Displaying items by tag: UN

Friday, 04 November 2022 04:00

DRC: UN troops make ‘strategic withdrawal’

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has withdrawn troops from the eastern military base of Rumangabo, ceding ground in the battle against the M23 rebel group. M23 resumed fighting and accused the DRC government of failing to honour an agreement to integrate its fighters into the army. The fresh clashes saw the rebel group make advances across North Kivu province. The loss of the key military base is a setback for DRC and a further blow to the security outlook in the conflict-hit east. Thousands remain displaced from the region. Kiwanja’s fall is another humiliation for the government in Kinshasa. It raises serious questions, once again, as to how an extremely small rebellion can do this on their own. UN experts found solid evidence Rwanda had been providing military aid to M23 in eastern DRC. Rwanda’s government has disputed the findings.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 27 January 2022 20:02

CAR: UN probing alleged killings

The UN is investigating the death of people in the Central African Republic (CAR) by government forces and mercenaries with the Russian private military company Wagner. Over thirty civilians were killed, some by stray bullets, in the 16-17 January operation which targeted the Union for Peace rebel group. The UN mission known as MINUSCA received reports of the incident involving CAR troops and ‘other security personnel’. They sent a human rights team and security personnel there to assess the situation and take necessary measures to protect civilians. A military source, declining to be identified, suggested that the fighting is continuing, with forces and Russians committing massacres. ‘There have been summary executions and about fifty deaths.’ UN experts expressed concerns over ‘grave human rights abuses’ by the Wagner group, who take orders from the Russian defence ministry.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 23 September 2021 21:50

A turning point for humanity

Boris Johnson, speaking to the UN, told them that it is time for humanity to grow up, and the COP26 summit leaders in November must be the turning point. He warned that global temperature rises were already inevitable, but called on his fellow leaders to commit to major changes to curb further warming in four areas - coal, cars, cash, and trees. He added, ‘Countries must take responsibility for the destruction we are inflicting, not just upon our planet but ourselves. It's time for humanity to grow up.’ Mr Johnson praised China’s pledge to stop building coal-fired energy plants abroad and called on them to also end domestic coal use (they produce 28% of global greenhouse gas emissions). The Prime Minister made a series of calls for action to his fellow leaders, adding, ‘We have the tools for a green industrial revolution, but time is desperately short.’

Published in Worldwide

What began as a coup by the Myanmar military has ‘rapidly morphed’ into an all-out attack against the civilian population that has become increasingly widespread and systematic, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warned on 6 July, 2021.

Speaking at the 47th session of the Human Rights Council, Michelle Bachelet reiterated that the situation in the country has evolved from a political crisis in early February to a “multi-dimensional human rights catastrophe”, repeating a formulation she first used a month ago.

Since the coup, nearly 900 people have been killed while around 200,000 people have been forced to flee their homes because of violent military raids on neighbourhoods and villages. “Suffering and violence throughout the country are devastating prospects for sustainable development and raise the possibility of State failure or a broader civil war”, she cautioned.

Ms. Bachelet explained that the catastrophic developments since February have had a severe and wide-ranging impact on human rights, peace and security, and sustainable development. “They are generating clear potential for massive insecurity, with fallout for the wider region”. The UN High Commissioner urged the international community to stand united in pressuring the military to halt its continuing attacks on the people of Myanmar and return the country to democracy, reflecting the ‘clear will of the people’.

She said the UN system must not fail the country a second time”, she added, citing the 2019 review of UN action in the country, by Gert Rosenthal.  She also advised swift action to restore a working democracy before the human rights situation in the country deteriorates further. “This should be reinforced by Security Council action. I urge all States to act immediately to give effect to the General Assembly's call to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar”, Ms. Bachelet said.

UN Agencies estimate that over 6 million people are severely in need of food aid and forecast that nearly half the population could fall into poverty by early 2022.  “A void has been opened for the most harmful – and criminal – forms of illicit economy to flourish”, she underscored.

She denounced indiscriminate airstrikes, shelling, civilian killings and mass displacement. Civil voices are also being silenced: over 90 journalists have been arrested and eight major media outlets shuttered. “We have also received multiple reports of enforced disappearances; brutal torture and deaths in custody; and the arrest of relatives or children in lieu of the person being sought”, she said.

She added that people across the country continue peaceful protests despite the massive use of lethal force, including heavy weaponry, and a ‘civil disobedience movement has brought many military-controlled government structures to a standstill’.

Some people, in many parts of Myanmar, have taken up arms and formed self-protection groups. These newly formed groups have launched attacks in several locations, to which the security forces have responded with disproportionate force, she noted.

“I am concerned that this escalation in violence could have horrific consequences for civilians. All armed actors must respect and protect human rights and ensure that civilians and civilian structures such as health centres and schools are protected”.

Sources / More: The United Nations, Pray for Myanmar

Pray:

Pray that every bit of suffering, injustice, and heartache in Myanmar will be redeemed by the Lord for good.
Pray
that the people of Myanmar would hunger for the hope of the Gospel and find that all their longings are satisfied in Jesus (Colossians 1:27)

Friday, 18 June 2021 05:26

Myanmar – ‘Rapidly deteriorating’

As of the 8th June, the United Nations said an estimated 100,000 people had been displaced in Myanmar's Kayah State by recent violence, including "indiscriminate attacks by security forces" against civilian areas. "The United Nations in Myanmar is concerned about the rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian situation," the United Nations in Myanmar said in a statement.

The G7 nations issued a communique that "condemn[s] in the strongest terms the military coup in Myanmar, and the violence committed by Myanmar's security forces." It goes on to say that the G-7 nations "pledge our support to those advocating peacefully for a stable and inclusive democracy." It also says the G-7 governments will pursue "additional measures should they prove necessary," hinting at the possibility of additional sanctions.

However, the reality of life in Myanmar remains awful for many.  Thousands are in flight across Myanmar because of armed strikes and indiscriminate attacks and arrests conducted by the Tatmadaw, the armed forces of Myanmar, deepening a humanitarian crisis emerging in Kayah and Chin states. According to a community leader from Loikaw, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from the Myanmar military, the Tatmadaw “see the civilians as their enemies.”

“No one is safe from their attacks. Anyone they are suspicious of, anyone they think are against them, they will arrest, they will torture and some of them are even shot to death. It happens here every day, so people are hiding.” He said so far 50 have been killed in Kayah State, and many have been wounded. “Even peaceful protesters have been shot.”

The source in Loikaw said the Tatmadaw have attacked churches and homes with drone and air strikes, mortar and small arms fire, killing noncombatants and driving thousands into the nearby forests and mountains. “The church is under attack” in Kayah State, he said, both the “People of God” and church buildings.

Four churches of the Diocese of Loikaw have come under heavy weapons fire since mid-May. Now most church functions throughout the state have been shut down completely and many parishes are “totally abandoned.”

The Rev'd Susan McIvor has had links with the Church in Upper Myanmar since 1998 and visited many times. She has written this prayer for the current situation:

Loving God,

We pray for the people of Myanmar in their struggle for justice, peace and freedom.

We stand in solidarity with all who are calling for the restoration of democracy and an end to the violence perpetrated by the Myanmar military against protestors and civilians.

We hold in our hearts those towns, cities and communities where the loss of life is great, and where it is no longer safe for people to go about their ordinary tasks.   We pray for those who have fled into the forests or neighbouring countries fearing for their lives or their loved ones.

We pray in solidarity with the minority Christian population in Myanmar.  We pray for all churches as they support their communities.

We pray for the Methodist Church in Upper Myanmar, its colleges, healthcare and social development projects, grieving alongside our brothers and sisters as they count the loss of loved ones.  We pray that, in the face of atrocity, people will be strengthened by their faith and the knowledge of Your goodness and love. 

We pray for ourselves. 

When we feel powerless to change things show us how through our actions and our prayers Your love is made known.   

When we reach out to support people in Myanmar, give us words of wisdom, compassion and hope.

And when our hearts are breaking with despair for those we know in Myanmar, fill us with Your peace. 

AMEN

More / Sources: The United Nations, Americamagazine.org, Methodists UK

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Thursday, 05 November 2020 23:28

Saudi Arabia: UN worried about activist’s health

A Saudi women’s rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul (31), was arrested along with about a dozen other female activists in May 2018. She has been on hunger strike for a week, and on 5 November her health was said to be rapidly worsening. UN experts are calling for her immediate release. She was arrested just weeks before Saudi Arabia lifted a decades-old ban on female drivers, yet she is still in prison. Her deteriorating health was ‘deeply alarming’, said the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The committee, made up of 23 independent experts, also voiced serious concern ‘by recent information concerning the conditions of Ms al-Hathloul’s prolonged detention, including reports that she is not allowed regular contact with her family’. Some activists arrested with her were provisionally released. Others remain in detention, subjected to waterboarding, sexual harassment, and court trials for contacting media, diplomats and human rights groups.

Published in Worldwide

On 13 October, the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, the UN released a report saying the world needs rapidly to raise investment for early warning systems for extreme weather events. Over the past 50 years, recorded disasters have increased five-fold and could increase by 50% over the next decade; one in three people on Earth are not adequately covered by warning systems. The researchers are calling for a change in emphasis, from simply forecasting what the weather will be to showing the impact of that weather system. Pray for good-quality warning systems in the least developed countries and in small island states. The advent of coronavirus has made building early warning systems more difficult. Pray for governments to add climate change threat to pandemic threat as they strategise to save lives and livelihoods, and to focus investment on turning early warning information into early action. See

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 16 April 2020 22:08

Yemen: Houthis refuse cease-fire

Days after the UN called for a halt to fighting in Yemen amid the coronavirus pandemic, a two-week ceasefire was declared by the Saudi-UAE coalition. But the Houthis said they would keep fighting unless a years-long siege on the impoverished nation is lifted. The conflict has killed over 100,000 people and pushed millions to the verge of famine. The vulnerable impoverished people now have their first coronavirus case, and the country is now bracing itself for the pandemic. Continue to pray for a de-escalation in the fighting, widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and for the Houthis to join the UN-sponsored talks for a settlement to the five-year conflict. Pray particularly for God to soften the heart of Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, the Houthi spokesman.

Published in Worldwide
Friday, 28 February 2020 03:21

Jihadi school textbooks funded by UK foreign aid

Ministers pledged urgent action after it emerged that tens of millions of British foreign aid cash is funding schools in Gaza and the West Bank where textbooks on martyrdom and radical Islamism are used in school lessons. The money goes via a UN agency that some other nations have stopped financing because of concerns. The textbooks include a reading exercise for six-year-olds with the words 'martyr' and 'attack', poems for eight-year-olds include phrases such as 'sacrifice my blood' to 'eliminate the usurper from my country' and 'annihilate the remnants of the foreigners'. Teaching on Newton’s Second law for eleven-year-olds uses pictures of a boy with a slingshot targeting Israeli soldiers during the Palestinian uprising and nine-year-olds learn maths by adding the number of martyrs in Palestinian uprisings in textbooks illustrated with pictures of their funerals. Ten-year-olds learn that the most important thing is giving their life for 'sacrifice, fight, jihad, and struggle'.

Published in British Isles
Friday, 21 February 2020 07:17

UK, EU and UN solidarity with persecuted church

UK Christian politician Jeremy Hunt read Brother Andrew’s book ‘God’s Smuggler’ in his youth. This gave him a lifelong prayerful concern for the persecuted church. When he was appointed foreign minister, he looked into what the foreign service was doing to help persecuted Christians worldwide. What he discovered made him uncomfortable: there had been very high-profile interventions supporting Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Bahai in Yemen, and Yazidis in Iraq - but little UK and international diplomatic assistance for suffering Christians, even though NGOs and churches were advocating on their behalf. Mr Hunt identified possible blind spots for persecuted Christians by his staff: awkwardness about bringing God into politics, post-colonial guilt, and fearfulness of being seen to impose our faith on others. He called it ‘misguided political correctness’ in his independent review. Now Boris Johnson has appointed a special envoy on freedom of religion or belief to head up the process of dealing with Christian persecution. The UN and the EU have similar envoys.

Published in Worldwide
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