Bahrain; The SC; Syria; Iraq

Bahrain: The SG “deeply regrets” yesterday’s decision of Bahrain’s Court of Cassation to uphold the harsh sentences, including life imprisonment, against 20 Bahraini political activists. The SG encouraged Bahrainis create a peaceful and conducive atmosphere for an open national dialogue, and called on the Government of Bahrain to follow through on its recently reiterated commitment to judicial reform. OHCHR also issued a statement regretting the Court’s decision.

The SC: The SC was briefed this morning by the UN Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Haile Menkerios, on the situation in both countries, as well as OCHA Director of Operations, John Ging. Ambassador Susan Rice issued a statement following the consultations encouraging the countries to “move from rhetoric to action” in implementing the agreements reached in Addis Ababa last weekend. In the afternoon, the USG for DPKO, Herve Ladsous, briefed the Council in closed consultations on the situation in the DRC, joined by the SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura. “The Security Council’s sanctions committee for the DRC has led the way in focusing on crimes of sexual violence,” she said.

Syria: WFP has reached 800,000 people in Syria since the beginning of January, and hopes to reach 1.5 million people with food distributions in the country this month. It is estimated that 2.5 million people are in need of food assistance in Syria, yet the Agency is unable to further scale up assistance because of lack of implementing partners on the ground and challenges reaching some of the country’s areas, despite recently receiving approval from the Syrian Government to import fuel for its operations. UNICEF and UNHCR have also reached more than 150,000 people with essential supplies such as hygiene and first aid kits and warm clothes for the winter.

Iraq: UNAMI is closely following a series of anti-government demonstrations that are currently taking place in several Iraqi governorates. The Mission has “reaffirmed its commitment to support the political and human rights of all Iraqi citizens, as well their social, cultural and economic rights, in the framework of the rule of law.” Martin Kobler, the SRSG for Iraq, called on the protesters to refrain from violence and on the security forces to show the utmost restraint in maintaining law and order. The SG shares Kobler’s sentiment on this matter, according to his Spokesperson.