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Sudan Senior UN rights official praises agreement to end use of child

The Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), which fought in the nation’s long-running north-south civil war, signed the action plan to discharge the children on Friday in the southern capital, Juba.“This commitment is a milestone in the efforts to end association of children with the SPLA,” said the Secretary General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, on the eve of her departure from Sudan after a nine-day visit. “I shall continue to appeal to the SPLA leadership to spare no effort to release and prevent re-association of these children with their armed elements,” said Ms. Coomaraswamy. She also stressed that her office will collaborate with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to help find much needed resources and funds to support rehabilitation and reintegration efforts of former child soldiers in the whole of Sudan.While praising the Government of National Unity for its progress over the past two years in strengthening child protection, Ms. Coomaraswamy voiced concern over the “presence of children amongst non-State armed groups including the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) factions.” In addition, she stressed that incursions into villages and abductions in southern Sudan led by the notorious Ugandan rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) remain a threat to children in the region.“I spoke to girls and boys formerly abducted by the LRA in Juba who recounted that they lived in fear of death everyday,” she said. “Children’s experiences were horrendous, and the LRA remains one of the worst offenders in the world today.”The Special Representative urged the international community to harness all its force in a bid to protect civilians, especially children in the LRA affected regions. 22 November 2009A top United Nations human rights official today welcomed a deal agreed by a former rebel group in southern Sudan to end the use of child soldiers among its ranks, while warning of the threat posed to children by various armed militia operating in the region. read more

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UN spent additional 25 million due to Israeli security procedures in Palestinian

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) released the figures after countries at a donor meeting in Amman asked the Agency to provide details surrounding the money diverted from its humanitarian aid operations. UNRWA said charges imposed by Israel for search procedures came on top of heavy losses caused by movement restrictions that have stopped staff reaching their places of work since the start of the Intifada in September 2000. “What we find unreasonable and unique are charges levied by Israel for searching consignments of food and medicine destined for the occupied Palestinian territory,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen told the meeting. “This amounts to a tax on humanitarian aid. This is just one of the many issues we have raised with the Israeli authorities in our ongoing dialogue aimed at improving the Agency’s humanitarian access.” The Agency said it has also been forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars more on repairs to its buildings that have been damaged during military operations. UNRWA recently submitted a claim for $535,000 in compensation to the Israeli Government just to cover the cost of building damage. According to UNRWA, the Agency lost 72,000 teacher-work days during the 2001-02 academic year because of movement restrictions imposed on its staff. In addition, in the first eight months of this year, the Agency lost 11,000 staff workdays at its health clinics. Despite efforts to redeploy staff so that they could work close to their homes and avoid checkpoints, the Agency’s 34 health clinics in the West Bank still lost a total of 340 treatment days. UNRWA said it has also incurred further costs because closures have forced the Agency to accommodate staff in hotels when they become trapped by curfews, while security procedures have forced it to use commercial trucking firms rather than use its own fleet. read more