By Kristy Siegfried | 23 January, 2020
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
UN’s top court orders Myanmar to protect Rohingya. In a unanimous decision today, the International Court of Justice in the Hague ordered Myanmar to carry out emergency measures to protect some 600,000 Rohingya who remain in the country from persecution and atrocities, and to preserve evidence of alleged crimes against them. The court found that the Rohingya remained “extremely vulnerable”. The judges ordered Myanmar to report to them in four months on what measures the country has taken to comply with the order and then to report every six months. The case was filed by The Gambia in November and alleges that Myanmar breached the 1948 genocide convention during military operations in Rakhine province in 2017 that resulted in over 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh. The Gambia argued that the violence is continuing and asked for a series of protective measures. Today’s ruling only deals with these preliminary measures. A final decision on the genocide charge could take years to reach. Earlier this week, a Myanmar-appointed panel established to probe allegations of abuse against the Rohingya said it had found no evidence of genocide, only of possible war crimes. Rohingya leaders branded the investigation a “whitewash”.
Global tensions at highest level in years, says UN chief. In a speech to the General Assembly outlining his priorities for 2020, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the world was facing four looming threats to human progress. The first of the “four horsemen in our midst”, he said, were geopolitical tensions that were at their highest level in years. “Devastating conflicts continue to cause widespread misery,” he said, adding that while peace efforts in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere offered some signs of hope, “we have our work cut out for us”. On climate change, the second major threat, Guterres said too many decision makers “continue to fiddle” while the world edges closer to the point of no return. The third horseman – deep and growing global mistrust – could be addressed through fair globalization, boosting economic growth and preventing conflict. Guterres identified “the dark side of technology” as the fourth major threat, including the “alarming possibilities” of artificial intelligence and the use of the internet and social media to incite hatred and disinformation.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
South Africa’s stateless children. Save the Children estimates that 30 per cent of refugees and migrants who enter South Africa are children and that many of them are unaccompanied and undocumented. They often end up in state care, but with no identification papers they are at high risk of becoming stateless. One such child told Al Jazeera his story. Obert Makaza, now aged 20, crossed the border from Zimbabwe into South Africa, alone and on foot, when he was not yet 10. He thought he would be safe from abusive relatives across the border, but with no documents life in South Africa was difficult. Finally, after completing high school, he received help to travel back to Zimbabwe and obtain identity documents.
North Africa’s overlooked migration hub. The New Humanitarian reports from Tunisia, where asylum-seekers often find themselves stuck in a confusing asylum system that is under-resourced and over-burdened by the increasing number of people seeking assistance. With the government yet to approve a draft asylum law, they depend on UNHCR to register them and process their asylum claims, in collaboration with the Tunisian Council for Refugees. With no legal right to work or become residents, many remain at reception centres for long periods, leaving little space for new arrivals. While some hope to obtain legal status and travel legally to Europe, others work in the informal economy to pay smugglers for the Tunisia-Italy crossing.
High-level panel begins search for solutions for internally displaced. A High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement, established by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to seek concrete, long-term solutions for more than 41 million people who have been forcibly displaced within their own countries by conflict or violence, held its first “brainstorming” session on Tuesday. Guterres has given the panel’s eight members a year to deliver their recommendations. Voice of America talked to panel co-chairs Donald Kaberuka and Federica Mogherini about their plans to focus on preventing displacement and mitigating its effects.
Scottish charity to build first paediatric operating room in refugee camp. The operating room will be established at Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya, which is home to over 190,000 refugees, including 40,000 children. Scottish charity, Kids Operating Room, made the announcement at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday. The charity has already installed 25 paediatric operating rooms in 11 countries across Africa and South America. It aims to make the facility at Kakuma operational within the next six months. Neema Kaseje, a paediatric surgeon and advisory member to the charity, said there was “a huge and desperate need” for a paediatric surgery facility at Kakuma, and in many other refugee camps around the world.
After years of enslavement and abuse at the hands of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, Nakout has finally found safety and the beginnings of a new life in the town of Vaasa, in Finland. While she still yearns to be reunited with her three children, she is keeping fit and teaching English to other refugee women.
DID YOU KNOW?
Over 744,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar since August 2017. Most arrived in the first three months of the crisis.