Tag Archives: United Nations

Syrian Refugees Begin Relocation

The United Nations announced on Tuesday that over 100 Syrian refugees are being relocated to Germany, in the first step of a plan to move 12,000 Syrians this year.

 (Photo courtesy of World Bulletin)

More than 100 Syrians will be the first of 5,000 Syrians to be relocated to Germany by the end of this year in what the U.N. is deeming a temporary humanitarian admissions program.

This first wave of refugees includes “women and girls at risk, people with serious medical conditions, survivors of torture or others with special needs.”

Neighboring countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon have taken in most of the Syrian refugees so far, as 2 million Syrians have fled.

The U.N. has managed to find homes for 7,000 refugees in twelve western countries in the current plan, despite the goal of reaching 12,000. Other countries that have agreed to accept Syrian refugees include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Germany’s relocation plan is the largest. The country has announced that it will extend two-year residence permits which allow the Syrian refugees to work, and the permits could potentially be lengthened if the Syrian conflict remains unsettled.

Via Impunity Watch.


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2 Million Refugees Have Fled Syria

Logo of United Nations Refugee Agency.Version ...

Logo of United Nations Refugee Agency.Version made by user Kashmiri. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The number of Syrian refugees has passed two million. One year ago, the number of Syrian’s registered as refugees or awaiting registration stood at 230,671 people.

Syria has become the great tragedy of this century – a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history,” said António Guterres, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees. “The only solace is the humanity shown by the neighbouring countries in welcoming and saving the lives of so many refugees.”

More than 97% of Syria’s refugees are hosted by countries in the immediate surrounding region, placing a burden on their infrastructures and economies.

With an average of almost 5,000 Syrians fleeing into neighboring countries every day, the need to increase humanitarian aid and development support to host communities is critical. In view of the pressure the refugee exodus is placing on surrounding countries, ministers from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey will meet with UNHCR in Geneva on Wednesday in a bid to accelerate international support.

A further 4.25 million people are displaced inside Syria. Taken together, these numbers mean that more Syrians are now displaced than is the case with any other country.




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Cambodian Staff Threatens Strike at Khmer Rouge Tribunals

Judge CHUNG Chang-ho from Republic of Korea wa...

Judge CHUNG Chang-ho from Republic of Korea was sworn in as a judge in the Pre-Trial Chamber in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on 1 August 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Cambodian staff at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia have renewed threats to strike amid a deepening funding crisis. The ECCC is prosecuting crimes committed during the 1970s Khmer Rouge regime, which left a quarter of the Cambodian population dead.

About 250 staff members have not been paid since June at the United Nations-based court. One hundred of them plan to strike beginning 1 September.

The European Union pledged $4 million this week, but that money will only go to pay the salaries of the international staff members at the ECCC.

The Court is beset by interference from the Cambodian government, which does not want the prosecutions to continue. So far, the Court has handed down one conviction, that of the former prison chief called Duch, who was jailed for life for the deaths of more than 14,000 people.

Via Reuters

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U.N. Approves 300 Monitors for Syria

The United Nations Security Council Chamber in...

The United Nations Security Council Chamber in New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a measure Saturday that allows for an observer mission in Syria to be expanded to 300 unarmed military monitors across the country.

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Mass Grave Found in Ivory Coast

The International Criminal Court. Photo by Lindsay.

International Criminal Court (ICC) investigators may have found mass graves in a western Ivory Coast town, where rights groups say fighters loyal to the president killed hundreds of people amid post-election violence last year.

Laurent Gbagbo was sent to the ICC last year for murder, rape, and other crimes committed by his supporters after he refused to cede power to Alassane Ouattara, the winner of a 2010 election.

The United Nations says that at least 3,000 people died during the power struggle, and that both sides committed atrocities.

In July, President Ouattara’s forces murdered forty-seven people on the Cavally River. Most of the people drowned after throwing themselves into the water to escape. Among the victims was a woman in a wheelchair, who was raped before she was murdered. None of Ouattara’s forces has been charged.

Last month, ICC judges expanded an investigation in Ivory Coast to cover atrocities committed in 2002, when an attempted coup ignited a civil war.

Via The Washington Post.

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Court Sides with Immigrants Expelled by Italy

European Court of Human Rights

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The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that it is a violation of human rights for a State to expel migrants intercepted on the high seas.

The case was brought by thirteen Eritrean and eleven Somali migrants rescued at sea in 2009 by the Italian Coastguard and forcibly returned to Libya.

The UN office for Human Rights and the UN Refugee agency said the action by the Italian authorities exposed the migrants to the risk of arbitrary return to countries where they face persecution or serious harm.

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Arab League Proposes Peacekeeping Force in Syria

Administrative divisions in the Arab League

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The Arab League will propose a “peacekeeping joint force” with the United Nations to oversee the aftermath of a proposed cease-fire in Syria.

The proposal was one of many points offered in a statement from the league, which met Sunday to discuss Syria.

Syria has indicated it is not on board with the plan offered by the Arab League. Denying accusations that its forces have killed thousands of civilians in a crackdown on popular unrest, the government has consistently blamed “armed terrorist groups.”

The international political maneuvering comes as reports continue to stream in about the violence in Syria.

U.N. officials estimate 6,000 people have died since protests seeking President Bashar al-Assad‘s ouster began nearly a year ago.

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BREAKING: U.N. Resolution on Syria Fails

Photo taken during a demonstration in Montreal...

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A United Nations Security Council resolution to pressure Syria to end its crackdown on anti-government demonstrators failed today after China and Russia voted against it.

At least 7,100 people, including 461 children, have died since the start of the Syrian uprising in March, according to a Syrian opposition group.

The U.N. estimated in December that more than 5,000 people had died since March, but the global body has not been able to update that figure because of the insecurity.

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Supreme Court Sentences Duch to Life in Prison

Kang Kek Iew 2009

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The former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, raised his hands to his face in a Buddhist sign of goodwill as judges rejected his appeal and increased his nineteen-year sentence to life imprisonment.

Duch, a born-again Christian, showed no emotion as judges at the United Nations-backed tribunal detailed crimes they said were ”undoubtedly among the worst recorded in human history”.

Eleven appeal judges at the tribunal set up to prosecute Khmer Rouge leaders found that Duch ”deserved the highest penalty available, to provide a fair and adequate response to the outrage these crimes invoked in victims”.

In overturning last year’s sentence, the tribunal referred to evidence that Duch commanded a ”factory of death” in Phnom Penh during the Khmer Rouge’s rule.

They said that Duch, a former maths teacher and prison chief, was ”responsible for the merciless termination of at least 12,272 people, including women and children.”

However, investigators say as many 15,000 people were tortured and sent to their deaths at the Tuol Sleng interrogation center, which Duch commanded for three years.

The tribunal heard evidence that Duch taught the guards to inflict systematic torture on their victims, including rape, water boarding and pulling out nails. Under his command, guards threw babies from second floors. Some victims were set alight while still alive after months of torture.

Wearing a cream jacket and a white shirt, Duch walked solemnly into the tribunal carrying what appeared to be a Bible.

Since being discovered working for a Christian organization in Cambodia in 1999, Duch has admitted his role in the killings but shown little remorse.

He surprised lawyers and judges when he appealed the nineteen-year sentence last year. Duch had claimed the tribunal did not have the authority to convict him as he was not ”most responsible” for the Khmer Rouge’s rule (the tribunal only has jurisdiction over the “most responsible” Khmer Rouge officers) and was merely following orders.

The judges ruled that the earlier tribunal hearing had erred in imposing a manifestly inadequate sentence.

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Khmer Rouge Tribunal Cannot Pay Cambodian Staff

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Cambodia’s U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal has run out of money to pay the wages of hundreds of workers as contributions from donor countries have dried up.

None of the more than 300 Cambodians working at the tribunal, from judges to drivers, will be paid this month and may not receive their salaries in February and March either.

Some judges and prosecutors have not been paid since October.

The funding shortfall does not affect the more than 130 international employees at the war crimes court. The United Nations pays the wages of international employees.

Voluntary contributions from donor nations pay the salaries of Cambodian staff members.

The court, set up to find justice for the deaths of two million people during the Khmer Rouge’s rule, is perpetually cash-strapped, but this is the longest period of non-payment.

The tribunal has long been dogged by allegations of political meddling, adding to donor reluctance to stump up more cash.

Court officials will travel to New York in February to meet with donor countries to discuss the court’s budget for 2012-2013.

The court, which has spent $150 million since 2006, has completed one trial, sentencing a former prison chief to thirty years. An appeal verdict in that case is expected on Friday.

A second trial involving the regime’s three most senior surviving leaders is ongoing.

Via The Bangkok Post.

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