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Disaster relief afoot in landslide-hit Papua New Guinea despite adverse conditions: UNDP official

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Disaster relief afoot in landslide-hit Papua New Guinea despite adverse conditions: UNDP official

2024-05-28 14:28 Last Updated At:17:07

Disaster relief is underway in Papua New Guinea despite adverse conditions after a devastating landslide hit the country on Friday, said an official of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Papua New Guinea has informed the United Nations that more than 2,000 people are feared to have been buried by the massive landslide.

Humanitarian organizations are working with local authorities to deliver the relief supplies.

Nicholas Booth, resident representative of the UNDP in Papua New Guinea, said the terrain in the landslide-hit area is unstable and access to the area has been blocked, posing big challenges.

"It's still a very dynamic situation. In fact, the terrain is still moving. So this has been a very substantial landslide. It hit at 3:00 am on Friday, but the terrain is still moving. It's quite a remote area anyway. So it's a good couple of hours drive, northwest of the provincial capital. There's a big highway that goes all the way through the province, but the landslide has blocked that highway, so it makes it very difficult to access. So that's the major challenge," he said in a recent interview with the China Global Television Network (CGTN).

"The army, the police are working together with the local government and with the UN agencies and other international partners to get to the site. And we are at the site. And army engineers are at the site and they are bringing heavy earth moving machineries. It is a complicated situation. As you might know, there has been tribal conflict in that area, too. And some of that is still ongoing, unrelated to the landslide, but it means the defense escorts and this is necessary to help the convoys of aid to the site," he said.

He said the UNDP is working together with the local government and other international peers to carry out relief.

"First of all, I should say, UNDP we're not acting on our own. We are acting with the provincial government, with the support of the national disaster committee, with other UN agencies. So there's a number of different UN humanitarian agencies and other international partners on the ground, too. So, some initial assistance was given to those affected over the weekend. Some preliminary supplies were given to people affected on the ground over the weekend. Further supplies are on their way today. I don't know if they've reached there yet, but they set off this morning from the provincial capital," he said.

"I'm essentially focusing on food, water, shelter, and some other essential items, medicines as well to help with. There are health authorities on the ground to give medical assistance to survivors. So further assistance has been given to them today. An evacuation site was set up by the army over the weekend, so people are being evacuated to safety as well. So those are some of the main focuses of the effort right now," said Booth.

The landslide occurred in the mountainous Enga region in northern Papua New Guinea on Friday. Locals have been left reeling after tonnes of rock and mud smashed into their homes as they slept.

Disaster relief afoot in landslide-hit Papua New Guinea despite adverse conditions: UNDP official

Disaster relief afoot in landslide-hit Papua New Guinea despite adverse conditions: UNDP official

Disaster relief afoot in landslide-hit Papua New Guinea despite adverse conditions: UNDP official

Disaster relief afoot in landslide-hit Papua New Guinea despite adverse conditions: UNDP official

Disaster relief afoot in landslide-hit Papua New Guinea despite adverse conditions: UNDP official

Disaster relief afoot in landslide-hit Papua New Guinea despite adverse conditions: UNDP official

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Israeli army may have repeatedly violated laws of war in Gaza: UN report

2024-06-20 02:18 Last Updated At:06:17

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) may have repeatedly violated fundamental principles of the laws of war in a series of prohibited indiscriminate attacks on Gaza, according to a report issued by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Office on Wednesday.

Released during the 56th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the report details six notable attacks targeting Gaza's residential buildings, a school, refugee camps, and a market between Oct 9 and Dec 2, 2023, which involved the suspected use of GBU-31, GBU-32 and GBU-39 bombs.

"The report details six emblematic attacks involving the suspected use of GBU-31s, or 2,000-pound bombs, GBU-32 1,000-pound bombs, and GBU-39, 250-pound bombs from the 9th of October to the 2nd of December 2023 on residential buildings, a school, refugee camps, and a market," said Jeremy Laurence, the spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), at a press briefing in Geneva.

GBU-31, 32 and 39 bombs are mostly used to penetrate through several floors of concrete and can completely collapse tall structures. Given how densely populated the areas targeted were, the use of an explosive weapon with such wide area effects is highly likely to amount to a prohibited indiscriminate attack, the report finds.

The OHCHR has reported that at least 218 deaths have been confirmed as a direct consequence of the six attacks. However, it cautioned that the actual death toll is likely to be significantly higher.

"The report concludes that these Israeli strikes indicate that the IDF may have repeatedly violated fundamental principles of the laws of war. In this connection, it notes that unlawful targeting when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population, in line with a State or organizational policy, may also implicate the commission of crimes against humanity," said Laurence.

The report also says that such unlawful targeting may also implicate the commission of crimes against humanity.

"Israel's choices of methods and means of conducting hostilities in Gaza since the 7th of October, including through the extensive use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in densely populated areas, have failed to ensure that they effectively distinguish between civilians and fighters," said Laurence.

"It became very clear to us that the nature of weapons that were used, especially on a wide area, that have a wide area effect, is extremely dangerous in the context of Gaza, and we have been saying this, in several reports and statements, that Gaza is a very densely populated area. And in these six incidents, we had sufficient information to demonstrate, the civilian casualties, both in terms of the deaths as well as injuries, and where we felt that the principles of international humanitarian law, particularly precaution, distinction, proportionality, were not necessarily followed," said Ajith Sunghay, an official with the OHCHR in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Although the report primarily focuses on Israel, it also highlights that Palestinian armed groups have continued to fire rockets indiscriminately towards Israel, inconsistent with their obligations under international humanitarian law.

Israeli army may have repeatedly violated laws of war in Gaza: UN report

Israeli army may have repeatedly violated laws of war in Gaza: UN report

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