Attacks on food trucks force UN agency to cut rations in Darfur

17 April 2008The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today that it will have to cut rations to the strife-torn Darfur region of Sudan by half because attacks on its trucks are preventing vital relief supplies from getting through. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today that it will have to cut rations to the strife-torn Darfur region of Sudan by half because attacks on its trucks are preventing vital relief supplies from getting through. So far this year 60 WFP-contracted trucks have been hijacked in Darfur – where the agency is feeding over two million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees – with 39 trucks still missing and 26 drivers unaccounted for. One driver was killed in Darfur last month. WFP’s trucks should be delivering 1,800 metric tons of food daily around this time of year to supply warehouses ahead of the rainy season, due to begin next month. However, deliveries have dropped to less than 900 tons per day. “Attacks on the WFP food pipeline are an attack on the most vulnerable people in Darfur,” said the agency’s Executive Director, Josette Sheeran. In March, more than 2.4 million people in Darfur received WFP food assistance, which include cereals, pulses, vegetable oil, sugar and salt. The number of those requiring assistance is expected to rise to some three million during the rainy season from May to September – also known as the pre-harvest ‘hunger gap,’ when last year’s agricultural stocks are depleted and there is less access to food in the market. Ms. Sheeran called on all parties to protect the access to food, stressed that with up to three million people depending on WFP for their survival in the upcoming rainy season, keeping the agency’s supply line open is “a matter of life and death.” Kenro Oshidari, WFP Representative in Sudan, noted that the Sudanese Government does provide police escorts for convoys on the main routes, “but unfortunately the frequency is not enough to maintain the food pipeline.” “We’re appealing to the rebel factions and their commanders who operate in other parts of Darfur to ensure security on the roads and to respect the neutrality of all people involved in the humanitarian effort,” he said. “If the security situation on the roads improves, we will be able to restore the ration levels.” read more

UN experts call on Israel Palestinians to abide by rule of law

27 September 2010A United Nations monitoring committee is concerned that Israel may not have investigated all allegations of serious humanitarian violations during its deadly conflict in Gaza 21 months ago and said there is no indication that Hamas seriously investigated alleged abuses on its part. But the committee – appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to assess domestic, legal or other proceedings by Israel and the Palestinians over allegations raised in the report of the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission into the Gaza conflict, known as the Goldstone Report – noted that the Palestinian Authority, in control of the occupied West Bank, was prepared from the very start to cooperate with it.The Goldstone report stated that both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants were guilty of serious human rights violations and breaches of humanitarian law during Operation Cast Lead, which Israel said it launched to counter missile attacks from Gaza. More than 1,400 Gazans were killed and 5,000 others injured, while homes, schools, hospitals and marketplaces were reduced to rubble.“The committee views its report as a call to both sides to strictly abide by the rule of law,” Chairman Christian Tomuschat said today in presenting its findings to the Council. “The committee hopes and trusts that both sides will heed the findings of the report of the committee in their pending and forthcoming dealings with the offences that were committed during the Gaza conflict.”The committee noted that Israel had “indeed taken steps to address some of the many complaints made,” he added, regretting its refusal to admit committee members to speak with its own investigators, but citing such positive measures as new procedures for the protection of civilians in urban warfare and the establishment of a doctrine on munitions containing white phosphorous which can gravely burn people.“However, the committee remains concerned that not all allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian law have been investigated.”Mr. Tomuschat noted lack of information substantiating whether the probe complied with international standards, “a fundamental lack of transparency,” and the issue of impartiality where the military advocate-general is both an adviser to the Government involved in planning the Gaza operations and responsible for referring cases for criminal investigation.“It also appears that Israel has refrained from conducting a general review of the military doctrine regarding legitimate military targets as opposed to civilian targets,” he said. “The [Goldstone] Fact-Finding Mission rejected the Israeli viewpoint that the entire governmental infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, including the Legislative Council building, was a legitimate target.”The committee was also unable to visit the Gaza Strip, where Hamas seized power from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. “Unfortunately, the two reports the committee has received from the de facto authorities in Gaza did not indicate that a serious investigation into the violations alleged in the report of the fact-finding mission took place,” Mr. Tomuschat said, noting that they focus primarily on allegations aimed at Israel. Because of Israel’s refusal the committee was also unable to visit the West Bank, but he welcomed the way the Palestinians had investigated the allegations through an independent commission.“However, actual steps would have to be undertaken with a view to implementing the results of the investigation, in particular by commencing criminal prosecution against the alleged perpetrators where appropriate,” he said. read more

Visiting Indian Air Chief holds discussions in Sri Lanka

Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa met with the Chief of Staff and the Air Force Board of Management after which official plaques were exchanged between the two Air Chiefs at the Commander’s Office.The visiting Air Chief also participated for a briefing on the operational aspects of the SLAF which was delivered by the Director of Air Operations Air Vice Marshal Sudharshana Pathirana at the AFHQ Auditorium. Members of the visiting delegation, members of the AFMB and Senior Officers of AFHQ attended for this briefing. (Colombo Gazette) The Chief of the Air Staff was received upon arrival by the Commanding Officer SLAF Station Colombo Air Commodore Waruna Gunawardana and was afforded a Guard of Honour which was conferred by the Colour Squadron of the SLAF. Visiting Indian Air Force Commander, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, had talks with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene, the Defence Secretary and the Security Forces Commanders in Colombo today.Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa had cordial discussions on matters of bilateral importance and mutual relevance, the Air Force said. The Indian Air Force Chief also called on the Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Kapila Jayampathy at the Air Force Headquarters. read more