UNITED NATIONS: Civilians must not be exposed to “collective punishment” in disputes between two States, a United Nations human rights expert has said, calling for greater protection for ordinary people affected by punitive sanctions imposed by one country on another.
Idriss Jazairy, the UN Special Rapporteur on effects of sanctions on human rights, said that measures that seek to block a country’s trade altogether, amount to economic warfare against civilians, with devastating consequences. “Under economic sanctions, people also die but from lack of food and medicine, rather than from explosive devices,” said the UN rights expert in a statement on Thursday. This form of warfare that relies on starvation and disease “deserves the same concern” on the part of the international community as any other conflict, he added, noting protections guaranteed under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which applies during times of war.
Import of food, medicine, and other necessities must be protected and not subjected to lengthy and complex approval processes, he reiterated. “I am deeply concerned that it is the poor who are bearing the brunt of these actions,” Jazairy said, adding that Iran’s currency, the rial, had lost more than 70 percent of its value in the past year, and food prices had risen by half. Referring to Iran, Jazairy said that while US sanctions – fully re-imposed earlier this week – included humanitarian exemptions, aid is currently frozen as businesses await more clarification from the US Government. There are reports that the SWIFT mechanism of bank-to-bank money transfer could make such exemptions inoperative.
“More people are losing their jobs as the economy suffers,” he said. Jazairy went on to note that while States’ right to disagree with each other should be respected, civilians must not be harmed or used as means of “political pressure” on a targeted Government. “This is illegal under international human rights law,” he said, adding that he is ready to “serve as facilitator” to assist the US and Iran “in finding concrete ways to ensure that urgently needed humanitarian exemptions whose observance is unchallenged by the source country, are made effective and workable.”
Families in W. Yemen receive aid
UNITED NATIONS: Thousands of families in conflict-affected communities south of the Red Sea port city of Hudaydah in Yemen have received aid for the first time since last July, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday.
WFP Spokesperson Herve Verhoosel confirmed that Tuhayat and Darayhimi had been reached thanks to a partial ceasefire deal agreed at UN-led talks between Government forces and Houthi opposition militia in the west of the country. “For the first time since the increase in fighting in Hudaydah in June 2018 WFP managed to assist hard-to-reach areas of Tuhayat and Darahimi,” he said in a statement issued in Geneva. “This can be thanks to an inconsistent de-escalation over recent days following the December peace talks in Stockholm, Sweden.” Aid was distributed from Hudaydah – a Houthi stronghold – and Aden, which is controlled by the internationally recognized Government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
So far WFP has dispatched more than 3,334 metric tonnes of food assistance to these areas, and that is simultaneously from both Aden and Hudaydah,” the WFP spokesperson explained, adding that “8,125 households in Al Tuhayat have received enough assistance for two months and 2,662 families in Al Darayhimi, south of Hudaydah, have received food rations. Those are the first humanitarian shipments delivered since July 2018 when a WFP contracted truck was hit in the area.” Last month, WFP scaled up the delivery of food and food vouchers to around nine million people in Yemen, up from seven to eight million in November. The aim in the coming weeks is to reach 12 million people to help avert famine in the country, which was already one of the poorest countries in the world before conflict escalated in March 2015.
“We will adapt on a daily basis to the security situation on the ground,” Verhoosel said. “We encourage of course all parties to keep negotiating under the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy. The situation is better already, I mean, we are not exactly at the target, but we are not far away from the target.” The UN monitoring team which is overseeing the implementation of the Stockholm peace agreement signed by Government and Houthi opposition leaders last month is continuing its work, but the warring parties have refused to hold face-to-face meetings in recent days.
UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that the retired Dutch General, Patrick Cammaert, who is chairing the Redeployment Coordination Committee, has held two joint meetings involving both sides, but “in the last week, due to the inability of the parties to have a joint meeting” he had meet them separately twice, “seeking to find a mutually acceptable way forward for the redeployment of forces from the three ports and critical parts of the city associated with humanitarian facilities, as provided for in phase one in the Stockholm Agreement.”
“While projected timelines have slipped, recent discussions have been constructive”, Dujarric told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York. “The chair continues to encourage the parties to resume the joint meetings in order to finalize a mutually agreed redeployment plan. Currently, plans are being discussed on how to facilitate humanitarian operations.” Hudaydah carries more than 70 percent of all humanitarian aid and commercial goods into the war-ravaged nation, and future talks towards a lasting peace settlement for Yemen, rely on a ceasefire holding, in line with the agreement made in Sweden.
Gov’t does not seem serious to build Nai Gaj Dam: CJP
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Main Saqib Nisar on Tuesday expressed annoyance and remarked: “government does not seem to be serious to build Nai Gaj Dam”.
The Chief Justice passed the remarks while chairing a three-judge bench which was hearing the case pertaining to the construction of Dam.
The Chief Justice, while addressing the Finance Minister Asad Umer, said, “I do not think the government is serious regarding the building of Nai Gaj Dam”.
To which, Mr. Asad said that this issue came under my knowledge when it was presented in the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec). We referred it to the cabinet, he added.
Justice Nisar remarked that then there is no coordination in your government,” if u came to know it yesterday, adding that the pace with which we want to resolve this issue is not being done”.
The Chief Justice further said, “We do not want to dictate the government nor do we want to run it. We have to work for fundamental rights”.
In response, the Finance Minister said, “I acknowledge your role and history will remember you for your part in the construction of dams”. “ECNEC meeting is scheduled to meet on January 25 and we will discuss the matter during the meeting,” he added.
The bench then directed Umar to apprise the court immediately after the meeting regarding the decisions taken by ECNEC.
The court then adjourned the hearing of the case for two weeks.
PM visits Benazir Bhutto hospital
RAWALPINDI: Prime Minister Imran Khan made a surprise visit of Benazir Bhutto Hospital here on Tuesday evening and reviewed the quality of healthcare facilities and services; the provision of other facilities including medicines to patients as well as the condition of cleanliness in one of the main public sector hospitals in Rawalpindi.
The prime minister, who was accompanied by Minister for National Health Services Aamer Mehmood Kiani, Special Assistant to PM Iftikhar Durrani and Senator Faisal Javed, was given a detailed briefing about the healthcare facilities in the hospital.
He visited various departments of the hospital, including the maternity ward, and inquired after the well-being of under-treatment patients. He also inquired from the patients about the treatment facilities being provided to them in the hospital. He also interacted with the visitors, who were present in the hospital to take care of their patients.
The prime minister directed the authorities concerned to take measures to equip the hospital with modern tools and facilities for diagnostics and treatment, besides ensuring the provision of enhanced facilities at the intensive care department.