Daily Archives: July 11, 2015

Commemoration in Srebrenica to remember the victims of genocide

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In 1995, a government soldier reads out the names of soldiers who are confirmed survivors or escapees from the fallen city of Srebrenica. UNICEF/NYHQ1995-0553/LeMoyne

The lives of thousands of people “atrociously cut down” 20 years ago in the Bosnian town Srebrenica must always be remembered, the UN Deputy Secretary-General said on Saturday.

Jan Eliasson was speaking at a commemorative event in Potočari, a village where a genocide memorial honors the lives of 8000 individuals, mostly Muslim men and boys, killed by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995.

They suffered what the top UN official described as “unspeakable carnage” during one of the darkest chapters in recent history.

Stephanie Coutrix reports.

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said the UN and the international community failed to protect the people of Srebrenica, which will and should haunt them forever.

He added that the era of impunity is over with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and the appointment of the first Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide in 2004.

But the top UN official said much more remains to be done.

“I wish that I could say that the genocide which occurred here made the world fully realize the curse of hate and the folly of division,” he shared.

But he underlined tragedies still take place with what he called “grim frequency”, in Syria, in Iraq, in South Sudan, in Yemen and many other places.

Mr Eliasson added that the commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide serves to recommit that hate must not be met by hate, and that the memory of those who were killed will be honoured by seeking to build a better world.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’01

At Srebrenica memorial, UN Deputy Secretary-General urges action against future atrocities

11 July 2015 – The international community has grown ever more vigilant to the warning signs of human rights abuses since the days of the tragic Srebrenica massacre twenty years ago but much more still remains to be done, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson declared today.

&#8220I wish that I could say that the genocide which occurred here made the world realize the curse of hate and the folly of division,&#8221 the Deputy Secretary-General said in remarks delivered at a commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide held at Potočari in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

&#8220But,&#8221 he added, &#8220tragedies still take place with grim frequency.&#8221

From the ongoing conflict in South Sudan where millions have been displaced to the relentless fighting in Syria, Member States and the United Nations itself, he said, still had &#8220many lessons to learn,&#8221 particularly when confronting the effects of hate against vulnerable communities.

&#8220We must stand up for, defend and live up to the values of the United Nations Charter,&#8221 Mr. Eliasson continued. &#8220We must strengthen humanitarian action around the world. We must uphold the responsibility to protect. We must act at the first sign of violence, at the earliest warnings of atrocities.&#8221

The UN official’s remarks come just days after he, along with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, urged the UN Security Council to implement better efforts aimed at prevention and greater cohesion among the international community as it confronts the growing litany of crimes against humanity perpetrated around the world.

Both officials, furthermore, acknowledged with regret that the UN and Member States could have done more to prevent the massacre at Srebrenica in July 1995 when thousands of ethnic Bosnian Muslim men and boys were slaughtered during a week of brutality.

&#8220It is by concrete and courageous action that we best honour the victims of Srebrenica. We are running out of words of regret and statements of good intentions,&#8221 Mr. Eliasson told those gathered at today’s event.

&#8220Now is the time for action,&#8221 he concluded. &#8220To stand up everywhere, every time, with courage and without hesitation for life and human dignity.&#8221

Air strikes, clashes shake Yemen's U.N. humanitarian truce

NNA – A U.N.-proposed Yemen humanitarian truce got off to a shaky start Saturday after Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck rebel positions and clashes persisted between insurgents and pro-government fighters.

The six-day ceasefire came into effect just before midnight Friday as aid agencies scrambled to rush desperately needed relief supplies to millions of people threatened by famine.

The leader of the Shiite Huthi rebels said he did not expect the truce to hold, while the Saudi-led coalition has not committed to the plan to cease hostilities.

One Saudi official described the measure as “useless,” questioning whether the Iran-backed rebel fighters would stick to it.

Coalition warplanes raided Huthi positions in the central city of Taez, where clashes between the rebels and fighters loyal to exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi continued after the truce.

Violence raged through the night in Taez, with witnesses saying the Huthis had also bombed several districts.

Yemen’s official news agency, which is run by the exiled government, accused the Huthis and allied troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh of sending reinforcements to the city ahead of the cessation.

In the south, coalition warplanes also hit rebels in the port city of Aden and nearby Lahj province, witnesses said.

The raids came after the rebels bombed several neighborhoods of Aden, according to Abdullah al-Dayani, a spokesman of the southern fighters allied with Hadi.

Warplanes also flew sorties over the capital Sanaa, but there were no attacks after midnight, witnesses said.

The six-day pause to allow in desperately needed aid was declared after U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon received assurances from Hadi and Huthi rebels that it would be respected.

“We do not have much hope for the truce to succeed,” said the rebels’ chief Abdulmalik al-Huthi in a televised statement aired ahead of the truce deadline.

“The success of the truce depends on the commitment of the Saudi regime and is conditioned to a complete end to the aggression.”

World Food Program spokeswoman Abeer Etefa said the truce was “our final hope” to reach areas needing aid.

She added two ships carrying food and fuel were waiting off the southern port of Aden to dock.

The truce comes more than a week after the U.N. declared Yemen a level-3 humanitarian emergency, the highest on its scale, with nearly half the country facing a food crisis.

“It is imperative and urgent that humanitarian aid can reach all vulnerable people of Yemen unimpeded and through an unconditional humanitarian pause,” said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

U.N. aid agencies are ready to scale up operations during the pause, although the response to an appeal for $1.6 billion has been meager, with just 13 percent of that amount received so far.

More than 21.1 million people — over 80 percent of Yemen’s population — need aid, with 13 million facing food shortages.

The U.N. says the conflict has killed more than 3,200 people, about half of them civilians, since late March.

Etefa said the WFP delivered 9,000 tonnes of food to its warehouses in Yemen during the past week, adding the truce was needed to secure its mission.

Nearly 40 trucks in two convoys to Aden and Saada had yet to reach their destinations because of damaged roads and security problems.

“We hope to see an effective respect for the ceasefire, and to allow us to reach all parts of Yemen regardless of who controls them,” she said.

UNICEF said it was stepping up nutrition screening, vaccinations and other life-saving interventions for millions of children, with teams having to “brave extremely hazardous conditions”.

“If they don’t do that more children are likely to die from malnutrition and preventable diseases,” said Julien Harneis, the Yemen representative for the U.N. children’s fund.

This is the second ceasefire since the coalition launched its March air campaign against the northern rebels and their allies, troops loyal to former president Saleh.

A five-day truce in May allowed aid to reach civilians, but U.N. efforts to prolong it failed.–AFP