Amb. Zara Juan

Monday, September 11, 2017

#PRAY4PEACE: #Burma: #DalaiLama calls on Suu Kyi for peaceful end to #Rohingya crisis

"The Dalai Lama has urged Aung San Suu Kyi to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Myanmar and expressed concerns about violence that have led around 300,000 Muslim Rohingya to flee the Buddhist-majority country. The top Buddhist leader wrote to Myanmar's de facto civilian leader, a fellow Nobel peace laureate, shortly after new violence erupted in Rakhine state in August. He urged her to "reach out to all sections of society" to try to resolve the crisis in Rakhine, where the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority, have endured decades of persecution. "Questions that are put to me suggest that many people have difficulty reconciling what appears to be happening to Muslims there with Myanmar’s reputation as a Buddhist country," he wrote in the letter, seen by AFP on Monday. "I appeal to you and your fellow leaders to reach out to all sections of society to try to restore friendly relations throughout the population in a spirit of peace and reconciliation." The Dalai Lama is the latest Nobel peace laureate to speak out against the violence, which the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar says may have left more than 1,000 dead, most of them Rohingya. Nobel laureates Malala Yousafzai and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have also urged her to intervene on behalf of the Rohingya. "If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep," said Tutu, who became the moral voice of South Africa after helping dismantle apartheid there. Myanmar's population is overwhelmingly Buddhist and there is widespread hostility toward the Rohingya, who are denied citizenship and labeled illegal "Bengali" immigrants. Buddhist nationalists, led by firebrand monks, have operated an Islamophobic campaign calling for them to be pushed out of the country. The Dalai Lama said he had spoken to Suu Kyi in the past about religious tensions in her country and was urging her again to curb the violence. "As a fellow Buddhist and Nobel laureate I am appealing to you and your colleagues once more to find a lasting and humane solution to this festering problem," he wrote."

Source: AFP News: Dalai Lama calls on Suu Kyi for a peaceful end to Rohingya crisis:

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

#Pray4Peace: Pope prays for peace in Colombia, Venezuela

Pope prays for peace in Colombia, Venezuela: "Pope Francis landed in Colombia on Wednesday to plead for lasting peace in a country moving towards the end of a half-century war, and praying for stability in its crisis-stricken neighbor Venezuela. The 80-year-old Argentine pontiff descended the steps of his plane at a military airport in Bogota and was greeted by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and a crowd waving white handkerchiefs. Children in white outfits and red neckerchiefs performed a Colombian "cumbia" dance as Francis greeted the crowd, including civilians and army veterans injured in the conflict. Smiling, he climbed aboard a white Popemobile which took him through the city center amid deafening cheers from admirers lining the route to the papal mission, the Nunciatura. There he recited a Hail Mary and a blessing to assembled youths, who responded with a rap and breakdancing. Francis had called ahead of his trip for a "stable and lasting peace" in Colombia. On arrival, he praised local people for their "heroism." "Continue on the path that you have been brave enough to start, which is called heroism," he told the young people. "Don't let yourselves be beaten, don't let yourselves be fooled. Do not lose joy. Do not lose hope." - Peace and concord - Francis's trip follows the disarmament of Colombia's biggest rebel force, the FARC, and a ceasefire by the last remaining guerrilla force, the ELN. The pope supports Santos in his drive for a "complete peace" to end Latin America's longest civil war. But Francis's first statements after starting the trip concerned Venezuela, where a political and economic crisis has caused food shortages, deadly unrest and calls for President Nicolas Maduro to quit. Francis sent a telegram with "cordial greetings" to Maduro and the Venezuelan people, "praying that all in the nation may promote paths of solidarity, justice and concord." - 'Pope, help Venezuela' - Francine Howard, Colombia coordinator for major Venezuelan opposition party Popular Will, said her compatriots would attend the pope's public masses with signs reading "Pope, help Venezuela." But with respect to Francis's visit, "there is one thing that has made Venezuelans uncomfortable, and that is the call for dialogue" with Maduro's government, she warned. Vatican-mediated talks between Venezuela's government and opposition last year collapsed with the sides accusing each other of bad faith. - Colombian reconciliation - Francis's five-day tour will see him meet people who have suffered on various sides in the Colombian war, Latin America's longest conflict. The violence has left 260,000 people confirmed dead, 60,000 unaccounted for and seven million displaced. "The Holy Father is now in Colombian territory. He has come for a very special purpose: to push us to take the first step to reconciling with one another," Santos told reporters after welcoming Francis. - Divisive peace deal - Despite the pope's blessing, the peace process has been fraught with division. Critics of the accord with the FARC say the rebels got off too lightly. Colombians narrowly rejected that peace deal in a referendum last year. Francis then tried unsuccessfully to mediate between Santos and the lead opponent of the accord, conservative leader Alvaro Uribe. A reworked version was later pushed through Congress despite Uribe's ongoing resistance. - Faith in peace - On Thursday Francis will meet with Santos and Venezuelan Catholic leaders. He will then make daily excursions by plane to the cities of Villavicencio, Medellin and Cartagena. In Villavicencio, he will preside over a prayer for national reconciliation with victims of violence, former guerrilla members and ex-military fighters. Among those gathered to see the pope arrive in Bogota was Alva Marina Quinones, member of an association for people hurt or bereaved in the conflict. "I know that the pope can sense our history, so I have a lot of faith that his arrival here will change us and speed up the process" of peace, she said."

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

#Pray4Peace: #Nigeria: UNICEF warns use of children as 'human bombs' is on the rise in north-east Nigeria

“Since the beginning of January 2017, 83 children had been used as so-called human bombs, 55 being girls, most of them often under 15 years old,” UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) spokesperson Marixie Mercado told reporters at today's regular press briefing in Geneva. “The 27 other children were boys and one was an infant strapped to a girl,” she continued. She pointed out that since 2014, children have been repeatedly used in this way, calling the number of children used so far this year alone was “already four times higher than what it was for all of 2016.” “Children used as human bombs are, above all, victims, not perpetrators,” Ms. Mercado underscored. She went on to say that the use of children in such attacks has a further impact of creating suspicion and fear of children released, rescued, or escaped from Boko Haram. “They face rejection when they tried to reintegrate their communities which compound their suffering,” she explained. Ms. Mercado painted a dire picture, describing the situation as a massive displacement and malnutrition crisis – “a deadly combination for children.” She said that �� per cent of the persons displaced by the insurgencies in north-east Nigeria are children, and the vast majority of them in Borno state, where most of those attacks are taking place.” North-east Nigeria is one of the four countries or regions facing the spectre of famine, with up to 450,000 children at risk of severe acute malnutrition this year, according to UNICEF. UNICEF is providing psychosocial support for children who had been held by Boko Haram and the agency is also working with families and communities to foster the acceptance of returned children – including through social and economic reintegration support. As of July, UNICEF has supported more than 3,000 children and 1,200 women. It also backed reconciliation activities in north-east Nigeria led by communities, religious leaders, and influential women to help promote tolerance, acceptance, and reintegration. Noting that a $1 billion dollar appeal to minimally help sustain people in Nigeria is only 60 per cent funded, Jens Laerke, Spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told reporters at the briefing that the situation for civilians in the area was extremely grave. Humanitarian Coordinator Edward Kallon stressed that women and children in Borno state face grave human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence. He noted that, since the start of the conflict in 2009, more than 20,000 people had been killed with thousands of women and girls abducted and abused. In total, 8.5 million people in the worst-affected states of Borno, namely Adamawa and Yobe, need of humanitarian assistance. In its eighth year, this crisis shows no sign of abating, said Mr. Laerke. Food insecurity affects 5.2 million people, some of whom are on the brink of famine."

Source: United Nations News Centre - UNICEF warns use of children as 'human bombs' is on the rise in north-east Nigeria: "22 August 2017 – The United Nations children agency today expressed extreme concern at the appalling increase in the cruel and calculated use of children, especially girls, as “human bombs” in north-east Nigeria.

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#Pray4Peace: #Venezuela: Human rights violations indicate repressive policy of Venezuelan authorities

"The report notes that the generalized and systematic use of excessive force during demonstrations and the arbitrary detention of protestors and perceived political opponents indicate that these were not the acts of isolated officials. The report calls on the UN Human Rights Council to consider taking measures to prevent the human rights situation in Venezuela from worsening. Venezuela is currently a Council member. Mass street demonstrations began in the country in April. Tensions between the Government and the opposition reached a new high about a month ago when President Nicolás Maduro convened elections for the so-called Constituent Assembly, which could replace the current legislative body, the National Assembly. The report indicates that of the 124 deaths linked to the protests being investigated by the Attorney General's Office as of 31 July, the security forces were reportedly responsible for 46 and pro-Government armed groups, known as armed colectivos, for 27. Responsibility for the remaining 51 deaths has not yet been determined. According to reliable estimates from a local NGO, more than 5,000 people were detained since 1 April, with more than 1,000 reportedly still held as of 31 July. At least 609 civilians arrested in the context of protests were presented before military tribunals. The report calls on the Government to halt arbitrary detention and the use of military courts to try civilians. The report documents attacks against journalists and media workers by security forces that were apparently aimed at preventing them from covering demonstrations. “Demonstrators and journalists were labelled by high-level authorities as 'enemies' and 'terrorists' – words that did little to counter, and may even have contributed to, the climate of violence and polarization,” the High Commissioner said. Warning that amid continuing economic and social crises and rising political tensions, there is a grave risk the situation in Venezuela will deteriorate further, Mr. Zeid encouraged the Government to follow up on the recommendations made in the report and to use its findings as guidelines to seek truth and justice for the victims of human rights violations and abuses."

Source: United Nations News Centre - Human rights violations indicate repressive policy of Venezuelan authorities – UN report: "30 August 2017 – Extensive human rights violations and abuses have been committed in the wake of anti-Government protests in Venezuela and point to “the existence of a policy to repress political dissent and instill fear in the population to curb demonstrations,” a report by the United Nations human rights office has found. The policies pursued by the authorities in their response to the protests have been at the cost of Venezuelans' rights and freedoms,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in a news release issued today.

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#Pray4Peace: #Myanmar: UN expert urges efforts to break 'worsening cycle of violence' in Rakhine

“The worsening cycle of violence is of grave concern and must be broken urgently,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, in a news release issued today from the Office of UN High Commissioners for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims are now reported to be fleeing towards Bangladesh.

While the world's Muslim communities celebrated Eid al-Adha, the Rohingya remained in a precarious situation, not knowing their future or the fate of their relatives, she said.

Latest estimates from UN sources suggest more than 27,000 people have crossed into Bangladesh in the area around Cox's Bazar, while 20,000 more remain stranded between the two countries. The number continues to grow.

The Special Rapporteur noted concerns over both extremist attacks and the major security operations undertaken in response to the attacks.

“I am concerned that these events will derail efforts to address the root causes of the systematic discrimination and recurrent violence in Rakhine State,” said the Special Rapporteur.

She went on to remind the authorities of their human rights obligations to give equal protection to people from all communities, whether from attacks by extremists or excessive action from the security forces.

“I am saddened to receive reports that, while the authorities are helping Rakhine and other communities living in affected townships evacuate to safer locations, this assistance is not being extended to the Rohingya Muslims,” she said.

Echoing findings in the final report by the Rakhine Advisory Commission led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Ms. Lee said that if human rights concerns are not properly addressed and if people remain politically and economically marginalized, then northern Rakhine may provide fertile ground for radicalization, with people becoming increasingly vulnerable to recruitment by extremists.

This statement has been endorsed by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, and the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes.

Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work."

Source: United Nations News Centre - Myanmar: UN expert urges efforts to break 'worsening cycle of violence' in Rakhine: "31 August 2017 – A United Nations human rights expert has expressed alarm at the deteriorating situation in Myanmar's Rakhine State, affecting not just the Rakhine Buddhist and Rohingya Muslim populations but also other communities.

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#Pray4Peace: #Afghanistan: UN mission confirms at least 44 civilians killed, injured in latest airstrikes

"At least 28 women and children were killed and an additional 16 injured in air strikes this week in Afghanistan, the United Nations political mission in the country said in initial findings of its probe into the deaths. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) urged authorities to ensure independent, impartial and prompt investigations of both incidents, and to compensate the victims. “I am deeply saddened to hear that women and children have once again suffered so terribly from the conflict,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA. “This is unacceptable. All parties must live up to their obligations to take all feasible measures to protect civilians.” The incidents took place in Herat, a western province bordering Iran and Turkmenistan, and in Logar, which is south of Kabul on the eastern side of the country. UNAMA cited a news release issued by United States Forces in Afghanistan that it is aware of an incident in the Logar area and that they have opened an investigation into it. The air strikes reportedly targeted Anti-Government Elements who had used a civilian compound to attack aircraft. The UN mission said that it will continue its independent work to establish the facts as to what happened, including allegations that civilians were used as shields. More civilians have been killed or injured in aerial operations in the first half of this year than in 2016, according to UNAMA. Initial figures show at least 232 civilians were injured or killed, a 43 per cent increase over 2016, and the majority of the victims have been women and children."

Source: United Nations News Centre - Afghanistan: UN mission confirms at least 44 civilians killed, injured in latest airstrikes: "1 September 2017 –

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#Pray4Peace: #Iraq: ISIL targeting civilians to 'avenge' loss of Tal Afar

"At least 125 civilians were killed and another 188 injured in terrorist related acts in Iraq during the month of August, according to the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI). The casualty figures show that Baghdad was the worst affected area, and do not include casualty figures from ongoing fighting in Anbar province. The overall casualty figures are lower than in previous months, where violence spiked above 2,000 in October 2016. In a separate statement, Mr. Kubiš said that “hopeful days lie ahead for Iraq,” noting military victories against terrorists, including in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar which Iraqi forces yesterday declared liberated from ISIL. Mr. Kubiš said this Eid al-Adha, thoughts and prayers go to all the martyrs and fighters in the liberating forces, and to those who provide support and are affected – including the millions of displaced Iraqis. “On this Eid, the Feast of Sacrifice that Muslims celebrate worldwide, the Iraqi people who have sacrificed dearly deserve to live in peace, dignity, and prosperity,” he said. The senior UN official added that sustainable peace in the country can only be secured through inclusive solutions, addressing grievances, needs, and aspirations of the Iraqi people."

Source: United Nations News Centre - Iraq: ISIL targeting civilians to 'avenge' loss of Tal Afar, UN envoy says: "1 September 2017 – Iraq: ISIL targeting civilians to 'avenge' loss of Tal Afar, UN envoy says Fighters from the Islamic State (ISIL) are indiscriminately targeting civilians to avenge for their loss of Tal Afar, the top United Nations political representative in Iraqi today said, condemning the latest attack in Baghdad. “Da'esh terrorists have shown an absolute disregard for human life,” said Ján Kubiš, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Iraq, using the Arabic acronym for ISIL. “However, the patience and resilience of the Iraqi people have defeated the terrorists' aim in breaking their unity,” he added.

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#Pray4Peace: #NEPAL #INDIA #BANGLADESH: 16 million children affected by massive flooding in South Asia

"Millions of children have seen their lives swept away by these devastating floods,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia. “Children have lost their homes, schools and even friends and loved ones. There is a danger the worst could still be to come as rains continue and flood waters move south,” she added. UNICEF is on the ground working in close coordination with respective governments and humanitarian partners in the South Asian countries to scale up its responses and respond to immediate needs of affected children and their families. Since mid-August, there have been at least 1,288 reported deaths, with over 45 million people estimated to be affected. Many areas remain inaccessible due to damage to roads, bridges, railways, and airports. The most urgent needs for children are clean water, hygiene supplies to prevent the spread of disease, food supplies and safe places in evacuation centers for children to play. “Massive damage to school infrastructure and supplies also mean hundreds of thousands of children may miss weeks or months of school,” said Gough. “Getting children back into school is absolutely critical in establishing a sense of stability for children during times of crisis and provides a sense of normality when everything else is being turned upside down.” In Bangladesh alone, more than 8 million people have been affected by flooding, including around 3 million children. An estimated 696,169 houses have been damaged or destroyed and 2,292 primary and community schools have been damaged by high water. There have already been more than 13,035 cases of water-borne diseases in the country. In Nepal, 1.7 million people, including 680,000 children, have been affected with 352,738 displaced from their homes. More than 185,126 homes have been damaged or destroyed in addition to 1,958 schools, affecting the education of 253,605 children. In India, four states in northern India have been extensively affected by the flooding, affecting over 31 million people including 12.33 million children. Some 805,183 houses are either partially or fully damaged and 15,455 schools have been damaged, disrupting the education of nearly one million students. Further heavy rains in Mumbai resulted in at least five deaths by drowning and three people including two children died due to house collapse."

Source: United Nations News Centre - 16 million children affected by massive flooding in South Asia – UNICEF: "2 September 2017 – The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said today that an estimated 16 million children are in urgent need of life-saving support in the wake of torrential monsoon rains and catastrophic flooding in Nepal, India and Bangladesh.

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#Pray4Peace: DPRK: UN political chief urges Security Council to 'remain united and take appropriate action against nuclear explosive test conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)

“The latest serious developments require a comprehensive response in order to break the cycle of provocations from the DPRK,” said Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, in an emergency Council meeting, noting that “such a response must include wise and bold diplomacy to be effective.”

Mr. Feltman, however, stressed the importance of responding to humanitarian needs regardless of the political situation as the people of the DPRK rely on the international community to provide humanitarian assistance.

Today's meeting was the Council's second emergency meeting on the DPRK in less than a week and the tenth time the body has met to discuss the DPRK this year.

The latest serious developments require a comprehensive response in order to break the cycle of provocations from the DPRK
On the details of Sunday's event, Mr. Feltman said that the DPRK characterized it as a “perfect success in the test of a hydrogen bomb for intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)” and as marking “a very significant occasion in attaining the final goal of completing the state nuclear force.”

He said that it is evident the yield of the device was larger than any of the DPRK's previous nuclear tests and experts have estimated a yield of between 50 and 100 kilotons, or on average more than five times more powerful than the weapon detonated over Hiroshima and at the low end of the yield of a modern thermonuclear weapon.

Citing a DPRK article that stated the hydrogen bomb was “a multi-functional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP [electromagnetic pulse] attack,” Mr. Feltman said that “this was a rare reference by the DPRK to the use of EMP,” which, triggered by a nuclear weapon, would aim for widespread damage and disruption to electricity grids and sensitive electronics, including on satellites.

He also drew attention to reports today indicating that the DPRK may be preparing new ballistic missile tests.

“We are alarmed by this dangerous provocation,” he said, noting that Secretary-General António Guterres reiterated his call on the DPRK leadership to cease such acts and to comply fully with its international obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions.

“We will continue to carefully follow the developments and remain in close coordination with the concerned international organizations, Members of the Council and other governments concerned,” he concluded.

United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that her delegation will table a draft resolution on strengthening sanctions against the DPRK."

'via Blog this' Source: United Nations News Centre - UN political chief urges Security Council to 'remain united, take appropriate action' on DPR Korea: "4 September 2017 – The top United Nations political official today urged the Security Council to remain united and take appropriate action against Sunday's nuclear explosive test conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

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Amb. Zara Jane Juan, Peace Ambassador

Amb. Zara Jane Juan, Peace Ambassador
I choose to be a Missionary of the Interfaith, Interracial, Intercultural Sailing for Peace Program inspired and guided by the discipline and life of the Virgin Mary of the Catholic Church. I am a Catholic, a Lady Datin of the Muslims, a Buddhist in my Healthy Lifestyle and a Hindu in Purifying my Soul. With Free Thinking and Scientific Approach to my Peace Work, my life on the over-all is a whirlwind of Faith and Fate. I refuse donations to my peace work to prevent corruption but rather I decided to live a very simple so that I can fund it personally through my own personal income as Professional Resource Speaker, Author, Visual Artist, Playwright and Director

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