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World News in Brief: Burkina Faso, refugees and climate change, Afghan women deserve seat in Doha: CEDAW


More than six million people across the country – about a third of the population – need humanitarian support and protection, UN Spokesperson Stephané Dujarric said on Friday.

“The UN and its humanitarian partners are supporting the Government’s efforts to meet people’s immediate needs,” he told correspondents in New York.

“Working through the Humanitarian Response Plan, aid organizations have so far assisted more than 730,000 people across Burkina Faso in 2024. While this is a good start, it represents just 19 per cent of the 3.8 million people we are aiming to assist,” he added.

However, halfway into the year, the $935 million Humanitarian Response Plan for 2024 is only 17 per cent funded – at $157 million.

Fully funded, the plan aims to reach about 3.8 million most vulnerable with assistance, including women, children and persons with disabilities.

Multifaceted crisis

Climate-induced disasters alongside a dramatic deterioration in security situation have resulted in a complex, multifaceted crisis in the West African landlocked nation.

Between November last year and April, almost 1,800 people were reportedly killed in Burkina Faso, allegedly by both armed groups and State actors.

In one particularly abhorrent incident, over 220 civilians, including 56 children, were reportedly killed in by uniformed troops in two villages in the north on a single day in late February.

The country has been under military rule since early 2022 amid an insurgency by extremist militants which triggered a series of coups and counter coups.

Severe flooding in southern Brazil last month has claimed at least 170 lives, displaced over 600,000 people and affected approximately 2.39 million in total.

Among those impacted are 43,000 refugees and others in need of international protection, including Venezuelans, Haitians and Cubans, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, which warned on Friday that devastating extreme weather events and disasters are uprooting displaced communities and forcing them to start from zero once again.

As the frequency, intensity, and magnitude of climate disasters are expected to increase, UNHCR Special Advisor for Climate Action Andrew Harper appealed for the inclusion of refugees and other displaced populations in governments’ social protection schemes.

He said risk mitigation, reconstruction, contingency and adaptation plans were also sorely needed.

Mr. Harper explained that catastrophic floods, earthquakes, cyclones, storms and heatwaves have devastated communities of people on the move in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and beyond – with no end in sight.

Focus on Africa

In East Africa and the Great Lakes region, hundreds of thousands are still struggling with the severe impacts of devastating floods that swept through the region between April and May this year, he added.

And in the hardest-hit countries – Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Somalia – many refugees’ homes have been destroyed and critical infrastructure damaged.

Mr. Harper warned that there is also high risk of flooding in Sudan and South Sudan, where heavy seasonal rains are affecting areas hosting thousands of people fleeing the year-long deadly conflict in Sudan.

The UNHCR official also highlighted severe vulnerabilities in Chad, which has welcomed 600,000 Sudanese refugees since the start of the war, and where heavy rains are now damaging fragile refugee shelters and infrastructure in the east.

As the situation is expected to worsen over the course of the year, UNHCR launched an appeal on Friday for nearly $40 million to assist and protect 5.6 million refugees, returnees, internally displaced people and local communities in Burundi, Ethiopia, Somalia, Rwanda, South Sudan and Sudan.

Afghan women and girls should have seat at the table in Doha

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on Friday expressed “deep concern” over the apparent “exclusion” of women and girls from the upcoming UN-organized meeting on the future of Afghanistan, scheduled to begin this weekend in Doha, Qatar.

The Committee is calling for active and direct inclusion of women in these discussions as Afghan women endure the most serious crisis facing women’s rights worldwide.

Failure to ensure participation will only further silence Afghan women and girls who are already facing escalating violations of their rights, CEDAW members said in a press statement.

“The Committee has, time and again, expressed concern at the deteriorating situation of women and girls in Afghanistan, causing immense and irreversible harm to current and future generations”, the statement said.

“The continued denial of education and employment, restrictions on movement and curtailed presence in public spaces, has increasingly entrenched exclusion of women from public life since the Taliban takeover in August 2021.”

Disempowerment continues

The de facto authorities’ recent decision to reduce salaries of women civil servants barred from employment, regardless of experience or qualifications, reflects an additional deliberate and harmful act of disempowerment, the Committee stressed.

“The failure to include Afghan civil society, including women human rights defenders, as meaningful participants in the Doha discussions, will render the rights of women and girls inadequately addressed.”

Members said excluding women and girls from these discussions will only serve to undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the Doha meeting.

The Committee monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It is composed of independent human rights experts, elected by secret ballot by States parties. They are not UN staff and do not draw a salary.

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