Tag: Kwadir

Some Haitian schools in worst quakehit areas to reopen by 31 March

12 February 2010Despite only a handful of schools being open in the Haitian capital and outlying areas, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is working with the Haitian Government on a new deadline by which classes in the areas worst affected by last month’s earthquake will resume by the end of next month. Despite only a handful of schools being open in the Haitian capital and outlying areas, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is working with the Haitian Government on a new deadline by which classes in the areas worst affected by last month’s earthquake will resume by the end of next month. “Some of the schools in non-affected areas are now open, others in affected areas for sure will be open by then and we will do an accelerated learning programme so they do not lose the school year. This will be challenging in terms of coordination but everyone is on board and in support of the Ministry to meet this deadline,” Roshan Khadivi, UNICEF’s Spokesperson in Port-au-Prince told the UN News Centre. According the UN, only 10 per cent of the schools in the capital, Port-au-Prince, were functional as of 1 February and about 40 per cent in the southern port city of Jacmel and other localities. “We can’t afford to waste a school year. Even if our buildings are destroyed, we can set up tents so the children who are still alive can come back to school to learn,” Louis Montespoir, Director of the Daniel Fignole School, told UNIFEED.Working with the Haitian Ministry of Education, UNICEF and other partners plan to set up tents for immediate use as classrooms until the rainy and hurricane seasons start in the spring. By then, UNICEF says it hopes to have temporary learning spaces which can be used for a year or two until the schools are rebuilt.In addition to identifying space, UNICEF and the Ministry are working to identify and quickly train teaching personnel. New teachers will have to overcome not only the difficulties of working in a tent, but also of working with students who are afraid of being in a classroom again.”What about the students who didn’t die, like me? How are they going to find the strength to go on? There are some kids who are the only ones left in their entire family. How are kids like that going to find the will to come back to school at all?” Fedler Saint Croix, a former grade school student at Daniel Fignole School, told UNIFEED.In addition to children, university officials and students who hoped for a better life have had their education and future employment cut short. The University of Port-au-Prince mourned 150 students who lost their lives in last month’s earthquake.”If the university had to reopen it would be a struggle for me to go back. I haven’t only lost comrades, but also teachers and my father,” said Jean Rene Destin, a student interviewed by UNIFEED.Meanwhile, some school officials want to look ahead and try to maintain a sense of normalcy.”We need to find any means of reopening the university. And this should be handled seriously. Half-term exams are ahead of us,” said Serge Luc Bernard, Chairman of the Board of Directors at the University of Port-au-Prince. To assist with the financial aspects of getting students back to school, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) last week launched a public appeal for donations to help re-establish the country’s educational system. read more

Chinas clampdown on lawyers and activists draws concern of UN human rights

“Civil society actors, from lawyers and journalists to NGO workers, have the right to carry out their work, and it is the States’ duty to support and protect them,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement.He raised such cases with Chinese officials in Geneva, and acknowledged their efforts to clarify the matters at issue. However, their responses indicate that the authorities “too often reflexively confuse the legitimate role of lawyers and activists with threats to public order and security,” he said. Police have detained about 250 human rights lawyers, legal assistants, and activists across the country since a nationwide crackdown began last July, although many were subsequently released. Last month, 15 additional human rights lawyers were formally arrested, 10 of them for the crime of ‘subversion of State power,’ which carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. Among those facing that particular charge are leading human rights lawyers Li Heping and Wang Yu.Lawyers should never have to suffer prosecution or any other kind of sanctions or intimidation for discharging their professional duties as they play an essential role in protecting human rights and the rule of law, Mr. Zeid said, urging China to release all immediately and without conditions. At the same time, he welcomed news of the release of two labour activists detained in Guangdong in December 2015, but noted some of their colleagues remain in detention.Disappearances of Booksellers Mr Zeid said he was also concerned by recent cases of disappearances of booksellers from Hong Kong. Five people from Causeway Bay Books – a shop that publishes books critical of the Chinese Government – have gone missing since last October, including Lee Bo, a British national, who, according to the Hong Kong police, told his wife that he was assisting with an investigation. Gui Minhai, a Swedish national, reappeared last month when he was presented on China state television. Gui, who went missing while in Thailand last October, “confessed” to a crime in the city of Ningbo in 2003. Chinese authorities confirmed this month that the three other booksellers were also being held and investigated for “illegal activities” in China. The human rights chief urged China to ensure a fair and transparent procedure for these cases. He also expressed concern about the case of Peter Dahlin, a Swedish citizen and co-founder of the legal-aid NGO “Chinese Urgent Action Working Group.” He was detained in early January and was the first foreigner to be held on charges of “endangering state security.”Method of ‘Confession’Dahlin, who was expelled from China in January, was also presented on state television, where he “confessed” to having breached Chinese law, Mr. Zeid said, stressing that he finds this method of “confession”, extracted during incommunicado detention and publicized on national television, very worrying as it clearly violates the right to fair trial. As part of a series of new laws governing national security in China, the Government is currently drafting new legislation which, if adopted, may have far-reaching implications for NGOs.More and more Governments worldwide are using national security measures to restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and as a tool to target human rights defenders and silence critics, Mr. Zeid noted, emphasizing that security and human rights do not contradict each other, but rather complement and reinforce each other.At the same time, the human rights chief welcomed the recent enactment of a nation-wide law on domestic violence as an important step in strengthening legal protections for women in accordance with China’s international commitments. read more