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In Eritrea, UN Deputy Relief Chief Cites Progress on Child & Maternal Health

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 27 --  After the UN's deputy relief chief visited Eritrea, the UN on put on the following statement on January 27:

"Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ms. Kyung-wha Kang, wrapped up a three-day visit to Eritrea today, where she welcomed the growing opportunities for engagement between the Government and UN partners and fruitful collaboration in implementing the Strategic Partnerships Cooperation Framework (SPCF) 2013-2016.

Thanking the authorities for their warm welcome and hospitality, ASG Kang reiterated the readiness of United Nations development and humanitarian actors to work together with the Government towards the speedy conclusion of the SPCF for 2017-2020.

During her visit, ASG Kang met with H.E. Mr. Osman Saleh, Minister for Foreign Affairs; H.E. Mr. Yemane Gebreab, Head of Political Affairs of the Peopleís Front for Democracy and Justice and Presidential Advisor; H.E. Mr. Yemane Gebremeskel, Minister for Information; H.E. Mr. Arfaine Berhe, Minister of Agriculture; H.E. Ms. Amna Nurhusein, Minister of Health; H.E. Mr. Semere Russom, Minister of Education; and H.E. Mr. Kahsay Gerehiwet, Minister of Labour and Human Welfare. She also met with humanitarian, development and donor representatives.

The discussion dealt with the full range of challenges facing Eritrea, including human rights and the implementation of Universal Periodic Review recommendations (UPR), and the role of the United Nations and international actors in support of Government endeavours to meet basic needs and build the resilience of the most vulnerable communities in the country.

Together with the Minister of Health, Ms. Kang visited Serejeka and Gashnashm in the Maekel region, where she saw Government-led nutrition and basic health programmes that help thousands of children and mothers with the support of UN agencies.

ďPrograms that provide supplementary feeding, immunization and nutrition surveillance are vital to reducing malnutrition and building resilience,Ē said ASG Kang. 'Eritrea has made significant progress in improving child and maternal health, and I urge partners to continue supporting national and international efforts.'"

Back on October 29, 2015, when the UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea Sheila B. Keetharut and the Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea Mike Smith held a press conference at the UN on October 29, Inner City Press asked them about the human rights impacts of sanctions on Eritrea, and about human trafficking. Video here.

  Keetharut said the sanctions are ďspecificĒ and do not have an impact. The basis of the statement was unclear. Smith said they were good questions but that he could not speak to sanctions. Who does?

  Well, the UN's Rapporteur on Iran Ahmed Shaheed does, this week telling Inner City Press how exclusion from SWIFT makes it impossible for Iranian's to buy cancer medicine.

On October 26 when Idriss Jazairy, Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights held a UN press conference, Inner City Press asked him about sanctions on Sudan and Eritrea, his proposal for a registry, and about the use of SWIFT to in essence impose sanctions. Tweeted photo here.

  Idriss Jazairy declined to comment on Eritrea, saying Security Council sanctions are being his jurisdiction. He was critical of unilateral measures on Sudan, which he said he will visit in November. He likened his registry proposal to that in place for conventional arms.

  On SWIFT, he said he its use makes it impossible, for example, for cancer patients in Iran to get medicine. Earlier on October 26, the past president of UNCA, now the UN Censorship Alliance, bragged about UN Rapporteur Ahdmed Shaheed's "preview" of his presentation on Iran, which Reuters later channeled without saying where Shaheed spoke. Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access asked the OHCHR spokesperson, who said he didn't know. We'll have more on this.
 

On October 20 when the UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Mťndez held a press conference, Inner City Press asked him for his view of the only partial release of the US Senate's report on CIA torture, about Guantanamo Bay and whether he thought President Barack Obama's visit to a prison might make his long-pending request to visit US prisons move faster. Video here.

   Mendez said there should be more release(s), and accountability. He said he had had to request the US' conditional offers to visit Guantanamo Bay and US prisons, as he would not be allowed to speak with all prisoners. He praise Obama's visit, but still - Mendez can't get in.

On October 16 when the Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Benyam Dawit Mezmur held a press conference at the UN, Inner City Press asked him about US President Barack Obama's decision to continue to provide military aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan, despite all four being on the UN's (and US') lists on children and armed conflict. Video here. 

    Benyam Dawit Mezmur said that while the US is the lone holdout on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the issue can still be gotten-at under the Optional Protocol. Inner City Press asked about the sexual abuse of children in the Central African Republic by French and UN peacekeepers.

   Benyam Dawit Mezmur replied that the Committee is asking France about the alleged sexual abuse of children, and will conduct a review in January. We aim to have more on this.

  At the press conference, there were only two correspondents, as there was an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Palestine at the same time. Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access thanked Benyam Dawit Mezmur for the briefing but suggested that in the future postponement of briefings, so that more journalists could attend, be considered. UNCA wasn't present at all; nor has it disclosed the extend of funding and connection by indicted David Ng and Frank Lorenzo and their affiliates.

 Also on the UN, when the UN find a staff member using the UN's email system to trafficking in sexual images of minors, a crime, what does it do? On October 16, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq about this paragraph from a UN report it had dug up:

ď49. A staff member sent, through the Organizationís e-mail system, pornographic material, including pornographic material involving a minor, and failed to report that another staff member had sent the staff member inappropriate material though the Organizationís e-mail system. Disposition: dismissal.Ē

  Inner City Press asked, was that all that happened, dismissal? Such that the person could, for example, work in a day care center? Haq said in instances the UN waives immunity.

  Inner City Press asked, how would law enforcement know that the person had used the UN's email system for child porn? Haq said there have been cases in which the UN told local authorities. Inner City Press asked, did it do so in this case? Apparently, the UN will not answer this. For now. Here are other paragraphs:

46. A staff member stored pornographic material, including pornography involving a minor, on the staff memberís United Nations computer, distributed other pornographic material through the Organizationís e-mail system and failed to report that another staff member had sent the staff member inappropriate material through the Organizationís e-mail system. Disposition: dismissal.

47. A staff member sent, through the Organizationís e-mail system, and stored on the staff memberís United Nations computer, pornographic material involving a minor and, on other occasions, distributed, through the Organizationís e -mail system, other pornographic material. Disposition: dismissal.

 48. A staff member sent, through the Organizationís e-mail system, pornographic material involving a minor and, on three other occasions, distributed other pornographic material through the Organizationís e-mail system and stored pornographic material on the staff memberís United Nations computer. Disposition: dismissal.

 The report is entitled "Practice of the Secretary-General in disciplinary matters and cases of criminal behaviour, 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015."

We'll have more on this. Watch this site.

 

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