- Africa Climate Summit and launch of Early Warnings for All Africa Action Plan, and the State of
the Climate in Africa report
- Details of report and press conference on air quality and climate
- IOM's extensive migrant support operations in Niger
- DRC: killings in a demonstration in Goma
PRESS BRIEFING BY THE UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION SERVICE
1 September 2023
Migrant Support Operations at Risk in Niger
Chris Gascon, Regional Director for West and Central Africa, International Organization for Migration (IOM), said search and rescue, community stabilisation and voluntary return programmes were being held in Niger by IOM. The organization was managing a number of transit centres in Niger, the principle one in Agadez in the north-west of the country.
Presently, these centres were hosting 4,800 migrants, and were 40 per cent over capacity at this point. IOM, with the help of non-governmental organizations, was also assisting around 1,400 other migrants who did not access to these centres, which provided food, accommodation, psychosocial support and organised returns to migrants’ countries of origin.
IOM was appealing for resources to continue providing essential services to these stranded migrants. It sought to establish a humanitarian corridor so that migrants could be returned to their countries of origin. There were currently no possibilities to organise charter flights. Consequently, people would remain in the centres for weeks and months. This happened during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the situation became dire very quickly. IOM hoped that authorities would facilitate return opportunities for migrants.
IOM also estimated that there were around 710,000 individuals, including refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons, who were displaced in Niger. The organisation was limited in its capacity to reach such people, who were in dire need.
Read the press release here.
In response to questions, Mr. Gascon said the humanitarian funding for the country was at about 30 per cent for the year. A three-year programme funded by the European Union gave IOM funding to support Niger and 13 other countries in the region. If people were stranded for a long period of time, that would eat up a large part of IOM’s budget. IOM spent around one million USD a month in Niger to support returning populations, and thus needed this amount of funding to continue to assist the overwhelmed transit centres in Niger.
Migrants in transit centres came from countries such as Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Nigeria and The Gambia. IOM needed to be able to organise charter flights to set up a humanitarian corridor. There were flights coming into Niamey, but scheduled flights were not enough to transport thousands of migrants.
As a result of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sanctions, IOM would be facing shortfalls in supplies. It was currently still able to assist migrants in its transit centres. If there was no import of goods, however, this would severely affect the organisation and displaced populations in the region.
Alessandra Vellucci, Director of the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) in Geneva, said that the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) had seen reports of a decision of authorities to ban the activities of international organisations in conflict zones in Niger, and was currently contacting authorities to establish how this would affect humanitarian activities in the country. Mr. Gascon said that it was unclear which zones would be affected by the decision, and whether it would affect IOM’s programmes.
IOM’s general humanitarian appeal for the country was for about 430 million USD. This was around 30 per cent funded. IOM’s priority currently was to secure airspace for chartered flights. It was reaching out to authorities, advocating for this airspace.
Killings in a Demonstration in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Ravina Shamdasani for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said the Human Rights Office was extremely alarmed that at least 43 people were killed, including a policeman, and 56 injured during demonstrations on Wednesday in Goma, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. It had received information indicating that the death toll could be higher.
The demonstrations were organised against the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO), the Regional Force of the East African Community, other United Nations agencies and international non-governmental organisations.
OHCHR noted the Government’s announcement that an investigation had been opened into this incident and called for it to be thorough, effective, and impartial. Such an investigation needed also to comprehensively examine the use of force by the security forces. Those responsible for violations needed to be held to account, regardless of their affiliation.
At least 222 people were reportedly arrested, including women and children.
The Office was concerned that the risk of human rights violations in such a charged context was high. It was crucial that the rights of those arrested were fully respected, including their due process rights; and for relevant authorities to ensure continued access to detained individuals by the UN Joint Human Rights Office.
People have a right to express themselves freely and to assemble peacefully, even if in protest at the United Nations and other actors, Ms. Shamdasani said. Authorities needed to facilitate the right to peaceful assembly.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk called on the authorities to ensure that future law enforcement actions in the context of the policing of public assemblies fully adhered to international human rights norms and standards. The Office stood ready to continue its work with national authorities in this regard.
In response to questions, Ms. Shamdasani said this was a demonstration carried out by the Foi naturelle judaïque et messianique vers les nations (FNJMN) movement, protesting against the United Nations and other international organisations. The right to peaceful assembly, even against the United Nations, needed to be fully protected by authorities. There were concerns of incitement to violence and hate speech by the people who organised this protest. The use of violence by demonstrators needed to be addressed and perpetrators held to account. However, violence from some protesters did not give the police force the right to use excessive force against all protesters.
Ms. Shamdasani said there needed to be an independent, thorough investigation of the incident to determine who was responsible and the perpetrators held to account. One police officer had reportedly been killed.
OHCHR had been in touch with authorities on various fronts, seeking access to hospitals to verify the death toll. It was also seeking access to monitor the conditions of detention facilities in which protesters were held. These circumstances were often a breeding ground for other human rights violations. OHCHR was also in touch with authorities to ensure that investigations into the incident were independent and that future police actions in response to protests respected international human rights standards.
Clare Nullis for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said today marked the start of the meteorological autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, however hot weather in Geneva was forecasted to continue this weekend.
The Africa Climate Summit would be held next week in Nairobi. The Early Warnings for All Africa Action Plan would be launched next Monday, 4 September at a high-level event. The Plan aimed to adapt the global Early Warnings for All initiative to make it applicable to Africa. A press release would be sent after the launch.
The State of the Climate in Africa report would be launched by the WMO Secretary-General in Nairobi on Monday, 4 September. WMO would hold a press conference in Geneva to announce the release at 2 p.m. The report was under embargo until 3 p.m. on 4 September. Speaking from WMO would be the Omar Baddour, Chief of Climate Monitoring and the coordinator of the report, and Wilfran Moufouma Okia, Head of Regional Climate Prediction Services and WMO’s expert on El Nino and El Nina. The press conference would discuss the socio-economic effects of the state of the climate in Africa.
Thursday was Clean Air for Blue Skies Day. Ahead of this, a press conference to announce the release of WMO’s “Annual Air Quality and Climate Bulletin: Focus on Heatwaves” report was planned for Wednesday, 6 September at 11:30 a.m. There had been tremendous heatwaves across the globe and the report would discuss the effects of these in 2022. Information on the Bulletin would be sent to journalists under embargo.
Alessandra Vellucci, Director of the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) in Geneva, said the Secretary-General would fly to Nairobi to participate in the Africa Climate Summit. The Secretary-General said yesterday that he would address two of the burning injustices of the climate crisis. Countries across Africa had contributed almost nothing to global heating but were on the frontlines of today’s supercharged weather. Many African Governments also struggled to invest in renewable energy while abundant resources were on their doorstops. High levels of debt and high interest rates obstructed their access to the needed finances. Global efforts were needed to place Africa at the forefront of renewable solutions, the Secretary-General said. The Secretary-General would deliver a speech and possibly hold a press conference at the Summit.
Ms. Vellucci said that after travelling to Nairobi, the Secretary-General would also travel to the ASEAN Summit in Indonesia, the G-20 Summit in India and the G-77 + China Summit in Havana, Cuba. Yesterday, the Secretary-General said strong multilateral institutions were important. Without strong multilateral institutions, multipolarity could be a factor for escalating geopolitical tensions. There was a need for reforms to bring outdated multilateral fora and institutions in line with the economic and political realities of today’s world, based on equity and solidarity.
In response to questions, Ms. Vellucci said the Secretary-General had presented a set of concrete proposals regarding the Black Sea Grain initiative to the Russian Foreign Minister. The United Nations aimed to renew the initiative on a stable basis. The Secretary-General said that it was not feasible for the initiative to continue in a stop-start fashion. He had proposed conditions to allow for more effective access of Russian food and fertilisers to global markets at adequate prices. This was the most important thing that we could do now, as so many countries faced food insecurity, the Secretary-General said.
Ambassador Václav Bálek of Czechia, President of the Human Rights Council, would hold on Wednesday, 6 September at 10 a.m. a press briefing on the upcoming 54th session of the Human Rights Council, which would be held from 11 September to 13 October 2023.
The United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) “GRID-Geneva” (Global Resource Information Database) team would hold a press conference next Tuesday, 5 September at 2 p.m. to launch its new data platform, the Global Marine Sand Watch. This was the first-ever global data platform on sand extraction in the marine environment. It tracked and monitored worldwide dredging activities of sand, clay, silt, gravel and rock in the marine environment since 2012, using signals from vessels and artificial intelligence. UNEP/GRID-Geneva would present its data on the extraction of these natural resources, which had an impact on the environment. Speaking at the press conference from UNEP/GRID-Geneva would be Pascal Peduzzi, Director, and Arnaud Vander Velpen, Sand industry & data analytics officer.
The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) would launch its Cluster Munition Monitor 2023 report with a press conference on Tuesday, 5 September at 9:30 p.m. Speaking from UNIDIR would be Paul Holtom, Head of Conventional Arms and Ammunition Programme, Mary Wareham, Human Rights Watch Arms Advocacy Director, Loren Persi, Monitor Impact research team editor, and Susan Aboeid, Production Manager, Cluster Munition Monitor 2023.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child would open next Monday morning, 4 September at 10 a.m. its 94th session (4-22 September, Palais Wilson), during which it would review the reports of Albania, Dominican Republic, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Kyrgyzstan and Togo.
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had closed yesterday its 110th session and issued its concluding observations on the six countries reviewed: Italy, Croatia, Uruguay, Namibia, Senegal, Turkmenistan.
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would close its 29th session next Friday, 9 September, and issue its concluding observations on the reports of Malawi, Andorra, Mongolia, Austria, Israel, Mauritania, Germany and Paraguay, and on the follow-up of inquiries concerning Hungary and the UK.