Positive Changes in U.S. Landmine Policy Stop Short of Immediate Ban

uscbl_logo2(Maputo, Mozambique) June 27, 2014 — Today’s announcement by the United States that it intends to join the Mine Ban Treaty in the future, and will not produce or acquire antipersonnel landmines is a positive step, but falls short of what is needed to ensure the weapons are never used again said the US Campaign to Ban Landmines. The U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique Douglas M. Griffiths made the announcement today at the Mine Ban Treaty’s 3rd Review Conference in Maputo, which the U.S. is attending as an observer.

The U.S. still reserves the right to use its millions of stockpiled mines anywhere in the world until they expire, and it has not made a firm commitment to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty.

It is past time for President Obama to fulfill the United States’ long-standing pledge to join the Mine Ban Treaty. The United States can and should commit to ban the use of these inhumane weapons that are no longer essential to our nation’s security or the security of U.S. allies.

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Message of solidarity, peace and hope to the people of South Sudan

(Juba, South Sudan) May 23, 2014 — The Religious Superior’s Association of South Sudan released a statement earlier this month expressing a message of “solidarity, peace and hope” to those affected by the violence in South Sudan over the past five months.

The full statement from the RSA of South Sudan:

A MESSAGE OF SOLIDARITY, PEACE AND HOPE TO THE PEOPLE OF SOUTH SUDAN

“It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts of the Apostles 4:20)

We, the 75 representatives of 29 Catholic Religious Congregations belonging to the Religious Superiors’ Association of South Sudan (RSASS) that carry on evangelization offering various services in Church schools, dispensaries, hospitals and pastoral activities in dozens of parishes and missions across the seven Dioceses of South Sudan, gathered in Juba for our Annual Assembly to reflect on the Small Christian Communities, as a new way of being Church for the People of God, from 13th-15th May 2014, wish to send a message of solidarity, peace and hope to the people of South Sudan in this time of crisis and violence.

As your brothers and sisters, we are all mindful of each child, each woman, each man, each elderly person who has been affected by violence in South Sudan over the past five months. The blood of thousands of innocent people cries for justice. We cannot remain indifferent to the cry of the poor and the innocent who have lost their lives or are going through deep suffering and pain. “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil” (Genesis 4:10).

We wish, first of all, to offer our prayers for those who have fallen victims of this senseless violence and lost their lives in the various regions of the country where there are conflicts. Our hearts and our thoughts are with the bereaved families in these difficult moments of pain and loss. “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:25) Read the rest of this entry »

A record 33.3 million now displaced by war worldwide

(GENEVA) May 14, 2014 — Thirty-three million people were internally displaced at the end of 2013 due to conflict and violence says a new report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). This equates to a staggering increase of 4.5 million from 2012, signaling a record high for the second year running.

SetWidth240-idmc-global-overview-2014-cover-72dpiToday IDMC, part of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), launched its Global Overview 2014 at the United Nations in Geneva, alongside the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The report, which covers internal displacement in 2013 highlights that a full 63% of the record breaking 33.3 million internally displaced people (IDPs) reported worldwide, come from just five countries: Syria, Colombia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan. Including figures for Nigeria for the first time, the report documents that an astounding, 3.3 million Nigerians have been displaced by conflict.

“This record number of people forced to flee inside their own countries confirms a disturbing upward trend of internal displacement since IDMC first began monitoring and analyzing displacement back in the late 90s,” says Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of NRC.

“The dramatic increase in forced displacement in 2013 and the fact that the average amount of time people worldwide are living in displacement is now a staggering 17 years, all suggest that something is going terribly wrong in how we are responding and dealing with this issue,” says Egeland.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres added: “We should all be concerned about these numbers and the continuing upwards trend. We have a shared responsibility to act to end this massive suffering. Immediate protection and assistance for the internally displaced is a humanitarian imperative.” Read the rest of this entry »

USA: Urge Your Senators to Raise the Minimum Wage

 

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No Worker Should Live in Poverty

This week, the Senate will vote on increasing in the minimum wage.  Consider taking action today, as your Senators needs to hear from you that no working person should earn a poverty-wage.  In their pastoral letter “Economic Justice for All,” the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has clarified that a wage “should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural, and spiritual level.”

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Joint statement by heads of UN humanitarian agencies on Syria

(New York, Geneva, Rome) April 23, 2014 — One year ago, as leaders of UN agencies struggling to deal with the growing human impact of the Syrian crisis, we issued an urgent appeal on behalf of millions of people whose lives and futures hang in the balance: Enough, we said, enough!

That appeal has gone largely unanswered. The war escalates in many areas. The humanitarian situation deteriorates day after day.  And for the civilians remaining in the cities of Aleppo and the Old City of Homs, as well as other parts of the country experiencing heavy fighting, the worst days seem yet to come.
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Obama Administration Includes Arbitrary Number of Detention Beds in FY 2015 Budget

Detention Watch Network Urges Congress to End the Quota and Reduce Wasteful Spending on the Incarceration of Immigrants

(Washington, D.C.) March 5, 2014 — Yesterday the Obama Administration released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security. The proposal includes $ 1.8 billion for detention and maintains funding for 30,539 beds. In response to release of the FY 2015 budget proposal, Silky Shah, Interim Executive Director of Detention Watch Network (DWN) states:

“DWN is disappointed to learn that the Obama administration continues to prioritize the mass detention and deportation of immigrants. The request to fund an arbitrary and predetermined number of detention beds underscores the use of a quota and is an obstacle toward true reform of a detention system that is rife with abuse.  While the Administration reduced the number of detention beds from its FY 2014 budget request, it is disappointing that President Obama has continued to fulfill the detention bed quota.  DWN calls upon Congress to eliminate the detention bed quota for FY 2015.

DWN notes that the President’s budget also requests $94.1 million in funding for Alternatives to Detention. However, it is currently unclear whether the expanded funding for Alternatives to Detention would reduce the detention population, which should be a priority.”

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The Detention Watch Network works through the collective strength and diversity of its members to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons.

Special Event: The United States and the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty

(Washington, D.C.) February 10, 2014 — On Wednesday, February 19, the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention Implementation Support Unit, with the support of the European Union, are holding an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., on the United States and the Mine Ban Treaty. Confirmed speakers include Nobel Peace Laureate Ms. Jody Williams and Prince Mired Bin Raad Al-Hussein of Jordan, Special Envoy for the Mine Ban Convention.

The event will be livestreamed and livetweeted.

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The event is hosted by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention Implementation Support Unit and Human Rights Watch on behalf of the United States Campaign to Ban Landmines, with the support of the European Union.

The United States and the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Washington, D.C.

Keynote Addresses (9:30am-9:55am)

Introduction by:

François Rivasseau, Deputy Head
European Union Delegation to the United States

Featuring:

Jody Williams
1997 Nobel Peace Laureate

Prince Mired Bin Raad Al-Hussein of Jordan
Special Envoy for the Mine Ban Treaty

Statement by Senator Patrick Leahy
read by Channapha Khamvongsa, Legacies of War

Break

U.S. Expert Panel Discussion (10:00am-11:15am)

Moderator:

Rachel Stohl
Stimson Center

Featuring:

Heidi Kuhn
Roots of Peace

Steve Goose
Human Rights Watch Arms Division

Ken Rutherford
Center for International Stabilization and Recovery

Lt. Gen. Robert Gard (Ret.)
Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

Break

Closing Remarks (11:20am-11:30am)

Henrique Banze of Mozambique (invited)
President-Designate of the Mine Ban Treaty’s Third Review Conference

To RSVP, please see details of the invitation.

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