Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomes today’s announcement of an open-ended ceasefire for Gaza, brokered under Egyptian auspices.
"The children of Gaza and Israel must be able to start the school year without the sound of rocket alarms and airstrikes. After 50 days of profound human suffering and devastating physical destruction, any violations of the cease-fire would be utterly irresponsible," he said.
Full statement is here: http://bit.ly/1qfi5XI
Photo of a family in Gaza from UNRWA.
UK aid to Gaza
The conflict and subsequent humanitarian crisis in Gaza has left over 400,000 civilians struggling to find food, water, or shelter.
The collapse of ceasefire talks in Cairo has led to the seventh week of hostilities, with violence at an intensity previously only seen during the early days of the conflict. The death toll has now exceeded 1,450 Palestinian civilians, including over 490 children.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain in UN shelters or with host families across the Gaza Strip. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reports that a quarter of the total Gaza population is internally displaced as a result of the hostilities, of which 300,000 are sheltered in 85 UNRWA schools.
It is estimated that around 17,200 housing units have been totally destroyed or rendered uninhabitable, with life-sustaining infrastructure for entire neighbourhoods in need of urgent repair.
Almost all families in Gaza are coping with grief – including many cases in which multiple members of the same family have been killed. Extreme and continuous levels of violence have caused deep levels of fear in the population of Gaza, particularly children.
The UK government is one of the world’s largest humanitarian aid donors and has provided:
- a total of £6 million for the UNRWA’s Flash Appeal to pay for basics such as shelter and cooking equipment
- £3 million to the World Food Programme to provide emergency food for more than 300,000 people for one month
- £3 million for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to provide emergency healthcare and clean water
- £3 million, which has been made available for clean water, emergency healthcare and protection of civilians through the Rapid Response Facility
- £2m to the Disasters Emergency Committee, whereby the first £2 million of donations from members of the public were matched by UK aid with the same amount
These figures bring the total supplied by the UK to £17 million.
You can read more about the UK and the Occupied Palestinian Territories here: https://www.gov.uk/government/world/the-occupied-palestinian-territories
This week, a panel convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) reached unanimous consensus that it is ethical to treat Ebola patients with experimental drugs to counter the largest, most severe and most complex outbreak of the virus in history.
In its latest update of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, WHO reported that between 7 and 9 August, a total of 69 new cases and 52 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, bringing the total numbers of cases to 1,848 with 1,013 deaths.
Read more at: http://j.mp/1sSJpgl
Iraq’s Yazidis at risk of genocide
Over the past weeks an estimated 250,000 members of religious minorities in Iraq have been forced to flee their homes due to IS’s violent advancements.
The Yazidi population is especially vulnerable, as those who remain trapped face not only hunger and thirst but also are at risk of genocide, with the Islamic State (IS) systematically targeting and attacking minorities in the areas where they are gaining control.
The United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) released a statement yesterday calling for immediate action to be taken to protect vulnerable groups in Iraq.
Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák stated: “All possible measures must be taken urgently to avoid a mass atrocity and potential genocide within days or hours – civilians need to be protected on the ground and escorted out of situations of extreme peril”. Izsak further cautioned that “the responsibility to protect populations at risk of atrocity crimes falls both on the Iraqi Government and the international community.”
IS has been accused of gross human rights violations which could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. “Freedom of religion and belief is being denied in the most gross and systematic way possible – through the attempted extermination of religious minorities,” the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, said.
The UN has received verified reports that IS is systematically hunting down members of minority groups who remain trapped in areas under their control and giving them the ultimatum, “convert or die,” stated Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. “We cannot stand by in the face of such atrocities. International actors must do all in their power to support those on the ground with the capacity to protect lives.”
Despite hundreds being helped to relative safety by Kurdish and Iraqi forces, around 40,000 Yazidis are reportedly still hiding in a mountainous region of Sinjar, where they have sought refuge from IS militants.
Next week Malala Yousafzai will return to the UN to take your questions alongside Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs), the most successful global anti-poverty push in history.
You can be a part of this special event by commenting on this post with your questions for them!
Find out more about the MDGs at: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/