Top of the Morning: Syria Stalemate; Sahel Crisis Getting More Expensive; Ethnic Clashes in Kenya

Top stories from DAWNS Digest.

Still A Stalemate at the Security Council Over Syria

In a closed door meeting, a deputy to mediator Kofi Annan told the U.N. Security Council that the uprising in Syria is not going to end anytime soon, and neither will the violence. After the briefing, members of the Council spoke to the press. Of particular import were the remarks of the Russian ambassador, who condemned the Houla atrocity, but insisted that Moscow was a “nyet” when it comes to sanctions.  “Few details of what was discussed by the Security Council members surfaced during the comments made by half a dozen of the ambassadors, but it was clear some proposals had been made for tightening sanctions and supporting the outgunned opposition forces. Russia’s ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, described as a “bilateral matter” the decisions by at least 11 countries, including the United States, to expel Syrian diplomats to censure Assad’s government for the Houla killings. But he warned that the gesture could undermine Annan’s peace plan by encouraging the anti-Assad forces to press on with the rebellion. ‘I do believe this can be a signal that might be misinterpreted by those who want foreign military intervention and further fighting in Syria. You pull out diplomats when you are preparing for the worst,’ Churkin said.” (LAT http://lat.ms/KJ6Mlm)

Sahel Crisis Relief is Going to Cost the UN Refugee Agency Much More than Expected

The UN Refugee Agency has revised upwards the estimated cost of helping hundreds of thousands of displaced Malian civilians, who fled conflict in their country early this year. The refugee agency is now seeking $153.7 million for its operations this year in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, up from an appeal for $35.6 million in February. “UNHCR needs the increased funding for its field operations to help 240,000 refugees and 200,000 internally displaced Malians until the end of the year. This is five times the number of uprooted Malians that the agency had estimated that it would need to assist when it issued the first appeal in February, which covered the needs of 85,000 people until July. Malians continue to flee to surrounding countries amid reports of serious human rights violations in northern Mali, including abductions, arbitrary detention and extrajudicial executions as well as sexual and gender-based violence.” (UNHCR http://bit.ly/L5mnOO)

Ethnic Clashes in Kenya Displace Thousands

Cattle rustling, old grievances and a weak government make a combustible combination. “Clashes between two communities in western Kenya’s Rift Valley Province have led to the displacement of thousands of people, the closure of several schools and calls for the government to beef up security. Relations between the Tugen and the Pokot in what is now known as Baringo County have for decades been marked by tit-for-tat cattle raids and the occasional attendant fatality. Over the years, firearms have replaced more traditional weapons, especially among the Pokot. An escalation – in intensity and frequency – of hostilities since January has, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), left more than 7,500 Tugen people displaced from their homes, living either with other members of their community or in rudimentary shelters in the bush. A dozen schools have been forced to close, affecting around 2,000 children, said KRCS. (IRIN http://bit.ly/MYqkFJ)

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