UNled effort helps Haitians clear half of quake rubble in largescale operation

12 October 2011Thousands of Haitians participating in a large-scale clean-up coordinated by the United Nations have removed more than 40 per cent of the 10 million cubic metres of rubble caused by last year’s earthquake. “It’s been a colossal task,” said Jessica Faieta, Haiti’s Senior Country Director for the UN Development Programme (UNDP), today.“For the past 20 months we’ve been working non-stop with the Government of Haiti, civil society organizations, the international community, and especially with community members, in this epic-scale clean-up.”The operation, one of the largest of its kind, involved Haitian citizens as well as nearly 50 in-country UN partners, who helped map all debris-related initiatives in affected areas. Home owners and private enterprises have cleared an additional 10 percent of the rubble.Ms. Faieta stressed that citizens’ participation was crucial for the operation.“Community involvement is essential. Haitians have to be at the centre of reconstruction – and training and empowerment are crucial to their successful management of the earthquake recovery,” said Ms. Faieta.So far, UNDP, the UN Programme for Human Settlements, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the UN Office of Project Services (UNOPS) have trained and hired more than 7,000 Haitians in the fields of manual and mechanical rubble removal, recycling, house repair skills, as well as electric wiring, carpentry and masonry.“These debris removal initiatives are crucial for the reconstruction of Haiti,” said Nigel Fisher, UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator.“We are working towards the rehabilitation of neighbourhoods and improvement of living conditions through access to basic services so Haitians can return home safely,” he said.More than 80,000 buildings in the capital city of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas collapsed after the 7.0-magnitude quake that hit the country on 12 January last year, leaving amounts of debris equivalent to 4,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.It is estimated that 50 per cent of the rubble can be reused to repair roads, improve neighbourhoods and rebuild houses. However, processing the debris has a been slow endeavour as many of the affected communities are located on hillsides, making it difficult to transport heavy machinery to the sites, which means a lot of the clearance has been done manually.The UN is supporting the Haitian Government to finalize a national debris management strategy to establish tracking tools, rubble-removal and recycling standards and to prepare governmental and non-governmental partners for future debris-generating natural disasters. read more

UN tribunal sentences former Bosnian police chief to 10 years in prison

In a statement issued today in The Hague, the Tribunal said today’s sentencing judgement was based upon the Trial Chamber’s acceptance of Stevan Todorovic’s guilty plea and the consequent conviction of the accused for persecution as a crime against humanity. The judgement sets forth details of the criminal conduct underlying the accused’s conviction for the crime of persecutions, including his participation in the beating and murder of Anto Brandic, the beatings of several other individuals, and the sexual assault of six men at the police station in Bosanski Samac. The accused has also admitted to participating in the unlawful detention, the cruel and inhumane treatment, and the deportation and forcible transfer of Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and other non-Serb civilians in the municipality of Bosanski Samac, the Tribunal said.As a component of the overall gravity of the offence, the Chamber has taken into account as aggravating factors the accused’s position of superior authority as Chief of Police in Bosanski Samac, and the cruel manner in which he perpetrated several of the criminal acts underlying his conviction. In light of the above, the Trial Chamber concludes that Mr. Todorovic’s crime was “particularly grave.”Mr. Todorovic had initially been charged in a joint indictment with five others for crimes allegedly committed in the municipality of Bosanski Samac between April 1992 and December 1993. In his capacity as Chief of Police, the accused was charged with 10 counts of crimes against humanity, including persecution, deportation, murder and inhumane acts, nine counts of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and eight counts of violations of the laws or customs of war.In November 2000, two years after Mr. Todorovic’s initial appearance, a joint motion was filed, notifying the Trial Chamber of an agreement between the accused and the Prosecution, pursuant to which the former police chief would plead guilty to Count 1 of the Second Amended Indictment, and the Prosecution would withdraw all other counts against him. On 13 December 2000, Mr. Todorovic entered a guilty plea on that Count, and the proceedings against him were separated from those against the other accused.Mr. Todorovic will remain in the custody of the Tribunal pending the finalization of arrangements for his transfer to the country where his sentence will be served. read more

Ban welcomes agreement to resolve South Sudan crisis demands end to hostilities

The agreement was signed yesterday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, by South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, and former Vice President Riek Machar, whose supporters have waged a five-month battle that has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians and led to gross human rights violations by both sides.Mr. Ban, in a statement issued by his spokesperson, demanded that the parties immediately translate these commitments into action on the ground, in particular the cessation of all hostilities.He commended the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and in particular its chair, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, for its ongoing efforts to mediate a peaceful and sustainable end to the conflict.In total, 923,000 South Sudanese are displaced within their own country, while more than 293,000 people have become refugees in neighbouring countries since the crisis began in mid-December 2013, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Tens of thousands of the displaced civilians are seeking shelter at UN peacekeeping bases (UNMISS) throughout the country.Meanwhile, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today that one-third of the population of South Sudan is now experiencing emergency levels of food insecurity, and that some areas of the country to appear to be at high risk of famine in the coming months.The latest food security analysis carried out in South Sudan indicates that, as a result of conflict, displacement, destroyed markets and disrupted livelihoods, food security has deteriorated at an alarming rate since the outbreak of conflict in December 2013.Populations, particularly in the three most conflict-affected states of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei, need urgent humanitarian assistance to save lives and livelihoods, FAO stressed. read more