Author: npfdpk

South Sudan: UNICEF celebrates ongoing demobilization of child soldiers

11 February 2015 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is applauding the release of another 300 children from an armed group in South Sudan – the second such UN-backed demobilization of child soldiers in less than a month. “For every child released, it’s the chance for a new life,” UNICEF South Sudan Representative Jonathan Veitch stated in a press release issued earlier today and welcoming the news. Two weeks ago, an initial group of 249 children – ranging from 11 to 17 years of age – was released by the South Sudan Democratic Army (SSDA) Cobra Faction at the village of Gumuruk in Jonglei state. The release was marked by a ceremony overseen by UNICEF and the South Sudan National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission during which the child soldiers reportedly surrendered their weapons and uniforms. Further phased releases of the other children are planned over the coming month. According to the UN agency, some of the child soldiers have been fighting for up to four years and many have never attended school. In the last year alone, 12,000 children, mostly boys, have been recruited and used as soldiers by armed forces and groups in South Sudan as a whole. The security situation in South Sudan deteriorated steadily over the past year since political in-fighting between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, started in mid-December...

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Violence in northern Nigeria sparks major new exodus into Niger border region, UN warns

10 February 2015 – The spread of violent attacks across the border from northern Nigeria into Niger is causing widespread displacement and hampering efforts to provide humanitarian assistance in the area, a spokesperson for the United Nations food agency said today. The second half of 2014 saw a major increase in the number of new arrivals in the Diffa region. While only 15,000 people had crossed the border in October, the total estimated number now stands at 125,000 people, spread out over more than 140 sites and villages, said Elisabeth Byrs of the World Food Programme (WFP). The arrival of displaced people has seen the population of Diffa almost double, putting enormous pressure on people’s livelihoods and food stocks, in a region that had been struggling with drought for several years in a row. Ms. Byrs said the WFP had started distributing food in one of the refugee camps that the Government of Niger had agreed to open to accommodate Nigerians arriving in the region, and was providing supplementary feeding for all children under the age of five. That was particularly important, she said, given that one in three displaced children is affected by Global Acute Malnutrition, compared to one out of five within host populations, both well above the emergency threshold of 15 percent. She added that WFP, UNHCR and UNICEF were developing a joint nutrition strategy for...

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Mozambique: UN chief welcomes dialogue between President and opposition leader

10 February 2015 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the meetings between Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi and the head of the opposition RENAMO party, Afonso Dhlakama, adding his approval of the progress made in talks between the two leaders and congratulating them both for their “commitment to dialogue,” the UN Spokesperson’s office has announced. In a statement released late yesterday evening, the UN Spokesperson explained that Mr. Ban had voiced hope that the meetings would “pave the way for the peaceful resolution of outstanding issues” in respect of the constitutional framework and the work of the National Assembly. The meetings between Mr. Nyusi and Mr. Dhlakama – held in the capital of Maputo from 7 to 9 February – are, reportedly, the first face-to-face encounters between the two since RENAMO initiated a boycott of the Mozambique Parliament, preventing its 89 deputies to attend the opening session of the National Assembly. “The Secretary-General reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to support Mozambique as it endeavours to promote development, strong democratic institutions as well as sustainable peace and stability,” the statement...

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‘Peace, stability and security’ vital for South Sudan’s war-weary people, says top UN relief official

9 February 2015 – Continued conflict in South Sudan risks depriving the country of a generation of “lost” children, warned United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos today during a press conference in Juba, the capital of the strife-torn nation. Ms. Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, added that continued economic stagnation would hold back development and prevent support for essential sectors like health and education. She made her comments at the end of a three-day tour of South Sudan with UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Special Envoy Forest Whitaker, during which the two saw the impact of the crisis on people caught in the middle of fighting. “People need peace, stability and security,” she said in a plea to those engaged in the conflict. “It is heartrending to see the suffering of the people.” Stressing the fact the 2.5 million people urgently need help with food, she described the tour she took with Mr. Whitaker, Academy Award-winning actor and Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation, through Ayod county in Jonglei state. “People are desperate for peace. They are tired of living in fear. Many have had to flee several times. They are exhausted. They lack water; they are extremely worried for their children, who are not in school and at risk of being recruited into armed groups. Sexual violence is rife. All people want to live in safety,...

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Timely preparations ‘imperative’ to credible, free, transparent elections in Nigeria, says UN chief [Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard (file)]

8 February 2015 – The Secretary-General noted today the decision of the Nigerian Independent Electoral Commission to postpone the general elections, initially scheduled for 14 February 2015, and urged the electoral authorities to take all necessary measures, such as the rapid distribution of the remaining Permanent Voter Cards, to enable all eligible citizens, including those displaced, to exercise their right to vote in a timely manner. “This is imperative for ensuring a credible, free and transparent election,” the Secretary-General said in a statement issued by his spokesperson, which noted that Mr. Ban spoke by phone to President Goodluck Jonathan and to opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari in recent days. In those conversations, the Secretary-General encouraged respect for the Abuja Accord which both men willingly adopted and which commits them to non-violence, peace and tolerance during the elections. Mr. Ban looks to Nigeria’s authorities to uphold their commitment to ensure a violence-free election and put in place adequate security measures so that citizens across the country are able to exercise their civic duty safely and without fear. He hopes that the forthcoming elections will meet the high expectations of the Nigerian people and the international community. “The successful conduct of these polls would strengthen Nigeria’s democracy and enable the country to continue to play a leading role in the promotion of regional peace and security,” the statement...

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