Saturday, February 10, 2018

#PrayforPeace #GreekIslands: Women and children threatened by sexual violence at refugee reception centres

Asylum seekers are reporting sexual harassment and violence at some sub-standard reception centres on Greek islands – where even bathing during the daytime can be dangerous – despite Government measures to address the dire living conditions, the United Nations refugee agency
“In 2017, UNHCR [the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees] received reports from 622 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence on the Greek Aegean islands, out of which at least 28 per cent experienced [such violence] after arriving in Greece,” UNHCR spokesperson Cécile Pouilly said Friday at the regular press briefing in Geneva.
Women reported inappropriate behaviour, sexual harassment and attempted sexual attacks as the most common forms of such violence.
“The situation is particularly worrying in the Reception and Identification Centres (RIC) of Moria (Lesvos) and Vathy (Samos), where thousands of refugees continue to stay in unsuitable shelter with inadequate security,” she added.
Some 5,500 people are in these centres, which is double their intended capacity. Reports of sexual harassment in Moria are particularly high.
“In these two centres,” Ms. Pouilly continued, “bathrooms and latrines are no-go zones after dark for women or children, unless they are accompanied. Even bathing during daytime can be dangerous. In Moria, one woman told our teams that she had not taken a shower in two months from fear.”
Identifying and helping survivors is hampered by a reluctance to report assaults out of discrimination concerns, stigma and retaliation, helplessness and insufficient trust to open up – including to UNHCR and medical and mental health experts from national services. Therefore, the actual number of incidents is likely to be higher than reported.
Over the past weeks, the authorities have accelerated transfers to the mainland, slightly reducing overcrowding, but crowded conditions continue to hinder outreach and prevention activities.
“Insecurity is another problem,” the spokesperson stressed. “Although there are police patrols, these remain insufficient, particularly at night, and don’t cover extended areas adjacent to the RICs, where people stay in tents without any security presence.”
Conditions are also building frustration among people, leading to a difficult and tense security environment, further raising the risk of sexual and gender-based violence.
While UNHCR welcomes Government measures to reduce the risk of sexual and gender-based violence, further steps must be taken to protect those in reception centres, including children, women and men.
Ms. Pouilly listed the steps, which involved gender separation – including separate shelters and secure and well-lit wash areas; improved conditions and services; greater police presence – with additional policewomen; more lighting in public areas; increased mainland transfers to ease overcrowding; additional staff dedicated to deal with the issue; and enhanced awareness-raising activities.
Exposure to sexual and gender-based violence worsens the already precarious experience of those fleeing war-torn countries and crossing sometimes dangerous territory to reach a safe haven.
“UNHCR will continue to work with and remains ready to support the Government to strengthen its operational response and build capacity, to prevent sexual and gender-based violence and to identify and refer survivors of [such violence] to appropriate services and shelters,” Ms. Pouilly concluded.


#Pray4Peace: #Yemen Raging violence displaces more than 85,000 civilians

Yemen is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis with more than 22 million in need, fuelled by ongoing conflict, a breakdown in public services and a collapsing economy.
“We are particularly concerned for those that remain in areas close to hostilities in Taiz and Hudaydah governorates,” said Cécile Pouilly, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva, Switzerland.
“As a result of prolonged fighting in those two governorates, conditions continue to deteriorate, exposing people to violence and disease without access to basic services,” she added, noting that the agency was “alarmed” as hundreds of people are forced to flee their homes each day, due to increasing military operations, particularly on the west coast.
Most of those displaced in these two governorates are trapped inside their homes or in caves as ground clashes, aerial bombardment and sniper fire rage around them.
In addition to new displacements from those fleeing the coast, UNHCR is also observing a spike from other frontline areas, including Yemen’s border governorates.
Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has launched an appeal for $96.2 million to fund its 2018 response for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
“Three years of conflict have inflicted suffering on millions, affecting every Yemeni – man, woman or child,” said William Lacy Swing, the UN migration agency’s Director General, from its headquarters in Geneva.
“With armed conflict ongoing, a stalled peace process and an economic blockade, Yemen is in the grips of a devastating protracted humanitarian and developmental crisis,” he added.

Surging violence across Yemen has resulted in the displacement of more than 85,000 people in just the last 10 weeks, the United Nations refugee agency reported Friday.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Work for peace - Pope Francis 2018 Message

Pope Francis celebrates a new year's Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis offered his reflections on paring down non-essentials as he celebrated New Year's Day Mass Monday in St. Peter's Basilica and later greeted some 40,000 people in St. Peter's Square.
His advice included setting aside a moment of silence daily to be with God. Doing so would help "keep our freedom from being corroded by the banality of consumerism, the blare of commercials, the stream of empty words and the overpowering waves of empty chatter and loud shouting," Francis said.
"At the beginning of the year, we too, as Christians on our pilgrim way, feel the need to set out anew from the center, to leave behind the burdens of the past and to start over from the things that really matter," he said.
The Catholic church designates Jan. 1 as World Peace Day, and in his comments after Mass to the crowd in the square outside the basilica, Francis noted that this year's focus of the day was the search for peace by migrants and refugees.
"I desire, yet again, to speak for these our brothers and sisters who invoke for their future a horizon of peace," Francis said. "For this peace, which is the right of everyone, many of them are willing to risk their life in a voyage that is in the great majority of cases long and dangerous, willing to face hardships and suffering," the pontiff said.
In the past few years, hundreds of thousands of migrants have crossed the Mediterranean from northern Africa in human traffickers' unseaworthy boats, desperate to reach European shores. The pope's foreign travels in 2017 included a voyage to Myanmar and Bangladesh, where the suffering of minority Rohingya Muslims, who have fled from the first country to take refuge in the second, was a central concern of his pilgrimage.
Francis in his appeal Monday said of refugees and migrants: "Let us not extinguish the hope in their hearts. Let us not suffocate their expectations for peace." He called for all to make commitments "to assure the refugees, the migrants, everyone, a future of peace."
The pope then prayed that people "work in this new year with generosity to realize a world that is more united and welcoming."
Frances D'Emilio is on twitter at
Source: AP
Pope on 2018: forget life's useless baggage, work for peace

Saturday, December 16, 2017

#Pray4Peace: #Palestine and #Israel: UN reaffirms two-state solution as only answer to ‘question of Palestine’

Miroslav Lajvak, President of the General Assembly at the special meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. UN Photo/Kim Haughton
The Question of Palestine is inextricably linked with the history of the United Nations and is one of the longest-standing issues on the Organization's agenda, United Nations Secretary-General António said in his message commemorating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People last 29 November, 2017
Seventy years since General Assembly Resolution 181 was adopted, a sovereign and independent State of Palestine has yet to emerge alongside the State of Israel.
“I remain convinced that the two-state solution is the only one for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The resolution of this conflict would also create momentum for greater stability throughout the region,” stated Mr. Guterres.
Recalling his August visit to Israel and Palestine, the UN chief said leaders on both sides restated their commitment to a negotiated peace.
"I encourage them to tangible challenge this commitment and create conditions for a meaningful negotiation. The recent positive developments in intra-Palestinian unity should be taken up by the leadership,” he asserted.
The Secretary-General also reiterated his readiness “to work with all stakeholders, including the Middle East Quartet and countries in the region, to support a serious political process, drawing on all under UN resolutions, international law and agreements, that will achieve a two-State solution, end half a century of occupation and resolve all final status issues.”
Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed read Mr. Guterres’ message at a Special Meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, before adding her own words.
Ms. Mohammed observed that for 70 years the UN has gathered on 29 November to support the Palestinian right to self-determination and independence and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
“Ending illegal Israeli settlement activity and demolitions in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is crucial to the viability of a future Palestinian state and to realizing the legitimate national and historic aspirations of both people. Eliminating violence and incitement is essential to building trust,” she told the participants.
Ms. Mohammed stressed that with crumbling infrastructure, chronic unemployment and a paralyzed economy, Gaza is in a state of constant humanitarian emergency.
“This unsustainable reality demands urgent humanitarian, economic and political measures to support the Palestinian population. We must not leave women, children and youth behind,” she asserted.
“Ending the occupation and achieving a two-state solution is the only path to enduring peace between Israelis and Palestinians. There is no other option,” emphasized Ms. Mohammed.
For his part, General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák underscored that the situation needs full-time attention that extends beyond humanitarian support, to facilitate a peaceful resolution.
“I firmly believe that a two-state solution is the only answer to what we call the question of Palestine,” he underscored.
According to Mr. Lajčák, the international community must support conditions conducive to a successful peace process. In addition to immediately halting settlement expansion, other actions encompassed the cessation and condemnation of all acts of violence, including terrorism, as well as the incitement to these acts.
“When it comes to the question of Palestine, we have a responsibility and we have an interest. Palestinian people do not need our sympathy – they deserve our solidarity,” he declared.

#Pray4Peace: #DRCongo: Severe Acute Malnutrition could claim the lives of more than 400,000 Children under the age of five in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s volatile Kasai region

“This nutrition crisis and food insecurity in the Kasai region follows the displacement of thousands of families who have been living for months in very harsh conditions,” said Tajudeen Oyewale, the acting head of UNICEF in the African nation, in a news release underlining the scale of the catastrophe.
“The true scale of the problem is becoming clear as people are returning home in some areas where the security situation has improved and health services have started functioning again.”
According to estimates, at least 750,000 children across the Kasai region are acutely malnourished and some 25 health zones are in a situation of nutritional crisis – a state when the severely has exceeded emergency thresholds.
The dire situation is primarily the result of over 18 months of insecurity and violence that has resulted in displacement of over 1.4 million and has severely reduced agricultural production with some two-thirds of households not to work their land to grow crops.
The level of food insecurity is not expected to improve before June next year as the planting seasons for crops which would have been harvested by then has already been lost.
Making matters much worse is the “devastation” of health facilities, according to UNICEF.
Approximately 220 health centres have been destroyed, looted or damaged, access to treatment for communicable diseases as well as care for the children severely malnourished extremely difficult.
“Guaranteeing access to basic health and nutrition services to returning populations is essential to help malnourished children survive and thrive,” said Mr. Oyewale.
In response to the crisis, UNICEF and partners provided therapeutic nutritional care to more than 50,000 children aged between 6-59 months in the region this year. However, lack of resources has severely impacted aid delivery.
With just days remaining in the year, the UN agency has received a mere 15 per cent of the funds it required for 2017.

12December 2017 – In the coming year, severe acute malnutrition could claim the lives of more than 400,000 children under the age of five in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s volatile Kasai region, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned Tuesday.

#Pray4Peace: #DPRK: UN chief stresses need to denuclearize Korean Peninsula, avoid ‘sleepwalking into war’

14 December 2017 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres wrapped up a short visit to Tokyo on Thursday with an appeal to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and other countries to implement relevant Security Council resolutions to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
“I think we all want to avoid that things get out of control and that misperceptions and mishandling of situations make us sleepwalk into a war that will have devastating consequences,” Mr. Guterres told a press conference held at Japan National Press Club, stressing the need for the implementation of all Council resolutions, first by the DPRK and then all the other countries that have such obligations.
“The objective is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and it is extremely important to preserve the unity of the Security Council,” he added.
Mr. Guterres is set to brief the Security Council on the DPRK, tomorrow, Friday, 15 December.
Asked about the outcome of a recent visit to Pyongyang by UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, Mr. Guterres said that “in diplomacy and especially in discreet diplomacy, it is difficult to measure an immediate result of any initiative” but “the message was conveyed.”
He said that the message was that not only that Security Council resolutions must be implemented, but there must be a sense of urgency in creating the conditions for a meaningful dialogue to achieve the denuclearization of the Peninsula.
On questions about a possible military strike against the DPRK by the United States, he refused to comment on “things that have not happened” but said he is “a believer that a military solution would have dramatic negative consequences and that we need to be able to achieve the goal to denuclearize the Korean peninsula and to achieve it through diplomatic engagement.”
Asked what the UN can do in a concrete manner about the situation, he said that the Security Council has taken the right decisions, and the Secretariat has to explore all ways to convey the messages that are necessary for those decisions to be implemented peacefully.
“We are not miracle makers. We are people committed to a cause, and that cause is the cause of peace and security in line with international law,” he said.
To a question about a possible visit to the DPRK by himself, the Secretary-General said he would go anywhere at any time when it is useful.
“But I am not aiming at a protagonism just to appear in the cameras of the televisions,” he said. “We are available, but we can only mediate when both parties accept our mediation.”
The main purpose of the Secretary-General trip to Japan was to address the global Universal Health Coverage Forum 2017 held in Tokyo.

#Pray4Peace: #IRAQ mass execution. Expressing deep shock at a mass execution of 38 men at a prison in the Iraqi city of Nassiriya, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called on the country to establish an immediate moratorium and carry out an urgent and comprehensive review of its criminal justice system

“The mass execution […] once again raises huge concerns about the use of the death penalty in the country,” Liz Throssell, an OHCHR spokesperson, told the media at a regular news briefing in Geneva Friday.
“Given the flaws of the Iraqi justice system, it appears extremely doubtful that strict due process and fair trial guarantees were followed in these 38 cases,” she added.
All prisoners had been convicted for terrorism-related crimes. They were executed Thursday.
Also in her briefing, Ms. Throssell said that the executions and the fears over due process and fair trial guarantees raised the dangers of “irreversible miscarriages” of justice and violations of the right to life.
The UN rights office has time and again raised concerns over the continued use of death penalty in the country.
So far this year, it has been informed of 106 executions in the country, including the mass hanging of 42 prisoners in a single day in September, the spokesperson added.
“We once again urge the Iraqi authorities to halt all executions, establish an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty and carry out an urgent and comprehensive review of the criminal justice system,” she added.

Source: Dec 15, 2017

Be the Peace Leader

Be the Peace Leader
Pray for Peace by Amb Zara Jane Juan

Come & Join Inter-Faith Prayers & Inter-Cultural Dialogue for Peace

Come! Share your Peace! - Ambassador Zara Jane Juan, Sailing for Peace

2012 Video International Day of Peace Vigil by Sailing for Peace

Sailing for Peace Worldwide Peace Vigil

Sailing for Peace Worldwide Peace Vigil
Prayer Vigil for Vatican as Pope expresses sorrow over terrorist attacks and prayed that God will sustain all men of goodwill who courageously roll up their sleeves to deal with the plague of terrorism and this bloodstain which is gripping the world in a shadow of fear and bewilderment

Amb. Zara Jane Juan, Peace Ambassador

Amb. Zara Jane Juan, Peace Ambassador
I choose to be a Missionary of the Interfaith, Interracial, Intercultural Sailing for Peace Program inspired and guided by the discipline and life of the Virgin Mary of the Catholic Church. I am a Catholic, a Lady Datin of the Muslims, a Buddhist in my Healthy Lifestyle and a Hindu in Purifying my Soul. With Free Thinking and Scientific Approach to my Peace Work, my life on the over-all is a whirlwind of Faith and Fate. I refuse donations to my peace work to prevent corruption but rather I decided to live a very simple so that I can fund it personally through my own personal income as Professional Resource Speaker, Author, Visual Artist, Playwright and Director

JESUS CHRIST - 7 LAST WORDS - Lenten Recollection for Christians