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Brief News from Around the World: Humanitarian Crisis in Haiti, Disease Outbreaks in Sudan, Reforms to UK Sentencing
Africa World News

Brief News from Around the World: Humanitarian Crisis in Haiti, Disease Outbreaks in Sudan, Reforms to UK Sentencing

Ulrika Richardson, the UN’s Deputy Special Representative for Haiti, stated in Geneva that 5.2 million Haitians require humanitarian aid and more than 4.3 million are experiencing severe food insecurity. This means that two out of every five individuals in Haiti, a country that was once able to produce its own food, are struggling to meet their basic needs.

Unfortunately, as the year comes to an end, she mentioned that the UN’s plan for addressing humanitarian needs in the country is only 33% funded.

Gang activity has taken over 80% of the capital city Port-au-Prince, and the violence is also affecting the nearby Artibonite department, which is an important source of food for Haiti.

According to Ms. Richardson, there are approximately 300 armed gangs in the country. As of 2023, there have been 8,000 reports of killings, lynchings, kidnappings, and brutal rapes.

The nation awaits the arrival of a support delegation.

The UN representative emphasized that the majority of Haitians openly embraced the show of support for their country through Security Council resolution 2699, which was passed in October to send a multinational security assistance mission to strengthen Haiti’s National Police.

They are eagerly anticipating its arrival.

The schedule was contingent upon receiving approval from the high court for the mission in Kenya, where they had assumed responsibility and committed 1,000 police officers to the mission.

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, expressed on Thursday that he is anticipating the ongoing preparations for the deployment of the essential mission, while also expressing worry over the slow progress in the dialogue between Haiti’s people to regain their democratic institutions.

The health system in Sudan, ravaged by conflict, is struggling to cope with the numerous disease outbreaks.

The ongoing conflict in Sudan for nearly eight months has resulted in a severe humanitarian emergency, displacing approximately 6.8 million individuals and causing the healthcare system to collapse.

On Friday, Dr. Mohammad Taufiq Mashal, the representative of the UN’s health agency WHO in the country, issued a warning about the quick spread of disease outbreaks due to large-scale displacement and limited healthcare access.

In the span of one month, an outbreak of cholera has increased from affecting three to nine states in Sudan. As of now, there have been a total of 5,400 reported cases and 170 deaths. Additionally, there have been 4,500 suspected cases of measles with 104 resulting in death. Furthermore, there have been over 6,000 cases of dengue fever and 56 associated fatalities.

Limited humanitarian access

Dr. Mashal emphasized that the country is still experiencing limited humanitarian access due to insecurity and bureaucratic obstacles. He expressed particular concern about the situation in Darfur, where ongoing violence and a scarcity of basic necessities are driving people to seek refuge in neighboring Chad.

In a conversation with reporters in Port Sudan, Dr. Mashal emphasized the work of WHO in delivering necessary resources despite obstacles to access. This has been achieved through the utilization of cross-border routes to reach remote locations.

The individual stated that preparations are being made to send medical and diagnostic supplies to Darfur and Kordofan as part of a larger United Nations convoy.

The World Health Organization is assisting 21 mobile health clinics in 8 different states to provide primary healthcare services to internally displaced individuals, as well as managing 10 treatment centers for cholera.

Dr. Mashal, in collaboration with UNICEF and other partners, reported that WHO assisted in a campaign to vaccinate against oral cholera in Gedaref and Al Jazirah states. The campaign successfully reached a total of 2.2 million individuals.

At present, 11 million individuals in Sudan, out of a total population of 25 million, are in need of immediate medical aid as reported by WHO. Furthermore, nearly 75% of healthcare facilities in regions affected by conflict have been shut down.

More decisive measures necessary for restructuring the UK’s sentencing system.

Alice Jill Edwards, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, expressed approval on Friday for revisions made by Members of Parliament in the UK’s House of Commons to the Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) legislation.

This legislation resulted in a frequent delay of several years for sentences to undergo review and be terminated. However, the maximum wait time for review has now been shortened from ten years to three.

Ms. Edwards expressed her appreciation for the revisions made by the House of Commons on December 4th, as they establish a more defined procedure for addressing the predicament of around 1,800 incarcerated individuals.

Problem persists

She acknowledged that the issue remains unresolved for numerous individuals still within the prison system.

Their fate is uncertain as they may be imprisoned for an unspecified duration, even for minor offenses. The Special Rapporteur believes their sentences should be promptly reassessed to address this problem. The amendments have been approved in the lower house, but must still be reviewed by the upper house of parliament, the House of Lords.

The IPP system implemented compulsory indeterminate sentences for a minimum of 50 serious offenses in England and Wales between 2005 and 2012.

The number of individuals found guilty under the law was higher than anticipated – a total of 8,711. As of September this year, approximately 1,250 individuals were still incarcerated with IPP sentences, and over 700 of them have served more than 10 years beyond their initial sentencing.

The UN Human Rights Council designates Special Rapporteurs to oversee particular country situations or topics of concern.

They are not employees of the United Nations and do not get compensated for their services.