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UN Updates: July 27, 2016

Turkey: Today, the Secretary-General spoke to Mevlut Cavusoglu, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Turkey, and expressed his expectation that Turkey adhere to its international human rights obligations, upholding fundamental rights and universal principles, including the freedom of expression, freedom of movement and peaceful assembly, independence of the judiciary and of the legal profession, right to fair trial and strict adherence to due process. The SG also expressed his concern over the extent of the recent governmental decree regarding the implementation of the state of emergency, which enlists a number of measures restricting the full exercise of individual rights.

While welcoming the announced release of 1,200 military detainees, the SG referred to worrying reports of mistreatment and abuse of some of those who are still in custody and their detention conditions, and underscored his deep concern about the scope of continuing widespread arrests, detentions and suspensions, which reportedly cover many segments of Turkish society and Government institutions.

Lake Chad Basin: Today, the heads of the UN’s political and humanitarian sections briefed the Security Council (SC) on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin and the disruption caused by Boko Haram’s violent attacks in the region. Jeffrey Feltman, the Under-SG for Political Affairs, said that Boko Haram attacks were continuing mainly in northeastern Nigeria and southern Niger, and to a lesser extent in northern Cameroon and the Lac region of Chad. The terrorist group persists in targeting innocent civilians, including through suicide attacks, often using young children. Feltman noted allegations of human rights abuses in the affected countries, especially against youth belonging to Muslim communities.

Stephen O’ Brien, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, informed the SC that across the Lake Chad Basin, the UN estimates that more than nine million people need humanitarian assistance. About 2.8 million of these people have been displaced, and that children are particularly vulnerable, especially the 1.7 million children who have been displaced across the Lake Chad Basin. Children risk being abducted and forcibly recruited by Boko Haram to take part in the violence including acting as suicide bombers.

South Sudan: The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) continues to receive disturbing reports of sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, by soldiers in uniform and men in plain clothes against civilians around the UN House and in other areas of Juba.The Mission has documented at least 120 cases of sexual violence and rape against civilians since the start of the current violence in Juba.  

Yemen: Yesterday, the Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, concluded a two-day visit to Nouakchott where he participated in the League of Arab States Summit. He held a series of side meetings with Arab political figures in order to update them on the latest developments regarding the peace process and the escalations of hostilities in the country, especially in Al-Sarari and Taizz.

The Special Envoy will resume his participation in the Yemeni peace talks held in Kuwait tomorrow, which had been moderated by his advisors during his short absence.

Meanwhile, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, issued a statement expressing extreme concern at reports of rising tensions in Taizz Governorate and in particular the reinforcement of the closure on Taizz city and the escalation of hostilities in the area of Al-Sarari. He called on all parties to agree immediately to a humanitarian pause in order to protect civilians and to work with the UN and humanitarian partners to facilitate the treatment and evacuation of the war wounded, as well as the delivery of urgently needed medicine and other assistance.

OCHA: The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) expressed its concern over the reports of an increase in violence in Qamishly City in Syria. Initial reports indicate that at least 40 people were killed, including children, and many more injured, after explosions detonated in a populated area this morning. The national hospital reports dozens of patients in critical condition and in urgent need of surgery. The hospital reports shortages of essential medical supplies.

Baghdad: The UNHCR says that another attack occurred at Al Salam camp for displaced families, south of Baghdad, earlier today. Three mortar shells were fired into the camp, one falling in the centre of the camp and two others falling in a market area, injuring four children who have been taken to hospital for treatment.

Middle East Peace Process: Earlier this week, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, condemned the advancement of plans for settlement units in Gilo and efforts to re-establish an outpost near Hebron. The demolitions in Qalandiya and East Jerusalem on Monday night reflect Israel’s policy of denying Palestinian development in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as highlighted by the Quartet Report. The SG reiterates the Quartet’s call on Israel to cease and reverse such actions as they imperil the two-state solution.

Indonesia: Today, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed alarm at reports that up to 14 people face imminent execution in Indonesia, most of them for drug-related offences. He stressed that under international law, and in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which Indonesia has ratified, in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, it may only be used for “the most serious crimes” which has been interpreted to mean only crimes involving intentional killing. Drug-related offences do not fall under this threshold. Indonesia suspended a four-year de facto moratorium on the death penalty in March 2013, in a decision that runs counter to an international trend towards the abolition of the death penalty.

Daesh: Today, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, told a security conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, that the UNODC is planning to expand work on countering financing of foreign fighters with a new project supporting States to specifically target Da’esh funding. “Terrorism is now more of a threat to international peace and security than ever.” He said “Challenges range from the use of information technologies to spread violent extremist ideologies, to the flow of foreign terrorist fighters across borders.” 

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