UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United Nations on Thursday warned about Islamist militant networks increasingly forging links across the border of Syria and Iraq, which is fueling sectarian tensions in a region that has suffered from years of bloodshed.
Violence in Iraq reached new highs in 2013, when nearly 8,000 civilians were killed. Its political elite remains deeply divided along sectarian lines, as it has been since after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq 11 years ago this month.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday passed a non-binding resolution declaring invalid Crimea’s Moscow-backed referendum earlier this month on seceding from Ukraine, in a vote that Western nations said highlighted Russia’s isolation.
There were 100 votes in favor, 11 against and 58 abstentions in the 193-nation assembly. A number of countries did not participate in the vote. Western diplomats said the number of yes votes was higher than expected despite what they said was Moscow’s aggressive lobbying efforts against the resolution.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – A United Nations human rights monitoring team arriving this week in Ukraine hopes to travel quickly to Crimea, where concerns have been raised over treatment of opposition activists and ethnic minorities, a top senior U.S. human rights official said on Wednesday.
The Crimean region, newly annexed by Russia, urgently needs independent monitors to report on human rights violations, Ivan Simonovic, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for human rights, told the United Nations Security Council.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia on Saturday vetoed a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that declared a planned referendum on the status of Ukraine’s Crimea region “can have no validity” and urged nations and international organizations not to recognize it.
“This is a sad and remarkable moment,” Samantha Power, the American ambassador to the United Nations, said after the vote by the 15-member Security Council.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – A senior U.N. human rights official who has been effectively denied entry to Crimea expressed concern on Friday about the region’s ethnic minority Tatars, saying they felt threatened and were afraid for their future.
Sunni Muslims of Turkic origin and making up 12 percent of Crimea’s population of two million, Tatars say they are apprehensive about the prospect of the region leaving Ukraine and becoming part of Russia in a referendum this Sunday.
TORONTO (Reuters) – Less than four years ago, Viktoria Mohácsi enjoyed the life of an international politician, eating at pricey restaurants in Brussels and winning awards as a human rights activist.
Today, the 38-year old mother of three sleeps on the floor of a one-room basement apartment in Toronto and faces deportation. As a political asylum seeker, she hopes to convince Canada that the life of a former member of the European Parliament could be in danger in a democratic country like Hungary.
A Hungarian TV journalist is nearing Mahatma Gandhi’s limit of 21 days for a hunger strike. 44-year-old Balazs Nagy Navarro has been sitting at the doorstep of Hungary’s Public Television Bureau for 19 days in below-freezing temperatures.
The protests that have swept through the world over the last year have finally reached Hungary. Christmas found thousands of Hungarians on the streets chanting DE-MOC-RA-CY! and FREEDOM-OF-THE-PRESS! at demonstrations against Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Navarro, a television journalist and vice president of one of the largest unions of broadcast journalists sees himself fighting for basic democratic rights such as fairness in public media.
It was early March and Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner of International Cooperation Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, was traveling in Asia. Her plan was to attend a 7.5 magnitude earthquake simulation that would hit Indonesia and generate a tsunami. A few things, however, changed in her itinerary: The destination turned out to be Japan, the earthquake was 9.0 and it not only generated a huge tsunami, but also a nuclear catastrophe. Plus, it was real.
“Usually our fears are bigger than reality. In this case our reality was worse than our fears,” Georgieva said recently at a World Bank panel on the climate, food and financial crises the world is facing today and the way they all intertwine. Georgieva’s strong Slavic optimism brightened the gloomy panel, but the data she threw in didn’t back up her positive view:
I wish it were the awarding of its 14th Nobel Prize that is putting my country in the news these days.
Instead, Hungary is back on the world stage because of a disastrous chemical spill. An avalanche of a highly alkaline mud that could fill 440 Olympic-sized swimming pools has broken through the shoddy containment walls at an aluminum plant not far from the Lake Balaton region. As a result, nine people have died and 250 were injured. Wild and farm animals have perished, and lands and little summer gardens that were the villagers’ food and staple for winter have been ravished.
When my editorial assistant, Mirjam Donath, traveled to her native Hungary recently, I asked her to look into some of the ethical issues faced by journalists there.
In a coincidental piece of timing, Hungary’s president this week signed into a law controversial media legislation that has drawn criticism from constitutional law experts and press freedom advocates. So Mirjam’s interviews in Hungary are all the more newsworthy now.