Five reasons why it is imperative to protect civilians

In armed conflicts, civilians are always the most affected by violence and destruction. International humanitarian law requires that all parties to a conflict respect the civilian population and infrastructure; however, those who should be saved continue to suffer damage. In 2022, the UN recorded a 53% increase in the number of civilians killed in twelve armed conflicts. Homes, schools, markets, water and electricity systems, and health centers continued to be damaged or destroyed.

From May 22 to 25, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in conjunction with Belgium, Switzerland, and the International Red Cross, will carry out the Protection of Civilians Week 2023. Twelve side events and two closed-door roundtables will focus on issues raised in the Secretary-General’s annual report on the protection of civilians; while the Security Council will hold its annual debate on the issue on May 23. The aim is to engage Member States, the UN and civil society in a candid discussion on how to improve the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

“We must not forget that this agenda is about people,” says Joyce Msuya, OCHA’s Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator. “Therefore, I am pleased that several events this week give space to civilians directly affected by armed conflict. Our discussions must include their opinions and experience if we really want to understand the challenges and find the most effective way to address them.”

Five reasons why we must strengthen the protection of civilians.

1. To minimize civil damage: Armed conflicts result in deaths, injuries and psychological wounds among civilians. In 2022, about 94% of the victims of explosive weapons used in populated areas in 17 conflict-affected countries and territories were civilians. Conflicts also lead to the destruction of homes, schools, health centers, water facilities, and other essential infrastructure. When critical infrastructure is destroyed or damaged, essential services like water, electricity, and healthcare are interrupted, causing even more suffering. Populations flee, unable to return to their homes for years.

Mohammed is 16 years old and lives in the Al Saberi area of ​​Bengahzi.

Mohammed, 16, lives in the Al Saberi area of ​​Benghazi, Libya. His family had to flee when his home was bombed during the 2015 war. They returned in 2016, but most of their neighbors, including some of Mohammed’s close friends, no longer lived there due to extremely difficult living conditions. . The Al Saberi area is contaminated with various explosive remnants of war. Every day, Mohammed and his siblings have to walk through very dangerous areas to get to school. Credit: UNOCHA/Giles Clarke

2. To prevent and address hunger and famine: last year, conflict and insecurity were the main drivers of high levels of acute food insecurity for around 117 million people in 19 countries and territories. Crops were destroyed, livestock stolen, land ruined, roads blocked, and farmers driven from their fields. Livelihoods were lost while food prices rose sharply.

A year and a half boy is treated for malnutrition in Somalia.

One-year-old Ahmed Mohammed is checked for malnutrition at an aid-supported Therapeutic Feeding Program outpatient center in Allanley, Kismayo, Jubaland state, Somalia. Critical levels of acute malnutrition persist in many parts of the country. An estimated 1.8 million children under the age of five will be severely malnourished by December 2023. Of these, almost half a million will be severely wasted. Photo: OCHA/Adedeji ADEMIGBUJI

3. To protect vulnerable groups: Women, children and people with disabilities are affected by conflict in different ways. Ensuring their protection is essential. Last year, women and girls accounted for at least 95% of documented victims of sexual violence. Children were kidnapped, recruited and used in hostilities, and deprived of education. People with disabilities were caught in the middle of the hostilities and were unable to access food, water, medical care or humanitarian assistance.

4. To ensure safe access for humanitarian workers: Aid workers face many overlapping challenges: hostilities, explosive devices, bureaucratic impediments and state sanctions, and counter-terrorism measures delay or stall relief efforts, leaving people without the essential supplies they need. Aid workers are killed, injured and kidnapped and their supplies attacked and looted. Misinformation and disinformation undermine trust and create security risks for humanitarian workers.

5. To prevent forced displacement and find durable solutions: in 2022, the number of people forcibly displaced due to conflict, violence, human rights violations and persecution exceeded the alarming number of 100 million. But even after fleeing the violence, people were still not safe. They faced more violence, risks of explosions and limited access to essential services. Displaced people had greater difficulties accessing food, a problem that increased with the number of times they were displaced.

What should be done?

“First, we need all states and parties to the conflict to incorporate international humanitarian law into their laws, military manuals and training,” explains Aurélien Buffler, head of OCHA’s Planning and Policy Advice Section, “and that they adopt specific protections for children and vulnerable people. We also need all states to join the new Political Declaration on Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas and translate their commitments into meaningful action.”

“Second, we need unimpeded humanitarian access and protection for all humanitarian workers and supplies. Aid workers must be enabled to safely deliver aid to those who need it most, and their ability to speak with all parties to armed conflict to negotiate access and promote adherence to international humanitarian law should be encouraged. States must ensure that their counter-terrorism sanctions and measures do not have a negative impact on the provision of humanitarian and medical assistance.

“Third, all states must ensure respect for international humanitarian law, including through political dialogue and training of combatants; as well as conditioning their military support on the respect of international laws by the beneficiaries, and investigating and prosecuting war crimes”.

Civil Protection Week

Protection of Civilians Week provides an opportunity to forge connections and discuss and share knowledge and solutions to improve the protection of civilians. It serves as a platform to listen to the voices of the victims of the armed conflict to learn about their experiences and needs. Throughout the Week, participants will identify lessons learned and ways to improve the protection of civilians.

Find all the information about the week by pressing here

Source link

Written by Editor TLN

Some Indian elephants roam the Kaziranga National Park, Assam (India).

Guterres: governments and companies must be pressured to protect biodiversity

Blinken stresses before the president of the DRC the right to protest of the Congolese people

Blinken stresses before the president of the DRC the right to protest of the Congolese people