Daily Archives: February 17, 2019

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore’s remarks at Munich Security Conference: “Human Security in the Middle East”

“I appreciate this opportunity to discuss human security in the context of the Middle East. A region that has seen too little peace. Too much conflict. And a continued unraveling of the diverse social fabric that has for so long defined the region. In fact, this social fabric is being torn apart.

“Many countries in the region � like Syria, Iraq and Libya � were once prosperous places, with functioning health care, education systems, and ladders of opportunity.

“Consider Syria � a country that achieved universal primary education in 2000. Today, over two million children � 36 per cent of the total number � are out of school. Hundreds of schools have been attacked. One in three is unusable because it is damaged, destroyed, or being used for military purposes.

“As Professor Ischinger said in his opening remarks: We can not just wait and watch as protracted conflicts harm the prospects and hopes of young people.

“Today, across the region, conflicts have swept across these countries � and stretched beyond their borders.

“As these conflicts have torn communities and societies apart, they’ve endangered those least responsible, but most affected: children.

“In Syria, in the first nine months of last year, 1,300 children were killed or maimed.

“In Iraq, where the fighting has subsided, families returning home face a new threat: unexploded ordinance. So education for children to not play or touch with unexploded ordinance is important.

“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict saw a worrying spike in killing and injuring of children last year, of violence among young people when they should be building peace together.

“And in Yemen � the world’s worst humanitarian crisis � conflict continues to shatter the lives of millions of children. Hospitals are staffed by workers who haven’t been paid in over two years. There aren’t enough respirators and medicine to go around. A child dies every 10 minutes in Yemen of preventable causes, including malnutrition. In a world where science and medicine are so well-advanced, this is unacceptable.

“As these conflicts rage on, we’re witnessing a terrible trend � the Geneva Conventions are being disregarded or ignored with impunity.

“Targeted and indiscriminate attacks are killing and injuring children on a horrific scale.

“Children are facing violations ranging from direct violence � to abduction and recruitment to armed groups and forces.

“Safe spaces have become anything but safe, as schools and hospitals are attacked, along with water and sanitation systems.

“For UNICEF and our many partners across the region, the scope of the challenge is daunting, nearly overwhelming, and rising.

“Across the Middle East/North Africa region, 71 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Over half are children.

“Nelson Mandela once said: There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its children.

“So let’s everyone ask ourselves � how do we measure against Nelson Mandela’s challenge?

“If our children do not know peace, health, education and nutrition in their lives today � or what a cohesive society even looks like � how can they build it for the generations to come? Will they be willing or even able to do so? When the fighting stops, will they build peace? Or will they perpetuate the old hatreds of their fathers and grandfathers that have fuelled these conflicts and wars over generations?

“Those of us who believe in the pathway of peace must stand our ground. We must not allow violence and conflict to become the new normal. We must step in to protect children, wherever they are.

“With our many partners in the region, UNICEF is doing all we can, but we need help from the leaders of this security forum.

“On an immediate basis, we’re providing health services like immunizations, and working to reunite children with their families.

“We’re delivering emergency nutrition, and water and sanitation.

“And we’re advocating with parties to conflict to gain access to the children caught in the line of fire.

“We are receiving child soldiers and reintegrating them in society.

“Over the long term, we’re supporting the rehabilitation of schools and water infrastructure. We’re working to keep medical clinics open and provide medical personnel with lifesaving supplies and medicine.

“Increasingly, we’re providing vital cash transfers to families. In Yemen for example, we’re reaching 1.5 million of the poorest families � about 9 million people � a lifeline for the poorest families in the poorest country in the region.

“And we’re putting a strong focus on helping children affected continue their education. Not only so they’re prepared to assume the mantle of economic and social citizenship and leadership one day. But because school is where children from different backgrounds can learn togetherplay togetherand begin reconstructing the social fabric that holds together every peaceful society.

“This need for social cohesion in the Middle East must be a top priority for all of us. We need to mend and reset the fabric of society. It will need to start with the young � in their schools, in both primary and secondary schools.

“These are all investments in people and communities that can serve immediate and future needs � and sow the seeds of peace and stability.

“But we must do still more.

“First � we call on our global donors to urgently scale-up our support for children and young people across the region. Last month, UNICEF made a global appeal for increased funds to meet the increased humanitarian needs around the world. The Middle East/North Africa region represents the lion’s share of this amount.

“Second � in the countries affected, we renew our call for immediate, unconditional and sustainable access to all children in need. Wherever they are. No matter who controls the areas in which they live. Ceasefires and days of tranquillity are important gestures of humanity.

“Third � we renew our call for all parties to conflict, and those who can influence them, to end attacks on children, schools, hospitals and water infrastructure. To respect international humanitarian law and child rights.

“And fourth � in Syria, Yemen and Libya, we urge all parties to sit at the table and thoughtfully imagine what peace would look like.

“In the meantime, UNICEF and our partners will continue serving children’s needs across the region.

“By doing so � child by child � we can help build the human security, and hopefully peace, that is at the centre of every cohesive society. We, too, can help pick up the pieces.”

Source: UN Children’s Fund

MEC Donald Grant and Chief Africa brief media on festive season road safety campaign, 18 Feb

Minister Grant and Chief Africa to brief the media on successful festive season road safety campaign

Tomorrow, Minister of Transport and Public Works, Donald Grant, and Provincial Traffic Chief, Kenny Africa, will be briefing the media on the successful Festive Season joint enforcement and road safety efforts, as well as the road death toll for that period. The festive season spanned 1st December 2018 till 31st January 2019.

The Minister and the Traffic Chief will be:

Commenting on the successfully deployed smart enforcement technology deployed over this past Festive Season,

Releasing the road death figures for December 2018/January 2019 for the Western Cape,

Releasing Provincial Traffic enforcement statistics for the festive season, and

Speaking about some of the various Safely Home activities and campaigns rolled out over this period to improve road safety in the province.

All media are invited and welcome to attend. There will be opportunity for interviews and photographs. Please indicate if you will be in attendance.

Source: Government of South Africa

Army: 5 Boko Haram, 4 Soldiers Killed in NE Nigeria

LAGOS, NIGERIA Five Boko Haram fighters and four soldiers were killed in fighting in northeast Nigeria, the military said on Sunday, in the latest clashes between troops and jihadists.

Army spokesman Sagir Musa said five rebel fighters “met their Waterloo” as they attempted to overrun a military base in Buni Yadi, in Yobe state, at about 6:00 pm (1700 GMT) on Saturday.

“An officer and three soldiers have lost their lives during the encounter. While five soldiers were wounded are stable and receiving treatment in the Brigade Field Ambulance,” he added.

Musa said the heavily armed militants were in four gun trucks and two armored vehicles. Troops seized weapons and ammunition, he added.

The military base in Buni Yadi has been targeted before in the conflict.

In January, two military sources told AFP the Islamic State-allied faction of Boko Haram killed four soldiers and were repelled after air support was called in.

In recent months there have been a wave of attacks in the buni Yadi area, which is near the border with Borno state — the epicenter of fighting since 2009.

Most of the attacks on military positions and troops have been blamed on or claimed by the self-styled Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected in 2015 on a promise to defeat the Islamist militants, maintains the group is “technically defeated”.

Buni Yadi was the scene of one of Boko Haram’s most notorious attacks, when fighters loyal to long-time leader Abubakar Shekau stormed a boys’ boarding school in February 2014.

More than 40 students were killed as they slept.

Source: Voice of America

Defying the odds: The story of a Nepalese female peacekeeper serving in South Sudan

Lance Corporal Mina Thapa not only defied the odds by joining the army � a male-dominated field � but went a notch higher by accepting to be a part of the Nepalese military peacekeeping force, now serving in South Sudan, far away from home.

For Mina, joining the army was an opportunity to live a childhood dream.

As a child, I didn’t know whether women were recruited into the army, but my dream was to be a soldier and serve the nation She said with a gleam on her face.

Listening to her combat story, it becomes fairly easy to tell what the source of inspiration to join the army was for her.

My father was also a military officer, so I got a lot of inspiration from him. The works of the military in our society also inspired me a lot, she says.

Two hundred women applied to join the Nepalese army on the same day as Mina.

Having the desire to join the military is one thing, but surviving through the drills and tough training, is another. Mina says it is not only the physical strength that many focus on. It takes a lot of mental and emotional perseverance.

People think that women can’t work in the army. The training was very tough in the initial days of my career. But after some time, I and my peers got acclimatized with whatever we were being taught, she says before adding, This is what many in the army call dying a little.

Soon, her combat work was to take her to serve on a foreign, UN peacekeeping mission.

I was very happy when my organization selected me to serve on a UN Mission. I knew this would come with new challenges, but I would be able to fulfill my childhood dream of serving humanity, she says.

Indeed, the challenges were to be enormous. Travelling the long journey from Asia to Africa, change in weather and diet, staying away from family, and being on the alert at all times are just a few on her long list of challenges.

Before coming to South Sudan we had a Mission Specific Training and Peacekeeping (MSTP) at the military school, she explained.

Daily, Mina joins long and short distance patrols, keeps guard at the watch towers, town patrols, base patrols and other assignments as they come from her commanders.

Straight away to handling a gun. The speed and accuracy with which she unpacks and re-assembles a gun is a clear indication of a perfectly mastered drill.

Peacekeeping is a challenging job, but we perform our duties with utmost discipline as per the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, she emphasized as she unpacked her message to other women saying: As women, we must believe in ourselves. We can perform all other duties in the UN cutting across peacekeeping and administration duties.

How does she manage to juggle between her combat duties and family responsibilities, one may wonder.

My view is different. A military job is sacrifice, she says, concluding, To achieve your military goals, you must do a lot of self-sacrifice. All human beings are my family. Serving humanity gives me the courage to accomplish my duties and responsibilities.

Source: UN Mission in South Sudan

Sudan Lawmakers Cancel Meeting on Constitutional Changes

Sudan’s state-run news agency says a parliamentary committee tasked with amending the constitution to allow President Omar al-Bashir to run for another term has abruptly canceled its meeting.

SUNA says the meeting was scheduled for Sunday but has been postponed for “emergency reasons.” It says a new date will be announced later.

Sudan has been rocked by a wave of protests since December calling on al-Bashir, who seized power in a 1989 military coup, to step down. Activists say at least 57 people have been killed, but the government tally stands at 30.

Al-Bashir has vowed to run for another term, saying the country can only change leadership through elections.

Source: Voice of America