- ticket title
- Tanzanian President Criticized for Refusing to Close Places of Worship
- Media Watchdog: Algeria Arrests Independent Journalist
- UNHCR Update Libya (27 March 2020)
- Worshippers in Ethiopia Defy Ban on Large Gatherings Despite Coronavirus
- Malawi Orders Political Opposition to Halt Coronavirus Education Campaigns
In an attempt to slow down the battle for the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Martin Griffiths, the UN’s envoy to Yemen, has certainly been busy of late, meeting with various parties to Yemen’s war and, most recently, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Griffiths has had some success in staving off a full-scale military press while he tries to restart negotiations, but civilians in the city and wider province are in a dangerous limbo, with 33,000 fleeing since the start of June and many more risking it all to stay put and protect homes and livelihoods. As it can often seem like just the voices of foreigners talking about the importance of Hodeidah, here’s a just-published open letter from a group of Yemeni experts on the risks of further military escalation in the province. Check back with us soon for a view from the ground in a country where the UN estimates more than 11 million people need urgent humanitarian assistance to survive.
“Collective punishment” in Gaza?
Last Monday, in response to a series of incendiary kites and balloons sent from Gaza over the past few weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he was closing Israel’s border with the Palestinian enclave to almost all goods: only supplies Israel classifies as humanitarian are allowed in; no exports can leave; and the area Palestinian fishermen can use has been reduced. The move was condemned by human rights groups as collective punishment, while the EU said it “expects Israel to reverse these decisions”, and a UN expert said the restrictions would worsen Gaza’s already “dire humanitarian crisis.” This week, UN humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick visited Gaza and said he was especially concerned about the impact of fuel shortfalls on health, water, and sanitation services, warning: “we are steps away from a disastrous deterioration”.
War and peace in Afghanistan
Civilian deaths the highest in a decade, casualties from suicide attacks soaring, schools increasingly under attack: these are all alarming trends from the UN’s latest tally of conflict casualties in Afghanistan, released this week. The mission recorded 1,692 deaths through the first half of the year – the most since the UN began tracking and releasing civilian casualty figures in 2009 (when it recorded 1,052 deaths from conflict). It’s hard to imagine a positive takeaway from such disconcerting stats, but here’s one attempt: for three short days in June, when the government and the Taliban both agreed to put aside their weapons for an end-of-Ramadan ceasefire, the UN recorded almost no civilian casualties caused by either side (fighters aligned with the so-called Islamic State, who were not part of the ceasefire, claimed two suicide attacks that killed dozens). A few more cautiously promising signs: Taliban officials have reportedly ordered a stop to suicide bombings in civilian areas, while the White House is also reportedly mulling talks with the Taliban, which has insisted any potential peace plan must include direct negotiations with the United States. As the International Crisis Group notes in a briefing looking at how to build on the June ceasefire: “The US speaking directly to the Taliban is the best bet for… kickstarting a long-overdue peace process.”