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Guinea: Waiting for Justice
by International Federation for Human Rights
More than 150 people were killed at Conakry’s football stadium in Guinea when a peaceful opposition protest was attacked by the ruling junta’s elite police in 2009. Over 100 women were raped and hundreds of people were seriously injured.
Many people are still living with the trauma of the events and are fighting for justice and are calling on the government to admit liability for what happened.
Since that day, we have accompanied some 500 victims and their families in their quest for justice. Hundreds of victims have filed complaints with the Guinean courts.
This year, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation in Guinea, OGDH, want to pay tribute and listen to the thousands of victims of the Guinea state violence.
The two organisations invited the English photographer Tommy Trenchard to meet with the victims who they have been supporting in their quest for justice since 2009.
Tommy Trenchard took photos of them in the street at night, usually on the scene of the crimes, where, in one day their lives were turned upside down.
His portraits show the vacant but determined look of people who, in their quest for justice, were able to surpass their personal fears and plunge back into story of their past. Painful tales that they agreed to tell, so that they may never happen again.
Tommy’s work led to the creation of the exhibit Guinea: waiting for justice that is presented at the Franco-Guinean Cultural Centre in Conakry from 27 September to 28 October 2016 and a book of photos with a preface by Fatou Bensouda, the ICC Chief Prosecutor.
* Access the photo exhibition via the link below.
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ICRC, IFRC call on international community to ensure protection of humanitarian aid workers
by ICRC, MSF, NRC, OCHA, agencies
20 September 2016
Syria: Attack on humanitarian convoy is an attack on humanity (ICRC)
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are outraged by last night''s horrific attack on a SARC aid warehouse and an aid convoy in Orem Al Kubra (Big Orem) in rural Aleppo.
Some twenty civilians and one SARC staff member were killed, as they were unloading trucks carrying vital humanitarian aid. Much of the aid was destroyed. The attack deprives thousands of civilians of much-needed food and medical assistance.
"We''re totally devastated by the deaths of so many people. They were committed and brave members, working relentlessly to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. It is totally unacceptable that our staff and volunteers continue to pay such a high price because of the ongoing fighting," said the SARC President, Dr Abdulrahman Attar.
"From what we know of yesterday''s attack, there has been a flagrant violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), which is totally unacceptable. Failing to respect and protect humanitarian workers and structures might have serious repercussions on ongoing humanitarian operations in the country, hence depriving millions of people from aid essential to their survival", said Peter Maurer, the ICRC President.
"Today, the Red Cross and Red Crescent is in mourning. In solidarity with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, we are calling on the international community to ensure the protection of humanitarian aid workers and volunteers. We are not part of this conflict," said Tadateru Konoé, the President of the IFRC.
Syria is one of the most dangerous conflicts for humanitarian workers in the world. During the past six years, 54 staff and volunteers of SARC have lost their lives whilst carrying out their duties.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement repeats its demand that all parties to the conflict adhere to the rules of international humanitarian law, which includes protecting aid workers.
Thomas White, Norwegian Refugee Council Syria Response Director said:
"This is an attack against humanity. It is not ''collateral damage'' and there is no excuse for this horrendous targeting of humanitarian aid and aid workers. They were unarmed civilians, humanitarians, putting their lives on the line to help fellow Syrians. It is unbelievable that this could happen to a regular humanitarian convoy, giving detailed information about where the convoy was heading, when, how many trucks and what they were carrying. We are outraged and demand that an immediate and thorough investigation is launched and those behind it are held accountable.
Besides the catastrophic loss of life of our humanitarian colleagues, this means many more Syrians will be denied the lifesaving aid they have been desperately needing for months on end. In a situation in which reaching millions of the most vulnerable people caught in this war was already very difficult – this attack marks a new low in the respect for humanitarian action – in the end making it even harder to deliver lifesaving humanitarian aid.
We call on all parties to the conflict to guarantee safe access for humanitarian aid delivery. Many children are alive today because there was a ceasefire for one week. The US and Russia must renew efforts to re-establish the ceasefire and guarantee its enforcement from all parties on the ground."
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) released a statement stating that it is deeply shocked by the 19 September attack. MSF strongly denounces this attack, another example of the continuous disregard for the basic rules of war in the Syrian conflict, and demands that all warring parties involved in the conflict in Syria respect humanitarian workers and civilians, health facilities and civilian infrastructures.
We demand that the major international powers involved in this conflict assume their responsibilities and take more concrete steps to put an end to all attacks against civilian infrastructure, including medical facilities and aid convoys.
United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien - Statement on Convoy to Urum al-Kubra, Syria. (OCHA)
I am disgusted and horrified by the news that a United Nations/Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy was hit this evening in Urum al-Kubra (Big Orem), northwest of Aleppo city. Initial reports indicate that many people have been killed or seriously injured, including SARC volunteers, as a result of these sickening attacks. A SARC warehouse was also hit and a SARC health clinic was also reportedly severely damaged.
I condemn what happened in Urum al-Kubra in the strongest possible terms. Notification of the convoy – which planned to reach some 78,000 people - had been provided to all parties to the conflict and the convoy was clearly marked as humanitarian. There can be no explanation or excuse, no reason or rationale for waging war on brave and selfless humanitarian workers trying to reach their fellow citizens in desperate need of assistance. Our hearts go out to the families of lost loved ones and our solidarity is with the injured.
International humanitarian law and human rights law plainly set out the basic responsibilities of warring parties to ensure the necessary protection of all humanitarian organizations, including personnel, facilities and other relief assets.
Let me be clear: if this callous attack is found to be a deliberate targeting of humanitarians, it would amount to a war crime. I call for an immediate, impartial and independent investigation into this deadly incident. The perpetrators should know that they will one day be held accountable for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
Despite the very difficult and dangerous conditions, humanitarian aid organizations remain committed to continuing their work and reaching all those in need, regardless of whom they are or where they live. I once again call for speedy, unconditional, and unimpeded and sustained access to the millions of people in need, particularly those in besieged and hard-to-reach areas across Syria. Now, more than ever, this horror has to be brought to an end.
The Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, said in a statement that she was horrified by the attack.
“This assault on the humanitarian relief effort in Syria, however, will not discourage WFP from continuing to perform our life-saving service to all people in need across the country,” Ms. Cousin said. “I urge all parties to this hideous conflict to respect international law and our common humanitarian principles and provide unconditional, unimpeded, sustained and safe access to the millions of civilians in need across Syria, no matter where they are or who they are.”
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic also condemned the attacks in the strongest possible terms.
“This attack comes at a critical time in which the unhindered and rapid delivery of aid to besieged areas had been agreed as a vital part of the cessation of hostilities agreement brokered between the United States and Russian Federation early last week. At a time when warring parties were meant to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance, aid deliveries have been deliberately obstructed or attacked,” the Commission said.
Commission Chair Paulo Pinheiro noted that the incident is a “particularly cruel blow to deliver to the people of Syria at a time when the priority was supposed to be on improving the humanitarian situation of besieged civilians.”
“Humanitarian aid workers are not a party to this conflict and they should never be targeted or their assistance politicized,” he stressed, calling on all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law, especially the special protections afforded to humanitarian and medical personnel.
“Attacks against civilians and humanitarian personnel should be discussed urgently by the Security Council,” urged Mr. Pinheiro. “Action is needed to ensure much greater protection of civilian populations and humanitarian workers and medical personnel bravely working to assist those in such urgent need.”
20 September 2016
UN suspends aid convoys in Syria after hit, ICRC warns on impact.(Reuters)
The United Nations suspended aid convoys across Syria on Tuesday a day after an air strike hit relief trucks near the city of Aleppo, killing at least one aid worker and around 20 civilians, and destroying a warehouse and hospital.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which said it was postponing an aid convoy that had been set to deliver supplies to four besieged Syrian towns, warned of the consequences for millions of civilians in need.
"As an immediate security measure, other convoy movements in Syria have been suspended for the time being pending further assessment of the security situation," Jens Laerke, U.N. humanitarian aid spokesman, told a news briefing in Geneva.
"However we remain committed to stay and deliver to everybody in need in Syria," he added.
Syrian or Russian aircraft struck an aid convoy near Aleppo on Monday, a war monitor reported, as the Syrian military declared a one-week truce over.
"If this callous attack is found to be a deliberate targetting of humanitarians, it would amount to a war crime," U.N. aid chief Stephen O''Brien said in a statement.
The United Nations had just received permission from the Syrian government to deliver aid to all besieged areas in the country, Laerke said. All parties, including Russia and the United States, had been notified about the cleared convoy heading to rebel-held eastern Aleppo.
"Yesterday''s attack is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and it is unacceptable," Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement.
"Failing to protect humanitarian workers and structures might have serious repercussions on ongoing humanitarian work in the country, hence depriving millions of people of aid essential to their survival."
"This is very worrying. We see a resumption of violence, an intensification of fighting in many locations," Robert Mardini, ICRC director for the Middle East and North Africa, told Reuters in Geneva.
At least 18 of 31 trucks in a U.N. and Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) convoy were hit along with an SARC warehouse. The convoy was delivering aid for 78,000 people in the hard-to-reach town of Urm al-Kubra in Aleppo province.
"Life-saving aid supplies have been totally damaged and a health clinic destroyed, depriving thousands of civilians of much needed food and medical assistance," said Benoit Carpentier of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
SARC''s director in Urem al-Kubra, Omar Barakat, was among the dead, Mardini said. "The team is in shock." "Omar was badly injured and the rescue team could not reach him for two hours. When he was evacuated he could not survive his wounds," he said.
"It is difficult to read the environment in coming hours because you have a mixture of intensification of fighting and politicisation of humanitarian aid.. It is high time to de-link humanitarian work from politics," Mardini said.
* Under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, “intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance … mission” is a war crime, as is intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population.
UN Security Council Resolution 2254, adopted on December 18, 2015, called on all parties to the conflict in Syria to “immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such, including attacks against medical facilities and personnel, and any indiscriminate use of weapons, including through shelling and aerial bombardment.”
19 Sep 2016
Aid destined for besieged Syrians remains stuck on the border with Turkey [Reuters]
Two aid convoys destined for Syria''s Aleppo, with enough supplies to feed 185,000 people for a month, remained stuck in Turkey as the most recent ceasefire appears to have effectively ended.
The United Nations has said it does not have sufficient security guarantees from all sides in the conflict, now in its sixth year, to be able to deliver the 40 lorries of aid to eastern Aleppo.
The aid has been sitting at the border for nearly a week, as the patchy seven-day ceasefire was punctuated by fighting and air raids, with all sides accusing each other of violating it.
The UN also wants to deliver aid to other hard-to-reach parts of the country, but says it has not received the necessary permissions from the government to proceed.
Up to 275,000 people remain trapped in eastern Aleppo - Syria''s most populous city - without food, water, proper shelter or medical care, said Stephen O''Brien, the UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs.
"I am pained and disappointed that a United Nations convoy has yet to cross into Syria from Turkey, and safely reach eastern Aleppo," O''Brien said in a statement, referring to a 20-truck convoy, the first of two that would have carried flour and other food supplies.
Both convoys were still sitting at the Turkey-Syria border, where they have been for almost a week, UN spokesman Jens Laerke said.
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