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Gaza resolution, G7 Ukraine aid, and Yemen detentions: The Cheat Sheet

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Our editors’ weekly take on humanitarian news, trends, and developments from around the globe.

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UN Security Council finally approves Gaza ceasefire resolution

The UN Security Council on 10 June approved a resolution unequivocally calling for an immediate and long-term ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and for the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups. It is the first time in more than eight months of war that the Security Council has endorsed a plan for a long-term ceasefire in the enclave. It comes days after the Israeli military rescued four hostages taken during Hamas’ 7 October attacks into Israel. The operation in the Nuseirat area of central Gaza on 8 June involved intensive bombardment that killed at least 274 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The operation also cast doubt on the future of the US floating aid pier. A video showed an Israeli helicopter used to extract hostages touching down in the vicinity of the pier, leading to the perception among Palestinians in Gaza that the pier was used in the operation, and raising concerns among aid groups about safety and neutrality. The UN’s World Food Programme has since suspended its involvement as a delivery partner in the project, pending a security review. The US is also reportedly considering dismantling the pier, which has been plagued by delays and operational issues. The amount of aid entering and being distributed in Gaza has collapsed since Israel began a ground invasion of Rafah on 6 May. The head of one of Gaza’s hospitals said on 14 June that many children are dying “as a result of poor nutrition”. Meanwhile, attacks between Israel and the Lebanese political party and militant group Hezbollah have escalated this week across the Israel-Lebanon border, raising concerns of Israel launching a broader war in southern Lebanon. Some reports suggest the Israeli military has recommended winding down its Rafah invasion and shifting its focus to a new offensive in southern Lebanon.

G7 announces $50bn in aid for Ukraine

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries have agreed to provide $50 billion in aid to Ukraine as it continues to fend off a Russian invasion that is now well into its third year. The aid will take the form of loans that will be serviced using interest from around $300 billion in Russian assets frozen in Western countries. The announcement came as leaders from the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US) met in Italy. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is also attending. He and US President Joe Biden signed a 10-year security deal on 13 June aimed at providing long-term US military assistance to Ukraine. The $50 billion aid agreement will also be used to shore up Ukraine’s military capabilities as Russian forces have been advancing in the country’s east; and to rebuild damaged infrastructure. The director of Ukraine's reconstruction and infrastructure development agency abruptly resigned on 10 June. The official, Mustafa Nayyem, said in a post on Facebook that he faced "systemic obstacles that prevent him from performing his powers effectively". Some 210,000 buildings have been damaged or destroyed in Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in February 2022. 

Troubles multiply in DR Congo

The Rwanda-backed M23 insurgency continues to absorb attention in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (see our latest reporting) but it is far from the only conflict driving humanitarian needs in the country. Just this week, more than 100 civilians were killed in attacks blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group of Ugandan origins that operates in eastern DRC. The assailants attacked villages with guns and machetes, and set a health centre ablaze. The ADF has pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State, though it is deeply enmeshed in local politics, conflicts, and business. Elsewhere in DRC, a boat disaster on 12 June in the western province of Maï-Ndombe claimed over 80 lives, leading President Félix Tshisekedi to call for an investigation. And in the capital city, Kinshasa, a trial has begun for dozens of Congolese and foreign nationals accused of participating in an attempted coup last month.

Two reports spotlight soaring conflict and displacement

There has been a significant increase in violent conflicts involving states over the past decade, according to new analysis by the Peace Research Institute Oslo. In 2023, conflicts in which a state was at least one of the parties were at their highest level since the end of World War II. The last three years have seen the most battlefield deaths in conflict since the end of the Cold War, driven mostly by: the civil war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. Conflicts that don’t involve states are also on the rise, driven by fighting between organised armed groups: last year, 75 of them claimed the lives of 21,000 people. According to the also newly released Global Trends Report from the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), conflict-related deaths closely correlate with displacement. In total, at least 27.2 million people were forced to flee during 2023, with a quarter heading to another country. The total number of displaced people around the world surpassed 120 million in April this year, up from 108.4 million at the end of 2022. That includes 31.6 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate and 6.9 million asylum seekers, as well as 68.3 million internally displaced people. Around 75% of refugees are hosted in low- and middle-income countries.

UN staff detained by Yemen’s Houthi rebels

Yemen’s Houthi rebels are detaining 17 UN and international NGO staffers, as well as members of local civil society groups, following a series of arrests the UN agencies and aid groups have called “unprecedented”. The raids on homes and offices reportedly began on 6 June in the Houthi-controlled areas of Sana’a, Hajjah, and Hodeidah, and those detained have apparently not been in contact with their families or employers. On 10 June, the Houthis said they had arrested members of an “American-Israeli spy cell”, and a TV channel affiliated with the group posted videos allegedly showing confessions from some of those who had been arrested. No news outlet has been able to independently verify the videos. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said the airing of these statements ”procured under circumstances of inherent duress from our colleague, detained incommunicado, and others detained since 2021 is totally unacceptable, and itself violates their human rights”. The Houthis have also been holding some 20 former employees of the US embassy – closed since the start of Yemen’s war – for around three years.

Bonn meetings expose climate finance chasm

Mid-year climate talks in the German city of Bonn ended in a familiar stalemate as negotiators stuttered on a critical new finance goal. Climate finance, always a thorny issue, is even more sensitive than usual this year. COP29 – just five months away – will be heavily focused on a New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG): a climate finance benchmark set to supersede the widely disliked $100 billion a year target countries agreed in 2009 should be transferred from wealthier nations to pay for the lopsided impacts of the climate crisis. Global South countries say they cannot produce new climate plans, also due this year, without the promise of more funding, with annual estimates of what’s needed as high as $1.3 trillion. “Developing countries are expected to slay the climate dragon with invisible swords, having gotten zero assurances on the long-term finance they need,” Mohamed Adow, director of Kenya-based energy and climate think-tank Power Shift Africa, posted on X. Harjeet Singh, global engagement director at the Fossil Fuel Treaty Initiative, went further: "We are on the brink of a catastrophic failure of climate talks,” he posted. “It is time for wealthy nations to confront their obligations head-on, to integrate substantial climate finance commitments into their national budgets, and to impose punitive taxes on fossil fuel corporations and the super-rich.”

From the front lines of the climate crisis, these talks can seem distant. For a look at what children in overcrowded camps in rebel-held northwest Syria are doing to keep cool amid extreme heat and drought, watch this dispatch from Syrian journalist Abd Almajed Alkarh:

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In case you missed it

AFGHANISTAN: At a meeting hosted by the EU in Brussels, senior officials from several countries pledged $841.9 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. Meanwhile, senior members of the Islamic Emirate government, including the acting interior minister (who has a $10 million US bounty on his head), travelled to the UAE and then on to Saudi Arabia, where several Taliban leaders are performing the annual Hajj pilgrimage thanks to a UN-approved travel ban exemption.

HAITI: Prime Minister Garry Conille formed a new government after days of negotiations with the transitional presidential council. Conille replaced all those who had held posts under former acting prime minister Ariel Henry, who was forced to resign in March. For more on the challenges of Haiti's political transition, read our analysis.

INDIA: Another eight people have died from an ongoing heatwave in India. The latest deaths, reported in Odisha state, follow dozens more reported by officials around the country, including at least 33 election workers in Uttar Pradesh. Farmers fear delayed monsoon rains will have a major impact on their crops.

IRAQ: New figures from the UN’s migration agency, IOM, say more than 13,000 people left displacement camps in parts of Iraq controlled by the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) between 1 April and 6 June. Iraq says it plans to close all camps in the KRG – the facilities provide shelter to more than 150,000 people – by the end of July.

NIGERIA: The Borno State government has begun the phased closure of the Muna displacement camp in the city of Maiduguri, home to 50,000 people and one of the last camps to be shuttered following a government order for the displaced to return to their areas of origin. The relocation policy is controversial: Large swathes of the northeast remain insecure as a result of jihadist violence. For more, read our latest report.

SUDAN: The UN Security Council has called on the Rapid Support Forces to end its destructive siege on El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state. Meanwhile, more than 750,000 people in Sudan will face “catastrophe” hunger levels between June and September, according to unpublished analysis from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification system, seen by Reuters.

TUNISIA-LIBYA: Tunisian border guards have expelled around 2,000 migrants to Libya, where they then faced abuses including forced labour, torture, and killing, according to a confidential UN briefing seen by Reuters. In one Libyan detention facility, border guards burned a Sudanese migrant alive, the briefing said. Both countries have received funding from the EU to stem migration from North Africa into Europe. A UN report last year said the EU was complicit in Libya’s abuses against migrants.

YEMEN: At least 49 people died and 140 remain missing after a boat carrying Somali and Ethiopian migrants capsized off Yemen on 10 June. Yemen is part of a dangerous route between the Horn of Africa and Gulf countries, where migrants seek to work and escape instability at home. IOM has recorded nearly 2,000 deaths along the busy route since 2014.

Weekend read

International aid groups ‘utterly failing’ conflict victims in Burkina Faso: Egeland 

‘The aid has gone down while needs have grown.’

The head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland, took questions provided to The New Humanitarian by Burkinabè community leaders.

And finally…

Chiquita liable for Colombian paramilitary killings

A Florida jury decided on 10 June that the fruit company Chiquita Brands must pay $38.3 million in damages to the families of eight men killed by the Colombian right-wing paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) between 1997 and 2004. The company plans to appeal the verdict, saying it was pressured to fund AUC to protect its banana plantations during Colombia’s civil war. A lawyer representing the families said this was the first time an American court has held an American corporation responsible for harming foreign nationals. A second trial of claims brought by another group of victims against Chiquita is scheduled to begin in July. Chiquita, formerly known as United Fruit, has allegedly been involved in Latin American coups going back more than a century, including in Guatemala and Honduras, often with the backing of the US military and Central Intelligence Agency.

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