Palestine; Syria; VAW; Afghanistan; Liberia

Palestine: The SG is “deeply concerned” over the condition of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli custody. The SG has received a letter from Palestinian President Abbas and the SG of the League of Arab States on this subject, and has expressed his concerns to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in a recent telephone conversation.  Mr. Ban urged that those detained should be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees in accordance with international standards, or be promptly released.

Syria: OCHA Chief Valerie Amos today briefed the press in Geneva following the seventh annual Syria Humanitarian Forum. Limited in the north of Syria is a major problem that can only be solved using alternative methods of aid delivery, Amos said. “We are watching a humanitarian tragedy unfold before our eyes. We must do all we can to reassure the people that we care and that we will not let them down.” The UN is doing all it can to deliver as much humanitarian assistance to Syrians as possible.

VAW: UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, and Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, urged the US House of Representatives to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act today. The bill lapsed in 2011, and was sent from the Senate to the House by a vote on February 12. VAWA enhances protections for Native American and Alaskan Native women; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender victims; and immigrant victims and their children; and strengthens the judicial powers given to tribal courts on reservations.

Afghanistan: UNAMA reported today that civilian casualties in Afghanistan has decreased for the first time in six years. Its annual report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict noted that there was a 12 per cent drop in civilian deaths last year, compared with 2011. Despite such progress, however, there is a 700 percent increase in the killing and harming of civilians perceived to be aligned with the Afghan government.

Liberia: The UN and the Government of Liberia today appealed for approximately $37 million to assist Liberia’s most vulnerable communities in 2013. Those receiving such assistance include those living in extreme poverty – almost half of Liberia’s population lives on less than a dollar per day – over 64,000 Ivorian refugees and 25,000 former Liberian refugees who returned home last year.