Major Afghanistan Peace Talks; Spoilsport Russia; Wartime Sexual Abuse in the Pandemic

This Week @ the UN: summarizing the most pressing issues facing the organization.

by Ivana Ramirez. Read more on PassBlue.

Children of the St Clare Orphanage in Juba, South Sudan
Children of the St Clare Orphanage in Juba, South Sudan

Afghanistan mega-peace talks in Istanbul; Russia the spoiler; could a Latin American woman lead the UN down the road or sooner?

You are reading This Week @UN, summarizing the most pressing issues facing the organization. The information is gathered from UN press briefings, PassBlue reporting and other sources.

We at PassBlue are deeply saddened by the sudden death of Vartan Gregorian, the president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, on April 15, 2021, at age 87. Gregorian was a former president of Brown University and the New York Public Library, an illustrious scholar and steward of Andrew Carnegie’s legacy. The foundation has been incredibly generous and kind in supporting PassBlue, and we owe our gratitude to the vision and charity that Vartan Gregorian instilled in the organization since 1997.

Sunday, April 11

Monday, April 12

Tuesday, April 13

A reporter asked: “The Taliban looks like they’re not going to the talks. Do you have a reaction to that?” Response: “My understanding is that there are still internal deliberations going on within the Taliban. An invitation was extended to them.”

Wednesday, April 14

• Spokesperson’s briefing: Pramila Patten, the UN special envoy on sexual violence in conflict, presented findings from her 2020 report to the Security Council in its annual meeting on the topic. The report, which covers 18 countries and documents more than 2,500 UN-verified cases of conflict-related sexual violence, “underscores the underreporting of wartime sexual violence that has been compounded by COVID-19,” the UN said. In Tigray, Ethiopia, for starters, the report analyzed allegations of 100-plus rape cases since hostilities began in November 2020.

• A US antiterrorism program called “Rewards for Justice” is violating the human rights of some of the individuals it targets, independent UN human-rights experts say. The program offers money for information about people outside the US designated as being associated with terrorism but who have not been charged with any crimes. This violates the right to due process.

• The Biden administration formally announced the US withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO chief, discussed the announcement with news media during a last-minute trip by Blinken to Brussels.

On the same day, the UN mission in Afghanistan, Unama, published a study, “Afghanistan Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict 2021 First Quarter Report,” documenting 1,783 civilian casualties (573 killed and 1,210 injured), a 29 percent increase compared with the same period in 2020. “Of particular concern is the 37 per cent increase in the number of women killed and injured, and a 23 per cent increase in child casualties compared with the first quarter of 2020.”

Graph showing the levels of civilians killed or injured from 2010 to 2021 in Afghanistan
Graph showing the levels of civilians killed or injured from 2010 to 2021 in Afghanistan

The UN mission tweeted: “Extraordinary levels of harm inflicted on civilians in #Afghanistan conflict continues unabated, says new UN report issued today. Urgent action required by all parties to stop the violence.”

Thursday, April 15

• Spokesperson’s briefing: David Shearer, the UN’s special envoy for South Sudan and the head of the UN mission there, held his final press conference (below) in that role, describing important gains in ending the country’s civil war but also continuing troubles.

• “Pakistan launched a nationwide drive to verify the data of around 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees residing in the country. Their data will be updated and smart identity cards will be issued after verification. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is assisting Pakistan’s Commissionerate for Afghan Refugees in the exercise, which is being undertaken after 10 years,” DAWN news reports.

Friday, April 16

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