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Libya Protect Civilians under siege in Derna
by OHCHR, Amnesty International
11 June 2018
Libya – escalating risks. (OHCHR)
We are deeply alarmed at the escalating risks to the population in the eastern city of Derna in Libya, where fighting has intensified in recent days with the Libyan National Army group – the LNA - reported to have taken over densely populated districts.
There have been increasing allegations that civilians have been arbitrarily detained, while others have been prevented from leaving the city.
The humanitarian situation in Derna, which has a population of some 125,000, is also said to be deteriorating, with shortages of food, water and medicine. Since 5 June, the city’s only hospital has been closed and we have documented the deaths of three women as a result of the lack of oxygen supplies.
Our concern for civilians and fighters who have surrendered, laid down their weapons, are sick or wounded, or otherwise hors de combat is all the greater given the serious violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law that we documented during fighting for control of the eastern oil crescent and for parts of the city of Benghazi, both in early 2017.
We urge all parties to the conflict in Derna, including the LNA and the Derna Protection Forces, to take all feasible measures to protect civilians. We call on the LNA to allow unimpeded humanitarian assistance to reach the city. We also call on all parties to the conflict to ensure that the wounded and sick, both civilians and those who have participated in hostilities, are cared for, including through medical evacuations. They should also facilitate safe passage for civilians wishing to leave the city.
All commanders should take effective steps to ensure that their forces comply with their obligations under international law. The population of Derna must be protected and treated with dignity and respect. http://bit.ly/2JBy94J
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Report of the Secretary-General on the protection of civilians in armed conflict
by António Guterres
22 May 2018
Report of the Secretary-General on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
With more than 128 million people worldwide requiring immediate humanitarian aid, mostly due to war and violence, the United Nations Secretary-General has urged the international community to do more to protect civilians caught in conflict.
António Guterres made the appeal during a UN Security Council meeting, where he presented a report recommending ways governments can step up action.
He noted that last year, hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed or injured in countries affected by conflict: Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen.
“The most effective way to protect civilians is to prevent conflicts and to end them,” Mr. Guterres told the Council. “This is why conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding are, and will remain, the highest priorities for the United Nations.”
Also briefing the Council, Yves Daccord, Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), echoed another concern expressed by the UN chief: attacks against medical facilities and personnel.
He said that in the two years since the Council adopted a resolution on this subject, the ICRC has recorded more than 1,200 incidents in 16 countries, with health workers killed, hospitals bombed or looted, and medical supplies destroyed or prevented from crossing front lines.
“The gap between words and actions is very dramatic. It is imperative that all states, not only parties to conflicts, uphold international commitments and make the protection of healthcare a national priority.”
António Guterres: In my previous report, I underlined that the most effective way to protect civilians is to prevent the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of armed conflict.
Where we cannot prevent or resolve conflict, we must strengthen the protection of civilians. In doing so, we also contribute to the foundations for future peace.
In my previous report, I identified three protection priorities: enhance respect for international humanitarian and human rights law and promote good practice by parties to conflict; protect the humanitarian and medical mission and accord priority to the protection of civilians in United Nations peace operations; and prevent forced displacement and pursue durable solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons. In the present report, I review progress made in relation to those priorities, with a focus on enhancing respect for international law and promoting good practice.
Section II contains a review of the global state of the protection of civilians in armed conflict during the period from 1 January to 31 December 2017. It reveals a state of unrelenting horror and suffering affecting millions of women, children and men across all conflicts.
Civilians are routinely killed or maimed, and civilian objects damaged or destroyed, in targeted or indiscriminate attacks that frequently involve the widespread use of explosive weapons.
Civilians are forced from their homes to meet a perilous fate, while countless others are missing. Humanitarian and medical personnel are frequently targeted and killed or prevented from responding to those in need.
Meanwhile, conflict-driven food insecurity and the potential for famine leave millions of lives in the balance. All this, and the decimation of entire towns and cities and the once-vibrant communities and societies that were their lifeblood, undermine the prospects for peace and stability and the restoration of hope and opportunity for the future.
The state of the protection of civilians is bleak, and the need for action to address it is urgent.
As conflict becomes increasingly urbanized, with the potential to affect tens of millions of people, ensuring the effective implementation of international humanitarian and human rights law is of paramount importance.
The targeting of or failure to protect civilians cannot go unchallenged. The Security Council and Member States can ill afford to abdicate their responsibilities in the face of widespread violations and allow political differences to prevent or undermine concerted action to address and prevent violations. The stakes for civilians — and for international peace and security — are simply too high.
Member States have an instrumental role to advance respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, to end and prevent the spillover and recurrence of armed conflict.
There are practical steps that can be taken by parties to conflict and Member States to respect and ensure respect for the law and enhance the protection of civilians.
I recommend that Member States establish clear institutional authorities and responsibilities for the protection of civilians; and that they support and facilitate expanded efforts to engage non-State armed groups to enter into action plans and develop codes of conduct, operational policy and other tools to ensure effective protection and accountability.
Such actions would constitute an advance towards more effective implementation of the law and protection of civilians. At the same time, I recognize the continuing need for heightened advocacy and a concerted effort to ensure accountability for serious violations. http://bit.ly/2lKnmuR
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