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World News in Brief: Rights abuses in Ethiopia must end, El Fasher crisis update, UN stands with Niger

The head of the UN human rights office (OHCHR) Volker Türk on Friday called for serious measures to be taken to end human rights violations that are jeopardizing reconciliation and peace efforts in Ethiopia. 

This call follows an update from OHCHR which analysed the human rights situation in Ethiopia between January 2023 and January 2024.

Mr. Türk urged parties involved in the conflict to “halt” their actions and resolve their differences peacefully. 

A bloody civil war between Government forces and northern rebels erupted in late 2020 leading to major rights violations on all sides, including likely war crimes. Despite a 2022 ceasefire abuses in and around the Tigray region have continued.  

“It is essential that the authorities take all feasible steps to protect civilians, prevent further violations, and ensure there are full investigations to bring those responsible to justice,” he said. 

The update revealed that 1,351 civilians were killed in attacks in 2023 reportedly involving Government forces, Eritrean troops, anti-Government militias, and other unidentified parties. 

OHCHR’s update recognises the Ethiopian Government's attempts to advance transitional justice and prevent violence against women and children, and willingness to participate in discussions aimed at resolving the conflict in the Amhara region – an area that experienced serious human rights violations and abuses in 2023. 

These efforts require strong additional commitment, the update says. 

Sudan: UN relief chief warns of worsening situation 

The humanitarian situation in and around El-Fasher in Sudan’s North Darfur region “is worsening by the hour” the UN Humanitarian Affairs chief Martin Griffiths warned on Thursday.

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In a post on X, Mr. Griffiths said he hoped Thursday’s Security Council resolution would help ease the suffering of civilians in Sudan. The resolution calls for the paramilitary Rapid Security Forces (RSF) in Sudan to end their siege on Al Fasher. 

The RSF have been locked in a battle for control of the country with the forces of the military transitional government since April 2023. 

El Fasher is the last remaining city in Darfur in Government hands.

The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator said civilians “must be protected, aid must be able to reach them, and the fighting must stop now.” 

Aid access dwindling: WFP 

During Friday’s noon briefing at UN Headquarters Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Farhan Haq said that the World Food Programme (WFP) in Sudan is emphasising the need for food delivery to civilians before rains completely restrict their access to remote areas. 

He said that WFP reported a convoy with aid for about 160,000 people crossed into Darfur from Chad this week and is headed for Central, East and West Darfur. 

Mr. Haq also noted that WFP food distributions for more than 50,000 people in South Darfur and 200,000 in Aj Jazirah State are underway.  

“The distributions there are the first since conflict spread to the state capital Wad Medani and other parts of Sudan's breadbasket in December,” he said. 

UN Regional Directors declare ‘strong commitment’ to stand with people of Niger 

A delegation of UN Regional Directors was in Niger this week for the first leg of a high-level mission to the Central Sahel in Africa. 

The visit was part of an effort to strengthen ties with authorities and promote greater integration across the humanitarian, sustainable development, and peace sectors.

The delegation was led by the UN Special Coordinator for Development in the Sahel, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, and the Regional Director for Africa at the UN Development Coordination Office, Yacoub El-Hillo. 

They held talks with Prime Minister Lamine Zeine and other members of the Government, including Foreign Minister Bakary Yaou Sangaré. 

Mr. Mar Dieye reiterated the UN’s “strong and powerful commitment” to stand by Niger, noting that the country and the Sahel are in the midst of reinventing their future.

‘History unfolding’

“What is happening in Niger is history unfolding and being reinvented,” he affirmed. 

Prime Minister Zeine emphasized the urgency of achieving tangible impacts in structural projects by 2026, particularly in the fields of irrigation, security, and food and energy sovereignty. Other priorities include youth, education, climate change, and water management. 

Separately, Mr. El Hillo stressed the need to revive the partnership between Niger, its people, and the UN. 

“We want to see how we can adjust and change the way we work to align with Niger’s priorities,” he said.  

For its part, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has announced a $9 million investment aimed at strengthening energy infrastructure in Niger to meet the growing demand for sustainable and reliable energy. 

The UN delegation was in Niger from 9 to 13 June and will travel to Mali and Burkina Faso beginning next week.