Author Archives: Peter Daou
The Afghan battlefield is spreading into residential areas where more people are being killed by air strikes, car bombs and suicide attacks, according to a U.N. report published on Friday.
The U.N. Assistance Mission to Afghanistan said that 1,013 civilians were killed on the sidelines of their country’s armed conflict from January to the end of June, compared to 818 in the first half of 2008 and 684 in the same period in 2007. Commenting on the report, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said it was critical that steps be taken to shield Afghan communities from fighting.
This is welcome news:
The Obama administration has opened the way for foreign women who are victims of severe domestic beatings and sexual abuse to receive asylum in the United States. The action reverses a Bush administration stance in a protracted and passionate legal battle over the possibilities for battered women to become refugees.
But one sentence caught my eye:
In addition to meeting other strict conditions for asylum, abused women will need to show that they are treated by their abuser as subordinates and little better than property, according to an immigration court filing by the administration, and that domestic abuse is widely tolerated in their country.
Are we kidding ourselves? Name a country, including the U.S., where domestic abuse isn’t widely tolerated.
In the words of the WHO, “Gender-based violence, or violence against women (VAW), is a major public health and human rights problem throughout the world.”
Here’s a chilling video in which Keira Knightley reenacts the vicious and cowardly abuse women are subjected to on a daily basis:
The death toll for foreign troops in Afghanistan halfway through July equalled the highest for any month of the eight-year-old war, tallies showed on Wednesday, as a U.S. escalation has met unprecedented violence.
Authorities announced a U.S. soldier had been killed by a bomb and two Turks had died in a road accident, raising the toll of U.S. and allied foreign fatalities in the first half of July to 46, equal to full month highs set in August and June 2008.
In the two weeks since U.S. and British troops launched massive assaults, Western troops have died at an average rate of three a day, nearing the tempo of the bloodiest days in Iraq and almost 20 times the rate in Afghanistan from 2001-04.
“I was wearing trousers and a blouse and the 10 girls who were lashed were wearing like me, there was no difference,” [Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein] told the BBC’s Arabic service.
Ms Hussein said some women pleaded guilty to “get it over with” but others, including herself, chose to speak to their lawyers and are awaiting their fates.
Under Sharia law in Khartoum, the normal punishment for “indecent” dressing is 40 lashes.
Ms Hussein is a well-known reporter who writes a weekly column called Men Talk for Sudanese papers. She also works for the United Nations Mission in Sudan.
A widespread and unusually resilient computer attack that began July 4 knocked out the Web sites of several government agencies, including some that are responsible for fighting cyber crime.
Suspected cyber assaults also paralyzed Web sites of major South Korean government agencies, banks and Internet sites in a barrage that appeared linked to the attacks in the U.S., South Korean officials said Wednesday.
The Treasury Department, Secret Service, Federal Trade Commission and Transportation Department Web sites were all down at varying points over the holiday weekend and into this week, according to officials inside and outside the government.
As we saw in the Russia-Georgia conflict, cyberspace is becoming the new global battlefield:
According to Internet technical experts, it was the first time a cyberattack had coincided with a real war. But it will likely not be the last, said Bill Woodcock, the research director of Packet Clearing House, a nonprofit organization that tracks Internet traffic. He said cyberattacks are so inexpensive and easy to mount, with few fingerprints, that they will almost certainly remain a feature of modern warfare.
As far as the July 4th attack, North Korea appears to be the main suspect:
South Korean intelligence officials believe North Korea or pro-Pyongyang forces in South Korea committed cyber attacks that paralyzed major South Korean and U.S. Web sites, a lawmaker’s aide said Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the National Intelligence Service told a group of South Korean lawmakers it believes that North Korea or North Korean sympathizers in the South “were behind” the attacks, according to an aide to one of the lawmakers briefed on the information.
Middle East: During the last 48 hours of the continued ceasefire, humanitarian workers have delivered food to hundreds of thousands of people, repaired water and sanitation infrastructure, re-stocked medical supplies, and some of the 520,000 displaced Palestinians have returned to their homes. However, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator remarked the scale of needs remains “unprecedented in the Gaza Strip.”
Middle East: At today’s informal session of the General Assembly on Gaza the SG remarked that the most recent ceasefire has held since yesterday at 8 a.m. local time. He noted that a durable ceasefire is necessary and UN shelters must continue to remain safe zones. The SG thanked UN staff in Gaza and will fly the UN flag at half-mast tomorrow in memory of those who died in the conflict.
Middle East: The SG commended Israeli and Palestinian parties for committing to a 72-hour ceasefire that took place at 8 a.m. local time today. He urges all parties to abide by the ceasefire and commence peace talks in Cairo to address underlying issues and agree on a durable ceasefire to sustainably stop the violence. The UN lends its full support toward these efforts.
Middle East: The SG condemned yesterday’s shelling outside of an UNRWA school in Rafah that killed at least 10 Palestinian civilians. The SG stated that the attack violated international humanitarian law and UN shelters must continue to be safe zones and not combat zones.
SG: Last night the SG spoke at a joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica where he repeated his call for an unconditional and extendable humanitarian ceasefire. Speaking about yesterday’s shelling of a UN shelter he said: “Nothing – nothing – justifies such horror” and demanded “that all parties immediately respect UN premises”.
SG: The SG met with President Ortega yesterday in Nicaragua where he visited a wind farm and praised the country’s commitment to renewable energy. The SG arrived in Costa Rica today where he is expected to lecture about “Costa Rica and the United Nations: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century”.