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Tehmina Janjua becomes Pakistan’s first woman Foreign Secretary

Pakistan’s first woman Foreign Secretary, having great experience with a career of over 32 years takes charge

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woman Foreign Secretary
Pakistan Foreign Services logo; Source: Wikimedia

Islamabad, Mar 20, 2017: Tehmina Janjua, Pakistan’s first woman Foreign Secretary took charge, heading the Foreign Ministry. She holds a lot of experience with a career of over 32 years in multilateral diplomacy.

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Previously, she was serving in Geneva as a Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Last month, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, the previous foreign minister was appointed as ambassador to the United States, while Ms. Janjua was appointed as the new Foreign Minister, reported PTI.

“Tehmina Janjua has assumed charge as the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan today, 20th March 2017,” Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria tweeted.

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She has vast experience of working in multilateral and bilateral domains at both abroad missions and headquarters, having joined the Foreign services in 1984.

A seasoned diplomat, she holds a Masters Degree from Columbia University, New York and Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.

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Ms. Janjua also served as Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistan’s envoy to Italy.

-Prepared by Nikita Saraf, Twitter: @niki_saraf

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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More than 120,000 Nigerians affected by Terrorist Group Boko Haram’s Famine

Thousands of Nigerians marched and protested this week for growing hardship through high food prices, poverty, corruption and unemployment

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Poor children (Representational Image,) Wikimedia

Johannesburg, Feb 8, 2017: According to Food and Agriculture organisation report, Africa’s biggest humanitarian crisis will likely to retrograde during ‘lean’ season between season between June and August in northeast Nigeria.

According to PTI, It is estimated that more than 120,000 Nigerians will suffer to the detrimental famine like conditions caused by Boko Haram Islamic uprising. Among 11 million are bearing severe food shortages this year in accordance to a new UN report.

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The worst affected zone is Borno State, which accounts 65 per cent of the “expected famine zone”. It is coincidently the place of origin of Boko Haram.

UN agencies have reported that children are perishing in this region already and if any help is not given, half a million will die.

Rampant Corruption and conflict between the government and aid agencies are exacerbating the crisis. Investigation officials report that local government agencies embezzled with the food aid.

The report stated that even though the Boko Haram uprising has evacuated hundreds and thousands of farmers off their land. Despite that, Nigeria’s cereal production went up by about 5 per cent in 2016, said PTI

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Increased government support for agriculture, above-average rainfall and increased commodity prices are said the factors for increased cereal production stated in the report.

The report also stated that Nigeria remains a “food-deficit country” with cereal imports, mainly rice and wheat, predicted to exceed 7 million tons this year.

Nigeria remains the world’s biggest importer of rice, indicating a failure of government efforts to reduce dependence on food imports. This is amid a gross shortage of foreign currency caused by low global prices for oil.

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Thousands of Nigerians marched and protested this week for growing hardship through high food prices, poverty, corruption and unemployment.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo assured them that he feels their pain but life will get better. “With complete focus on improving the economy every day, the recession will soon be history,” he said in a statement Tuesday, without elaborating.

– prepared by Sabhyata Badhwar of NewsGram. Twitter: @SabbyDarkhorse

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200 million Girls and Women in more than 30 Countries have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), says UN

Although the procedure is illegal in the United States, many Somali natives now residing in the U.S. underwent FGM as young girls and still live with pain

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In this Nov. 5, 2014 photo, relatives of 13-year-old Soheir al-Batea who died undergoing the procedure of female genital mutilation walk in front of her home in Dierb Biqtaris village, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) northeast of Cairo. Image Source: VOA
  • Somalia has the highest rate in the world recorded by the United Nations, with about 98 percent the country’s female population between the ages of 15 and 49 affected by FGM
  • According to the U.N. Population Fund, there are three types of FGM, and Type III called infibulation, causes vaginal obstruction that can result in accumulation of menstrual flow in the vagina and uterus
  • The World Health Organization says FGM is performed for different reasons from one region to another

October 25, 2016: The United Nations estimates 200 million girls and women in more than 30 countries have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM).

Somalia has the highest rate in the world recorded by the United Nations, with about 98 percent the country’s female population between the ages of 15 and 49 affected by Female Genital Mutilation.

Although the procedure is illegal in the United States, many Somali natives now residing in the U.S. underwent FGM as young girls and still live with pain. And, in some Somali communities, the practice is carried out in secret.

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The U.S. state of Minnesota is home to a large number of refugees from Somalia. Fadumo Afi, who lives in the Twin Cities area, a 55-year-old mother of seven who complains of medical problems, remembers how she was mutilated with an unsterilized instrument. She said she underwent the procedure, along with another girl, when she was 6.

A counselor holds up cards used to educate women about female genital mutilation. VOA
A counselor holds up cards used to educate women about female genital mutilation. VOA

“It was too harmful to us because we have not even had anesthesia,” she said. “We were living in the areas where medication wasn’t [available]. We couldn’t even pee.”

Physical, emotional scars

Fartun Weli says she’s unable to have children due to FGM, which is why she founded Isuroon, a nonprofit organization that advocates for Somali women living outside Somalia and works with women who have life-threatening medical conditions as a result of having undergone FGM.

Weli underwent what is considered the most dangerous type of FGM, known as Type III, which includes the complete sewing shut of the vagina. She says she still has physical and emotional scars.

According to the U.N. Population Fund, which works with youth and women, there are three types of FGM, and Type III, called infibulation, causes vaginal obstruction that can result in accumulation of menstrual flow in the vagina and uterus. Infibulation can also cause difficulties during sexual intercourse or childbirth, and can be fatal.

“Well, the complication is hard. You have a problem with sexual issues. You have a problem going to see the doctor…when they going to do pelvic exams,” Weli said. “It really, really hurts. You are self-conscious about your sexual needs and you are asking yourself ‘Why am I not normal?’ Now we are living [in] America, second or third generations, and we are becoming friends with non-Somalis, so we discuss about this issue.”

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Imam: FGM prohibited

FGM is a traditional practice that has nothing to do with Islam, says Sheikh Hassan Jami’i, an imam in the Twin Cities area. He said he has four daughters and none have been subjected to FGM.

 А traditional surgeon is seen holding razor blades used to carry out female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation. VOA
А traditional surgeon is seen holding razor blades used to carry out female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation. VOA

“All scholars of Islam agree that FGM is prohibited,” he said, “That’s why I’m proud as a father that I have never practiced this harmful FGM. In Islam, there is a principle that says whatever is harmful, it’s prohibited.”

Khalid Mohammed, a Somali-American Twin Cities resident, agrees. He has seen his sisters suffer from the practice and wouldn’t recommend that others go through the same ordeal.

“I have sisters who have suffered from FGM and because of the trauma and problems they have gone through, I see it as something too bad,” he said. “Their menstrual cramps last longer and they experience more pain and can’t even afford to do their daily work.”

Untold problems, pain

Dr. Ahmed Roble, who runs a clinic in St. Paul, Minnesota, treats many women who have been subjected to FGM.

“This is an aggression done to innocent girls at a very tender age, and sometimes even newborns,” he said.

The average age that girls are subjected to FGM is between 5 years old and 10 years old, he added. Roble said that women who live with the scars of FGM suffer during childbirth.

“Because of the scars, they are not as elastic and stretching is difficult,” he said. “You get more stitches to repair because this is not a normal opening.”

Since the medical complications of FGM are severe, even those who undergo surgery will not regain what they have lost in terms of health or appearance. Although there are now numerous campaigns and laws against the procedure in African countries, it is still widely practiced and causes untold problems and pain for women.

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The World Health Organization says FGM is performed for different reasons from one region to another. Among them is trying to ensure premarital virginity and marital fidelity, reducing a woman’s libido to therefore “help her resist extramarital sexual acts,” and “increasing marriageability.”

There are also “cultural ideals of femininity and modesty, which include the notion that girls are clean and beautiful after removal of body parts that are considered unclean, unfeminine or male.” (VOA)