Blog: The week in human rights

Blog: The week in human rights
Blog: A weekly look at the main human rights issues across the Arab world and the wider Middle East.
4 min read
12 Jul, 2015
A staggering 4 million Syrians have now fled into neighbouring countries [AFP]
Yemen: an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe

The parties involved in the destruction and devastation of Yemen have agreed to take a six-day pause to enable aid agencies to bring in relief supplies for millions of desperate people.

This comes after the United Nations declared its highest-level humanitarian emergency in conflict-torn Yemen, marking it at “Level 3” - a similar humanitarian situation to that of Syria, Iraq and Sudan.

Yemen is already one of the Arab world's most impoverished country and now over 80 percent of its population needs assistance.

There are 20.4 million people who lack access to safe drinking water, nearly 13 million people live in food insecurity, 15.2 million in need of medical care, 12.9 million who do not have access to adequate nutrition, and 850,000 children below the age of five suffering from acute malnutrition. There is also a severe increase in the risk of outbreaks of water-borne diseases including cholera.

Aid in Yemen is essential right now. The figures speak for themselves highlighting how dire the need is, especially as the country, as UN officials have warned, is “one step away” from famine.

                                   Yemen's humanitarian emergency: UN OCHA

Suspending rights in Tunisia

Tunisia declared a state of emergency on July 4, in attempts to crack down on anti-terror activities, just over a week after a Tunisian gunman killed 38 tourists in the resort city of Sousse.

However, Human Rights Watch believes the decree gives officials the authority to suspend certain rights.

This includes allowing authorities to prohibit any demonstration deemed to threaten public order, order the house arrest of anyone whose “activities are deemed to endanger security and public order,” and prohibit gatherings “likely to provoke or sustain disorder.”

“Tunisia’s security challenges may call for a strong response, but not for sacrificing the rights that Tunisians fought hard to guarantee in their post-revolution constitution,” HRW's deputy Middle East and North Africa director, Eric Goldstein, said.

Millions fleeing Syria

A staggering four million Syrians have now fled into neighbouring countries, as the war rages on.

The numbers are already shocking. But with the fighting entering its fifth year and with no end to the war in sight, sadly, there is a high possibility that these numbers could increase.

“This is the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation,” Antonio Guterres, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, said in a statement.

Turkey is preparing a new refugee camp to house 55,000 people amid concerns of a fresh exodus. The country is already hosting some 1.8 million Syrian refugees.

Another 1.17 million Syrian refugees have sought safety in neighbouring Lebanon and now account for a quarter of all people in that country.
Jordan, meanwhile, is hosting more than 629,000 Syrian refugees, Iraq counts nearly 250,000, Egypt has taken in nearly 132,500, and more than 24,000 others have sought refuge elsewhere in North Africa, the latest UNHCR figures show.

And desperation is leading Syrians to escape the nightmare conditions in their country to risking their lives in the perilous trip across the Mediterranean to Europe.

If this is not enough of a wake up call for world leaders to help bring an end to this conflict, then it is hard to imagine what more Syrians may have to endure before this ends.

Unhappy Birthday, South Sudan

On the 4th anniversary of its independence from the north, South Sudan is experiencing another conflict. Arguably even more brutal than the 1990s war of independence, this is also characterised by killings of civilians, sexual violence, forced displacement, recruitment of children, and many other crimes.

UNHCR said its refugee assistance programmes has only received 13 percent of the $810 million it needs, which has limited its capacity to provide adequate supplies of food and water to the hundreds and thousands affected by the conflict.

Egypt's youth: From protest to prison

A new report by Amnesty International revealed the continuing onslaught against young activists by Egyptian authorities.

Amnesty called this "a blatant attempt to crush the spirit of the country’s bravest and brightest young minds, and nip in the bud any future threat to their rule." 

The report focuses on the cases of 14 young people among thousands who have been arbitrarily arrested, detained and jailed in Egypt over the past two years in connection with protests.

Amnesty added that this shows that the country has reverted fully to being a police state.

“The regime in Egypt is waging war against the young who dare to dream of a bright future for themselves and their country” the family of jailed activists told to Amnesty International.

We'll continue to keep our eye on human rights transgressions across the region. If you want to share any information or bring our attention to any campaigns please tweet us at @alaraby_en.