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From the Field: Earning a crust from bread

INTERNATIONAL, 4 February 2023, Humanitarian Aid - A UN-supported refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who was left for dead after being attacked by armed men, has baked his way back to a new life off the breadline, in Burundi.
Kavugwa Shebulike Cadet (right) prepares dough with his employees and trainees at his bakery in Nyankanda refugee camp.
© UNHCR/Samuel Otieno | Kavugwa Shebulike Cadet (right) prepares dough with his employees and trainees at his bakery in Nyankanda refugee camp.

Kavugwa Shebulike Cadet, fled with his wife and seven children to the Nyankanda refugee camp, in eastern Burundi, where he set up a bakery providing what he calls the best bread “for miles around.”

Some 12,000 Congolese refugees live in the camp having fled the insecurity and uncertainty of life in the eastern DR Congo.

Read more here about how his baking business - which he started with just $60 in hand - initially produced just a few loaves of bread, but is now feeding large numbers of hungry and satisfied customers.

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Moldova: The long and winding road to safety

INTERNATIONAL, 4 February 2023, Migrants and Refugees - Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, some 700,000 fleeing people have passed through neighbouring Moldova, putting a huge strain on the country’s resources. The UN’s migration agency (IOM) is helping the most vulnerable, and the authorities, to navigate this unprecedented situation.
Tucked away in the southeastern corner of Europe, Moldova’s winters may be drab and harsh, but the road from Ukraine’s border spools out through bare, brown hills like a ribbon of hope.

To Larysa, who came from the Donetsk region of Ukraine, the silent heath means safety. It means a pause in the constant barrage of artillery, the whine of sirens and drones, the rush for the bunker, the dark, the cold, the smell, and the grime of war. The terror can be set aside, and life can start again.

When Larysa got off a bus from the border to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) station outside the small town of Palanca, she left behind the Donetsk region, having made a 2,000-kilometre, three-day journey with her sick daughter.

Larysa Kirilenko from Donetsk and her daughter take a snack on at a waystation en route to Bucharest.
Victor Lacken/Lensman.eu
Larysa Kirilenko from Donetsk and her daughter take a snack on at a waystation en route to Bucharest.

‘Mama, will we wake up tomorrow?’

Her conversation, like all those who have just left the hell of war, comes in ebbs and flows. Torrents follow silences, stifled tears and too raw memories. At first, disbelief, then relief. But, she is already planning her next move, to Romania.

“When I get to Bucharest, I want to apply for a job, find work, accommodation,” she says. “The most important thing is that there is no shooting there, that it’s peaceful and your child goes to bed without saying ‘mama, will we wake up tomorrow?’”

Larysa and her daughter are two of a few dozen people sitting around a tent staffed by IOM and other agencies. Before the bus leaves for a 10-hour-long trek to the Romanian capital, there is time for a hot meal, a health check-up, to get information needed for the coming days and weeks and even a shower.

“When we first came here in late February, immediately after the Russian invasion, there was total chaos on the border,” remembers Lars Johan Lonnback, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Moldova. “It was immediately clear to us that, along with food, shelter, medical care and counselling, transport was a massive need. Well-meaning volunteers were arriving, offering to take vulnerable families – who, you have to remember, left their men behind to fight – to Portugal, Norway, Italy. It was totally unorganized and a dream scenario for human traffickers, who always turn up when people are at their most vulnerable.”

Ukrainians travelling to Romania receiving practical information, food and blankets from IOM staff.
Victor Lacken/Lensman.eu

Bussed to Bucharest

It was also abundantly clear to Lonnback that the thousands of people coming across the border would place a massive strain on Moldova’s scarce resources, risking a social crisis. IOM, partnering with the Moldovan authorities and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), assessed the needs and worked towards finding solutions. The partners quickly established a dedicated bus service that decongested the border area, protected the vulnerable, and added a raft of services to the massive relief effort.

In the same vein, IOM has been helping people, particularly the most needy – including persons with disabilities, the elderly and those who are bedridden – to get to European Union countries by plane. To date, more than 15,000 people have entered the European Union by bus and plane with IOM support, which Lonnback believes has helped to stave off a difficult situation in Moldova, a country already wracked by poverty and social tensions.

“The critical thing is that the international community continues to help Moldova in any way it can,” he says. “We’ve seen that the Ukrainians are proud and resilient, and they really don’t want to leave their homes. But, as the attacks on infrastructure mount, and as the snow piles up, it gets more and more difficult to live, to simply exist. We have established a system that is flexible and responsive, and we can scale up in the event of large numbers of people once again fleeing Ukraine.”

About 10 per cent of those who have fled from Ukraine via Moldova have decided to stay in the country.  Many of those who stayed are from cities relatively close to the border; have family and friends in Moldova; or, like people in any war, they want to remain close to their homeland.

Svitlana Nikitina (second from left) and her family fled Odesa at the start of the Ukraine war.
Victor Lacken/Lensman.eu

Four generations uprooted

Svitlana, a 60-year-old real estate agent from Odesa, 40 kilometres from Moldova, is now a mainstay for four generations of women living in a small house about an hour outside Chisinau. She speaks slowly, sometimes mechanically, describing the horrors she saw and heard. Her mother quietly reads as her daughter prepares borscht and her granddaughter sketches.

But, she doesn’t cry. Svitlana gives the impression that sorrow is something she must not, will not, make time for. Her husband and sons-in-law are on the front line, and her task is to lead the family, alone.

Moldova has welcomed them warmly, she says, with humanitarian aid and simple kindness. She and her daughter are learning Romanian so they can compete on the local job market and use their skills for the benefit of their host country and themselves. Much as they appreciate the aid they have been given, they don’t want to survive on it.

“It’s sustainability through solidarity,” says Margo Baars, IOM’s Emergency Coordinator in Moldova, describing the organization’s approach. “We provide livelihood support, grants for small businesses, training and transitional shelter support, particularly to get people through this difficult winter. One of the main things we do is psychological support, because people have been through a lot and need more than just material aid.”

Leaving Ukraine along with the mothers, young children and grandmothers, are old men. Yurii, 73, vividly remembers his parents talking about the Second World War, and never thought that he would see such death and destruction in his homeland. “It’s horrible,” he says. “Every day we have victims being brought in. Every day. There are so many victims, so much grief, so many people suffering.”

Five-month-old Ivan, conceived in peace and born into war in Ukraine, is now safe in Moldova with his mother Ksenia. While heavily pregnant, Ksenia had run through a minefield as cluster bombs rained down. She fell, but escaped, with a birthmark on Ivan remaining as a memory of the day they had both cheated death.

“I want this war to end so I can enjoy motherhood to the fullest,” says Ksenia. “I think I would have gone crazy with this war without Ivan. He’s the one who brightened up all the horror.” 

In this cold, miserable field, her own smile is a beam of sunlight.

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Transforming how we eat, ‘a critical accelerator’ towards 2030 development goals: Deputy UN chief

INTERNATIONAL, 3 February 2023, SDGs - Countries will review progress towards transforming food systems worldwide at a three-day meeting in Rome this July, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister announced on Friday, in the Italian capital. 
The so-called UN Food Systems Stocktaking Moment is the first global follow-up to a 2021 summit convened to change how the world produces, consumes and thinks about food. 

The high-level event falls at the halfway point for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development (SDGs), which provide a blueprint for a more fair, equitable and “green” world. 

Improving lives and livelihoods 

“I am looking forward to Italy’s leadership in bringing together stakeholders to create the evidence that food systems transformation is a critical SDGs accelerator,” said Ms. Mohammed, stressing that “more sustainable, equitable, healthy and resilient food systems directly impact people’s lives and livelihoods as we strive for a better future for people and for the planet.” 

During the Stocktaking Moment, countries will share stories of success and early signs of transformation, while maintaining the momentum needed to ensure resilient food systems. 

It will take place from 24 to 26 July at the headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the Italian capital.

Italy will host, in collaboration with FAO and two other UN agencies - the international Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) - which are also based in Rome. 

The UN Food Systems Coordination Hub, which supports governments in developing and implementing agrifood system transformation, and the wider UN system, are also organizers.  

Contributions and challenges 

The three-day meeting will provide an opportunity for countries to report on progress made since the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021, held online, where more than 50,000 people, including 77 world leaders, committed to accelerate action on transformation. 

Italy hosted the pre-summit in Rome that July.

At the Stocktaking Moment, governments will also assess their contributions to achieving sustainable development despite a current global context that has substantially changed. 

The UN reports that the number of people worldwide who cannot afford a healthy diet rose by an additional 112 million between 2019 to 2020, to almost 3.1 billion, reflecting the impacts of rising food prices during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Vegetables on sale at a market in Rome, Italy.
© FAO/Victor Sokolowicz
Vegetables on sale at a market in Rome, Italy.

Buon appetito 

Italy has welcomed its role as host and co-organizer, said Deputy Prime Minister Antonio Tajani, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. 

“Italy, with the strategic involvement of its strong and innovative agrifood sector, is committed to play an increasingly active role in supporting the efforts of the international community to promote food security and transformative and innovative solutions for sustainable and efficient food systems throughout the world,” he said.  

“As one of the oldest and most influential food cultures of the world, we intend to play our part in addressing one of the key challenges for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.” 

‘Seize the opportunity’ 

The Stocktaking Moment will further highlight the central role of food systems transformations in overall SDG advancement ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in September.  

The UN and Italy urged countries and stakeholders to “prepare and seize the opportunity” to reaffirm global commitment to act with urgency, in line with the promise of the SDGs.  

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UN chief: Build ‘alliance of peace’ on International Day of Human Fraternity

INTERNATIONAL, 3 February 2023, UN Affairs - On the occasion of the International Day of Human Fraternity, observed on Saturday, the UN chief called for renewed commitment to forge an “alliance of peace” amid a surge in hate speech, sectarianism and strife.
The International Day of Human Fraternity celebrates the values that “are the glue that hold our human family together” - compassion, religious understanding, and mutual respect, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said.

Prevent hatred, defuse extremism

“These values underwrite peace, yet all over the world, they are being eroded by deepening divides, widening inequalities and growing despair and by surging hate speech, sectarianism and strife,” he continued.

Examples of religious extremism and intolerance exist in all societies and among all faiths, he said, adding that it is “the duty of religious leaders everywhere to prevent instrumentalization of hatred and defuse extremism amidst their followers.”

Model for interfaith harmony

The Secretary-General pointed to a model for interfaith harmony and human solidarity: the declaration “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”, co-authored by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El Tayeb, in 2019.

“Let us all take inspiration and renew our commitment to stand together as one human family,” he said. “Together, let us build an alliance of peace, rich in diversity, equal in dignity and rights, united in solidarity.”

Concern about religious hatred

In 2021, UN General Assembly resolution adopted a resolution designating 4 February as the International Day of Human Fraternity. Co-sponsored by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, the resolution expressed deep concern at acts advocating religious hatred, especially at a time when the world confronted the COVID-19 pandemic and its related crises.

In adopting the resolution, Member States also recognized the valuable contribution of people of all religions or beliefs to humanity and the contribution that dialogue among all religious groups can make towards an improved awareness and understanding of the common values shared by all humankind.

World Interfaith Harmony Week

To commemorate World Interfaith Harmony Week, observed annually during the first week of February, the UN Mission of Sierra Leone and partners hosted a conference at UN Headquarters. Participants explored the theme of harmony in a world of crisis.

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UN child rights committee lauds Swiss asylum offer to Kurdish family

INTERNATIONAL, 3 February 2023, Migrants and Refugees - The UN child rights committee on Friday commended Switzerland for swiftly granting asylum to four Kurdish children and their mother, who faced deportation after fleeing Syria, adding that it showed how controversial decisions could be effectively appealed.
“We welcome the timely action taken by Switzerland to suspend the children’s return to Bulgaria, in compliance with the Committee’s request for interim measures,” said Ann Skelton, a member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

“We also welcome the decision to reassess these children’s situation and their risk of being exposed to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments if returned to Bulgaria, showcasing the country’s commitment to compliance and cooperation with the Committee,” she added.

Fleeing war-torn Syria

The children, now 10 to 14, were born to a young mother, a victim of sexual violence who was forced into marriage at age 11 and gave birth to her first child at age 14. Fleeing war-ravaged Syria in early 2017, the family arrived in Bulgaria, which granted the parents and children refugee status and asylum.

Violent father

Expulsion from the asylum camp and the father’s extremely violent behaviour led the mother and her children to beg for food on the streets then, three months later, to seek asylum in Germany, which granted her protection measures in 2019.

Fearing her husband, she took the children to Switzerland to seek asylum once again, but failed.

Following the Swiss State Secretariat for Migrations order in August 2020 to deport the family to Bulgaria and a dismissed appeal of that decision, the mother and children petitioned the UN child rights committee.

Members requested Swiss authorities to adopt interim measures to suspend the deportation pending its consideration of the complaint, in line with an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

More asylum cases reopened

Swiss authorities then reopened the cases of the children and their mother, recognizing them as refugees. Following that action, the Committee issued a decision Thursday to discontinue the examination of the family’s complaint.

“This is the fifth case in which Switzerland has immediately reopened asylum proceedings following the registration of the cases with the Committee and granted children residence permits after reassessing their situation,” Ms. Skelton said. Ms. Skelton said. “This shows the potential of the complaints mechanism to bring immediate relief to children.”

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WHO launches bid to tackle inequalities behind global breast cancer threat

INTERNATIONAL, 3 February 2023, Health - A UN-led global initiative to tackle breast cancer could save 2.5 million lives by 2040, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, just ahead of World Cancer Day.
Each year, more than 2.3 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer, making it the most common cancer in the world affecting all adults, according to WHO.

Although a limited number of high-income countries have been able to reduce breast cancer mortality by 40 per cent since 1990, for women in poorer countries, one of the main challenges is to receive a timely diagnosis.

“Breast cancer survival is 50 per cent or less in many low and middle-income countries,” WHO’s Dr. Bente Mikkelsen told journalists in Geneva. But the rate is “greater than 90 per cent for those able to receive the best care in high-income countries”, she emphasized.

Tedros: a priority, everywhere

To tackle these inequalities, and to coincide with World Cancer Day on 4 February, the UN agency’s Global Breast Cancer Initiative seeks to reduce breast cancer mortality by 2.5 per cent a year.

“Countries with weaker health systems are least able to manage the increasing burden of breast cancer. It places a tremendous strain on individuals, families, communities, health systems, and economies, so it must be a priority for ministries of health and governments everywhere,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“We have the tools and the know-how to prevent breast cancer and save lives. WHO is supporting more than 70 countries, particularly low and middle-income countries, to detect breast cancer earlier, diagnose it faster, treat it better and give everyone with breast cancer the hope of a cancer-free future.”

In the frame

To address country-specific needs and provide guidance to governments, the initiative’s framework has three pillars: promotion of health controls to encourage early detection; timely diagnosis, and treatment with effective therapies.

By 2040, more than three million cases and one million deaths are expected each year worldwide.  Approximately 75 per cent of these deaths will happen in low and middle-income countries.

“We really cannot avoid breast cancer if we are going to address cancer in countries,” said Dr. Ben Anderson, Medical Officer for WHO’s Global Breast Cancer Initiative.

“It’s the most common cancer, among men and women together, it is the most likely reason that a woman will die of cancer globally, it is the most common cancer among women in 86 per cent of countries, and it is the number one or two cause of cancer-related death in 95 per cent of countries, so having a framework to build upon over the coming years is an essential beginning point.”

In 95 per cent of countries, breast cancer is the first or second leading cause of female cancer deaths.

However, nearly 80 per cent of deaths from breast and cervical cancer occur in low and middle-income countries, according to WHO.

A woman holds a pink ribbon in awareness of Breast Cancer Day.
© Unsplash/Angiola Harry
A woman holds a pink ribbon in awareness of Breast Cancer Day.
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UN rights chief appeals for Israelis and Palestinians to end ‘illogic of escalation’

INTERNATIONAL, 3 February 2023, Human Rights - As violence mounts between Israelis and Palestinians, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk on Friday called for an end to the “illogic of escalation”, appealing for leaders to urgently work to resolve their decades-long conflict. 
“Rather than doubling down on failed approaches of violence and coercion that have singularly failed in the past, I urge everyone involved to step out of the illogic of escalation that has only ended in dead bodies, shattered lives and utter despair,” he said in a statement.  

Record killings in 2022 

Mr. Türk reported that record numbers of Palestinians were killed in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 2022, which also saw the highest number of Israeli fatalities inside Israel and the occupied West Bank in years. 

So far, the new year has brought “more bloodshed, more destruction, and the situation continues to grow more volatile”, he added. 

In 2022, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) documented 151 killings of Palestinians by Israeli security forces in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, plus one boy who was killed by either the Israeli forces or a settler. Another two Palestinians were killed by Israeli settlers.  

Many of the cases involving security forces spark serious concerns of excessive use of force and arbitrary killings.  

During the same period, 24 Israelis were killed inside Israel and in the occupied West Bank by Palestinians.

A deadly start 

Meanwhile, 34 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed since the start of this year. 

Mr. Türk feared recent Israeli measures “are only fuelling further violations and abuses of human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law.” 

Following attacks last weekend in East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities moved to seal off the homes of the suspected perpetrators. More than 40 people were arrested, and two families were forcibly evicted. 

Israel has proposed other measures, including revoking identity documents, citizenship and residency rights, and social security benefits of relatives of suspected attackers, as well as ramping up house demolitions.  

Fuelling further violence 

Mr. Türk said such measures, if implemented, may amount to collective punishment, which is “expressly prohibited” under international humanitarian law and “incompatible” with international human rights law. 

Furthermore, Israeli Government plans to expedite and expand the licensing of firearms for civilians, coupled with hateful rhetoric, “can only lead to further violence and bloodshed”, he added. 

“We know from experience that the proliferation of firearms will lead to increased risks of killings and injuries of both Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli authorities must work to reduce the availability of firearms in society,” said the High Commissioner. 

Stop fomenting hatred 

Mr. Türk noted that there already have been several reports of violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinians, particularly in the occupied West Bank over the past week. 

“Rather than fuelling a worsening spiral of violence, I urge all those holding public office or other positions of authority – indeed everyone – to stop using language that incites hatred of ‘the other’,” said Mr. Türk. “Such fomenting of hatred is corrosive for all Israelis, Palestinians, all of society.” 

The UN rights chief called for urgent measures to de-escalate tensions, including ensuring that killings and serious injuries are investigated in accordance with international standards. 

Appeal to leaders 

“Impunity has been rife, sending a signal that excesses are allowed,” he said. “The obligation under international human rights law is to investigate loss of life in any context of law enforcement – credibly and effectively – regardless of whether there was an exchange of fire between security forces and armed individuals.” 

Mr. Türk urged Israel to ensure that all operations of its security forces in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are carried out with full respect for international human rights law. 

“The people of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory need their leaders to work – urgently – to create conditions conducive to a political solution to this protracted, untenable situation", he said. 

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UN aid convoys deliver lifesaving relief to Ukraine’s war-ravaged east

INTERNATIONAL, 3 February 2023, Humanitarian Aid - Two UN aid convoys have reached communities with acute needs near the contact line in Ukraine’s war-shattered east this week, relief coordinators reported on Friday.
Medicines, roofing repair kits, bottled water and solar lamps were offloaded, highlighting the desperate plight of many thousands of people who are unable or unwilling to leave their homes, amid “regular” shelling attacks.

On Thursday, a five-lorry inter agency convoy reached the town of Hulyaipole in the Zaporizhia region – home to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant - where around 3,000 people remain close to the front line.

They include the elderly, people with limited mobility and families with children who are “exposed to regular shelling” and unable to access basic services, said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for OCHA, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“Because there’s no power, water facilities cannot operate and water has to be delivered in bottles, or pumped from the wells,” he told journalists in Geneva.

In the firing line

Since March last year, residents of Hulyaipole and some 30 nearby communities have had no electricity, after energy infrastructure was damaged by fighting. Repairs are urgently needed to keep the “savage” winter at bay, but this is impossible while the violence continues, Mr. Laerke added.

Dnipro lifeline

On Tuesday, also departing from Dnipro, a six-truck convoy reached the town of Toretsk, around 10 kilometres from the front line in Donetsk oblast, with water, medicine, emergency shelter materials and other supplies from the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO).

The convoy was also carrying trauma and emergency surgery kit supplies for the approximately 15,000 people who live in and around Toretsk, which was originally home to 75,000, before Russia’s full-scale invasion begain on 24 February last year.

No-go zones

More than 30 inter-agency convoys have reached vulnerable communities in Ukraine’s eastern oblasts in the last 11 months, but none has yet reached territory controlled by Russian forces or their affiliates.

“We have a humanitarian notification system where we inform the parties to the conflict where we are going and with what material,” explained Mr. Laerke. “It is just to remind them that they have an obligation to protect such movements and ensure that it can be done safely.”

The OCHA spokesperson added that “a number of notifications” had been sent to reach areas under the control of the Russian military, but “we have not been given adequate assurances of security to go to these areas”.

WHO: We’re here to stay

WHO’s latest data on attacks on healthcare issued on Thursday, shows that since invasion began nearly a year ago, there have been 764 attacks, which caused 101 recorded death, and 131 injuries.

In a press conference in Kyiv earlier in the week, WHO in Ukraine told journalists that the organization was “here to stay and continues to deliver lifesaving medicines and supplies in coordination with its partners.”

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Nigeria: UN genocide expert warns against worsening security situation

INTERNATIONAL, 2 February 2023, Peace and Security - The UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide on Thursday voiced concern over the worsening security situation in Nigeria, while urging the authorities to ensure counter-terrorism operations are conducted in line with international human rights and humanitarian law. 
Alice Nderitu expressed her strongest condemnation for the 24 January airstrike in which at least 40 herders, mainly ethnic Fulani, were killed, and scores of other civilians were injured. 

The incident occurred in a village on the border of two states, Nasarawa and Benue. She recalled that another airstrike in 2017, resulted in 54 civilian casualties at a camp for displaced persons in Borno State. 

Risk of further tensions 

Ms. Nderitu was particularly concerned about the situation in the North West and North Central regions of Nigeria, where the air attacks took place.  

“These dynamics of targeting communities along identity lines, if unaddressed, risk further fuelling intercommunal tensions, recruitment by armed groups and retaliatory attacks, with obvious impact on civilians” she added. 

The Special Adviser said the worsening security situation in Nigeria is characterized by the politicization of transhumance, the seasonal movement of livestock for grazing, and increasing divisions among communities, including based on stigmatization along religious and ethnic lines. 

Warning ahead of elections 

“In this extremely volatile environment, it is important that the general elections scheduled to be held on 25 February 2023 do not trigger violence and even atrocity crimes.” she warned. 

Ms. Nderitu also underlined concern for increasing trends of hate speech along identity lines, and incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence that permeates political discourse in the country. 

She called for all political leaders to abide by a peace accord they signed that includes commitment to peaceful campaigns.   

Religious and traditional leaders also were encouraged to work to appease tensions, prevent incitement to violence and address the risk of atrocity crimes ahead of the elections and beyond. 

Manipulation of transhumance 

Beyond Nigeria, Ms. Nderitu expressed concern over the manipulation of transhumance in political discourse, across the whole of West Africa and the vast Sahel region. 

 “Continuous high levels of violence targeting communities in relation to transhumance, including with hate speech and incitement to violence, are particularly concerning in view of upcoming elections in many countries in the region,” she said.  

The UN official appealed for urgent action to address conflicts, prevent atrocity crimes and allow for peaceful elections to take place.  

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Ethiopia: Northern aid access improving but some areas still hard to reach

INTERNATIONAL, 2 February 2023, Humanitarian Aid - UN humanitarians on Thursday reported that aid access in the north is continuing to improve with aid operations expanding following last November’s ceasefire agreement, but some civilians in the battle-scarred region “remain hard to reach.”
Associate Spokesperson Florencia Soto Niño​ told correspondents at the regular noon briefing in New York that aid distribution had expanded in the Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions, but some pockets remained that have not yet been accessed.

Relief for 3.8 million people 

“Since the Cessation of Hostilities agreement in mid-November, more than 127,000 tons of food have been brought into Tigray, reaching more than 3.8 million people”, she said.  

According to the latest Situation Report from UN aid coordination office OCHA, between 12 and 18 January, around 400,000 people received food assistance in Tigray. 

Fighting continues in Amhara 

Humanitarians say that fighting in parts of southern Amhara and neighbouring areas of Oromia region, have led to “significant displacement” in the zones of North Shewa, South Wello and West Gojam, in Amhara. 

OCHA reports that in those regions of Amhara, “a significant number of houses and private properties have allegedly been burned down and destroyed. Partners are mobilizing food and non-food items such as emergency shelter, amidst road closure and ongoing hostilities.” 

Away from the former battlefields of the north, where more than two years of conflict between Government forces and Tigray rebels left thousands dead, and millions displaced, an “historic drought” continues to ravage southern and eastern regions of Ethiopia, she said.  

Aid plan to reach 17 million 

“We and our partners aim to reach 17 million people with food, water, health and agriculture support, among other assistance.” 

And in part of Oromia and Somali region, in central and southern Ethiopia, there have been more than 1,000 cases of cholera reported so far, with more than a million people considered to be “at high risk”, said the Associate Spokesperson. 

“An oral cholera vaccination campaign has been launched, and 33 per cent of the people they intend to assist, have been reached so far”, she added, noting that extra funding for widescale vaccination was critical, given the scale of need.  

Malaria compounds health challenges 

In a worrying sign, some 19 districts in Afar, during January have exceeded the malaria monthly average threshold of the previous five years. 

And an estimated 106,000 students are being affected by a lack of water supply in schools in Shebelle Zone, in Somali, due to the drought.  

Financial requirements for lifesaving humanitarian support is still being finalized and expected to remain high, she said, pointing out that last year, the humanitarian appeal for Africa’s second most populous country, received less than half the $3.3 billion needed. 

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