Migrant Workers Aim to Stay in Qatar Far Beyond World Cup Final

Senegal’s loss to England on Sunday saw Africa’s hopes of lifting the trophy in Qatar recede even further but the migrant workers watching the game at a specially built fan zone were still hoping for the biggest prize of all — work beyond the World Cup.

Senegal’s 3-0 defeat at the Al Bayt Stadium means Morocco are the continent’s only sporting representatives remaining in the tournament but in Asian Town, about 60 km away, some African fans were already looking beyond the final.

“The ones who came just for the World Cup will definitely go back after the World Cup, but I still have my future here because I still have work to do,” Ugandan Wambaka Isaac told Reuters.

“We’ll go doing cleaning work, offices, everywhere (there’s) a lot of work, and of course the building keeps on going,” he added.

Proudly wearing the shirt of his national team, Isaac was one of thousands of migrant workers who made their way to the fan zone after sundown to watch Sunday’s last-16 tie between France and Poland before England and Senegal took center stage.

Qatar has come in for intense criticism from human rights groups about the treatment of its migrant workers, who together with other foreigners make up a majority of the population.

“It’s complicated,” said a young traffic marshal from Kenya, who declined to give his name, when asked whether he would be able to stay on after the final.

“I worked in construction on the Lusail Stadium, the Al Thumama (stadium). I worked for a contractor, so you go wherever they send you. We’re marshals today; next week we might be in construction again,” he explained.

“We worked in the summer when it was very hot, long days, very hot. I was very tired all the time.”

No work at home

For Rahim, a ride-share driver from Bangladesh, his three-and-a-half years in Qatar have been tough but there is no work in his home village so he feels he has no choice but to stay on.

“I work every day, seven days a week. First I have to pay a company for the car; it’s not mine. Then I have to pay for my food and my rent, and what is left I send to my family,” Rahim said.

“During the pandemic there was no work so we lived on nothing. I’m trying to save up to go home; I haven’t seen my family in three-and-a-half years (but) if I go home there is no work so I have to have even more money.”

Rahim said he would like to bring his wife and daughter to live with him in Qatar but that he did not make enough money to be able to do so, so they remained in Bangladesh.

The FIFA fan zone in Asian Town, close to where many of the migrant workers have their living quarters, is one of the few public places in Doha showing World Cup games on big outdoor screens.

Most evenings the men come out to sit on the grass or in the bleachers at the cricket stadium, where the fan zone has been built, to watch, but with an early start in the morning, many head home to bed before the final whistle.

Many of the workers are dependent on their employers to be allowed to stay in Qatar and the goal is to ensure that they can stay in a job.

Jonathan, another Ugandan, is not really a fan of his job as a mechanic and would prefer to get an education, but he is aiming to be here long after the final.

Source: Voice of America

Built to Disappear: World Cup Stadium 974

DOHA, QATAR — 

Of the seven stadiums Qatar built for the World Cup, one will disappear after the tournament.

That’s what the games’ organizers have said about Stadium 974 in Doha — a port-side structure with more than 40,000 seats partially built from recycled shipping containers and steel.

Qatar says the stadium will be fully dismantled after the World Cup and could be shipped to countries that need the infrastructure. Outside experts have praised the design but say more needs to be known about what happens to the stadium after the event.

“Designing for disassembly is one of the main principles of sustainable building,” said Karim Elgendy, an associate fellow at the London-based Chatham House think tank who previously worked as a climate consultant for the World Cup.

“It allows for the natural restoration of a building site or its reuse for another function,” he said, adding that several factors need to considered “before we call a building sustainable.”

Designed to be dismantled

Buildings are responsible for nearly 40% of the world’s energy-related carbon emissions. Of that, about 10% comes from “embodied” carbon or the greenhouse gas emissions related to the construction, maintenance and demolition of buildings.

Qatar has faced international criticism for its treatment of low-paid migrant workers who built more than $200 billion worth of stadiums, metro lines and other infrastructure for the World Cup. Qatar says the criticism ignores labor reforms enacted in recent years.

Stadium 974, named after Qatar’s international dialing code and the number of containers used to build the stadium, is the only venue that Qatar constructed for the World Cup that isn’t air-conditioned. During a match Friday in which Switzerland defeated Serbia, the air was noticeably more humid and hotter than in other venues.

The stadium hosts only evening matches, when temperatures are cooler.

Fenwick Iribarren Architects, which designed Stadium 974 and two other World Cup stadiums, said the idea was to avoid building a “white elephant,” a stadium that is left unused or underused after the tournament ends, as happened following previous World Cups in South Africa, Brazil and Russia.

Stadium components could be re-used

Qatar said it has developed plans for the other six stadiums after the games are over. Many will have a number of seats removed.

The multicolored shipping containers are used as building blocks for Stadium 974 and to house facilities such as restrooms in the interior of the structure. Like giant Lego blocks, the bright red, yellow and blue corrugated steel boxes appear suspended between layers of steel. The design gives the stadium an industrial feel.

Qatar has not said where the dismounted stadium will go after the tournament or even when it will be taken down. Organizers have said the stadium could be repurposed to build a venue of the same size elsewhere or multiple smaller stadiums.

Where its components go matters because of the emissions implicated by shipping them thousands of kilometers away.

Carbon Market Watch, an environmental watchdog group that investigated Qatar’s World Cup sustainability plans, said whether Stadium 974 has a lower carbon footprint than a permanent one comes down to “how many times, and how far, the stadium is transported and reassembled.”

FIFA and Qatar acknowledge that in a report estimating the stadium’s emissions. If the stadium is reused only once, they estimate its emissions would be lower than a permanent one as long as it is shipped fewer than 7,000 kilometers (about 4,350 miles) away.

If it’s repurposed more than once, it could be shipped farther and still be less polluting than a permanent venue, they said, because of how energy-intensive building multiple new stadiums is.

Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the organizing committee for the World Cup, did not respond to a request for more information about plans after the tournament.

The report also didn’t factor in operational emissions — or those produced from running a building — once the stadium is repurposed because standards vary in different countries, FIFA and Qatar said.

“The energy required for dismantling and shipping the building components will obviously need to be estimated,” Elgendy said, “but it is unlikely to outweigh the carbon embodied in the building materials.”

For now, the stadium’s design isn’t lost on spectators. On any game night, fans entering and leaving the stadium take selfies against its modern, industrial facade. The temporary stadium is hosting seven games in total — with the final one on Monday between Brazil and South Korea.

Source: Voice of America

Fans Hold On to Hope Despite No African World Cup Wins Yet

Senegal lost 2-0 to the Netherlands, Tunisia drew against Denmark, as did Morocco against Croatia. No Africa team victories yet, but fans in the United States aren’t discouraged. It’s early in World Cup play and teams still have chances to win and advance to the next phase.

It was undeniably heartbreaking for the fans of the Senegalese team to see the Lions of Teranga lose their first World Cup game against the Netherlands. But fans like Sadio Yaya Barry are keeping their hopes alive.

“I would like to congratulate the Senegalese team,” Barry, the president of the New York-based Association of Senegalese in America, told VOA. “It’s a very strong team. We know we lost the first game, but we do see a young team who are very dedicated, involved and motivated to win the game … the Senegalese played very well.”

He added that “people sometimes forget who is the Netherlands team. They are very strong in Europe.”

However, losing hurt even more when goalkeeper Edouard Mendy couldn’t stop two goals a few minutes before the end of the game.

The Senegalese suffered another loss as midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate had to leave the game after injuring a thigh muscle. This came after the team lost star player Sadio Mane before the start of the tournament, also because of injuries.

Other teams battled to draws, Tunisia against Denmark on Tuesday, and Morocco against Croatia on Wednesday.

Hassan Samrhouni, president of the Washington Moroccan-American Club, based in Washington, described the Wednesday draw as “a great start for Morocco. Remember, we are playing the runner-up team, which played the final at the last World Cup.” In 2018, Croatia played against France in the World Cup finals.

He reminded fans that “one point is a great point for us. Remember, Argentina has zero points as well as Germany has zero points.”

The first few days of the event have seen these two surprises — Saudi Arabia beating Argentina and Japan beating Germany.

Prior World Cup games have also had upsets, including in 2002, when Senegal claimed a first-round victory over then-world champion France.

Barry remembers the match and said he believes that “this time the African nations are going to make a big improvement, not only to quarterfinals but to reach the semifinals — and why not the finals?”

He added, “I believe it’s time for the African continent to get that cup and take it to Africa. It is very possible. We have the teams, we have the qualifications and requirements we need. And all those players, they are very professional.”

The next games for the African teams are scheduled Thursday, when Ghana will play against Portugal and Cameroon will play against Switzerland.

Samrhouni, who played for his country’s national soccer team, advised players that “World Cup is one time every four years and maybe one time in a player’s career” and urged them to “take advantage of it.”

Source: Voice of America

Speakers in Security Council Emphasize Placing Political Solutions at Centre of Peacekeeping Operations, Call for More Concise Mission Mandates

The international community must do everything possible to preserve the space for United Nations peacekeeping operations — a visible expression on the ground of an operating multilateral system, the United Nations senior peace operations official told the Security Council today.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, briefed the 15-member organ in the context of its resolution 2378 (2017) on peacekeeping reform, underscoring the difficult environments in which peacekeepers are deployed.  “We face the largest number of violent conflicts since 1945,” he noted, adding that peacekeepers face unprecedented risks as they work to prevent the spread and escalation of war, protect civilians, participate in national capacity-building, promote human rights and help bring communities and countries together.

Although the United Nations has made significant progress to be more proactive, agile and flexible since the ministerial meeting on peacekeeping operations in Seoul last year, he noted that, in 2021, the number of deaths due to malicious acts increased from 13 to 25, and this year, by the end of August, 21 peacekeepers have died due to malicious acts.  Underscoring the need to ensure personnel safety and security, he called for Member States’ support to fully address the recommendations related to peace operations’ response to threats from improvised explosive devices.

As the accountability of peacekeepers remains a critical priority, the Trust Fund in Support of Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse has established a project in South Sudan to offer psychosocial, medical and legal support, he said, citing other initiatives.  To counter the surge of disinformation and misinformation, the United Nations is proactively communicating on the tangible impact of peacekeeping in a compelling and human-centred way.

Highlighting the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in peacekeeping as a key priority, he pointed out that females now account for 21 per cent of military observers and staff officers, 31 per cent of individual officers, and 43 per cent of justice and corrections Government provided personnel.  He called on the Council to address remaining gaps in uniformed gender parity and advance the political efforts of peace operations.

In the ensuing discussion, Council members expressed concern about the complex challenges to the important role that peacekeeping missions play, underscoring the need to provide necessary equipment and training to ensure peacekeepers’ safety and security.  Several members echoed calls for more concise and focused mandates, while others stressed the need to place political solutions at the centre of all peacekeeping.

India’s representative said the success of United Nations peacekeeping ultimately depends not just on weapons and equipment, but on the moral force that Council decisions command and the political process used to resolve conflicts.  Peacekeeping missions must be given clear and realistic mandates, matched with adequate resources, she added.  Effective mission communications strategy and coordination with a host Government can help address misinformation and disinformation against peacekeepers and enhance their safety and security.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates, in a similar vein, called on the Council to refocus political processes that produce sustainable solutions, and “reject the tacit acceptance of managing — instead of resolving — conflict”.  Designing better mandates requires strengthened cooperation among the Council, troop-contributing countries and the Secretariat; between peacekeeping missions and host communities; and between these actors and regional organizations, especially in Africa, she added.

China’s representative pointed out that the unchecked growth of mandates at times interferes and undermines the mutual trust between a mission and the community it serves.  Missions must build good relations with and listen to the countries concerned.  Indeed, partnerships must be strengthened, and stakeholders mobilized to advance the work of peacekeeping missions, he said, underscoring the important role of regional organizations.

The representative of the Russian Federation emphasized that the number of secondary and non-specialized tasks given to peacekeepers must be reduced, particularly those in human rights, social and gender areas.  Getting distracted by robust mandates could undermine the neutral status of blue helmets and transform them into active participants to a conflict, he warned.  To improve peacekeepers’ safety and security, their material and technical supply, as well as professional training, must also be improved.

The representative of the United Kingdom highlighted that his country trains thousands of peacekeepers each year.  As a top contributor of extra‑budgetary funds — donating more than $3.5 million in 2021 — it supports key reforms in peacekeeping intelligence, situational awareness and tackling sexual exploitation and abuse.  Noting the increasing threat posed by disinformation campaigns, numerous restrictions on freedom of movement and violations of status-of-forces agreements, he called on the United Nations to address rising levels of distrust through better strategic communication and on host Governments to uphold their responsibilities.

The representative of the United States said all United Nations personnel must meet performance and conduct standards, and those who do not — especially in the context of sexual exploitation and abuse — must be held accountable.  Noting that “accountability is a two-way street”, he said all stakeholders must abide by status-of-forces agreements, and the cooperation of host nations is critical to ensuring that peacekeepers have full access and freedom of movement to achieve their mandated tasks safely and effectively.  He also called on the Council to support integration of strategic communication into the efforts of such missions.

Gabon’s representative highlighted the efforts of United Nations peacekeeping operations that have “made a real difference” in more than a dozen countries, However, in many other cases, United Nations peace efforts have fallen far short of expectations, he said.  The tools used to approach crises must be updated, he said, underscoring that Africa — which hosts the majority of peacekeeping operations — has never enjoyed a full, legitimate place at the table.  He called on the United Nations to “reinvent itself” and provide answers that meet security challenges, and on the Council to ensure that peace operations are adapted to realities on the ground.

Mexico’s representative, spotlighting a specific reality on the ground, said studies have shown that post-traumatic stress is significant among staff working in peacekeeping operations.  He underscored Member States’ and the Council’s obligation to all aspects of peacekeepers’ challenges, whether physical or mental, stressing that better training is needed to quickly recognize the conditions that could impact the mental health of peacekeepers.  A culture of care must be promoted to ensure personnel are given the necessary psychosocial support, he said.

Also speaking today were representatives of Ghana, Ireland, Norway, Kenya, Albania, Brazil and France.

The meeting began at 10:02 a.m. and ended at 11:48 a.m.

Briefing

JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, briefed the 15-member organ in the context of Council resolution 2378 (2017) on progress and challenges in the implementation of the Action for Peacekeeping and the Action for Peacekeeping Plus initiatives.  Based on research and strategic reviews, he said his office decided to focus on seven priority areas in order to make tangible improvements to its impact.  Highlighting efforts and results thus far, he emphasized that collective efforts as individuals and Member States are required for success.  The environments in which peacekeepers are deployed are complex and difficult, with the modern world facing many overlapping crises.  “We face the largest number of violent conflicts since 1945 with growing geopolitical tensions and phenomena such as the COVID-19 pandemic or the destructive impact on climate change,” he said.  Amidst all that, United Nations peacekeepers remain on the front lines to prevent the escalation of the scourge of war, protect civilians, support ceasefires, participate in national capacity-building, promote human rights and help communities and countries together.  They are facing unprecedented risks, including being targeted by violent extremists.

“We must do everything possible to preserve the space for United Nations peacekeeping operations, which continue to be a visible expression of an operating multilateral system on the ground,” he continued.  The international community must also maintain course towards supporting peacebuilding support in complex mission contexts, for example in Mali or Lebanon.  Noting that 11 of the 12 missions currently have integrated mission plans or results frameworks for the comprehensive performance assessment systems, he said most of those plans take into account gender considerations and the women, peace and security agenda.  Since the ministerial meeting on peacekeeping operations in Seoul in2021, the United Nations has made significant progress to be more proactive, agile and flexible.  This is seen inter alia with the strengthening of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), the reconfiguration of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the force adaptation plan of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), he said, calling for Member States’ support in filling critical gaps in capacity.

Turning to peace operation’s responsibility vis a vis personnel and the need to ensure their safety and security, he said that, despite numerous efforts, the annual decrease in the number of losses of peacekeepers has reversed.  In 2021, the number of deaths due to malicious acts doubled compared with the previous year 2020, increasing from 13 to 25, and that trend is continuing, with 21 deaths due to malicious acts by the end of August 2022.  MINUSMA remains the most dangerous peacekeeping mission, but MINUSCA and MONUSCO are facing sustained threats.  The recommendations arising from the Secretary-General’s independent strategic review of United Nations peacekeeping response to that threat are currently being implemented.  Significant progress has been made in improving capabilities to counter improvised explosives in missions where that threat is evolving, he said, calling on Member States’ support to fully address those recommendations.

He went on to say that the accountability of peacekeepers remains a critical priority, noting that a trust fund to support victims of sexual exploitation or abuse has established a project in South Sudan to offer psychosocial, medical and legal support.  The Secretariat will engage with Member States to discuss concrete commitments to resolve paternity recognition and child support for victims.  Moreover, the United Nations is making progress on developing confidential mechanisms to allow Member States easier access to information about allegations against their respective personnel.  Turning to strategic communications, he said support is needed more than ever in the surge of disinformation and misinformation, which impedes mandate delivery and threatens the safety of both the host community and the United Nations.  The Organization is proactively communicating on the tangible impact of peacekeeping in a compelling and human-centred way, harnessing the power of many platforms, including social media, and using United-Nations-Radio‑operated radio networks to provide news to remote and vulnerable populations.  It is also working to provide tools, guidance and training for missions, as well as working to fully integrate it into planning and decision-making.

On the women, peace and security agenda, he said the full, equal and meaningful participation of females in peacekeeping remains a priority.  Women now account for 21 per cent of military observers and staff officers, 31 per cent of individual officers, and 43 per cent of justice and corrections Government-provided personnel.  However, to address remaining gaps in uniformed gender parity, concerted efforts must be intensified to enhance the recruitment, training and career development of women in national security institutions.  To strengthen technology-enabled data-driven peacekeeping, the United Nations is implementing projects, including enhancing situational awareness to leveraging technology for uniformed peacekeepers.  He called for stronger and more unified support from the Council to advance the political efforts of peace operations, to assist when missions face undue restrictions and obstacles from parties to a conflict, and to make the recommendations of strategic reviews a reality.

Statements

BISMARK ANYANAH (Ghana) pointed out that, despite the inclusion of mandates for rapid intervention brigades in some missions — such as the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) — the structure and focus of present peacekeeping arrangements are inappropriate instruments for counter‑terrorism.  Further, peacekeeping mandates can be more concise and focused, and the Council should tap into partnership opportunities provided by regional arrangements, such as the African Union, in addressing threats to international peace and security to which peacekeeping missions are unable to respond.  While welcoming the implementation of the Integrated Peacekeeping Performance and Accountability Framework, he stressed that Member States must be involved in implementing the same.  He also emphasized the need to enhance predeployment training to counter the increasing threat of improvised explosive devices that are used by extremist groups against peacekeepers, spotlighting the high casualty rates in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).  He added that strategic communication must be deployed to counter the significant increase in misinformation that is negatively impacting the efforts of peacekeepers, shaping the conflict environment and influencing public opinion against most United Nations peacekeeping operations, especially on the African continent.

GENG SHUANG (China) said peacekeepers play an important role in maintaining peace around the world.  Yet, this world is in turbulence and there are destabilizing factors.  With these circumstances, the important role that peacekeeping missions play is being challenged and needs to be improved to better serve Member States and the international community.  There is a need to strengthen the overarching design of missions to maintain peace and security.  Peacekeeping mandates have grown and some have expanded into humanitarian and human rights areas.  Sometimes there are sanctions.  Some mandates emerge out of political correctness and may become tools of pressure.  The unchecked growth of mandates at times interferes and undermines the mutual trust between a mission and the community it serves.  In a presidential statement issued in August during China’s presidency, the Council recognized the need to step up capacity-building support to African countries in a comprehensive, inclusive, adaptive and targeted manner, with measures tailored to the specific conditions of each country and region.  It is necessary for the missions to build good relations with the countries concerned.  Missions should listen to the countries of concern.  Human rights issues have sometimes been a complicating issue for these countries, such in as Mali and South Sudan, he noted.  The United Nations should strengthen its communications with its States of concern.  It is also necessary to strengthen partnerships and mobilize stakeholders to advance the work of peacekeeping missions.  Regional organizations have helped play an important role.  It is necessary to ensure the safety of peacekeepers.

MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) highlighted the efforts of United Nations peacekeeping operations that have “made a real difference” in more than a dozen countries, offering security guarantees, facilitating political transitions and helping to establish new State institutions.  However, in many other cases, United Nations peace efforts have fallen far short of expectations and the presence of peace operations coincides with an increase in chronic conflict.  Stressing that these reversals must lead to greater reflection amongst the international community, he urged updating the tools used to approach crisis and noted that Africa — which hosts the majority of peacekeeping operations — has never enjoyed a full, legitimate place at the table.  Calling on the United Nations to “reinvent itself” and provide answers that meet security challenges, he also stressed the need for the Council to ensure that peace operations are adapted to realities on the ground and account for the “regional narrative” in crisis zones.  He added that peace operations should:  have clear, credible and realistic mandates; have the consent of the host country; have legitimacy in the view of local populations; promote national ownership of the peace process; and provide for the constructive involvement of neighbouring countries and regional actors.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said the number of secondary and non-specialized tasks given to peacekeepers must be reduced, particularly those in human rights, social and gender areas, noting that they distract them from implementing their primary functions and require significant funding.  As well, respect for the sovereignty of host States, strict compliance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and respect for the basic principles of peacekeeping — consent of parties, impartiality and non-use of force except in self-defence and protection of mandate — must be ensured.  Interpreting those principles flexibly, even under the most notable pretext, is unacceptable.  Peacekeepers must not be allowed to rattle sabres and become party to a conflict, he said, stressing that getting distracted by robust mandates could undermine the neutral status of Blue Helmets and transform them into active participants to a conflict.  To improve the safety and security of peacekeepers, their material and technical supply, as well as professional training, must also be improved.  In his country, at the Studies Centers of the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Internal Affairs, high-quality training is offered for Russian and foreign peacekeepers.

FERGAL TOMAS MYTHEN (Ireland), noting that the links between peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts must be enhanced, said his country led on the development and adoption of Council resolution 2594 (2021), which aims to ensure that as a United Nations peace operation draws down, it does so in a way that supports peacebuilding objectives and ensures that peace gains made are not lost.  The task for the Council now is to continue to support and implement the provisions of the resolution, he added.  Moreover, to be effective, peacekeeping operations must be agile, peacekeeping‑intelligence‑led, data driven and technologically enabled.  The development of the Strategy for the Digital Transformation of United Nations Peacekeeping is a key enabler in that regard, he said, adding that peacekeeping operations must be capable of addressing emerging threats, such as the weaponization of new technologies, misinformation, disinformation and hate speech.  As a State transformed by the digital revolution, his country supports the Strategy.  It has also taken on the role of an Action for Peacekeeping initiative “Women, Peace and Security Champion” and developed a series of recommendations with members from across regional groupings.

RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said that, for more than 70 years, United Nations peacekeeping operations have shown they can make a difference between the continuation of a conflict and its end.  Efforts to design a strategy to address the mental health needs of peacekeeping staff is essential.  Studies have shown that post-traumatic stress is significant among staff working in peacekeeping operations.  This impacts the Organization’s work and the health and well-being of the staff who put their lives on the line to provide peace.  Member States and the Council are obligated to address all aspects of peacekeepers’ challenges, whether physical or mental.  Greater visibility must be given to the mental health aspects of peacekeeping.  Better training is needed to quickly recognize the conditions that could impact the mental health of peacekeepers.  A culture of care must be promoted to ensure personnel are given the necessary psychosocial support.  He invited troop-contributing countries to participate in the Mexico Joint Peace Operations Centre.  He said that it is it very important for missions to play a role in stopping the trafficking of small arms and light weapons.  He pointed to Council resolution 2616 (2021), which lets the Council consider, during mandate renewals, the role peace operations could play in helping States to stem the flow of illicit weapons, in line with related arms embargoes.

TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway), noting that the Action for Peacekeeping Plus is well designed to drive the reform process forward, voiced disappointment that the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations was not able to conclude a consensus report in 2022, as many important concrete recommendations were agreed upon.  Highlighting key reform priorities, she said that ensuring a coherent strategy in support of political solutions must be at the core of all peacekeeping.  Women must be included for peace to be sustainable.  Council members should do their part by putting aside their differences to support peace processes.  For missions to be effective, efforts must continue to strengthen strategic and operational integration among civilian staff, United Nations police and the military component.  All Member States must ensure that both women and men are available for recruitment to all peacekeeping functions at all levels.  Peacekeepers must be provided with the equipment needed to stay as safe as possible and to perform as expected.  The focus on strategic communication must be maintained, she said, underscoring that this is key to creating trust among local communities, and to counter the increasing challenge of mis- and disinformation and hate speech.  Her country will continue to contribute financially to the new Strategy for the Digital Transformation of United Nations Peacekeeping.

JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom), underscoring the need to provide peacekeepers with the necessary training and equipment and improved threat awareness, said that his country trains thousands of peacekeepers each year.  Further, the United Kingdom, as a top contributor of extra-budgetary funds — donating more than $3.5 million in 2021 — supports key reforms in peacekeeping intelligence, situational awareness and tackling sexual exploitation and abuse.  Since 2020, United Kingdom peacekeepers in MINUSMA have demonstrated the value of new, proactive approaches to the protection of civilians, reconnaissance and civilian-military coordination.  He also pointed out that his country remains committed to advancing the participation of women through its support to the Senior Women Talent Pipeline and the Elsie Initiative Fund, to which it has contributed $7.5 million to date.  Noting the increasing threat posed by disinformation campaigns, numerous restrictions on freedom of movement and violations of status of forces agreements, he called on the United Nations to address rising levels of distrust through better strategic communication and on host Governments to uphold their responsibilities.

AMIERA ALHEFEITI (United Arab Emirates) underscored that the Council must ensure that peace operations are resilient, effective and appropriately resourced so that they can fully implement their mandates.  Noting that the effectiveness of peacekeeping depends on the design of political processes that produce sustainable solutions, she called on the Council to refocus on such processes and “reject the tacit acceptance of managing — instead of resolving — conflict”.  As it is insufficient to delegate the support and facilitation of conflict resolution to peace missions, political processes must remain a priority for the Council.  To do otherwise creates gaps between reality and the expectations for peace operations, she said, also pointing out that delays in reaching a political solution breed frustration, resentment and erosion of trust that actors can exploit to advance “their own nefarious agendas”.  Adding that a tailored, dynamic approach to mandate design and mission resourcing could help build and sustain trust, she said that designing better mandates requires strengthened cooperation among the Council, troop-contributing countries and the Secretariat; between peacekeeping missions and host communities; and between these actors and regional organizations, especially in Africa.

MICHAEL KIBOINO (Kenya) said the current peacekeeping environment is increasingly unpredictable, fluid and insecure, exposing peacekeepers to new and complex threats.  Yet, peacekeeping is a cardinal tool the United Nations can use to pursue the sustainable peace and protection of civilians.  One formidable challenge is the apparently increasing tensions between local populations and peacekeeping missions.  Peacekeeping missions must urgently win back the trust and confidence of host countries and local communities.  They can do this by listening keenly to the host countries and local communities and recalibrate their operations to respond to actual political and security dynamics, rather than the interests of external actors.  As a troop-contributing country, Kenya unreservedly supports the safety and security of peacekeepers.  Yet, this should not be at the expense of protecting civilians.  Every troop-contributing country must deploy properly trained peacekeepers, who fully understand the operating environment.  Kenya is working with other Member States, including Brazil, Germany, Japan and Switzerland, under the Triangular Partnership Project, to support peacekeeping through training peacekeepers in various areas.  For example, Kenya has offered training and mentorship in public administration, immigration, policing and civil aviation to more than 5,000 South Sudan civil servants.  Kenya has helped Burundi and Somalia rebuild institutions in governance and public service.  Kenya’s Humanitarian Peace Support School recently completed a training recognition process by the United Nations Integrated Training Services and United Nations Mine Action Service as a Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices Institution.

JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States) underscored that all stakeholders must fulfil their responsibilities in order to ensure the success of peacekeeping operations.  “All of us can play a part,” he stressed, in enhancing peacekeeper safety and effective mandate implementation by giving peacekeeping missions realistic, achievable mandates while also ensuring that such missions have the necessary resources and capacity to carry out their mandates in complex, fragile environments.  While adequate training and equipment is necessary in this regard, all United Nations personnel must also meet performance and conduct standards, and those who do not — especially in the context of sexual exploitation and abuse — must be held accountable, including by troop- and police-contributing countries.  However, noting that “accountability is a two-way street”, he stressed the need to “do everything possible” to improve the safety, security and well-being of peacekeepers.  All stakeholders must abide by status of forces agreements, and the cooperation of host nations is critical to ensuring that peacekeepers have full access and freedom of movement to achieve their mandated tasks safely and effectively.  Adding that disinformation leads to an erosion of trust between local populations and peacekeeping missions, he called on the Council to support integration of strategic communication into the efforts of such missions.

RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India) said her country’s peacekeeping credentials need no elaboration and it has cumulatively deployed more than 260,000 troops and personnel over the past six decades.  India remains one of the largest troop and police contributors, now providing more than 5,700 Indian peacekeepers deployed in 9 out of 12 peacekeeping missions.  It is critical to reassess the Council’s approach towards peacekeeping, as well as the security and operational challenges faced by peace operations.  Peacekeeping missions must be given clear and realistic mandates, matched with adequate resources.  The Council needs to avoid terminologies and formulations when crafting mission mandates that may generate false hopes and expectations, she stressed.  Consulting troop-contributing countries should become a standard norm while crafting peacekeeping mandates.  In addition, peacekeeping missions should be deployed prudently, with full recognition of their limitations.  Effective mission communications strategy and coordination with a host Government can help address misinformation and disinformation against peacekeepers and enhance their safety and security.  The perpetrators of crimes against peacekeepers must be brought to justice, she said, adding that the Council needs to call on host nations to ensure the implementation of Council resolution 2589 (2021) to address the impunity of crimes against peacekeepers.  The role of women peacekeepers cannot be overemphasized in effective peacekeeping.  India deployed the first-ever all‑women peacekeeping contingent in Liberia in 2017.  The success of United Nations peacekeeping ultimately depends not just on weapons and equipment, but on the moral force that Council decisions command and the political process used to resolve conflicts.

FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said the safety and security of peacekeepers must remain a priority, adding that continued and tailor-made training and capacity-building play a critical role in increasing their performance.  Each peacekeeper must be able to respond to the specific context in exercising their mandate.  Moreover, peacekeepers must embody the best ethical norms in implementing their mandate with professionalism and integrity.  He commended the Secretariat’s efforts in developing the performance standards and evaluation systems with the use of information and communications technology (ICT), so that concrete progress on mandate delivery can be easily tracked.  While progress on the cross-cutting issues, such as women, peace and security, human rights and climate change is encouraging, more must be done in having those issues strongly reflected in the mandate renewals as important aspects of the United Nations action on the ground.  Noting increased challenges faced by peacekeeping missions due to misinformation and disinformation, he underscored the significance of strategic communications for peacekeeping operations to build trust and support with host Governments and local communities, counter disinformation and misinformation, enhance the safety and security of peacekeepers, and strengthen their ability to implement their mandate.

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said peacekeeping operations are often the most visible aspect of the United Nations work in the world and a way in which its work is most directly felt.  It is also where real or perceived shortcomings can have immediate consequences.  Brazil has contributed police and troops to several missions and in the past 70 years has taken part in more than 50 of the 72 peacekeeping operations deployed so far.  More than 55,000 Brazilian military and police personnel have participated in missions in Africa, the Americas, Middle East and Africa.  Brazil fully supports the Action for Peacekeeping initiative and the priorities established for 2021-2023 as part of Action for Peacekeeping Plus.  Along with China, Indonesia and Rwanda, Brazil co-chairs the Group of Friends for the Protection and Safety of Peacekeepers.  Efficient peacekeeping needs effective communication with the local Government, civil society, the local population and other stakeholders.  During Brazil’s presidency in July, the Council held its first meeting on strategic communications in peacekeeping missions.  Strategic communications helps manage the expectations of the host Government and local communities.  The importance of effectively communicating with the local population has been shown by recent developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where protests against the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) have degenerated into violence against the blue helmets.  Strengthening international cooperation, investing in productive capacities and combating poverty and hunger are as essential to addressing conflict as security considerations, he concluded.

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), Council President for September, spoke in his national capacity to highlight the difficulties faced by peacekeeping operations, including protests from host communities, the presence of mercenaries and the manipulation of information.  Against that backdrop, he welcomed United Nations adaptation efforts, and underscoring the critical need for host States to respect their obligations, said that any deviation from this principle ignores the Council’s authority, jeopardizes the safety and security of blue helmets and hinders the implementation of their mandates.  For its part, France allocated $3.7 million in 2022 to support the digital transformation of peacekeeping, efforts to counter misinformation and the fight against improvised explosive devices.  It has also worked to strengthen the language skills of troops and to encourage the participation of women in peacekeeping operations.  Adding that “the future of peacekeeping lies in strategic partnerships” — including with the African Union and the European Union — he pointed out that the latter bloc has deployed more than 5,000 personnel in peace operations and complements the actions of the United Nations and African Union in many theatres of crisis.

Source: United Nations

Over 100 Gold Miners Killed in Clashes, Says Chad Government

Clashes last week between gold miners in the country’s north left more than 100 people dead, the Chadian government said.

The clashes took place May 23 and 24 in the Kouri Bougoudi district, near the border with Libya. The area is home to many unregulated mines where people search for gold.

Chad’s minister of defense said Monday that according to a government fact-finding mission, more than 100 people were killed and 40 others injured in the fighting.

Minister Daoud Yaya Brahim said the fighting broke out at night in the mining sites, but did not identify the cause of the violence.

Chad’s communication minister said last week that the clashes were between Arabs who crossed the border from Libya and the Tama community who hail from eastern Chad.

Chadian authorities have suspended informal mining operations in Kouri Bougoudi and evacuated people from the area.

Chad is involved in a fight against terrorism and rebel groups who threaten to topple the interim government led by the son of late president Idriss Deby. However, there was no indication that terrorist or criminal groups played a role in the mining violence.

Source: Voice of America

World Championships: Success for African women boxers

ISTANBUL— Five African fighters took home medals from the Women’s Boxing World Championships in the Turkish city of Istanbul, with three of them silver.

On Thursday evening Algeria’s Imane Khelif and Mozambique’s Helena Panguane missed out on gold medals to take home silvers instead as they lost to Irish opponents.

Moroccan heavyweight Khadija Mardi had a chance to go one better when she took on local boxer Sennur Demir in the final bout of the championships on Friday, but lost on a split decision.

Mardi – who battled a partisan home crowd when taking on the 39-year-old – won a middleweight bronze at the last edition of the championships in Russia.

In the light-middleweight category, Panguane lost on a 4-1 split decision to Lisa O’Rourke.

O’Rourke, 20, from Roscommon, ran out a comfortable winner, although she went into the final round level on two cards.

The Irish fighter appeared comfortable on the back foot throughout the fight and won the first two rounds 3-2 on the judges cards, but a 10-8 score in Panguane’s favour from one judge ensured the contest remained firmly in the balance going into the final round.

It was in the final three minutes that O’Rourke moved onto the front foot and, although Panguane remained dangerous with smart counter shots, the tide was moving in favour of the Roscommon native who claimed a deserved win.

Khelif, who fought at the Tokyo Olympics last year, lost to Amy Broadhurst in the light-welterweight division with all five judges awarding the fight to the Irish fighter.

Broadhurst displayed supreme control in an utterly convincing display in which she outworked Khelif and dictated the pace of the three-round bout from start to finish.

Another Algerian, Ichrak Chaib, won bronze after a narrow 3-2 loss to Canada’s Charlie Cavanagh in the welterweight semi-finals on Wednesday.

And Mozambique’s Rady Gramane also claimed a bronze medal after her loss to another Canadian as Tammara Thibeault ran out 5-0 winner in the middleweight division.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK