World News in Brief: Attacks on civilians in DR Congo, concern over conviction of trade union leader in Cambodia, gang violence in Haiti



The camps were in the neighbourhoods of Lac Vert and Mugunga, near Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu, which has seen a sharp uptick in violence over the past few months. 

UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq told journalists at UN Headquarters in New York that the situation around Goma continues to remain very tense, with at least 11 incidents involving explosives reported since February.

Bintou Keita, Special Representative of the Secretary General for DRC and the head of MONUSCO, condemned the violence against civilians and called on all parties to the conflict to adhere to international humanitarian law and protect civilians, Mr. Haq added.

The escalating violence in North Kivu in the country’s east has triggered a massive exodus to Goma, which now hosts over 500,000 people who have been displaced.

“Despite the volatile situation and insecurity, we and our partners continue to provide assistance,” Mr. Haq said, also noting the need for additional funding to reach those in need with aid.

He said the 2024 Humanitarian Response Plan seeking $2.6 billion is only 17 per cent funded at $430 million. Fully funded, the plan aims to provide 8.7 million people with humanitarian assistance and protection.

OHCHR very concerned over Cambodia court ruling on convicted trade union leader

The UN human rights office, OHCHR, on Friday said it was “very concerned” over the decision from Cambodia’s Supreme Court to uphold the conviction of trade union leader Chhim Sithar on charges of “incitement to felony” and disturbing “social order”.

She was sentenced along with eight others to jail terms of between one and two years in May 2023, in relation to a strike in 2021 over layoffs at the NagaWorld Casino in the capital, Phnom Penh.  

In a statement, OHCHR spokesperson Jeremy Laurence and colleagues called for her immediate release.  

“She is the only one serving a jail term as the others were given suspended sentences or monitoring orders,” he said. “We call on the authorities to quash all their convictions.”

They were convicted for simply exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, which are protected by both the Cambodian Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Cambodia in 1992, he said.  

Right to strike

“The rights to peaceful assembly and association include the right to hold meetings, sit-ins and strikes and the right of individuals to interact and organise among themselves to collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests,” he said.  

“A vibrant, strong and inclusive democracy that nurtures and respects a plurality of voices and opinions, including those that express discontent, is key to social and economic development,” said Mr. Laurence.

OHCHR urged the Cambodian Government to fully uphold human rights protections recognised under international law and allow its citizens to freely exercise their rights.

UN Photo/Logan Abassi

Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Gang violence continues to wrack Haitian capital

Turning to Haiti, the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, reported on Friday that recent attacks by armed gangs in the capital, Port-au-Prince, have driven thousands from their homes. 

On 1 May, a coordinated attack by several gangs occurred in Solino, a neighbourhood in the south of the capital. According to local sources, several houses were burned, and some 10,000 people fled the area.

In response, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has activated its emergency tracking tool to monitor the number of displaced, Mr. Haq said at the regular press briefing in New York.

Emergency food supplies

“Food distributions to affected people are being organised and humanitarian organisations continue to deliver lifesaving assistance to people affected by the violence,” he said.

Compounding the situation, heavy rains lashed Port-au-Prince resulting in flooding in several areas and raising concern over the potential spread of cholera and other water-borne diseases, he added.

Thousands of homes as well as public infrastructure have been damaged and at least 13 people are reported to have been killed, according to local reports. 

“Livestock has also been impacted, further aggravating food security and impacting the livelihoods of families who are dependent on agriculture,” the UN Deputy Spokesperson said, noting that the most urgent needs include temporary shelters, hygiene kits and the provision of clean drinking water.

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