Women’s empowerment and gender equality should remain a central objective of the world community. The recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) includes specific provisions to member States of the United Nations – notably through SDG 5 - to commit to enhancing gender equality and to give women a stronger voice in the fight for equality. The Preamble of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights calls for “equal rights
” to be enjoyed by “men and women
”: 69 years later, gender equality has not only been recognised for what it is: a fundamental human right, it is also becoming a guiding principle in the efforts of States to attain the highest ideals of a just and inclusive society and the highest rate of growth.
Extreme poverty remains one of the world’s biggest challenges. According to the United Nations, 767 million people live in extreme poverty around the world. Although world society has managed to lift nearly 1 billion people out of extreme poverty – in 1999 it was estimated that 1.7 billion were affected by extreme poverty – the unprecedented rise of conflict and of violence in the Arab region has worsened the socioeconomic situation of vulnerable population segments in many countries. On 22 February 2017, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator of the United Nations –Stephen O’Brien – stated to the United Nations Security Council that 67% of the population in Syria is living under conditions considered as extreme poverty. In another Arab country affected by war and conflict – Yemen – the World Bank estimates that poverty affects 62% of the population, whereas the World Bank’s estimates this number to be at approximately 22% for Iraq or even as high as 40% in territories controlled by DAESH. Inevitably, conflict and violence have worsened the situation in the Arab region.
The battle to reclaim Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), has raised concerns among top UN officials as at least 20,000 civilians remain trapped under heavy fire in the city. Last week Monday, 42 civilians, including 12 women and 19 children, were killed in an air attack, according to the AP
The top United Nations human rights official hailed the repeal of laws in Lebanon, Tunisia and Jordan that used to allow rapists to avoid criminal prosecution by marrying their victims.
In just three weeks time, two Arab countries adopted major steps to combat violence against women, with Jordan abolishing a law allowing rapists to avoid prosecution by marrying their victims, while Tunisia adopting its first national law to prevent gender-based violence and provide support to survivors.
The war in Syria has now entered its 6th
year and is becoming the world’s worst man-made disaster.
Jordan may be one of the smallest economies in the Middle East, but it has high ambitions for inclusive green growth and sustainable development despite the fact that it lies in the heart of a region that has been long plagued with wars and other troubles, says the Director-General of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Dr. Frank Rijsberman.
Jordan’s Zaatari camp, which opened in 2012 as a makeshift camp to house Syrian refugees fleeing the war, marked its fifth year on June 28.
The directors of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO) released a joint statement
today shedding light on a deadly cholera epidemic engulfing war-torn Yemen.
Human rights groups are urging the UN Secretary-General to include the Saudi-led Coalition (SLC) in a child rights’ “shame list” after documenting grave violations against children.
A former French judge has been appointed as the head of an independent team tasked with investigating war crimes in Syria.
In the Near East and North Africa region, the per capita renewable water availability is around 600 cubic metres per person per year --only 10 per cent of the world average- and drops to just 100 cubic metres in some countries, the United Nations warned.
Although US policies during the past few months have been quite puzzling and unpredictable, the events of the past few days have been truly bewildering and alarming. On Monday 26th June, the White House released a statement saying that the United States had “identified potential preparations for another chemical attack by the Assad regime…” It went on to say: “If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.”
As US-backed Syrian rebels plow ahead in the fight to take back Raqqa from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria, the stake of civilian lives, who number as many as 100,000 in the city, has raised concerns among top UN officials.
When Saudi Arabia – which has been spearheading a coalition of Arab states in a devastating war against Yemen since 2015 – was accused of bombing civilians, and particularly children caught up in the conflict, the government in Riyadh threatened to cut off humanitarian funding to the world body.
It is impossible to be ten years as High Commissioner for Refugees, doing my best to try to help the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, without changing your life. And, indeed, not only witnessing the suffering of people but also learning [about] the extraordinary courage, resilience and capacity to permanently generate hope of refugees is something that has changed my perspective of the world and, to a large extent, changed my life.
Between 2010 and 2015, nearly half of all civilian war deaths worldwide occurred in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, a major independent, neutral organisation ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of war and armed violence informs.
The United Nations Department of Public Information has launched a new animated video on the dramatic story of Yusra Mardini, a young refugee from conflict-torn Syria who achieved her dream to compete in the Olympics last year. Yusra Mardini was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on 27 April 2017. The video was produced by the Education Outreach Section in support of the Together Initiative to mark World Refugee day on 20 June and highlight the advent of the International Day of Peace on 21 September.
Prolonged conflicts in the Middle East have led to a deadly humanitarian crisis, with as many as 17.5 million people displaced in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Another famine in former European colonies in Africa and another time in its Eastern region, with Ethiopia and Somalia among the major victims of drought and made-made climate disasters mainly caused by US and European multinational business.
Worldwide, land degradation, severe droughts and advancing desertification are set to force populations to flee their homes and migrate. In the specific case of the Middle East and North of Africa (MENA), such an obliged choice implies the additional risk to turn peoples into easy prey to extremist, terrorist groups.