UNHCR to double funds for cash-based assistance to refugees by 2020

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The UN refugee agency announced today in Geneva its intention to double funds for cash-based assistance to refugees across the world by 2020 as a way to better assist and protect them.

“The use of cash-based assistance has been a real game changer in the way we help refugees and we have now decided to make it a worldwide policy and expand it to all our operations, where feasible*,” said the High Commissioner, Filippo Grandi.

“UNHCR was one of the first UN agencies to employ cash-based assistance in the mid-80s and has developed an in-depth expertise in this field. Over the years, we have seen its remarkable effect on the life of refugees and forcibly displaced people,” he added.

“Refugees know best what they need. The broader use of cash-based assistance means that many more will be able to decide how to manage their family’s budget. This will help them lead more dignified and normal lives,” he added.

The High Commissioner noted that cash-based programmes are also very effective and often prove to be an efficient way to help those fleeing conflict and persecution, in a context of growing urbanization and search for alternatives to camps.

He also stressed that cash assistance benefits local businesses and economies and is an important asset to foster relationships between host and refugee communities.

“Expanding our cash-based assistance to refugees and forcibly displaced people in the coming years will go hand-in-hand with enhancing our partnerships. I am convinced that by developing joined cash delivery arrangements with our partners on the ground, we will not only ensure a more predictable and coordinated assistance to refugees but also maximize efficiency and synergies,” said the High Commissioner.

UNHCR is already providing cash-based interventions in 60 countries. They have been particularly successful in Jordan and Lebanon, where they have allowed UNHCR to help the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in the most cost-efficient manner.

In 2017, firmly committed to reach the 2020 target, UNHCR will introduce and expand cash-based assistance to vulnerable refugees and people in need of help in 15 additional countries, including Niger, DRC, Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Afghanistan and Iran.

South Sudan Imotong State residents fleeing to Kenya.

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Thousands of people mainly women and children in Imatong State are fleeing to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, an official has confirmed.

South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission official in Torit says the number of people fleeing the area had increased in the last few weeks, Radio Emmanuel reports.

Residents are afraid of deteriorating security situation and of what may happen during the dry season, the official says.

Lina Akot and her five children boarded a van heading to South Sudan- Kenya border.

Akot says she is leaving Torit for Kenya because of insecurity making the environment unfavourable for her children’s education.

Sara Deng, a mother says she has already taken her children out of the country.

She says she is convinced that Kakuma Refugee Camp is more secure to live in and bring up children than her insecure home country.

John Odongi Simon, the Acting Director of South Sudan Relief & Rehabilitation Commission in Eastern Equatoria confirms that majority of those fleeing the country are women and children.

Odongi says the flight is worsened by fears of insecurity and tough economic conditions in the country.

UN human right body welcome President Uhuru move

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The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has Yesterday welcomed the move Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta took to commute all death sentences to life imprisonment, removing 2,747 convicts from death row.

‘’We welcome the decision by President Uhuru Kenyatta this week to commute all death sentences to life imprisonment, removing 2,747 convicts from death row, including 2,655 men and 92 women’’ Ravina Shamdasani the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in statement in Geneva

Shamdasani said Article 6 (4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Kenya ratified in 1972, states that anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence.

‘’We hope that Kenya will build on the momentum created by Monday’s mass commutation and work towards establishing an official moratorium on the death penalty, aiming at its full abolition for all crimes’’ the spokes Person said ‘’ Kenya has not implemented death penalty sentences since 1987 and it accepted recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review in 2015 to establish a moratorium and work towards abolition of capital punishment’’

Adding ‘’We hope Kenya’s initiatives will inspire other States to push forward with efforts to abolish the death penalty, joining the 106 other countries that have rid themselves of this inhumane practice’’

The UN rights body said they stand ready to continue to support all efforts in this direction.

South Sudan: Dangerous rise in ethnic hate speech must be reined in – Zeid

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GENEVA (25 October 2016) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Tuesday warned that rising ethnic rhetoric, hate speech and incitement to violence against certain ethnic groups in South Sudan is highly dangerous and could result in mass atrocities if not reined in by community and political leaders at the highest levels.

Over the past two weeks, letters with graphic warnings of violence against people from the Equatoria region were left outside the gates of humanitarian organisations in Aweil West, in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state in the north-western part of the country.

The letters, purportedly written by individuals from the Dinka community, warned Equatorians to leave or be “eliminated”, with threats of violence, mutilation and murder. Certain State officials in the region have also reportedly joined in the hate speech.

An Equatorian staff member of a humanitarian organisation was attacked on 16 October in Aweil Town and 92 staff members of humanitarian organisations have been evacuated from Aweil and 12 from Bor.

The threats emerged in reaction to the killing of an unconfirmed number of Dinka civilians travelling to Juba by bus on 8 October, and an attack against another three buses on 10 October. Rumours circulated on social media about the number of civilians killed, calling for revenge attacks against Equatorians.

“Hateful ethnic rhetoric in South Sudan – particularly if it is exploited for political purposes – can have devastating consequences for entire communities, quickly spiralling into a cycle of revenge attacks,” High Commissioner Zeid said. “I urge President Salva Kiir and all political and community leaders with influence to urgently and unambiguously condemn the incitement to violence and to take urgent measures to defuse the tensions.”

“One important step would be to promptly and transparently investigate the violence of 8 and 10 October, and to hold perpetrators individually criminally responsible,” Zeid added. “Those who are behind these terrible threats against Equatorians must also be held to account.”

Zeid welcomed the press statement issued by the Acting Governor of Aweil State, in which he called on all citizens to “join the Government in condemnation of these alleged threats directed towards our Equatorian brothers and sisters.”

But the High Commissioner expressed concern at a statement by President Kiir on 19 October, in which the President said he would personally lead military operations against the armed groups responsible for the killings in the region. The statement has widely been interpreted as ethnically driven.