Cluster bomb ban treaty set to take effect worldwide

Campaigners celebrate as Convention becomes binding international law

(London) July 29, 2010 – The Convention on Cluster Munitions takes effect this Sunday, August 1, 2010, when it becomes binding international law in countries around the world. In dozens of countries, campaigners from the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) will join UN agencies, governments and international organisations in events celebrating the swift entry into force of the most significant disarmament and humanitarian treaty in over a decade.

“Campaigners around the world are celebrating a triumph of humanitarian values over a cruel and unjust weapon,” said Thomas Nash, Coordinator of the CMC. “At a time when concern over civilian deaths in conflict is in the news, this treaty stands out as a clear example of what governments must do to protect civilians and redress the harm already caused by cluster bombs, by assisting victims and making land safe.”

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Judge strikes down parts of Arizona’s SB 1070

(Washington, D.C.) July 28, 2010 – Judge Susan Bolton of the U.S. District Court for Arizona today issued an injunction preventing the most egregious sections of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law – SB 1070 – from going into effect tomorrow. The order covers the sections criminalizing immigrants for failing to carry documents with them at all times and requiring police to ask anyone for papers proving citizenship or legal status during traffic stops or housing inspections if they had a “reasonable suspicion” the person was undocumented.

“At the Kino Border Initiative’s Center for Deported Migrants in Nogales, Sonora, we are seeing increasing numbers of repatriated migrants each day. Hundreds of people come to us with blistered feet and with broken spirits,” said Fr. Sean Carroll, S.J., of the Kino Border Initiative.

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Are we moving fast enough in Haiti?

There will be a hearing of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, to be held in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building (and available live, via the WEBCAST link on the Committee website at http://www.hcfa.house.gov):

DATE: Thursday, July 29, 2010
TIME: 9:30 a.m.
SUBJECT: The Crisis in Haiti: Are We Moving Fast Enough?
WITNESSES: Panel I

The Honorable Rajiv Shah

Administrator

United States Agency for International Development

Panel II

Mr. Samuel A. Worthington

President and CEO

InterAction

Mr. Jimmy Jean-Louis

Actor

Goodwill Ambassador

Pan American Development Foundation

Bishop testifies on ethical imperative for immigration reform

(Washington, D.C.) July 15, 2010 – Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, vice-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, testified before Congress on the ethical imperative for reform of the U.S. immigration system. He spoke July 14, before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law.

Bishop Kicanas, whose diocese runs along the whole of the Arizona-Mexico border, said he witnesses every day “the human consequences of our broken immigration system,”  adding that “[t]his is a situation which from a humanitarian and ethical stand point, needs to be addressed in a humane and comprehensive manner.”

Though often dismissed by analyses that highlight the economic, social or legal aspects, “immigration is ultimately a humanitarian issue, since it impacts the basic rights and dignity of millions of persons and their families. “As such it has moral implications,” he said. “We cannot accept the toil and taxes of immigrants without providing them the protection of law.”

Bishop Kicanas recognized the rule of law as a flashpoint in the debate.
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Haiti earthquake survivors living in appalling circumstances

Six months after the earthquake disaster in Haiti, more than one million survivors continue to live in appalling conditions, with inadequate sanitation, limited access to services, insecurity and food shortages.

“It is time the Haitian government, international community and UN agencies to take concrete steps to address the protection, food security, education, sanitation and other needs of the most vulnerable populations, including those living in unofficial camps. It is essential the international donor community release the funds promised for Haiti without restrictions and facilitate the involvement of Haitian political and civil society groups in tackling the humanitarian crisis and initiating reconstruction in the country,” said Jesuit Refugee Service – Haiti Director Fr. Wismith Lazard, S.J.

Conditions in many of the nearly 1,400 camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) around the capital, Port-au-Prince, are extremely critical. The case of the largest IDP camp where JRS serves, Automeca, with a population of 12,000, is typical: residents continue to live in shacks held up by rags and poles. There are no schools or electricity; sanitation is poor, the water barely drinkable and drainage, to say the least, hazardous. When heavy rain falls, garbage rushes through the camp.

“Camp management and aid delivery structures should always include consultation and cooperation with the displaced people who are swiftly forming their own organizations to advocate for their own particular needs. More attention must be placed on supporting the food and relief needs for IDP recipient communities and people not living in camps so that moving to a camp is not the only way for people to receive minimal food, water, and livelihood assistance,” said JRS/USA Director Fr. Kenneth J. Gavin, S.J.

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European Parliament urges EU states to join cluster bomb ban treaty

(London) July 8, 2010 – The European Parliament passed a resolution today calling on European Union member states to sign and ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions “as a matter of urgency,” the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) said today. The Convention enters into force and becomes binding international law on August 1.

“We welcome this strong resolution that leaves no room for confusion – EU countries must take urgent action to sign and ratify this landmark humanitarian treaty before it takes effect next month,” said Judith Majlath, CMC representative in Austria who collaborated on the new resolution. “There will never be a better time to join this treaty and to put its life-saving provisions into action.”

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UN: Countries must do more to resettle refugees

With more than 800,000 refugees estimated to require resettlement in third countries in the coming years, the United Nations refugee agency is calling for countries to allow in more people – who cannot return to their home nations – to begin new lives.

At present, only a small number of countries are participating in the resettlement schemes of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the number of available resettlement places has not kept pace with increased submissions to the agency.

For this year, UNHCR predicts that 747,000 people worldwide need to move to third countries, while that number surpasses 800,000 – a record high – for 2011.

However, the annual quotas set by nations offering to resettle refugees have remained unchanged at 80,000 slots. Read the rest of this entry »