WHY RIGHTS COUNCIL WANTS LIBYA SUSPENDED
The United Nations Human Rights Council condemned the violence in Libya, ordered an international inquiry into alleged abuses and recommended suspension.
In a decision adopted unanimously at the end of a special session inGeneva, the 47-member Council called on the Libyan Government to meet its responsibility to protect its population, immediately end all human rights violations, stop any attacks against civilians, and respect the popular will, aspirations and demands of its people.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said, “Although reports are still patchy and hard to verify, one thing is painfully clear, in brazen and continuing breach of international law, the crackdown in Libya of peaceful demonstrations is escalating alarmingly with reported mass killings, arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of protestors.”
She also recalled that under international law, “any official, at any level, ordering or carrying out atrocities and attacks can be held criminally accountable and widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity.” Reports from hospitals indicate that most of the victims have been shot in the head, chest or neck, suggesting arbitrary and summary executions. Doctors relate that they are struggling to cope and are running out of blood supplies and medicines to treat the wounded.
The Tunisian and Egyptian Governments declared their borders open for all nationalities attempting to flee the ongoing violence in Libya, and reported that some 22,000 people had fled and crossed over into Tunisia. A team from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) was on the Libyan-Egyptian border to access the food needs of those fleeing Libya. The agency said it was ready to dispatch high energy biscuits and provide food assistance to Libyans when the security situation improved.
KI-MOON VOICES CONCERN OVER WORSENING VIOLENCE
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced deep concern over the deteriorating situation in Côte d’Ivoire, deploring recent clashes between rival groups as well as threats against the United Nations, including a call to impede the movement of peacekeepers.
“These developments mark a disturbing escalation which draws the country closer to the brink of reigniting civil war,” Mr Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement, referring to the armed clashes in Abidjan, as well as the fighting in the west of the country between elements of the rebel Forces. Nouvelles and forces loyal to outgoing president Laurent Gbagbo.
Gbagbo has refused to vacate office despite opposition leader Alassane Ouattara’s UN-certified victory in the 28 November 2010 presidential run-off.
The election was meant to be the culmination of efforts to reunify the country, split by civil war in 2002 into a Government-controlled south and a rebel-held north. “The Secretary-General reiterates his call on both sides to exercise maximum restraint and to extend their cooperation to the African Union High-Level Panel. He hopes that the Panel will expedite its discussions and
take decisions that will help prevent further violence and facilitate a peaceful settlement to the crisis,” the statement said.
The mission’s spokesperson, Hamadoun Touré, reported that the clashes could lead to wider armed conflict and a violation of the existing ceasefire. He also said that there had been rising violence in certain neighbourhoods in Abidjan between the military and demonstrators, with the use of heavy weapons and deaths reported.
In a related development, the UN High Commi sioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Melissa Fleming, said the number of refugees fleeing Côte d’Ivoire had risen dramatically and nearly 45,000 Ivoirians had crossed into Liberia.
Fighting near the town of Danané apparently triggered the movement of people towards the border with Liberia, she said. Host families were struggling to feed and house the displaced.
ALARMED BY FRESH FIGHTING IN SOMALIA
The United Nations is alarmed over the plight of Somali civilians caught up in the fighting pitting forces of the country’s transitional government, backed by African Union peacekeepers, against insurgents of the Al-Shabaab armed group.
Some 300 Somalis fleeing the fighting have crossed into Kenya, Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said. “We have received reports from them of many injuries. Other civilians, including women, children and the elderly, remain trapped and unable to reach safety,” she said. Apparently, there was a coordinated offensive against Al-Shabaab militants in the capital, Mogadishu, Beled Weyne in Hiiraan region and Beled Hawo in the Gedo region.
Somalia generates the highest number of refugees in the world after Afghanistan and Iraq. There are an estimated 1.5 million internally displaced persons inside Somalia and more than 680,000 Somalis live as refugees in neighbouring countries, according to UNHCR.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the high human cost of the conflict. He sent his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives, including civilians and soldiers of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Mr Ban expressed hope that the leadership of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Institutions would remain united and provide the necessary political guidance, support and encouragement to the forces of the TFG and AMISOM.
Some 2,000 emergency relief kits, comprising shelter materials, blankets and kitchen sets, have already been dispatched from the Kenyan port city of Mombasa for distribution to those displaced from Beled Hawo and other areas who have sought refuge in the Gedo region.
Consternation as Pirates Kill Hostages
The killing of four unarmed Americans off the coast of Somalia’s pirate-infested waters has shown a new, shocking face of modern day piracy. Better yet, the killings indicate escalating levels of violence against hostages by pirates in a bid to hasten ransom paying. The pirates are known for attacking and torturing their victims but the recent incident is the first time they have gone as far as murdering their victims.
The international media reported that naval experts were actually surprised that the pirates had killed the hostages terming it “shooting the hen that lays the eggs” because normally the hostages are the pirates’ collateral. The hostages, said to be couples, Adam and Jean Scott and Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle, had been taking part in the annual Blue Water Rally. The former were a retired couple taking part in missionary work and had been sailing the seas for more than seven years.
Most daring and disappointing, however, is that the hostages were killed as negotiations to secure their release were still underway and more so as a US warship trailed their yacht. The bizarre killings are partly seen as a way of speeding up the process of getting their ransom money and also as a way of daring and showing the international combatants that they are more capable than earlier envisaged and are prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure that the relevant companies pay up.
The deadly practice is now evolving into a grotesque mafia-like business that will soon be, or already is, difficult to control. International naval forces patrolling the high seas off the Horn of Africa coastline say they have managed to reduce piracy in the Gulf of Aden but reports indicate that the pirates have moved further offshore into open waters. This makes monitoring and protection of the parties involved more intricate.
As of February 15, 33 vessels and 712 hostages were being held captive by pirates, according to the International Maritime Bureau. This year, over 50 ships have been attacked by pirates. Hostages’ governments, insurers and shipping companies are already feeling the pinch caused by the “piracy costs” and the augmented threat to hostages poses yet another squeeze.
Against this backdrop, the Kenyan government is planning a conference with the regional countries affected by the piracy menace to comprehensively deliberate on how to deal with the issue.Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, said that piracy poses a huge threat to Kenya’s economy. Freight charges and insurance premiums have considerably risen because of the risks the vessels are exposed to when plying the Indian Ocean
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