The UN’s deputy rights chief on Monday said the collective impact of climate change, Covid-19 pandemic and conflict mean that well over 200 million people will likely need humanitarian assistance by 2022.
“The situation is worrying especially for women and girls,” Nada Al-Nashif, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights told the UN Human Rights Council at a discussion on how to improve accountability for women and girls in emergencies.
Women and girls face additional hardships from the pandemic – including sexual abuse, particularly those displaced by war, she said, reports UN News.
She also said that “experience demonstrates that insecurity and displacement fuel increases in sexual and gender-based violence, as well as other crimes and human rights violations such as child, early and forced marriages, or denial of access to sexual and reproductive health services.”
According to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 212 million people may need humanitarian assistance by 2022.
It’s believed that nearly 168 million people are in need of such protection this year, representing around one in 45 people in the world, the highest figure in decades.
The deputy rights chief urged Member States at the Geneva forum to consider adopting a new approach at the discussion.
Eradicating violations of human rights
Al-Nashif called for specific laws to be enacted that would prevent or eradicate a “continuum of human rights violations” by addressing the root causes of the lack of accountability for women and girls.
This was the only way to restore their full equality and rights in dignity, she added.
Highlighting recent human rights Council investigations into Myanmar, Venezuela and South Sudan, Al-Nashif stated that all countries shared systemic discrimination against women and girls that enabled violations to persist.
Polish President Andrzej Duda, a conservative who ran a campaign with homophobic and anti-Semitic overtones, narrowly won a second five-year term in a bitterly fought weekend election, defeating the liberal Warsaw mayor, according to a near-complete count of votes.
Duda’s supporters celebrated what they saw as a clear mandate from voters for him and the right-wing ruling party that backs him, Law and Justice, to continue on a path that has reduced poverty but raised concerns that democracy is under threat, reports AP.
Critics and human rights groups expressed concerns that Duda’s victory would boost illiberal tendencies not only at home but also within the EU, which has struggled to halt an erosion of rule of law in Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Zselyke Csaky, an expert on central Europe with the human rights group Freedom House, said Duda’s victory gives the party “essentially free rein” until parliamentary elections in 2023 “to do away with limits on its power and work towards destroying Poland’s independent institutions, such as the judiciary or the media.”
The state electoral commission said Duda had 51.21% of the vote based on a count of votes from 99.97% districts. His opponent, Rafal Trzaskowski, trailed with 48.79% of the vote.
Final results, expected later Monday, could vary slightly, but Duda’s lead appeared unassailable.
The very close race reflected the deep cultural divisions in this European Union nation.
Duda also got an apparent endorsement from U.S. President Donald Trump with a last-minute White House invitation in late June.
Duda’s campaign focused on defending traditional family values in the predominantly Catholic nation of 38 million people, and on preserving social spending policies.
The party’s policies include hugely popular monthly cash bonuses of 500 zlotys ($125) per child to all families irrespective of income. They have helped alleviate poverty in rural regions, and given all families more money to spend.
Duda and the party, both in power since 2015, also solidified support among older Poles by lowering the retirement age and introducing a yearly cash bonus called a “13th pension.”
Pakistani authorities are banning open-air livestock markets in cities for the upcoming Eid al-Adha, to contain the spread of coronavirus.
However, people will be allowed to buy and sell sacrificial animals at the designated 700 markets, which will be set up on the outskirts of cities across the country. These markets will only remain open from dawn to dusk.
Monday’s move comes as Pakistan reported 69 more COVID-19 deaths, taking total fatalities to 5,266, reports Associated Press.
Pakistan now has 251,625 confirmed cases and the decision to ban open-air cattle markets within the cities was announced at a meeting of National Command and Control Center.
It said all buyers and sellers of sacrificial animals must adhere to social distancing regulations. Eid-al-Adha will be celebrated in Pakistan on July 31, subject to the sighting of the moon.
During the three-day holiday, Muslims across the world slaughter livestock and distribute part of the meat to the poor.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday called on the people to fully adhere to health guidelines amid the resurgence of COVID-19 in most parts of the country.
Khamenei expressed his deep regret over a spike in coronavirus infections and the rise of daily deaths, according to Press TV.
Referring to the initial "success" of the Iranian health authorities in fighting the novel coronavirus, Khamenei said Iran is "certainly capable of overcoming the disease."
He urged government institutions, aid groups and the entire nation to "play their role in the best way so that we can break the infection chain in the short term and lead the country to the shore of safety."
The Iranian leader touched on Iran's economic problems arising from the US sanctions as the country is battling the COVID-19 pandemic, reports Xinhua .
Iran has reimposed some restrictions on the cities in parts of the country amid the resurgence of COVID-19 infections and fatalities.
On Sunday, Iran's confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 257,303 after an overnight registration of 2,186 new infections, state-run IRNA news agency reported.
Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for Iran's Ministry of Health and Medical Education, said during her daily briefing that out of the new cases in the past 24 hours, 1,499 have been hospitalised.
The pandemic has so far claimed the lives of 12,829 Iranians, up by 194 in the past 24 hours.
More than 100 accusers have emerged online in the past two weeks, triggering a new #MeToo movement in Egypt.
The girls and women described meeting a young man — a former student at Egypt’s most elite university in person and online, followed by deceit, then escalating sexual harassment, assault, blackmail or rape.
Some were minors when the alleged crimes took place, reports Associated Press. The suspect was arrested last week from his home in a gated community outside Cairo.
“What’s before this case is totally different from what’s after,” said Nihad Abuel-Komsan, head of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights and a lawyer representing some of the alleged victims.
In a statement, the public prosecutor’s office said the accused acknowledged he blackmailed at least six girls, saying he would send sensitive photos of them to their families if they cut ties.
At least 10 women have officially reported their claims, according to Abuel-Komsan, of the women’s rights center. Activists also set up the Instagram account @assaultpolice to collect allegations, said Sabah Khodir, a US-based writer who helps run the account. She said there are more than 100 accounts.
A court has ordered the accused to remain in custody pending an investigation into an array of accusations that include attempted rape, blackmail and indecent assault, according to a five-page statement by the public prosecutor. In the same statement, the prosecutor urged more alleged victims to come forward.
Last week, the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi moved to amend the country’s criminal law to increase protections for the identities of sexual assault victims, which activists have welcomed. The amendment still needs parliamentary approval and el-Sissi’s signature to be made law.
The current series of complaints has prompted Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s foremost religious institution, to speak out on sexual harassment and assault, even challenging the widely held belief that a woman is at fault if her clothing is less than modest.
There are also other corners where accusations of sexual harassment are emerging, such as in civil society groups and businesses.