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Boko Haram, Islamic State use sexual violence as a tactic of war, says a UN report

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Amidst mounting cases of sexual violence in the war-ravaged conflict zones, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has come out with a report titled “Conflict-related sexual violence”, urging the United Nations Security Council to prevent and address sexual violence in armed conflicts, including promoting greater participation of women in peacebuilding efforts.

The report highlights the stiff challenges of  poor monitoring, limited support services, and lack of accountability that 19 countries during 2014 faced. It pushes the Security Council to integrate attention to sexual violence into its monitoring and field visits to conflict-affected countries, and to take preventive steps and measures to ensure accountability, including sanctions and referrals to the International Criminal Court.

“The history of war-zone rape has been a history of denial. It is time to bring these crimes, and those who commit them, into the spotlight of international scrutiny”, Zainab Hawa Bangura, a Special Representative of the United Nations said as she presented the report on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Stressing that the time had come “to send a clear message that the world will not tolerate the use of sexual violence as a tactic of war and terror”, Bangura said that it was the first time that a report has articulated the link between sexual violence and the strategic objectives, ideology and finding of extremist groups, noting therefore that women’s empowerment and sexual violence prevention should be central to international response.

The report, with its focus on countering violent extremism, asserts that conflict-related sexual violence is a core element of the ideology and operation of extremist groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State (also known as ISIS), and recommends a stronger focus on this threat.

The report  also underlines the importance of governments’ need to consult with women to counter violent extremism.

However, human rights advocacy group, Human Rights Watch (HRW), criticized the report and said it gives inadequate attention to sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers. It also blamed the UN for not recording or officially acknowledging many cases, including the Sudanese army attacks in Tabit.

Nisha Varia, women’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch said , “In conflicts around the world, armies and armed groups use sexual violence as a devastating tactic of war.”

“The UN Security Council should not dodge its responsibilities to survivors and should take strong action to support survivors and sanction those responsible for sexual violence,” she said.

According to HRW, the Sudanese government has blocked a credible investigation and victims’ access to services, against which the Security Council has taken no action in response.

Furthermore, the report does not list or make recommendations concerning African Union troops, who were found to be committing acts of sexual exploitation and abuse by the Human Rights Watch.

“Humanitarian assistance providers and governments should adopt stronger measures for protection, including in displacement and resettlement settings,” Human Rights Watch said.

Underlining the long-lasting impact of conflict-related sexual violence, the Human Rights Watch emphasised the need for credible investigations into allegations of sexual violence in Nepal and Sri Lanka, and the need for reparations for victims.

 

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As Climate Talks Come to a Halt, Africa Suffers From Global Warming

The World Health Organization warns that climate change will exacerbate the impact of some disease and health problems.

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Drought, Climate change, global warming
A farmer stands on cracked earth that three weeks earlier created the bottom of a reservoir on his farm, in Groot Marico, South Africa. VOA

Efforts to boost global action against climate change are stuttering, as several key nations have objected to a key United Nations-backed report on the impacts of rising temperatures at the COP24 talks in Poland.

Many developing nations say they are already suffering from the impact of climate change, especially in south Asia and Africa, where water shortages and intense storms are putting lives and livelihoods in danger.

In Malawi in southern Africa, a bustling fish market stood at Kachulu on the shores of Lake Chilwa just five months ago. Now, hundreds of fishing boats lie marooned across the vast bay as vultures circle over the cracked, sun-baked mud. Water levels here fluctuate annually, but scientists say climate change is making the seasonal dry-out of the lake far more dramatic. Fishermen are being forced to leave and look for work elsewhere, says Sosten Chiotha, of the non-governmental organization ‘LEAD’ – Leadership for Environment and Development.

“Climate change contributes to the current recessions that we are experiencing, because you can see that in 2012 there was a recession where the lake lost about 80 percent of its water. Then it recovered in 2013, but not fully. So since then every year we have been experiencing these recessions,” Chiotha said.

Scientists gathering at the COP24 climate talks say it is developing countries like Malawi that are being hit hardest by the impacts of climate change.

The charity Water Aid has released a report ranking the countries worst-hit by water shortages, with Sudan, Niger and Pakistan making up the top three.

“There are people who are living with the impact of climate change right now. And they’re feeling those impacts not through carbon, but through water. And as we’ve seen over the past few years and will continue to see for many years to come unfortunately, is a huge increase in water stress and absolute water scarcity,” Water Aid’s Jonathan Farr told VOA from the climate talks currently underway in the Polish city of Katowice.

Richer nations have pledged $100 billion a year for poorer nations to deal with the consequences of climate change. Water Aid says they are failing to deliver the money.

Scientists say emissions of carbon dioxide would have to be reduced by 45 percent by 2030 to have any hope of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius – the target agreed in the Paris climate deal.

 

 

Global Warming, Climate Change, Africa
Climate activists attend the March for Climate in a protest against global warming in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 8, 2018, as the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference takes place in the city. VOA

However, the number of coal-fired power stations – the most polluting for

m of energy generation – is growing. The German organization ‘Urgewald’ calculates that $478 billion had been invested into expansion of the coal industry between January 2016 and September 2018.

Also Read: To Help Poor Countries Adapt To Global Warming, World Bank Doubles Its Funding

Meanwhile the World Health Organization warns that climate change will exacerbate the impact of some disease and health problems, including malaria, malnutrition and heat exposure.

Also Read: To Help Poor Countries Adapt To Global Warming, World Bank Doubles Its Funding

There is little optimism at the talks that much concrete progress will be made, as several countries including the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia have already voiced objections to a key scientific report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (VOA)