Yazidi survivor of Daesh’s human trafficking Nadia Murad appointed UN Goodwill Envoy for victims

Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Nadia Murad Basee Taha, who survived trafficking at the hands of Daesh was today appointed a United Nations advocate for the victims of human trafficking.

With the appointment, which marks the first time a survivor of atrocities is bestowed this distinction, Ms. Murad, a 23-year-old Yazidi woman, wears the mantle of Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). “Nadia is a fierce and tireless advocate for the Yazidi people and victims of human trafficking everywhere,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at her induction ceremony today, which was held in connection with the UN’s commemoration of the International Day of Peace. “She was subjected to unspeakable abuse and human rights violations at the hands of Daesh. Nadia has shown exceptional courage in speaking out. She gives a much-needed voice to trafficking victims who continue to suffer, and who demand justice,” the UN chief added.

Nadia Murad receives UN appointment by UN SG Ban Ki-moon
Nadia Murad receives UN appointment by UN SG Ban Ki-moon

Ms. Murad briefed the UN Security Council in its first-ever session on human trafficking in December 16, 2015. She described being rounded up with fellow Yazidis in Iraq in 2014 and witnessing as Daesh fighters shot men and boys in cold blood. She was bought and sold various times. “It is two years since Daesh seized Sinjar. It is unconscionable that thousands of Yazidi, in particular women and children, continue to be held captive,” Mr. Ban said, calling for their immediate release. “And I repeat: the crimes committed by Daesh in Iraq against the Yazidi may constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and even genocide.”

A relentless advocate for victims, Ms. Murad was recently named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People of 2016.” During her Ambassadorship, she will focus on advocacy initiatives and raise awareness around the plight of the countless victims of trafficking in persons, especially refugees, women and girls.

UNODC is the lead UN entity fighting all forms of human trafficking, including sexual slavery, forced labour, child soldiering and trafficking for the purpose of organ removal. It is also the custodian of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children and mandated to manage the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons. “Nadia’s appointment as a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Goodwill Ambassador, provides a unique opportunity to urge others to join us in our fight against human trafficking. We know that Nadia’s extraordinary commitment to the plight of trafficking victims will move people to take action against this scourge,” UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov, said in his message on her induction.

Sources: UN News Centre/Ruptly TV


Dozens of families leave encircled Eastern Aleppo under Russia-Damascus plan

More than 150 civilians, mostly women and children, left besieged eastern parts of Aleppo through a safety zone that Moscow and its Syrian ally say they have set up to evacuate people trapped in opposition-held areas.

Syrian state television on Saturday showed scores of mostly women gathered in a government-controlled area of the city, saying how conditions in rebel-held areas were difficult and chanting praise for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Eastern Aleppo citizens cross over to government-held area of Aleppo [30/7/2016]
Eastern Aleppo citizens cross over to government-held area of Aleppo [30/7/2016]

Russia’s defense ministry said that 169 civilians had left since Thursday through three safety crossings. The ministry also said in a statement that 69 rebels had handed themselves in to the army. Syrian state news agency SANA said 169 civilians, mostly women over the age of forty, had arrived at the Salahuddin checkpoint. Videos circulating on social media showed mostly women crossing over at Salahuddin checkpoint.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and its Russian allies declared a joint humanitarian operation for the besieged area on Thursday, bombarding it with leaflets telling fighters to surrender and civilians to leave. But the United Nations has raised misgivings about the plan and U.S. officials have suggested it may be an attempt to depopulate the city – the most important opposition stronghold in the country – so that the army can seize it.

The Syrian opposition has called it a euphemism for forced displacement of the inhabitants, which it said would be a war crime. With rebel-held areas running out of food and medicine after the only supply route into the city was cut by the army after months of heavy Russian and Syrian aerial bombing, many vulnerable civilians are desperate to leave, while being suspicious of the plan.

The Russian defense ministry said Syrian authorities had prepared six humanitarian aid centres capable of accommodating more than 3,000 people.

Residents in these areas who were contacted said many were hesitant to enter into government-held areas for fear of arrest by government forces with no presence of any U.N. body or NGO’s to oversee the evacuation.

They also said the journey to the frontline where the crossings were located was fraught with danger with snipers from both sides at times shooting at civilians.

Sources: Reuters/Syria & Iraq News


Up to one million Iraqis could be forced to flee their homes as fighting intensifies: Red Cross

The International Committee of the Red Cross believes that up to a million more people could be forced to flee their homes in Iraq in the coming weeks and months, posing a massive humanitarian problem for the country. As fighting intensifies in different areas, including near Iraq’s second city of Mosul, the ICRC is calling for additional funds from donors to replenish aid supplies.

More than ten million people are already in need of assistance in the country. More than three million people are already internally displaced. If there is the predicted upsurge in violence, then the figure of internally displaced could dramatically increase.

“The situation is unpredictable but we must prepare for the worst. There’s the likelihood that fighting will intensify, particularly in the Mosul area. Hundreds of thousands of people may very well be on the move in the coming weeks and months, seeking shelter and assistance. We need to be ready,” said the ICRC’s Regional Director for the Near and Middle East, Robert Mardini.

On Friday 29 July, the ICRC is asking for an additional 17 million Swiss francs ($17.1m, €15.6m) to its current budget for Iraq. The funds will be used to provide water, food, medical supplies and other assistance for those people caught up in the fighting. The ICRC will also focus efforts on promoting respect for international humanitarian law with parties involved in the conflict, and on visiting detainees. The money will allow the ICRC to step up its response throughout the country, reaching those most in need of help, as and when they need it.

Civilians fleeing from Fallujah [May 2016]
Civilians fleeing from Fallujah [May 2016]

Source: ICRC