Carib AFRICA

A UN Peacekeepers-Eye View of DR Congo

Africa is projected to have the highest demand for moving people to safety next year, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has the greatest needs of all, according to the United Nations refugee agency’s Projected Global Resettlement Needs 2019 report.

The report reveals that 163,000 people from the Central Africa nation will need international resettlement in 2019; a 10 per cent increase on this year.

Millions of civilians have been forced to flee fighting – with the UN refugee agency estimating that the country has at least 2.7 million internally displaced persons and roughly 450,000 refugees in other nations.

As armed groups continue to terrorize communities, they finance some of their activities by exploiting the country’s rich natural resources.

But the DRC is plagued by other challenges as well. From 1 April, the country experienced an Ebola outbreak, which the World Health Organization (WHO) helped to stabilize by shipping thousands of vaccine doses to stem the virus from spreading.

As of April, the UN Organization Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo, referred to as MONUSCO, employees 20,600 personnel with an addition 18,316 in uniform.

The Mission engages on the ground in a broad range of activities, from promoting community violence reduction to raising awareness of child recruitment into armed groups, and reinforcing women's involvement in politics.

‘Wind Blowing in the Direction of Peace’ in Africa: UN Secretary-General

Recent developments in Africa indicate that the continent is increasingly moving in the “direction of peace” and enhanced security, the United Nations Secretary-General told journalists in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Monday.

António Guterres was there to take part in the second annual UN-African Union conference, part of ongoing efforts to strengthen the relationship between the two organizations. The two-day meeting covers a wide range of topics, and Mr. Guterres spoke about the partners’ close.

“We feel a wind blowing in the direction of peace,” he said, referring to recent developments such as the historic visit by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister to rival and neighbour Eritrea, as well as peace talks on South Sudan, where conflict has raged since 2013.

“All this gives us hope that the African continent will be moving more and more in the right direction in peace and security,” he added, telling delegates that the UN could not afford to fail in its dealings with the continent.

But the UN chief also focused on what he described as the “dramatic crises” in Africa, where the UN has deployed peacekeeping missions in four countries: the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mali and South Sudan.

He said the rise of armed groups and international terrorist organizations such as Boko Haram, means that these operations are not involved in “traditional” peacekeeping, and he cited the need for more funding, particularly in enforcing peace and countering terrorism.

Restoring Government Control across Central African Republic is ‘Key’ to Lasting Peace, Stability

While many positive steps have been taken in the Central African Republic (CAR), progress has been too slow and is continually under threat from “those who seek private gains through violence,” the United Nations envoy on the ground told the Security Council on Thursday, underscoring that restoring government authority is “key”, both now and in the long-term.

“The country cannot afford more clashes among armed groups seeking opportunity to pillage and exploit natural resources,” said Special Representative Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, who also heads the UN Stabilization Mission in the CAR, known as MINUSCA.

“It is important and essential that the State administration be increasingly visible and effective in the interior of the country,” he added, declaring that “MINUSCA will continue to stand in support of these Government efforts.”

Mr. Onanga-Anyanga was encouraged, he said, by the “progressive deployment of magistrates” in new areas of the country and tribunals opening outside of Bangui. He pointed out that while traveling around the country he constantly heard demands "for justice to help communities address criminality and to counter the country's long, sad history of impunity.”

“Despite the slow but steady progress to rebuild national courts, Central Africans have new hopes that the perpetrators of the gravest crimes will finally face justice,” he said.

UN Chief condemns Explosion at Election Rally in Zimbabwe that Injured Dozens

The UN Secretary-General has condemned an explosion which took place at an election rally in Zimbabwe on Saturday, not long after President Emmerson Mnangagwa left the stage after addressing the crowd, according to news reports.

The President, who also leads the ruling party, Zanu-PF, reportedly described the bombing in Bulawayo as an attempt on his life, and appealed for peace and national unity ahead of elections due to take place on 30 July. He vowed that the explosion would not derail the vote.

Mr. Mnangagwa took over the Presidency last November, following the resignation of Robert Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years. The country’s main opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change, also condemned the attack, saying that any political violence was “totally unacceptable”, according to media reports.

In a statement released by his Spokesperson on Sunday, UN chief António Guterres said he was “disturbed” by news of the attack. “The Secretary-General condemns such acts of violence and calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. He wishes the injured a quick recovery,” said the statement.

Two of the country’s Vice Presidents was among the more than 40 reportedly hurt by the blast, as well as the Zanu-PF chairperson, together with members of a television crew from the state broadcasting network, and security personnel.

World Briefs

Judge Overrules Order for the Brazil Ex-President's Release

Brazil's ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, better known as Lula, is to remain in prison after a day of legal wrangling.

On Sunday, an on-call judge ruled that Lula should be released, but Judge Joao Pedro Gerbran Neto rejected this.

Eduardo Thompson Flores, the head of the federal court that convicted Lula, has now stepped in and said that there is no legal basis for his release.

Lula says he is innocent and the case is politically motivated.

His conviction was part of an anti-corruption investigation known as Operation Car Wash, which has implicated top politicians from several parties.

The initial announcement by Rogerio Favreto - the weekend duty judge - came after members of Lula's Workers Party challenged his jailing in an application on Friday.

Mr Favreto had said the politician should be freed from jail while he appeals a 12-year sentence for corruption and money laundering.

"With all due respect, [Mr Favreto] has absolutely no qualified authority to override the decision," responded Federal Judge Sergio Moro, who has been the driving force behind Operation Car Wash.

Mexico key 'El Chapo' Guzman Henchman Extradited

Mexico has extradited to the US a senior member of the Sinaloa drug gang formerly headed by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

Damaso Lopez is alleged to have been responsible for organising Guzman's escape from a high security jail in 2001. He then joined the cartel and became one of the drug lord's closest allies. He was captured last May and is seen by the US as a key witness in the case against Guzman who is in a US jail.

Damaso Lopez is known as "The Graduate" because he studied law and was a senior official in the Mexican prison administration system.

Arrested last year in Mexico city, he rose in the organisation of the Sinaloa cartel to become one of its leaders.

After Guzman's arrest in 2016, Lopez started a bloody battle with Guzman's sons for control of the cartel. At the time of his arrest last year he was believed to have been seeking an alliance with Guzman's rival, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel. Guzman is facing drug trafficking and conspiracy charges.

Human Rights Chief Calls for International Probe on Venezuela, following ‘Shocking Accounts of Extrajudicial Killings’

In Venezuela, “credible, shocking accounts of extrajudicial killings” and impunity for perpetrators, indicate that the rule of law “is virtually absent”, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said on Friday, in a call for an international inquiry into the alleged violations.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s appeal to the UN Human Rights Council to mount a high-level investigation, follows the publication of a new report by his office into the Latin American country, detailing serious abuse allegations.

“For years now, institutional checks and balances and the democratic space in Venezuela have been chiseled away,” the High Commissioner said in a statement.

Briefing journalists in Geneva, OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani confirmed that the new OHCHR report provides an update on alleged abuses committed amid bloody demonstrations held against constitutional reforms, proposed by the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

“This report…spotlights the failure of Venezuelan authorities to hold accountable perpetrators of serious human rights violations that include killings, the use of excessive force against demonstrators, arbitrary detentions, ill-treatment and torture,” Ms. Shamdasani said.

Migrant Children at US Border have Right to Protection and ‘be with their Families’

Separating children from their families is in no-one’s best interest – the head of UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said on Tuesday – pointing to “heartbreaking” stories of infants who have been reportedly removed from their parents after entering the US from Mexico illegally.

In an appeal to the US regarding its recent policy change cracking down on migration at the border with Mexico, Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement that children who were in need of international protection “have the right to be protected…and be with their families”. She underlined how for decades the US Government had provided support to “uprooted children” from Syria or South Sudan, Somalia, or Haiti, before warning that detention and family separation can create “toxic stress” which can impact on children's long-term development.

Ms Fore added that any youngsters forced to flee their homes should have access to essential services and be with their families, since this gave them “the best chance at a healthy, happy and productive future”.