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This school year, 51,000 Palestine refugee girls and boys have gone back to 103 schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Syria. UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl visited Syria from 14 to 16 September and took part in an event to celebrate high achievers at Agency schools in Damascus and surrounding rural areas. He also attended a Back to School event at the UNRWA al-Majdal-Haifa School in Damascus, where he met student parliamentarians, teachers and staff.

“By honouring high performing students, we are honouring each and every Palestine refugee girl and boy who studies in UNRWA schools in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank including East Jerusalem and Gaza,” said Mr. Krähenbühl. “You are all part of a network, a family of students and every high achiever I met today is a source of pride to me, to the Agency and to all students in UNRWA schools.”

A total of 42 UNRWA schools in Syria underwent maintenance work during the summer to prepare them to receive the students in time, especially as some of these premises had formerly been used as collective shelters for internally displaced persons fleeing the armed conflict. Where the Agencys schools were destroyed or heavily damaged, afternoon school shifts have been taking place in 41 schools provided by the Government of Syria, to enable all UNRWA students to attend classes.

For nearly 70 years, UNRWA has safeguarded the right to education for Palestine refugee children and has provided inclusive and quality education to some 2.5 million students who have graduated from the Agencys schools since the 1950s.

“Your outstanding academic achievement is a testament to your commitment, hope and aspiration for a better future. We are proud of your remarkable success despite the severity of the displacement and hardship many of you have all lived through. We are here to recognize your unlimited efforts, resolve, and resilience. You should be proud of being Palestine refugees and are a source of inspiration to others,” Krähenbühl said.

During his visit Mr. Krähenbühl held meetings with senior government officials, including H.E. Foreign Minister Mr. Walid Al-Mouallem, H.E. Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Faisal Meqdad, the Director of the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees (GAPAR) Mr. Ali Mustafa and the Governor of Deraa province Mr. Khaled al Hanous. He thanked them all for their strong cooperation with UNRWA and for the facilitation of the Agencys work, including through making schools available for use by UNRWA in afternoon shifts. In Deraa, the Commissioner-General met with representatives from the Palestine refugee community and received very strong words of recognition from them for the work accomplished by the Agency during the most critical years of the conflict in Syria. In Damascus and Deraa, Mr. Krähenbühl met with UNRWA staff members, paid tribute to those of them who have lost their lives or have disappeared during the conflict, and thanked all colleagues for their extraordinary contribution, dedication and hard work.

This school year, 51,000 Palestine refugee girls and boys have gone back to 103 schools run by the UNRWA in Syria

Background Information:
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agencys programme budget.

UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

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Geneva– The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor noted that reports suggest that dozens of Yamani civilians are illegally detained and loacked up by Houthi movement (The Ansar Allah movement).

The arrest of civilians without conviction violates international conventions and the roles of litigation.

Anas Al-Jerjawi ,
The director of the Middle East and North Africa department of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor,

The Geneva-based group said that most of the arrests occurred at security checkpoints controlled by Houthis of people crossing from Aden to Sana’a. According to available data, the number of detainees during September reached 300 people and most of them are in Dhamar and Taiz prisons.

Thousands of Yemenis fled from Aden because of battles at the end of the last August between the Security Belt forces, backed by the UAE, and governmental forces that support President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, to control Aden, the temporary capital of Yemen.

According to the Euro-Med, 3,163 people fled from Aden and 1,034 families lost their houses from different northern governorates, noting that the United Nation and the International community have not provided shelters or any basic requirement to allow them to start a new life.

The Human Rights Monitor said that Yemeni journalist Ihab Al-Shawafi is among the detainees. The journalist had left Aden in August and disappeared upon reaching Al-Hawban area to the east of Taiz.

According to the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, Al-Shawafi was arrested and taken to an unknown destination by a security checkpoint affiliated with the Houthis to the east of Taiz.

The organization stated that the arrests and kidnappings have occurred randomly and were followed by a financial ransoms request. A Houthi officer declared the mount of ransom of 700,00 Yemeni Riyals, which equals 1,300$ for their release.

The Euro-Med demanded the Houthi movement to reveal the whereabouts of 455 civilians who were arrested between September 2014 and December 2018. In addition, the organization raised concerns over the detainees and their families after reports emerged suggesting that they were tortured and prevented family visits.

During a side-event held on the side-lines of the 42nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council held in Geneva, the Euro-Med indicated that 170 Yemeni civilian have been tortured to death at Houthi jails, including nine children, two women and six elders, during the last five years.

The Houthi group have been in control of prisons in Sanaa’a and Amran, Hajjah, Ibb, al-Bayda, Dhamar, al-Hudaydah and eastern Taiz for the last five years.

The director of the Middle East and North Africa department of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, Anas Al-Jerjawi, said the arrest of civilians without conviction violates international conventions and the roles of litigation. The most important of which is the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Al-Jerjawi explained that prisons in Yemen have been managed illegally and in violation of the Yemeni Constitution and international standards, including the number of detainees, conditions of detentions stated in the 1957 Convention on the treatment of prisoners. The prisons administrators have also violated the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment of 1988.

The Euro-Med called on the Houthi group to stop the detention of civilians fleeing war from the south, announce detainees names and their whereabouts and allow their families to visit them. The Euro-Med demanded the international community to express concern over the arrest of Yemenis and the four-year continuous armed conflict which resulted in a serious humanitarian crisis.

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Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres remarks at the opening of the seventy‑fourth session of the General Assembly, in New York today:

The United Nations Charter sends a clear message to us all: put people first. The first words of the Charter — “we the peoples” — are a summons to place people at the centre of our work. Every day. Everywhere. People with anxieties and aspirations. People with heartbreaks and hopes. Above all, people with rights.

Those rights are not a favour to be rewarded or withheld. They are an endowment for simply being human. Across the first half of my mandate, I have had the good fortune to meet people around the world — not in gilded meeting rooms, but where they live and work and dream. And I have listened.

I have heard families in the South Pacific who fear their lives being swept away by rising seas; young refugees in the Middle East yearning for a return to school and home; Ebola survivors in North Kivu struggling to rebuild their lives; women demanding equality and opportunity; people of all beliefs and traditions who suffer simply because of who they are; and so many others.

We are living in a world of disquiet. A great many people fear getting trampled, thwarted, left behind. Machines take their jobs. Traffickers take their dignity. Demagogues take their rights. Warlords take their lives. Fossil fuels take their future.

And yet people believe in the spirit and ideas that bring us to this Hall. They believe in the United Nations. But do they believe in us? Do they believe as leaders, we will put people first? Because we, the leaders, must deliver for we the peoples.

People have a right to live in peace. One year ago, in this room, I spoke of winds of hope despite the chaos and confusion of our world. Since then, some of those currents continued to move in promising directions. Against the expectations of many, elections unfolded peacefully in Madagascar, Maldives, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name just a few. Greece and the Republic of North Macedonia resolved their decades‑long name dispute. Political dialogue in Sudan and the peace process in the Central African Republic have brought renewed hope.

And a long‑sought step forward has just been taken on the political path out of the tragedy in Syria, and in line with Security Council resolution 2254 (2015). As I announced yesterday, an agreement has been reached with all parties [involved] for a credible, balanced and inclusive Syrian‑owned and Syrian‑led constitutional committee. My Special Envoy just left Damascus after finalizing the last details with the Government and the opposition. The United Nations looks forward to convening the Committee in Geneva in the coming weeks.

But, across the global landscape, we see conflicts persisting, terrorism spreading and the risk of a new arms race growing. Outside interferences, often in violation of Security Council resolutions, make peace processes more difficult. And so many situations remain unresolved, from Yemen to Libya to Afghanistan and beyond.

A succession of unilateral actions threatens to torpedo a two‑State solution between Israel and Palestine. In Venezuela, 4 million people have fled the country — one of the largest displacements in the world. Tensions are elevated in South Asia, where differences need to be addressed through dialogue. And above all, we are facing the alarming possibility of armed conflict in the Gulf, the consequences of which the world cannot afford. The recent attack on Saudi Arabias oil facilities was totally unacceptable.

In a context where a minor miscalculation can lead to a major confrontation, we must do everything possible to push for reason and restraint. I hope for a future in which all the countries of the region can live in a state of mutual respect and cooperation, without interference in each others affairs. And I hope equally that it will still be possible to preserve the progress on nuclear non‑proliferation represented by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

From day one, I have emphasized prevention, mediation and a surge in diplomacy for peace to address the crises we face. Consider the lives we can save by intensifying our investments to sustain peace around the world. Across some of the most troubled corners of the world, some 100,000 United Nations peacekeepers protect civilians and promote peace.

Through the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, we are strengthening our effectiveness and efficiency and we are renewing partnerships with troop- and police‑contributing countries, host countries and regional organizations such as the African Union and the European Union.

I am also proud of the work of our humanitarians easing suffering around the world. Fully half of all international relief aid is channelled through the United Nations — ensuring that millions receive protection, food, medicine, shelter, water and other life‑saving forms of assistance. This year alone, in brutal attacks and other circumstances, we have lost at least 80 peacekeepers, humanitarians and others, all of whom gave their lives serving the United Nations trying to better the lives of others. I honour their service and their sacrifice.

We have bolstered our counter‑terrorism architecture and defined new strategies to tackle violent extremism and address root causes while respecting human rights. And I have put forward a new disarmament agenda to advance global peace. In the near term, the “New Start” agreement must be extended; we must work to address the heightened threat posed by ballistic missiles; and ensure a successful 2020 review of the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula remains uncertain. I fully support the efforts towards a new summit between the President of the United States and the leader of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

And at this time of transition and dysfunction in global power relations, there is a new risk looming on the horizon that may not yet be large, but it is real. I fear the possibility of a great fracture: the world splitting in two, with the two largest economies on earth creating two separate and competing worlds, each with their own dominant currency, trade and financial rules, their own internet and artificial intelligence capacities, and their own zero‑sum geopolitical and military strategies.

We must do everything possible to avert the great fracture and maintain a universal system — a universal economy with universal respect for international law; a multipolar world with strong multilateral institutions. People have a right to security in all its dimensions. Every measure to uphold human rights helps deliver sustainable development and peace.

In the twenty‑first century, we must see human rights with a vision that speaks to each and every human being and encompasses all rights: economic, social, cultural, political [and] civil. It would be a mistake to ignore or diminish economic, social and cultural rights.

But it would be equally misguided to think that those rights are enough to answer peoples yearnings for freedom. Human rights are universal and indivisible. One cannot pick and choose, favouring some while disdaining others. People have a right to well‑being and dignified standards of life, with health, housing and food; social protection and a sustainable environment; education — not only to learn things but to learn how to learn and prepare for the future; and decent jobs, especially for young people.

These rights permeate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. And they are among our best tools for preventing conflict. Yet we are not on track. Inequality is exploding. Our global economy generates great flows of income, but this prosperity is captured by a small number of elites. It is a sad fact of our world today that ones chances of leading a life free of want and in full human dignity still depend more on the circumstances of ones birth than ones innate capacities.

Todays Sustainable Development Goals Summit — and Thursdays dialogue on financing — are opportunities to ramp up ambition, including by utilizing the promise of technology and innovation as recommended by the High‑Level Panel on Digital Cooperation that has concluded its report.

As was emphasized at yesterdays Climate Action Summit, the climate emergency is a race we are losing – but it is a race we can win if we change our ways now. Even our language has to adapt: what once was called “climate change” is now truly a “climate crisis”. And what was once called “global warming” has more accurately become “global heating”.

We are seeing unprecedented temperatures, unrelenting storms and undeniable science. Ten days ago, in the Bahamas, I saw the ruin caused by Hurricane Dorian. That aftermath is a mere prelude to what science tells us is on its way. But something else is on its way: solutions. The world is starting to move — not yet fast enough but move in the right direction — away from fossil fuels and towards the opportunities of a green economy.

The Climate Summit highlighted some of the solutions we need to scale up in order to dramatically reduce emissions, keep temperature rise to 1.5°C and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. But we are not yet there. We must build on this momentum and do much more to be able to defeat climate change.

People have a right to the fundamental freedoms that every country has promised to uphold. Yet today, we are at a critical juncture where advances made across the decades are being restricted and reversed, misinterpreted and mistrusted. We see wide‑ranging impunity, including for violations of international humanitarian law. New forms of authoritarianism are flourishing. Civic space is narrowing. Environmental activists, human rights defenders, journalists and others are being targeted.

And surveillance systems expand their reach day by day, click by click, camera by camera, encroaching on privacy and personal lives. These breaches go beyond the breakdown in rules governing the behaviour of States and businesses. They are also playing out at a deeper level, shredding the fabric of our common humanity.

At a time when record numbers of refugees and internally displaced people are on the move, solidarity is on the run. We see not only borders, but hearts, closing — as refugee families are torn apart and the right to seek asylum torn asunder. We must re‑establish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime and fulfil the promises of responsibility‑sharing set out in the Global Compact on Refugees.

We must also build on the landmark adoption of the first‑ever Global Compact on Migration last December. That means strengthening international cooperation for safe, orderly and regular migration and countering the smugglers and criminals who enrich themselves on the backs of vulnerable people. All migrants must see their human rights respected.

Around the world, alienation and distrust are being weaponized. Fear is todays best‑selling brand. That is why I launched two initiatives. First, a United Nations system‑wide strategy to tackle hate speech.

Second, an action plan to support efforts to safeguard religious sites and uphold the right to religious freedom. Religious, ethnic and other minorities must fully enjoy their human rights. That requires a strong investment in social cohesion to ensure diverse communities feel that their identities are respected and that they have a stake in society as a whole.

To those who insist on oppression or division, I say: diversity is a richness, never a threat. It is unacceptable in the twenty‑first century for women and men to be persecuted because of their identity, belief or sexual orientation. We must also secure the rights of vulnerable and marginalized people. This year I launched the first United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy.

And, of course, the worlds most pervasive manifestation of discrimination affects fully half of humankind: women and girls. Let us never forget gender equality is a question of power. And power still lies overwhelmingly with men — as we see from parliaments to boardrooms, and even this week in the halls, corridors and meeting rooms of the United Nations. We will shift the balance when we truly see womens rights and representation as our common goal.

That is why I have worked to ensure gender parity at the United Nations, together with regional balance. Today we have achieved parity in my Senior Management Group and among those who lead United Nations work at the country level. I will not let up until we have reached gender parity at all levels at the United Nations — and full equality for women and girls around the world.

That means continuing to push back against the pushback against womens rights. It means calling out a troubling commonality in terrorist attacks, extremist ideologies and brutal crimes: the violent misogyny of the perpetrators. And it means stepping up our efforts to expand opportunity.

At present trends, it will take two centuries to close the gap in economic empowerment. We cannot accept a world that tells my granddaughters that equality must wait for their granddaughters granddaughters. As we continue all this vital work and more, I have launched ambitious reforms to make the United Nations more effective. I count on you to place our Organization on sound financial footing.

In an ever more divided world, we need a strong United Nations. Next year we will mark the seventy‑fifth anniversary of the United Nations — a critical moment to renew our common project. The problems we face are real. But so is hope. As we strive to serve people, we also can be inspired by people.

Over the past two and a half years, I have spent time with young African girls learning to code; with teachers equipping young people with new skills for the future; [and] with entrepreneurs in many fields leading the world, innovation by innovation, into the green economy. They and so many others are helping to build the future we want. Their aspirations and their human rights must always be our touchstone.

We are here to serve. We are here to advance the common good while upholding our shared humanity and values. That vision united the founders of our Organization. At a time of division today, we must reconnect with that spirit. Let us restore trust, rebuild hope and move ahead, together.

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.

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Geneva – The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor calls on the Norwegian government to immediately investigate the death of 17-year-old Palestinian Shatha Al-Barghouti, who died last Wednesday while in custody of the Norwegian Child Welfare Services, Barnevernet.

Shatha had petitioned Barnevernet to be reunited with her parents. However, two weeks before her reunification, she was found dead and her death was explained as suicide.

Shatha Al-Barghouti was taken, along with her two younger siblings, from her parents about seven years ago by Barnevernet on grounds of parental neglect, although, Shathas parents tried desperately to prove otherwise and showed great remorse over the reasons that led to such situation.

Barnevernet has been widely criticised on both national and international levels for many reasons, one of which has been over how the agency takes over custody too easily, where it has a too low threshold for taking action and confiscating children from their parents. The agency has been also ill-reputed for the suffering and abuse some children experience while living in its orphanages.

According to Shathas parents, she had petitioned Barnevernet to be reunited with her parents as she was close to the age of becoming legally responsible for herself. However, two weeks before her reunification, Shatha was found dead and her death was explained as suicide.

The family refuses such explanation and consistently demands an immediate independent and transparent investigation into the death of their eldest daughter. The family also fears for the fate of Shathas two younger siblings and demands to regain custody over them again immediately to provide the necessary safety for them that Barnevernet crucially failed to provide for their late elder sister.

Therefore, Euro-Med Monitor calls on the Norwegian government to immediately intervene and launch a serious investigation into the circumstances that led to Sathas death, in order to hold accountable anyone who might have contributed to this fate.

Euro-Med Monitor calls on the Norwegian government to thoroughly revise the mechanisms and structures that govern Barnevernets conduct, and to undertake immediate disciplinary actions against it

Euro-Med Monitor also demands the immediate release of Sathas two younger siblings, Mohammed and Ahmed, to be reunited with their deeply aggrieved parents, whove been living in terrible fear and trauma ever since the three children were taken away from them.

Euro-Med Monitor emphasizes that giving the parents another chance to prove themselves worthy of the custody over their two remaining children is the least the Norwegian government could do to compensate for the negligence that led to Sathas death.

Finally, Euro-Med Monitor calls on the Norwegian government to thoroughly revise the mechanisms and structures that govern Barnevernets conduct, and to undertake immediate disciplinary actions against Barnevernet to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children held by the agency so that the terrible incident of Sathas death would be the last of such kind.

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