Author Archives: cigisurrao

Russia in spotlight over Ukraine atrocities as Human Rights Council meets

The UN Human Rights Council met in special session on Thursday in Geneva, prompted by increasing concern over atrocities committed against civilians, linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

Amid a mounting number of reports and testimonies pointing to possible war crimes in Ukraine particularly in areas controlled until recently by Russian forces, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that the pattern of abuses continued to be caused “by the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas, such as shelling from heavy artillery, including multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes”.

Russian forces were likely responsible for most casualties, but so too Ukrainian troops – albeit to a far lesser extent – the UN rights chief said, in a video message.

Highlighting the latest harrowing findings of UN investigators in the Kyiv and Cherniviv regions, Ms. Bachelet told the forum that 1,000 civilian bodies had been found in the Kyiv region alone. Some had been killed in hostilities, but others appeared to have been summarily executed. More

Human rights must be ‘front and centre’ in the fight against terrorism: Guterres

Responses to terrorism must be anchored in the rule of law, human rights, and gender equality to ensure their effectiveness, Secretary-General António Guterres told a UN-backed counter-terrorism meeting that opened in Málaga, Spain, on Tuesday. 

“As a moral duty, a legal obligation, and a strategic imperative – let’s put human rights where they belong: Front and centre in the fight against terror,” Mr. Guterres said in a video message to the High-Level International conference on Human Rights, Civil Society and Counter-Terrorism.

The two-day event is taking place against the backdrop of the growing threat of terrorism across the globe, and the resulting increase in related legislation and policies. More

Moldovans open their borders, homes and hearts – UN chief

On the second day of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ visit to Chisinau, he drew attention to a migration crisis without refugee camps, as 95 per cent of Ukrainians are living with Moldovan families.

People have opened their homes and their hearts to the Ukrainians”, he said, in admiration for the hospitality being extended to the refugees.

Mr. Guterres was impressed by the hospitality, acknowledging that “it is a strong emotional experience to communicate with people forced to abandon their homes under such dramatic circumstances”.

Moldova can serve as an example of solidarity,” he added. More

International Day of Argania

The Kingdom of Morocco and the United Nations are celebrating International Day of Argania which is held 10th May each year.

It was a great honour to work with Her Excellency Wassane Zailachi Ambassador of  the Kingdom of Morocco in Australia on this celebratory video.

The theme of this year aims to highlight the role of Argania in reinforcing resilient communities, adapting to climate change and empowering rural women through the support and promotion of cooperatives and agricultural organizations. Resilience helps communities and ecosystems to overcome hardships, build endurance to climate stress and find local solutions for sustainable development.

The Argan tree is typically a multipurpose tree that supports income generation, increases resilience and improves climate adaptation, playing a very important role in achieving the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – at the local level.

15 tonnes of lifesaving COVID-19 supplies arrive in Samoa

3 May 2022 | Suva/Apia A planeload of medical equipment and supplies touched down in Apia on Monday to bolster Samoa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goods were provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the Ministry of Health of Samoa and transported by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) through its Pacific Humanitarian Air Service, with funding support from the European Union (EU).

“They say that it is in times of crisis that your true friends are revealed, and WHO, WFP and the EU have shown themselves to be true friends indeed to Samoa – not just in this latest delivery of supplies, but in their ongoing tremendous support for our COVID-19 preparedness and response,” said Minister of Health, the Honourable Valasi Luapitofanua To’ogamaga Tafito Selesele. “This equipment and medical supplies will be used by Samoan health workers around the country as they continue to test and treat patients and to remain safe themselves as they save lives. Faafetai tele lava for your kind assistance.” Continue reading

Ukraine: UN-Red Cross operation underway to evacuate civilians from stricken Mariupol plant

A United Nations and Red Cross (ICRC) operation to evacuate desperate civilians trapped in the Azovstal steel plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol is underway, the Spokesperson for the humanitarian affairs office in the country confirmed on Sunday.

“A safe passage operation…is ongoing today”, said Saviano Abreu, of OCHA in Ukraine, adding that the efforts are being “coordinated” by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross, “in coordination with the parties to the conflict.”

According to news reports, more than 100 civilians were allowed to leave in the first phase of the operation.

Mr. Abreu said it had been agreed by Russian and Ukrainian authorities that the civilians who have been in the heavily damaged steel plant for nearly two months, “women, children and the elderly”, will be evacuated to Zaporizka, which is under Ukrainian control to the north of Mariupol. More

Deadly mosque explosion ‘another painful blow to the people of Afghanistan’

The United Nations has condemned a deadly explosion at a Sufi mosque in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, on Friday, which reportedly killed at least 10 people and injured up to 15 more, many of them seriously. 

The blast at the Khalifa Sahib mosque, located in the Darulaman area in the west of the city, is the latest in a series of attacks on civilian targets in the capital and provinces.

The explosion tore through the mosque, damaging the roof, which caved in on worshippers, the UN humanitarian affairs office (OCHA) in the country said, citing initial reports.

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres, strongly condemned the attack in a statement released on Saturday.

The UN Security Council also issued condemnation of the multiple recent terrorist attacks targeting minorities in Afghanistan, publishing a detail statement on Saturday. More

‘The world sees you’ UN chief tells Ukrainians, pledging to boost support

Describing Ukraine as “an epicentre of unbearable heartache and pain”, the UN chief took to the podium alongside its president in Kyiv on Thursday, vowing to increase support for the people amidst the suffering, and the millions displaced in the wake of Russia’s invasion.

“I am here to focus on ways on how the UN can expand support for the people of Ukraine, saving lives, reduce suffering and help find the path of peace”, Secretary-General António Guterres told reporters from across the world gathered in a stately room, with curtains drawn.

Shortly after the press conference, two missile strikes reportedly rocked the capital, a reminder that the war is far from over, despite the Russian withdrawal from the surrounding suburbs.

At least one person was killed, and several injured – with some buried beneath rubble as two high rise buildings caught fire – according to news reports, in the northwest of the city. More

UN appoints first independent expert on climate change and human rights

Demonstrating the wide-ranging consequences of the climate crisis, the UN Human Rights Council has appointed the first-ever Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the context of Climate Change. Ian Fry, who is of Australian and Tuvalu heritage, teaches environmental policy at the Australian National University in Canberra.

As UN Special Rapporteur, he will be tasked with studying how climate change affects the full enjoyment of human rights, and recommend ways to prevent these effects.

In an interview with the UN’s Julia Dean, Mr. Fry explained why the Human Rights Council created his new role. More

Russia agrees ‘in principle’ to UN and Red Cross involvement in evacuations from Mariupol

Russia has agreed “in principle” to UN involvement in the evacuation of citizens from the last remaining holdout in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, following a meeting between Secretary-General António Guterres and President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday.

The UN chief, who was in the Russian capital for talks on the war in Ukraine, also met with the country’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov.

During his “tête-a-tête meeting” with President Putin, Mr. Guterres reiterated the UN’s position on Ukraine, according to a readout issued by his Spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric.

They also discussed proposals for humanitarian assistance and evacuation of civilians from conflict zones, namely in relation to the situation in the besieged port city of Mariupol, where thousands of civilians and Ukrainian troops remain holed up in the Azovstal steel mill.

More