UN Weekly Roundup: April 22-28, 2023
Here is a fast take on what the international community has been up to this past week, as seen from the United Nations perch.
Violence intensifies in Sudan, UN relocates staff
As violence intensified this week in Sudan, the United Nations relocated hundreds of international and national staff from the capital, Khartoum, and the western Darfur region to Port Sudan in the east where the situation is safer and they are continuing to work. France helped the U.N. evacuate more than 350 personnel and their families from Port Sudan to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday night, and in a second evacuation on Thursday, the French air force flew more than 70 U.N. and affiliated personnel from El Fasher in North Darfur to Chad’s capital, N’Djamena. Before the fighting erupted on April 15, the U.N. had about 800 international staff in Sudan, many accompanied by their families in Khartoum, as well as about 3,200 Sudanese nationals.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres continued to call for an immediate halt to fighting and worked with the United States and regional organizations to extend a 72-hour cease-fire that went into effect at midnight on Monday. It was renewed Thursday for another three days, but reports of fighting continue.
Fleeing Sudan’s Conflict: On a Bus Ride From Khartoum
The crisis also has the potential to create a massive refugee situation. The U.N. refugee agency estimates that 270,000 people could flee into South Sudan and Chad alone.
Security Council demands Taliban reverse bans on women
The U.N. Security Council demanded unanimously on Thursday that Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders swiftly reverse their restrictions on women’s access to education and work, and it condemned a recent ban on local female staff working for the United Nations. The resolution was co-sponsored by 90 nations.
Security Council to Taliban: Reverse Restrictions on Afghan Women, Girls
Haiti’s intensifies its appeal for help to break grip of armed gangs
Haiti’s foreign minister intensified his government’s appeal to the international community Wednesday to help break the grip of armed gangs that are terrorizing the capital and large areas of the island nation. “Haiti is in danger, and it urgently needs the assistance of the United Nations family to make it through this turbulence,” Foreign Minister Jean Victor Geneus told the Security Council. It has been more than six months since the government asked for an international specialized armed force to assist the National Police in addressing the spiraling insecurity, but so far, its call has gone unanswered, and the situation has worsened.
At UN, Haitian Foreign Minister Pleads for International Help
Russia’s Lavrov makes second visit to UN since invasion of Ukraine
The severe divisions between Western nations and Russia over its invasion of Ukraine overshadowed a U.N. Security Council meeting Monday presided over by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Russia holds the rotating presidency of the 15-nation council for April. Moscow chose the theme of “effective multilateralism through the defense of the principles of the U.N. Charter” for its signature event, and Western nations denounced it as hypocritical. The United States also took the opportunity to bring the sister of American Paul Whelan, who is detained in Russia, to the U.N. where she spoke to the press and sat in the gallery during the council session.
Accusations, Divisions Overshadow Russian-led Security Council Meeting
— Guterres was in Washington this week, where he met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. They discussed subjects including the war in Ukraine and the need to continue the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which faces another renewal in mid-May; fighting in Sudan and efforts to achieve a cease-fire; and Taliban-imposed restrictions on women and girls in Afghanistan. The secretary-general’s spokesperson said he also raised the importance of reforms of international multilateral institutions, notably the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and World Bank. And he raised a number of issues related to the Host Country Agreement, including visa issues.
— Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has severely disrupted education. UNESCO and UNICEF in partnership with Ukraine’s education ministry are launching a program to provide children and teachers with equipment and tools for remote learning, psychosocial support, teacher training and education sector planning. The Global Partnership for Education, Google, Microsoft and UNESCO are providing more than $51 million for the program.
— Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed will represent the U.N. chief at the coronation of King Charles III in London on May 6.
Guterres will host a private meeting of special envoys on Afghanistan from several countries in Doha, Qatar, on Monday and Tuesday to discuss what should be done in the aftermath of the intensifying Taliban crackdown on women. Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada has repeatedly dismissed international calls for reversing restrictions on women and girls, saying he will not allow any external interference in his Islamic governance. Taliban officials have not been invited.