Starvation: Assad’s battering ram against the Syrians

“Kneel or Starve”

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The Danish Ambassador to the UN hosted a panel to reiterate Denmark’s determination to end starvation as a weapon of war in Syria.

Mr. Zakarya started with a personal account of the life in the besieged and chemically attacked city of Moadamiya. Victims of the regime’s “Kneel or Starve” strategy, the people of Moadamiya survived on a diet of sugar and rice before resorting to foraging edible plants. He added that the Assad regime actively blocked delivery of aid, and individuals who sought medical treatment are shot when returned to the city. Speaking of the disheartening story of a grocer’s daughter starved to death, he said that the strategy deprives Syrians not only of food, but also hope.

Mr. Sammond illustrated the severity of starvation in Syria by pointing to the fact that more Syrians died of starvation than that of illness and attack. Referring to Amnesty International’s report on the Yarmouk refugee camp, he pointed out that there is only half an hour of water supply per day. The lack of supplies is also illustrated by the fact that hospitals are lit by candles and even cigarette lighter, and caesarian sections are performed with little or no anesthetia.

Mr. Al-Dimashqy illustrated the shortage of food by stating that price of food increased by tenfold. Mr. Bitari provided a voice of Palestinians in Syria, and urged the international community to intervene the situation in Yarmouk camp.

Echoing the call for intervention, Dr. Ghadbian joined from the floor by stating that the problem with the starvation strategy is the lack of enforcement of Security Council Resolution 2139, which demanded parties to allow delivery of humanitarian assistance. Saudi Ambassador Al-Mouallimi passionately expressed his regret that some countries prevented the passing of a resolution for bringing those who caused this atrocity to justice.

 

Meeting Title: Panel discussion on “Life under siege: Starvation as a weapon of war”
Speakers: H.E. Ambassador Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations; Alexandra Hiniker, Pax Christi International (Moderator); Qusai Zakarya, Social Activist and Survivor of chemical attack in Moadamiya, Syria; Neil Sammonds, Researcher for Syria at Amnesty International; Ammar Al–Dimashqy, Social Activist in Besieged Areas; Nidal Bitari, Palestinian Lead for Human Rights in Syria; Dr. Najib Ghadbian, Special Representative to the United Nations of National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Force; H.E Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations.
Location: United Nations HQ, Economic and Social Council Chamber, New York
Date: 5 June 2014
Summary Written By WIT Representative: Harrison Chung

 

UN organizations address the 13th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

The seventh meeting for the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues facilitated a comprehensive dialogue from United Nations organisations on their progress in promoting the rights of indigenous persons with responses from Permanent members of the forum. Interventions from many UN bodies revolved around three major issue areas; the full participation of indigenous persons in their right to self-determination, ‘free, prior and informed consent’ in regards to Indigenous land rights, and the sufficient funding of organisations for long term protection of indigenous rights.

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Denmark, Bolivia, UNDP, IFAD, and the IFC all directly addressed concerns that governments are favoring the demands of the private mining industry and the sustainable development of our natural resources requires the collaborative consultation of indigenous persons. The African Caucus recognized that natural resources are usually extracted from heritage sites with unique and spiritual ties to indigenous traditions and ancestry. Therefore it is of paramount importance that indigenous persons be involved in the decisions directly affecting their sacred land.

UNECSO and FAO demonstrated that indigenous people have a unique understanding of the sustainability and protection of their environments through systems such as pastoral farming, which could enable a more resilient response to climate change for our fragile ecosystems. The IFAD, ILO and permanent member of the forum Joseph Goko Mutangah insisted that the United Nations should be capturing the wealth of agricultural, medicinal and ecological innovations that indigenous traditions encompass.

Representative of the American Indian Alliance and chairperson of the forum Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough, expressed concerns that the United Nations organisations are only authorised to serve indigenous persons from developing countries. Statistics demonstrate that indigenous persons are equally marginalised in both developing and developed nations. They called for a revision of the policy to allow indigenous persons in all countries access to the United Nations’ agencies and funds.

Meeting Title: 7th meeting – Comprehensive dialogue with United Nations agencies and funds
Speakers: Chairperson Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough, Permanent members of the forum Gervais Nzoa, Joan Garling, Kara-Kys Arakchaa, Miriam Wallet Aboubakrine, Miriam Wallet Aboubakrine, Maria Eugenia Choque Quispe, Joseph Goko Mutangah, Raja Devasish Roy
Representatives on behalf of organizations; UNICEF, FAO, ILO, IFAD, UNDP, IFC, UNESCO, World Bank, Ministry of foreign affairs Denmark, the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation, the African Caucus, Indigenous Parliamentarians, Alliance of Indigenous women of Central America and Mexico, WIPO (New York), Central & Eastern Europe, Russian federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia, Bolivia, and the American Indian Law alliance
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 15 May 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

 

Barrel Bombs: Syria’s Indiscriminate Killers

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The Syrian government is bombing its citizens using barrel bombs; weapons filled with violent explosives and shrapnel. Most recently the barrel bombs have contained chlorine, transforming the already illegal bombs into chemical weapons. Due to the extreme heights at which the bomb is released it is impossible for the Syrian government to target the exact location of the explosion, resulting in an in-discriminative weapon destroying everything in its path.

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Peggy Hicks the Global advocacy director of Human Rights Watch explained that the HRW team has been monitoring attacks using satellites and witness testimonies. This map Ms Hicks shared demonstrates the location of the bombs in the last nine months; they are clearly aimed at the residential region of opposition civilians; there have been approximately 200 strikes since February 2014.

Syrian activist Ibrahim Al-Assil explained that these unpredictable bombs put the Syrian civilians in a state of constant fear and panic, unable to resume any semblance of normal life, including schooling for children.

Ambassadors from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Turkey, and the United States were unanimous that the current events in Syria are crimes against humanity and declared their full support for the motion from H.E. the Ambassador of France that the ICC should trial the Syrian government for the violation of international law and war crimes.

Chairperson H.E. Peter Van der Vietconcluded the conference with a call for the United Nations member states to unite on concrete action plans for the immediate termination of barrel bomb use and to enable the distribution of necessary food and medical supplies to civilians in Aleppo, who are in desperate need of security and support from the international community.

 

More extensive images on barrel bomb destruction in Syria can be viewed here: http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/04/28/syria-new-barrel-bombs-hit-aleppo

 

Meeting Title: Barrel Bombs: Syria’s Indiscriminate Killers

Speakers: Chairperson H.E. Peter Van der Vliet, Ibrahim Al-Assil, Dr Samer Attar, Peggy Hicks the Global advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, Representatives of the Permanent Missions of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Turkey, and the United States Mission

Location: United Nations HQ, New York

Date: 14 May 2014

Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

OWG for Sustainable Development Goals: Focus Areas 15 & 16

Focus Area 15: Means of implementation/Global partnership for sustainable development 

Focus area 16: Peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law and capable institutions

H.E. the Ambassador of Bolivia on behalf of G77 and China acknowledged that the implementation process of the SDGs would determine the success of the program. The G77 delegates reiterated their support of Bolivia’s statement that the MDGs were weakened by the ill-defined implementation programs, particularly for the 8th MDG, and therefore action-orientated targets are key to maximising outcomes.

Delegates commonly asked that focus area 15 address; the removal of tariff boundaries, debt relief, market and trade access, prevention of elicit arms trade and human trafficking. H.E. the Ambassador of Denmark, Ambassador of Switzerland and representatives on behalf of Norway, Germany, France, and Australia, affirmed the need to engage with civil society, media and private sectors alongside multiple levels of governance for successful implementation worldwide.

State ambassadors and those representing the G77, Caricom, and the Non-aligned Movement have emphasised the role of peace as indispensable to the achievement of sustainable development for all states. In particular, H.E. the Ambassador of Croatia, focused on Croatia’s recent experience of war and corrupt governance, which has cemented their firm believe that factors of Sustainable Development are lead by safety, freedom of speech, inclusiveness, and institutions that are both accountable and capable.

Representative of Zimbabwe who spoke on behalf of the Southern African Counties expressed that the primary focus should instead be on the eradication of poverty, which would, in turn, provide peace to states. Representatives of Denmark, Egypt, Cuba and Brazil shared their concerns for inclusive societies and rule of law as a whole focus area and consider instead mainstreaming these targets throughout the paper amongst other focus areas.

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Meeting Title: Eleventh session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (9th meeting: Focus Areas 15 and 16)

Key Speakers:Co-Chair H.E. Ambassador of Hungary Csaba Kőrösi, Co-Chair H.E. Ambassador of Kenya Macharia Kamau and delegates on behalf of: Bolivia, China, Barbados, Iran, Papua New Guinea, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Benin, Lesotho, Colombia, Guatemala, Nauru, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Netherlands, UK, Australia, United States, Canada, Romania, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Sweden, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Switzerland, Germany, France, Singapore, Palau, Liechtenstein, Nigeria, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Latvia, Austria, Portugal, Cuba, Morocco, Egypt, Paraguay, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, India and Vanuatu

Location: United Nations Headquarters, New York

Date: May 9th 2014

Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark