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    HomeAidWorld News in Brief: DR Congo conflict could spell catastrophe, plastics treaty...

    World News in Brief: DR Congo conflict could spell catastrophe, plastics treaty progress, enforced disappearances rise ahead of Venezuela poll

    The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) called for greater international support for the Congolese people to avoid a potential catastrophe for the country and the region.

    Current conflicts have escalated levels of gender-based violence, displacement and hunger in the restive eastern region where multiple armed groups are battling the national army and each other for control.

    Over the past few months over 700,000 people have been forced from their homes, bringing the total forcibly displaced to 7.2 million – an all-time high.

    The IASC said it was important that the Congolese receive swift and sufficient aid, however, the existing Humanitarian Response Plan is severely underfunded with only 16 per cent of the needed $2.6 billion received. 

    Civilian lives at risk

    With insufficient funds, humanitarian organizations are not capable of fully assisting civilians, leaving mostly women and girls in a vulnerable state as some have been exposed to high levels of sexual violence.

    Children are also at risk of being abducted, killed, maimed or recruited into armed groups.

    Over a quarter of the DRC’s population – more than 25 million people – are facing emergency levels of food insecurity, and with a deteriorating health sector, diseases like cholera and measles have been quickly spreading. 

    The IASC statement said the root causes of the DRC crisis need to be addressed before it can end. These include “conflict, the exploitation of natural resources, illicit financial flows, prevailing gender inequality and development deficits.”

    Ottawa negotiations bring global plastics treaty one step closer

    The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has reported significant progress in talks this week in Ottawa to draw up the world’s first treaty curbing plastic pollution next year.

    Since its introduction in the 1950s, a staggering 9.2 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced, with seven billion tonnes of those ending up as waste.

    Today around 430 million tonnes of waste plastics are generated each year with that figure projected to triple by 2060. 

    The meeting which ended on Monday brought more than 2,500 delegates from 170 Member States to Canada’s capital to discuss new global rules on how plastics are produced, used, disposed of and recycled. 

    Progress achieved 

    Discussing the draft, delegates focused on emissions, production, waste management, and financing. A legal drafting group will be established during the next round of talks to be held in the South Korean city of Busan. 

    “We leave Ottawa having achieved both goals and a clear path to landing an ambitious deal in Busan ahead of us,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

    After the elements of the draft text are reviewed in November, the ambitious objective set before the negotiators is to have an historic treaty ready for signing in mid-2025. 

    “It has been an ambitious timeline of just 18 months and four sessions to get us to this point, and we are now firmly on the road to Busan. Compromise and commitment remain strong at this advanced stage of the negotiations,” said Jyoti Mathur-Filipp, Executive Secretary of the negotiating committeesecretariat (INC).

    She underscored that the process was crucial for “saving future generations from the global scourge of plastic pollution”.

    Alarming rise in enforced disappearances ahead of Venezuela poll

    There has been an alarming increase since December in enforced disappearances of Venezuelan citizens exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association, said the UN’s independent human rights working group on this issue, on Tuesday.

    Most of the disappeared are members of the main opposition party together with serving military personnel. 

    “As the country gears up for the presidential election in July 2024, enforced disappearances could have a chilling effect and hinder the people’s right to vote freely,” the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances said.

    “These prolonged incommunicado detentions amount to enforced disappearances”, the five Human Rights Council-appointed experts emphasized. 

    Sinister pattern

    “They appear to follow a pattern whereby individuals are deprived of their liberty by State authorities, taken to recognised detention facilities and denied fundamental rights and protections such as contact with the outside world and access to legal assistance,” they added.

    They said it was crucial that accurate information on those who have disappeared “be guaranteed without delay to those with a legitimate interest, such as their relatives and legal representation of their choice”.

    The crime of enforced disappearance entails the violation of multiple human rights, they said. These include the right to recognition as a person before the law, the right to liberty and security, and the right to be free from torture. 

    “The fundamental rights of the relatives of the disappeared person are also being violated,” they said. 

    The experts urged the Government of Venezuela to prevent, eradicate, and condemn all enforced disappearances, provide full information on anyone being held or taken.

    Special Rapporteurs, working group members and other UN-appointed rights experts are independent of any government, are not UN staffers and receive no salary for their work.

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