by the World Health Organization in South Africa on November 24.
Preliminary data collected by experts indicate an increased risk of re-infection with this option compared to others. The number of cases of this option is increasing in almost all provinces of South Africa.
PCR test does not detect any of the genes of the new strain.
#AceHealthReport – Nov.29: The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.
The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) is an independent group of experts that periodically monitors and evaluates the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and assesses if specific mutations and combinations of mutations alter the behaviour of the virus.
26 November 2021
The TAG-VE was convened on 26 November 2021 to assess the SARS-CoV-2 variant: B.1.1.529.
This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant. Several labs have indicated that for one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected (called S gene dropout or S gene target failure) and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage.
There are a number of studies underway and the TAG-VE will continue to evaluate this variant. WHO will communicate new findings with Member States and to the public as needed.
Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology, the TAG-VE has advised WHO that this variant should be designated as a VOC, and the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a VOC, named Omicron.
As such, countries are asked to do the following:
enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants.
submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database, such as GISAID.
report initial cases/clusters associated with VOC infection to WHO through the IHR mechanism.
where capacity exists and in coordination with the international community, perform field investigations and laboratory assessments to improve understanding of the potential impacts of the VOC on COVID-19 epidemiology, severity, effectiveness of public health and social measures, diagnostic methods, immune responses, antibody neutralization, or other relevant characteristics.
Individuals are reminded to take measures to reduce their risk of COVID-19, including proven public health and social measures such as wearing well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces, and getting vaccinated.
For reference,WHO has working definitions for SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Interest (VOI) and Variant of Concern (VOC).
A SARS-CoV-2 VOI is a SARS-CoV-2 variant:
with genetic changes that are predicted or known to affect virus characteristics such as transmissibility, disease severity, immune escape, diagnostic or therapeutic escape; AND
that has been identified as causing significant community transmission or multiple COVID-19 clusters, in multiple countries with increasing relative prevalence alongside increasing number of cases over time, or other apparent epidemiological impacts to suggest an emerging risk to global public health.
A SARS-CoV-2 VOC is a SARS-CoV-2 variant that meets the definition of a VOI (see above) and, through a comparative assessment, has been demonstrated to be associated with one or more of the following changes at a degree of global public health significance:
increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology; OR
increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation; OR
decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics
#AceNewsReport – July.27: Against a backdrop of fires and floods, researchers are meeting virtually to finalise a key climate science study.
#AceDailyNews reports that Climate Change: Researchers have started discussions on a vital report: Media registration for Working Group I contribution to Sixth Assessment Report: Over the next two weeks, the scientists will go through their findings line by line with representatives of 195 governments.
GENEVA, July 8 – The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will consider the Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) at a session to be held virtually from 26 July to 6 August 2021. Working Group I assesses the physical science basis of climate change: Formally the meeting in July and August consists of sessions of both the IPCC and of Working Group I. …….The 14th Session of Working Group I will consider the Summary for Policymakers of the report for approval in line-by-line scrutiny by government representatives in dialogue with report authors and accept the underlying scientific-technical assessment. Then the 54th Session of the IPCC will accept the work of the Working Group, formally accepting the report.
By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent
Experts say the report will be a “wake-up call” to governments: It is expected that the short, 40-page Summary for Policymakers will play an important role in guiding global leaders who will come to Glasgow in November to deal with critical climate questions.
Alok Sharma brings 51 countries together for critical climate discussions ahead of #COP26
Ministers to lay groundwork for success before November’s summit
Ministers arrive in London to discuss key issues that require resolution at COP26
COP26 President hopes to build common ground and sketch the outline of the Glasgow outcome ahead of summit
US, India, China among 50+ countries represented at two-day ministerial meeting in a combination of virtual and in-person attendance
Today [Sunday] the COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma, will bring climate and environment ministers and representatives from more than 50 countries together to lay the groundwork for success ahead of November’s COP26 negotiations.
The event marks the first face-to-face ministerial of its kind in more than 18 months. With fewer than 100 days to go until the critical UN climate change conference, Mr Sharma is convening the meeting in London to shape the vision of the final outcomes from COP26, and build a “unity of purpose to deliver them”.
The two-day meeting will see major emitters like the US and China in discussion with countries that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as Jamaica, Costa Rica, Rwanda and The Marshall Islands.
The ministerial will cover the UK COP Presidency’s key goal of keeping the critical 1.5C temperature rise limit alive. Topics under discussion include mobilising climate finance, scaling up efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change, loss and damage caused by climate change, and finalising the “rulebook” for implementation of the Paris Agreement, with a focus on Article 6, which sets out how countries can reduce emissions using international carbon markets and non-market approaches.
As the world has warmed over the past 30 years, the IPCC has become the most important platform for summarising the state of scientific understanding of the problem, its impacts and solutions.
This year, though, the panel’s report takes places as extreme weather events have shaken the US and Canada, Europe and Asia. The question of the role played by human-induced climate change is being asked more loudly than ever.
What does the IPCC do and how is it relevant to me?
Formed in 1988, the IPCC’s role is to provide politicians with assessments every six or seven years on the science, the impacts and the potential options for tackling climate change.
Over the years, its reports have become more strongly worded as the evidence has mounted.
Justin SullivanDrought in California has seen water levels in Lake Oroville drop to record lows
“The 1.5C report was really kind of instrumental for young people to use that science to marshal their efforts towards action,” said Ko Barrett, a vice chair of the IPCC and a head of research at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).
Getty ImagesIn Japan, misting sprays are used to keep people cool
“I think maybe the report surprised us all, that the report had such an impact in getting people to think, wow, this is not some big future problem. This is like right now.”
The IPCC’s latest summary of the science, to be published on 9 August, is also likely to have a big impact.
In a couple of months, world leaders will come to Glasgow to try to advance the world’s efforts against rising temperatures. The IPCC’s forthcoming report will be required reading for many attending COP26.
“I think it’s going to be a wake-up call, there’s no doubt about that,” said Richard Black, an honorary research fellow at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.
“But then again, so are some of the real world events that we’re seeing around us at the moment.”
Is the IPCC just about scientists?
Many people think that the IPCC is just a platform for science, but that’s not the full picture.
“The IPCC itself actually consists of representatives from 195 governments in all, and they basically commission the reports from the various groups of academics that do the work,” said Richard Black.
“And this to me is the key thing about the IPCC. It’s not just a bunch of scientists producing a report; they are commissioned by governments, and they’re owned by governments. And that makes them absolutely unique.”
So how does it work?
The IPCC, while it has undoubted clout, doesn’t actually conduct its own research.
For its assessments, the IPCC divides the work into three different areas. The first is the physical science report, the second the study on impacts, the third is on mitigation.
The impacts and mitigation studies will come out early next year, as well as a synthesis report that will pull all the threads together.
Getty ImagesFirefighters tackle the Bootleg fire in Oregon
For the upcoming publication on the physical science, more than 200 researchers been working together in groups to review the existing peer-reviewed literature over the last four years.
Their initial draft reports were subject to discussions and comments from fellow researchers and from governments.
The new study attracted around 75,000 comments as it was drafted and re-written.
Over the next two weeks, a final Summary for Policymakers, running to around 40 pages, will be agreed word by word with government representatives.
“The scientists come in with a proposal document that line by line gets challenged by the representative of the United Nations there, and the scientists defend their lines,” said Prof Corinne Le Quéré, from the University of East Anglia who has been involved with two previous IPCC assessment reports.
“Nothing gets written that is not scientifically correct. So, scientists have the right to just say this is wrong, and the documents gets really strong at the end because of that process.”
One of the things that gives the report additional muscle is the fact that it is not just one particular research paper on one topic – the reviewers consider all the pieces of research carried out on each area of focus.
“Sometimes the IPCC gets criticised for being focussed on consensus, and it’s suggested that that can weaken statements,” said Dr Emily Shuckburgh, from the University of Cambridge.
“But the fact that it is a summary across multiple lines of evidence is incredibly powerful and incredibly useful.”
So what can we expect from the upcoming report?
As in previous assessments, there will likely be a strong focus on the question of humanity’s role in creating the climate crisis.
In the last report in 2013, the authors said that warming since the 1950s was “extremely likely” due to human activities.
This will likely be further strengthened, despite the objections of some countries.
ReutersDriving through a wildfire in Nevada
“It’s going to revise this overall attribution statement. Obviously, it is going to be stronger than what we had in the past because of the growing warming of the planet,” said Prof Le Quéré.
“That’s going to be one of the main points. It will be discussed very, very carefully, and scrutinised. You can be sure it will be scrutinised by governments.”
However, many participants are likely to be more concerned with the present and the future than questions of past responsibility.
There will be a new chapter on weather and extreme events in a changing climate.
Many will want to pay more attention to questions such as storms, floods or droughts with a low probability but high impact, as have been seen around the world in recent weeks.
“This time around, governments have asked the IPCC to also look at low probability events that could be potentially very damaging,” said Prof Le Quéré.
“So we can expect a lot more information. In fact, for almost the first time in the IPCC, (we’ll get) a lot more explicit information about the risks of extreme climate events.”
ReutersThe IPCC will also look at the state of the Arctic as the climate warms
As well as new information on sea-level rise and the state of the Arctic and Antarctic, the summary report will likely have new information on the chances of holding the global rise in temperatures to 1.5C this century.
It will assess whether governments are on track to meet the targets agreed in the Paris climate pact.
What could possibly go wrong?
This is the first time that the IPCC has attempted an approval session remotely. These gatherings are usually a week long and often involve quite vigorous discussions between government representatives and scientists.
With just a few months left before the COP26 climate conference, the stakes for the participants are perhaps higher than at any time in recent history.
Given the scale of weather-related disasters we are witnessing around the world, the public and politicians are now more attuned to the issue of climate change than ever before.
All this will add to the pressure on the IPCC. There are likely many long nights ahead for the participants.
#AceNewsReport – July.12: The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the demolitions have also left the villagers with no baby milk powders, clothes as well as personal hygiene products. They also have no fodder and water for their livestock.
#AceDailyNews says at least 70 Palestinians, including 36 kids, displaced as Israel demolishes homes in West Bank community: OCHA and the UN office said in a statement that the so-called Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) has confiscated food consignments and detached structures, leaving the residents with no food and water following Wednesday’s demolitions.
Thursday, 08 July 2021 4:37 PM [ Last Update: Thursday, 08 July 2021 4:56 PM ]
OCHA said its representatives, members of various non-governmental organizations and diplomats tried to access Humsa al-Baqai’a on Wednesday, but Israeli forces refused to let them do so on the grounds that a military operation was underway.
Some 11 of the structures demolished or confiscated had been provided by the international community, the UN office pointed out.
It highlighted that the Jordan Valley, which makes up 60 percent of the occupied West Bank, is classified as Area C – meaning it is under full Israeli military control.
OCHA said Israeli authorities have carried out military training in the community since 2012, and temporarily displaced local residents. The UN agency has so far recorded more than 50 such incidents.
On 23 February, Lynn Hastings, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, called on Israeli authorities to “immediately halt all further demolitions of Palestinian homes and possessions, allow the humanitarian community to provide shelter, food and water to this most vulnerable group and these people to remain in their homes,” after visiting Humsa al-Baqai’a community following a mass demolition campaign.
OCHA stressed that international humanitarian law requires an occupying power to protect the population of the territory it occupies, ensure its welfare and well-being, and respect its human rights. Any destruction of civilian property by the occupying power is prohibited as well.
Palestinian homes in the Jordan Valley are subjected to demolitions by Israeli authorities who claim they lack building permits, despite the fact that the Tel Aviv regime does not provide such permits to Palestinians.
Moreover, Israel orders Palestinians to demolish their own homes or pay the demolition price to the municipality if they refuse to tear down their houses. Palestinians as well as the international community consider Israeli demolition politics in the occupied territories illegal.
Humsa residents threatened with arrest if do not leave their lands:
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Wafa news agency reported on Thursday that after evicting residents of Humsa al-Baqai’a community, the Israeli forces have threatened to arrest them if they do not leave their lands and destroyed homes, and move elsewhere.
According to the report, which quoted Mutaz Bisharat, a local official with Tubas governorate, Israeli occupation soldiers threatened the residents, who stayed on their lands despite the demolition of their homes and structures, that they would be arrested if they do not evacuate the area.
He added that the soldiers have set up roadblocks to prevent anyone from reaching that area to help the community rebuild their destroyed homes.
Israeli soldiers have transferred the community’s belongings to another area, where they also intend to force the residents to live.
US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have started a high-stakes summit that is expected to be dominated by deep disagreements: US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin kicked off a highly-anticipated summit in Geneva on Wednesday.
There were low expectations of a breakthrough, with a string of contentious issues on the agenda. But both sides have said they hope the meeting can at least lead to more stable and predictable relations: Swiss President Guy Parmelin is acting as host during the talks, which are scheduled to last four to five hours.
What is on the agenda?
Biden and Putin are likely to discuss a raft of issues, including arms control, cybercrime, Ukraine, Belarus, election interference and the coronavirus pandemic.
“There have been a few quite far-reaching cyberattacks in the US recently, some of them having Russian fingerprints on them, so the Biden administration is calling on Russia to do more to deter such attacks from within its borders,” she said.
“Both sides want to lower the temperature a notch or two and they’re trying to find ways to resume their dialogue.”
Russia-US relations: The contentious issuesBiden playing it coolPresident Joe Biden has kept his cards close to his chest ahead of the summit in Geneva. He declined to say how he plans to confront Putin during talks with his Russian counterpart — but is expected to address key issues. “I’m not looking for conflict with Russia, but we will respond if Russia continues its harmful activities,” Biden said ahead of the summit.
The situation worsened after Biden called Putin a killer in March, prompting Russia to recall its ambassador from Washington. The US then recalled its ambassador from Moscow. The possibility of returning the diplomats to their respective posts may also be on the agenda.
What do observers say about the talks?
US Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Chris Kupchan told DW the two leaders are “not coming in looking for a bromance like Trump and Putin,” but Biden could “invest in some kind of working relationship with Putin.”
“Biden is much more worried about China than he is about Russia. And I’m guessing that Putin is growing quietly uncomfortable with China. So part of this conversation might be about trying to improve the Western relationship with Russia in a way that contains China’s leverage and gives Moscow a little bit of breathing room in its relationship with Beijing,” he said.
NATO declares China a global security threat
Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Kremlin-founded Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), said Putin “understands that relations between Russia and the United States will continue to be mostly adversarial, at least for the foreseeable future. But at the same time, there are some potential pockets of cooperation that can be pursued further. And even the confrontation can and should be managed, to reduce costs and to cut down the risks.”
David O’Sullivan, former EU ambassador to the US, said Biden would aim to be charming, and at the same time “open but firm on the points which are important for him.”
“He will reach out to Putin and say, ‘look, we don’t agree on everything. Let’s find a way of coexisting and not creating excessive tensions for each other’.”
#AceNewsReport – June.10: The massacre, in an enclave supposed to be under UN protection, was the worst atrocity in Europe since World War Two.
Srebrenica Masssacre: UN court rejects Mladic genocide appeal upheld the life sentence for his role in the killing of about 8,000 Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995: Profile: The “Butcher of Bosnia”
It is not yet clear where Mladic will serve the rest of his sentence.
The five-person appeals panel in The Hague found Mladic had failed to provide evidence to invalidate the previous convictions against him, although the presiding judge dissented on almost all counts.
However, the appeals chamber also dismissed the appeal brought by the prosecution, which had sought a second conviction against Mladic over crimes committed against Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats in some other areas during the war.
The verdict was delayed by technical difficulties, which continued throughout the session.
Mladic had denounced the tribunal during his appeal hearing in August, calling it a child of Western powers. His lawyers had argued he was far away from Srebrenica when the massacre happened.
Mladic, known as the “Butcher of Bosnia”, was one of the last suspects to face trial at the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He was arrested in 2011 after 16 years on the run.
In 2017 he was found guilty of genocide over Srebrenica, but acquitted of genocide over his army’s 1992 campaign, in which Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats were expelled from their homes or detained in appalling conditions.
ReutersMladic (L) was a general under Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic (1995 pic)
His initial 40-year sentence for genocide and war crimes was later increased to life in prison in 2019 – the remainder of which he will serve in the UK.
What has the reaction been?
Survivor Semso Osmanovic, who lost 23 family members in the massacre, told the BBC’s Guy De Launey that the verdict meant he finally felt able to return to his home town.
“I was living the whole of my life for this moment – to see justice being done by the international court. And hoping to bring my children and my wife to Srebrenica,” he said. “That’s the place I was born.” Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic: Glorification of genocide must be prohibited
Sehida Abdurahmanovic, whose husband was killed in Srebrenica, watched the verdict at a memorial centre in Potocari.
“Mothers who barely hear, who can not see, those sick and can hardly walk, came to see this. As it was yesterday, everything is still fresh,” she told BBC News Serbian.
“It is of utmost importance that he got this life sentence and that genocide in Srebrenica was confirmed.”
In Sarajevo, one Bosnian newspaper led its online coverage of the verdict with the headline: “Look at the butcher’s tears when he realises that he will die behind bars.”
But the reaction among Mladic’s supporters was very different.
The former general’s son, Darko Mladic, said his father “did not have a chance for a fair trial” and described the proceedings as “a travelling circus”.
The current president of the Bosnian Serb enclave, Zeljka Cvijanovic, said the tribunal had “once again confirmed its role as anti-Serb court, which establishes responsibility for war crimes not by evidence, but by the ethnicity of the indicted”.
Long wait for justice
Some of the survivors who travelled to The Hague hoped that Ratko Mladic would use his last public appearance to offer an apology that could help reconciliation in the still divided region.
When the final judgment came, the man guilty of severing so many lives offered only silence.
Satko Mujagic, who survived the notorious Omarska death camp, told me: “I’m sorry to say but I really can see evil in his eyes, he has no sorry, he really feels nothing, he doesn’t care. He could have taken the floor and said I’m sorry it went so far. And it’s a shame because his ideology, of division of nationalism, of hatred, is still living and in many people after him.”
And one dissenting opinion, from the presiding judge, could inflame tensions and be used as ammunition by those who seek to deny the genocide and glorify the former general.
Speaking outside court, chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz declared: “The time has come to accept the truth, Mladic ranks amongst the most notorious war criminals in modern history… and his name should be consigned to the list of history’s most depraved and barbarous figures.”
Reuters: Survivors waited for the verdict in Bosnia
What happened during the appeal?
The hearing in August had been delayed by Mladic’s health problems and coronavirus restrictions.
He remained defiant throughout, attacking both the court and the prosecutor.
Speaking about Srebrenica, he said he had signed an agreement with the Bosnian Muslim army to honour it and other protected areas, and suggested he was not to blame for any violation of these zones.
But prosecution lawyer Laurel Baig said Mladic had been convicted of some of “the most heinous crimes of the 20th Century”.
“Mladic was in charge of the Srebrenica operation,” she said. “He used the forces under his command to execute thousands of men and boys.”
A defence lawyer, Dragan Ivetic, denied his client had played a role, saying: “Mr Mladic is not a villain. He was someone who at all times was trying to help the UN do the job it couldn’t do in Srebrenica at a humanitarian level.”What happened at Srebrenica? Explained in under two minutes
How did the genocide happen?
Between 1991 and 1999 the socialist state of Yugoslavia broke up violently into separate entities covering the territories of what were then Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia.
Of all the conflicts, the war in Bosnia was the bloodiest as, ethnically and religiously, it was the most divided.
Yugoslav army units, withdrawn from Croatia and renamed the Bosnian Serb Army, carved out a huge swathe of Serb-dominated territory in Bosnia.
AFPSurvivors marked the 25th anniversary of the massacre last year
More than a million Bosniaks and Croats were driven from their homes in so-called ethnic cleansing, and Serbs suffered too. By the time the war ended in 1995, at least 100,000 people had been killed.
At the end of the war in 1995, Mladic went into hiding and lived in obscurity in Serbia, protected by family and elements of the security forces.
He was finally tracked down and arrested at a cousin’s house in rural northern Serbia in 2011.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.16: The resolution, among other things, required the UN Secretary-General to report on its implementation on the 74th UN General Assembly’s session in the fall of 2019:
Russia’s replacement of population in occupied Crimea violates Geneva Convention – UN report: ‘In December 2018, the UN General Assembly approved the Ukrainian resolution A/RES/73/263 on the protection of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation’
2019/10/18 – 19:14 •
People hold Russian flags on the streets of occupied Crimea. Photo: Anton Naumlyuk, RFE/RL
Edited by: Yuri Zoria
A formal presentation of UN Secretary-General António Guterres‘s report took place on 14 October in New York. The report reveals multiple Russian crimes in Crimea, including a direct replacement of the population in the occupied region.
By resettling people from mainland Russia to Ukrainian Crimea in an attempt to alter the demographics of the area, Russia deliberately violates Geneva conventions.
It was the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour who presented the report on how the Ukrainian 2018 resolution is being implemented. Answering a question by a Ukrainian representative in the course of the presentation, Mr. Gilmour emphasizedthat transferring populations into an occupied area violates the Geneva Conventions, in particular, the fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
As the Russian delegate in his objection stated that the General Assembly’s Resolution on human rights in Crimea was “politicized, based on unverified and clearly falsified information,” Andrew Gilmour reminded that his office has not been unable to access Crimea despite the requests it made to Russia.
Oleh Nikolenko, Vice-Chair of the UN Committee on Information and Spokesperson of Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations, described the importance of the UN Sec-Gen’s report for Ukraine,
For the first time in five years of the occupation, we have an analysis of the situation on the Crimean peninsula prepared by the UN Secretary-General… The most important things are named:– Russia is an occupying power, subject to obligations under international law.– Russia completely ignores these obligations.
Russia deliberately pursues policies aimed at changing the demographic situation in Crimea, which is a gross violation of international humanitarian law. On the one hand, the Russian authorities are taking measures to coerce those who disagree with the occupation to leave the peninsula, and on the other, in 2014-2018, it has transferred 140,000 of its citizens to the Ukrainian peninsula, including servicemen and their families … This, in particular, is made to secure the annexation attempt, to create additional obstacles for further de-occupation.
Changing demographics in the occupied territories violates the Fourth Geneva Convention. Russia implemented the same scenario in the occupied territories of Georgia.
It is important for Ukraine that the UN Secretary-General finally spoke out on this. All Russian crimes are recorded and will be used to hold Moscow accountable, including in subsequent resolutions and international courts.
Volodymyr Yelchenko, the permanent representative of Ukraine at the United Nations, thanked the Secretary-General for the report and notedthat the UN should take the necessary measures to stop the transfer of Russian population to Crimea,
At the outset, my delegation would like to extend its sincere appreciation to the UN Secretary-General for the release of 12 reports, and among them of the very first report “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea…” … I would also like to ask you, Mr. Gшlmour, while reporting to the UN GA to pay special attention to the main root causes of human rights violations and abuses in Crimea, namely the foreign aggression and temporary occupation of the peninsula by the Russian Federation. … I would appreciate your advice on the steps and actions to be taken by the UN in general and the General Assembly, in particular, to stop transferring of the Russian population to Crimea and prevent consequences of such actions of the occupying power.
Population replacement in occupied Crimea
The report of the Secretary-General states, in particular, that international humanitarian law prohibits individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory regardless of the motive of such actions. The OHCHR (Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) notes that, according to the court registry of the Russian Federation, during 2017–2018 courts in Crimea ordered the transfer of at least 947 individuals considered foreigners under the laws of the Russian Federation, including the transfer of 518 Ukrainian citizens who lived in Crimea.
What is yet more important, under international humanitarian law, the occupying power must not transfer parts of its civilian population into the territory it occupies. As reported by OHCHR, during 2014–2018, 140,198 people changed their residency registration from regions of the Russian Federation to what Russia calls “the Republic of Crimea.” These relocations include appointments of public sector employees from the Russian Federation to Crimea, transferring servicemen with their families to the peninsula in the Russian framework of the militarization of the peninsula.
Read also: Russians moving into occupied Crimea now form one-fifth of its populationAccording to RFE/RL, the resettlement of Russian citizens to Crimea is going on while native residents are leaving the peninsula. Particularly, at least 19,000 Russians resettled to the peninsula while 17,500 locals departed in 2018. Some 17,000 Russians moved in and 16,000 Crimean residents moved out from the occupied region in 2017.
Other conclusions of the report
Meeting of the Social, Humanitarian & Cultural Committee of the UN General Assembly – the third committee, 17th meeting of GA’s 74th session. 14 October 2019, New York. Screenshot: webtv.un.org
The UN Sec-Gen’s report, not only provides data and evidence of population replacement in Crimea but also confirms all other Russian crimes and violations mentioned in the previous UN General Assembly Resolutions. The most important cases are:
Violating the A/RES/73/263 resolution, Russia denied the OHCHR access to the peninsula. Therefore, the Office was obliged to conduct remote monitoring based on the information from the human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine as well as Crimean civil activists and witnesses who fled occupied Crimea to mainland Ukraine.
Russia, the occupying power, automatically extended the Russian Federation’s citizenship to all Ukrainian citizens who resided in Crimea on a permanent basis. This is a violation of the right to a nationality. People who rejected Russian citizenship were considered as foreigners and faced deportation.
Russian Federation laws against terrorism, extremism, and separatism, designed to persecute political opponents, were applied to acts committed before the occupation, against all commonly accepted judicial norms.
The same laws were used for arbitrary arrests, usually preceded by house raids and searches conducted by the police and the FSB special service. From 1 January 2017 to 30 June 2019, OHCHR recorded 186 searches. In some cases, individuals were reportedly detained even without formal charges.
OHCHR received information alleging torture and ill-treatment of individuals deprived of their liberty, usually on the basis of the same above-mentioned laws against terrorism, extremism, and separatism. Torture was used to obtain forced confessions from the victims. Perpetrators resorted to various forms of torture, including mock executions, beatings, and electric shocks, as well as sexual violence.
Prisoners had not received adequate medical assistance
Religious organizations had to re-register according to Russian procedures. Some communities, including the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, chose not to re-register and now the Russian occupation authorities of Crimea consider that such organizations have lost their legal status. This led to the non-recognition of church property. Other religious communities with strong links to churches in other parts of Ukraine, like the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, were denied registration in the peninsula.
To avoid repercussions for independent journalistic work, journalists frequently self-censored, used pseudonyms and filtered their content before publication.
Authorities didn’t allow protests or rallies that were critical to Russian policies. In particular, courts arrested or fined 80 Muslim men who conducted single-person protests in October 2017 against criminal cases against other Muslims perceived as sympathizers of unauthorized religious groups.
Further concerns emerged about the legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression in Crimea following the introduction by the Russian Federation on 18 March 2019 of new laws on the offenses of “public insults towards State authorities” and “distribution of false information of public importance.”
OHCHR has documented a narrowing of space for manifestations of Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar identities and enjoyment of the respective cultures in Crimea. Crimean authorities exerted pressure on members of Ukrainian cultural organizations and imposed a total ban on the Mejlis, an important self-governing institution of the Crimean Tatar people. Members of the civic group “Ukrainian Cultural Centre” were threatened and interrogated by the sham authorities of Crimea on dubious grounds.
The number of school students instructed in the Russian language increased to 96.7% of all students, from 90.7% in 2013–2014, and the number of students instructed in Ukrainian decreased to only 249 children from 12,694 in 2013-2014. OHCHR documented cases in which the school administration disregarded or rejected explicit requests from parents to use Ukrainian or Crimean Tatar as the language of instruction for their children.
International humanitarian law forbids the occupying power to compel people on the occupied territory to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces. As of 2019, the total number of Crimean men conscripted into the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation since 2015 amounted to at least 18,000. There had been least 29 guilty verdicts in criminal prosecutions of Crimean men for draft evasion since 2017.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.14: Asylum seekers intercepted at sea en route to Australia are sent for processing to Papua New Guinea or to the South Pacific island of Nauru.Youtube How China is creating the world’s largest prison | Four Corners
In a statement to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, China alleged the detention centres “fall short of adequate medical conditions where a large number of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers have been detained over a long period of time or even indefinitely, and their human rights have been violated”
Posted Yesterday at 5:55pm
It did not specify any locations, describing them as “third countries”.
“We urge Australia to immediately close down all offshore detention centres and take concrete steps to protect the rights of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, especially children,” China said in its statement, which it submitted on behalf of a group of unnamed countries.
It also called on Australia to carry out “comprehensive and fair investigations” into reported cases of “serious war crimes” committed by Australian troops overseas.
China itself has long faced accusations that it operates detention centres, with UN experts and rights groups estimating it has detained more than a million people in its Xinjiang region, mostly Uyghur and other Muslim minorities, in a vast system of camps.
China breaching genocide convention with ‘intent to destroy’ Uyghurs
China has described the camps as vocational centres designed to combat extremism.
According to a major new report by a US-based think tank Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, China has breached every provision of the UN Genocide Convention, with “intent to destroy” the Uyghurs as a group in the country’s north-western Xinjiang region.
It has repeatedly denied its ethnic policies amount to genocide, but the report maintained the Chinese Communist Party had violated “each and every act” prohibited in Article II of the Genocide Convention.
#AceHealthReport – Nov.22: In an interview on Saturday with Swiss newspaper Solothurner Zeitung, Nabarro said that European governments failed to build up the “necessary infrastructure” to keep the virus under control after the first wave of infections this spring:
#Coronavirus Report: #WHO Covid envoy warns of third wave of virus in Europe next spring
AWorld Health Organization(WHO) envoy warned thatEuropecould face a third wave of infections in early 2021 if governments do not implement preventive measures missing this summer: Speaking to Swiss newspapers,David Nabarrosaid that infections could boom again if countries repeat what he said was a failure to prevent the second wave.
Now we have the second wave. If they don’t build the necessary infrastructure, we’ll have a third wave early next year.
Infections are once again surging throughout Europe, after a lull this summer: France and Germany recorded some 33,000 new cases combined on Saturday, while the UK reported nearly 20,000 cases on the same day, and Spain announced more than 15,000 on Friday. Deaths remain proportionally lower throughout Europe than during the first wave, however:
Despite Nabarro’s stark prediction, the WHO has cautioned against responding too heavy-handedly to the #pandemic In a briefing on Thursday, the organization’s European director, Hans Kluge, called for “systematic and general mask-wearing” and “strict controls on social gatherings,” but described national lockdowns as a “last resort” policy:
#AceWorldNews – GENEVA – October 21 – Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for “real-world” testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe, a top World Health Organization official said Tuesday.
Dr Marie Paule Kieny, an assistant director general for WHO, said clinical trials that are either under-way or planned in Europe, Africa and the U.S. are expected to produce preliminary safety data on two vaccines by December.
#AceNewsServices – GENEVA – October 16 – Combating the “twin plagues” of Ebola and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), while addressing the largest number of forcibly displaced people since World War II amid budget cuts is like “being asked to use a boat and bucket to cope with a flood”, the United Nations’ new human rights chief told journalists in Geneva today.
In his first briefing to the press since taking up the four-year post on 1 September, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said he was “shocked” that just six weeks into his job, he already had to look at making cuts and “battle” to find resources.
The twin plagues of Ebola and ISIL both fomented quietly, neglected by a world that knew they existed but misread their terrible potential
“Our operations are stretched to breaking point in a world that seems to be lurching from crisis to ever more dangerous crisis,” he said, warning that when the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) “cannot afford to put people on the ground – to monitor, to report, to train, to advocate – the cost may be high.”
“Human rights are not an airy ideal,” he stressed, adding that underestimating the critical importance of human rights is what plays in creating crises in the first place.
The global response to Ebola must therefore be focused on the right to health, to education, to sanitation, to development and to good governance. Only a response that is built on respect for human rights will be successful in crushing the epidemic.
We must also beware of “us” and “them”, a mentality that locks people into rigid identity groups and reduces all Africans – or all West Africans, or some smaller, national or local group – to a stereotype, Mr. Zeid said. It is wrong to dehumanise and stigmatise people.
OHCHR is currently drawing up guidelines on quarantine, because, if imposed and enforced injudiciously, quarantine can very easily violate a wide range of human rights.
Turning to what he called, “the antithesis of human rights”, Mr. Zeid said ISIL – or, as he referred to it, the Taqfiri group called “Daech” in Arabic – believes “justice is to commit murder”. It spares no one. Not women, not children, nor the elderly, the sick or the wounded. No religion is safe, no ethnic group.
“The way [ISIL] has spread its tentacles into other countries, employing social media and the internet to brainwash and recruit people from across the globe, reveals it is to be the product of a perverse and lethal marriage of a new form of nihilism with the digital age,” said the High Commissioner.
As ISIL and Ebola gain ground, it is “deplorable” that the UN office responsible for human rights cannot fulfil the dozens of pending requests for human rights advisors and only receives around 3 per cent of the UN regular budget. The UN human rights office (OHCHR) is at least $25 million short of its needs this year, Mr. Zeid said.
“We are asking for less than the amount Americans are forecast to spend on costumes for their pets at Halloween in a few days, time – and that includes my family who live in New York,” the High Commissioner added.
Prior to 2013, it was unusual for there to be even two “mandated tasks” OHCHR was providing support to. But now, there are “no fewer than six of these under way”, including support missions for the Human Rights Council and an increasing number of fact-finding missions requested by the Security Council.
“In other words, the Office is stretched to its limit,” Mr. Zeid said, adding that some desk officers are obliged to cover seven or eight countries and to support multiple independent human rights experts and committees.
“We are already sparing back everything we can, and services are starting to suffer. States come to us asking for technical assistance programs, but is becoming increasingly likely that we will turn them down,” he said.
These include programmes to help vet security and police personnel and train them to respect human rights and refrain from torture.
The Office is, however, investigating alleged human rights violations and abuses in Iraq, Mr. Zeid said, reiterating his call to the Government to consider acceding to the Rome Statute to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
We intend to issue another update count of reported deaths in Syria before the end of the year, he added. As it stands now, over 200,000 deaths have been reported since March 2011.
The High-Commissioner also expressed concern over continuing conflict in Yemen, Libya, and recently in Gaza, and the myriad human rights issues in Bahrain and Egypt.
In Africa, conflicts and violations, including sexual violence continue in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Mali, worsening the already chronic poverty.
In Asia, he said that the “appalling and protracted” human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is on international radar thanks to the efforts of the International Commission of Inquiry, established by his predecessor Ms. Navi Pillay.
He also spotlighted the perils faced by migrants in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and the Americas, many of whom continue to die in their desperate efforts to find a better, more dignified life.
Meanwhile, there is an alarming increase in the number of major political parties in European and other industrialised countries proposing, and on occasion implementing, regressive and even abusive migration and xenophobic policies.
Mr. Zeid concluded his first press conference on a positive note however, saying: “Notwithstanding everything I have just said…it seems to me that the broad trajectory of humanity is a positive one and that in an increasing number of communities and countries, all human beings are seen as fully equal in dignity”.
#AceWorldNews – GENEVA – October 15 – US nuclear negotiators should stop focusing on Iran’s number of centrifuges, Reuters quoted a senior Iranian politician as saying on Wednesday.
Exclusive: Iran digs in heels on nuclear centrifuges at Vienna talks – envoys
“This is something like a trivial matter and we should not bargain over trivial matters,” Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said in Geneva.
“This is not going to be useful, this is not going to solve any real problems,” he said, adding that the negotiators should rather push for a deal to help build confidence between Iran and the six world powers.
#AceNewsServices – GENEVA – October 14 – The Ebola vaccine will be available for mass use in summer 2015 at the earliest, the assistant director general of the World Health organization (WHO) told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.
“I think by January we will be able of doing larger scale studies with this thing.
But in terms of large scale use, no, not until middle of the next year. That’s our target,” Bruce Aylward said, answering a question on when an Ebola vaccine would be ready for mass use.
Earlier the WHO said that the first anti-Ebolavaccinecould be available as early as November 2014 and would first be given to the health care workers most at risk of exposure to the disease.
The vaccine had been expected to become available for mass use early in 2015.
The organization said that the Canadian VSV-EBOV vaccine and the ChAd-EBO vaccine developed by the British GlaxoSmithKlein are the most promising counters to Ebola.
The Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with the bodily fluids of the infected.
There is no officially approved medication for the disease, but several countries are currently working on developing Ebola vaccines, with Russia planning to introduce three vaccines within the next six months.
#AceWorldNews UNITED NATIONS September 20. /ITAR-TASS/. Iran and the P5+1 group (five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany) are working in different formats, having raised the level of security, an informed diplomatic source said on Saturday.
The sides are working on a bilateral basis as well but no plenary meeting is expected on Saturday, the source told ITAR-TASS.
The sides have agreed not to disclose the details of the negotiations and to limit their contacts with the media.
The source said the process was fragile and needed to be handled carefully as the sides were looking for compromises.
Political directors from Iran and the P5+1 group met in New York on Friday, beginning a new round of talks on the Iranian nuclear programme.
The head of the Russian delegation, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov sa said Russia would “continue to work with its partners in order to lay the groundwork for compromises”.
“The recent contacts, including bilateral ones, with the Iranians were quite promising and showed that the Iranian delegation is preparing for the upcoming round most fundamentally,” Ryabkov said, adding that the six world powers were preparing as well.
“We will continue working towards the result,” Ryabkov said.
#AceWorldNews – GENEVA – September 12 – The worst-ever outbreak of the Ebola virus has now killed more than 2,400 people, the World Health Organization(WHO) said Friday.
“As of 12 September, we are at 4,784 cases and more than 2,400 deaths,” AFP quoted the head of the UN health agency, Margaret Chan, as saying in Geneva.
Ebola virus disease – Democratic Republic of Congo
Disease outbreak news
10 September 2014
Between 2 and 9 September 2014, there have been 31 more cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), increasing the cumulative number of cases to 62 (14 confirmed, 26 probable, and 22 suspect). In total, 35 deaths have been reported (9 confirmed and 26 probable).
No deaths have been reported among suspected cases. Nine health-care workers have been diagnosed with EVD, including 7 deaths. All the cases have been localized in Jeera county. The affected villages are Watsi Kengo, Lokolia, Boende, and Boende Muke. Currently, 9 cases have been hospitalized: 4 in Lokolia; 2 in Watsikengo; 2 in Boende; and 1 in Boende Moke. A total of 386 contacts have been listed and 239 contacts have been followed-up.
All cases and contacts are linked to the initial index case reported to the World Health Organization on 26 August 2014.
#AceWorldNews – GENEVA – July 19 – A man who set off a security alert in Geneva on Saturday when he stopped a tram to retrieve bags that included a book with a radical Islamist image in it appears to have been drunk, police said.
Police detained the man and closed off part of the down-town area while a bomb disposal unit inspected his shopping bags but found nothing specific aside from the book, Geneva police spokesman Christophe Fortis told Reuters.
Fortis gave no details about the suspect but said he had a very high level of alcohol in his blood.
He said the man had got off a tram with some bags but left more bags behind and the tram drove off before he could fetch them. He then forced the tram to stop on its way back, setting off the alert, Fortis said.
The alert coincided with a demonstration against Israel’s assault on Gaza that drew some 300 protesters to the front of the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva.
(Reporting by Marina Depetris and Tom Miles; Writing by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
#AceWorldNews – GENEVA – June 03 – The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is reducing the number of observers in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in Eastern Ukraine for security reasons, OSCE Secretary-General Lamberto Zannier told journalists on Tuesday.
The OSCE will continue monitoring Ukraine’s eastern regions as closely as possible but at the moment it has to relocate its observers from Donetsk to safer places such as Kharkiv, Kiev and Dnepropetrovsk so that they could perform their monitoring functions from there, Zannier said, adding the OSCE would also cut the number of observers in the Luhansk region.
The OSCE Secretary-General added that observers lost in east Ukraine are safe.
KYIV, May 30 /Ukrinform/. Four more foreign observers from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and a Ukrainian interpreter who worked in Luhansk disappeared on Thursday, the OSCE press office reported.
“Yesterday at about 19.00 the Special OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine lost contact with several members of its team, who work in Luhansk region,” the report reads.
The OSCE mission noted that in Severodonetsk (100 km from Luhansk) the observers were detained by armed men.
In addition, the OSCE reported that the organization still has no contact with the four observers who went missing in Donetsk region in the evening on May 26. Earlier, some media reported that the militants released the group of observers.
The observer missions of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will continue working in east Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions despite incidents when their observers went missing there, Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for the OSCE’s mission in Ukraine, said Monday.
(SwissInfo) – May 29 – An insurgent leader in Eastern Ukraine has said his group kidnapped four observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), among them a Swiss.
The group had been missing since Tuesday.
Vyacheslav Ponomarev, who has declared himself mayor of the city of Slovyansk in the eastern Ukranian Donetsk region, told the media the monitors were safe and would be released.
“I addressed the OSCE mission to warn them that their people should not, over the coming week, travel in areas under our control. And they decided to show up anyway,” Ponomarev told the Associated Press.
“We will figure out who [the observers] are, where they were going and will then let them go,” he said to the Interfax news agency. The other members of the observer team come from Turkey, Denmark and Estonia.
Mr Schneider said he understood that the self-proclaimed mayor, Vyacheslav Ponomarev, could use the observers as a bargaining chip. Mr Ponomarev said Saturday that they could be released in exchange for jailed pro-Russia activists.