21 Jan 2019 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North Africa Democracy


'Not afraid of the government': One month of protests in Sudan
AlJazeera, 19 Jan 2019

Jihan Abdulrahman sat in her living room, surrounded by family, holding her middle daughter Samah. Both had tears in their eyes as Jihan recalled the last conversation she had with her younger brother Saleh on the morning of January 9.
"I woke him up before 9am because he asked me to," she said, wiping her tears. "He and his brothers wanted to head to Omdurman and join the protests."
They left early because they knew the security forces would eventually block roads to stop the procession, she said. Jihan kept checking up on them via phone but soon her worst fears were confirmed as she learned that 22-year-old Saleh had been shot.

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Impossible missions? The UN in Yemen and Syria
AlJazeera, 19 Jan 2019

Despite international diplomatic and military efforts to find solutions, the war in Syria enters its eighth year and the war in Yemen is in its fourth.
At the Doha Forum held in December, many of those involved in efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the conflicts gathered and reflected on the lack of progress so far.
One of them was Wolfgang Ischinger, a German diplomat and chairman of the annual Munich Security Conference.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, he said that European powers, in particular, have failed to play an influential role.

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Tunisia’s government is stuck between its own workers and the IMF. What’s next?
The Washington Post, 18 Jan 2019

The UGTT, Tunisia’s powerful national labor union, began a countrywide strike on Thursday. The union is the most powerful in any Arab country, and it was a co-recipient of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize for its work in guiding the country through the turbulent post-revolutionary transition. The strike will raise suspicions about the UGTT’s role moving forward as the country deals with fracturing ruling coalitions and a rise of “independent” candidates in the recent local elections.

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A letter from imprisoned Turkish human rights activist Osman Kavala
Open Democracy, 18 Jan 2019

In October 2017, Osman Kavala, an outstanding leader of Turkey's country's civil society, was arrested. Kavala has now been held in confinement for nearly 450 days. No charges have been made. None of any credibility are likely as he was scrupulously a man of peace. I wrote in protest at the outrage at the time. Democrats everywhere must ensure that Kavala's incarceration is not forgotten but acts instead as a reminder of the many other innocent victims suffering in Turkey and the quality of its extensive civil society of which Kavala is such an important representative.

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Syria's war: Who is responsible for the dying children of Rukban?
AlJazeera, 18 Jan 2019

There was no heating to keep the tent warm. There was no money to buy the medicine which might have saved his daughter. There was not even enough milk in the breast of the mother - suffering from malnutrition - to feed the girl. There is nothing but misery in this camp.
That is how Abdul Karim described the death of his two-month-old daughter Khadija to his friend Abdul Fattah Basleh in Rukban refugee camp in southern Syria, an encampment of about 50,000 people.
Khadija was one of the at least eight children who have died in the camp this winter. The United Nations children's agency, UNICEF, which has been seeking permission to send life-saving aid, called the deaths a "man-made" tragedy.

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UN says Israeli government-backed groups ‘delegitimizing’ human rights NGOs
Middle East Monitor, 17 Jan 2019

A United Nations agency has stated humanitarian operations in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) are being “undermined by delegitimization, access restrictions, and administrative constraints”.
According to UN OCHA, “attempts to delegitimize humanitarian and human rights organizations operating in the oPt, particularly NGOs, have been on the rise in recent years”.This has had “a negative impact on the ability of these organisations to deliver assistance and advocate on behalf of Palestinian rights”, the agency added.
The situation is “further compounded by longstanding access
restrictions imposed on humanitarian staff and operations, restrictive legislation and attacks on human rights defenders”, UN OCHA said.

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