Weekly News Recap (24-30 January 2022)

© Photo by Axel Fassio/CIFOR via Flickr




Bosnia: Ex-Police Chief Malko Koroman Acquitted by Bosnian State Court

On 24 January 2022, ex-Police Chief Malko Koroman was acquitted by a Bosnian State Court of charges relating to the unlawful detention of civilians. Mr Koromon, who was posted at the Pale Public Security Station at the time, was alleged to have detained civilians both at the security station and a gym. In April and September of 1992, several individuals were alleged to have been ‘abused, tortured and killed’ at these locations. The Court noted that whilst there were cases of individuals being held unlawfully, some of which died, the prosecution were unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that ‘…the defendant organised, ordered, assisted in and supported these unlawful actions’ nor could they prove the existence of a ‘special police unit’ which operated ‘…under the command of Koroman.’ In addition, there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that ‘…Koroman participated in an attack on civilians in several villages in the Pale area on May 27, 1992, when 35 men were taken away from the village of Hrenovica to the gym in Pale where they were detained.’ However, it should be kept in mind that the ruling was made by a lower level court and thus, it may be appealed in the (near) future.  


Guatemala: Five Former Paramilitary Soldiers Charged with Crimes Against Humanity for the Rape of Indigenous Women

On 24 January 2022, five former paramilitary soldiers were sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for the rape of 36 indigenous women committed during the civil war. Those sentenced included brothers Benvenuto and Bernardo Ruiz who are aged 63 and 57, and Damian, Gabriel and Francisco Cuxum whom are all relatives in their 60s. The guilty verdict was handed down by the highest court in Guatemala following a three-week trial, which included testimony from survivors and their relatives. The victims, members of the indigenous Achi Mayan group, testified about how paramilitary groups gathered up the men and removed them from the village. Following this, members of this group would then gather the women, restrain them (by tying them up) and rape them. Survivor Margarita Siana, now aged 59, stated that ‘when I was 19 years old I was taken to the (military) detachment and was raped by soldiers, but those who are to blame are the patrolmen in my village.’ One of the judges presiding over the trial, Gervi Sical, stated that ‘the women were subjected to continuous rape and also to domestic slavery… We the judges firmly believe the testimonies of the women who were sexually violated.’ The verdict has been heralded as a step forward in the ongoing fight for justice in the region. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala has referred to the verdict as ‘…a landmark advance in the access to the rights to truth, justice and reparation for female victims of sexual violence during the war.’


Bosnia: State Court Confirms Indictment of Wartime Unit Commander

On 25 January 2022, an indictment charging Miodrag Nikacevic (also known as ‘Zundja’ and ‘Nikac’) with crimes against humanity was confirmed by the state court in Sarajevo. Nikacevic, a Bosnian Serb ex-officer, was alleged to have committed the crimes during his post as a Commander at the Nikac Special Unit ‘…which was part of Bosnian Serb military and police formations in the south-eastern town.’ Nikacevic is alleged to have violated international humanitarian law by persecuting the civilian populating residing in the Foca area. The indictment lists several offences including participation in the ‘…forcible disappearance of a Bosniak in the village of Djulkovina, the inhumane treatment and murder of civilians in the villages of Bijele Vode and Cohodar Mahala, as well as the forcible resettlement of civilians in the village of Sas.’ In addition to the ‘…detention and forcible resettlement of ten Bosniak civilians and the murder of six civilians in the village of Potpece’, ‘…the inhuman treatment of four people in Foca and the forcible disappearance of another person.’ Further, he is alleged to have had knowledge of the acts being committed by his subordinates but failing to prevent them. These are not the first allegations which Nikacevic has faced, he was previously charged with crimes against humanity occurring in Foca and sentenced to ten years imprisonment (in 2010) for the rape of two women during April and July of 1992. In addition to being sentenced for assisting with the disappearance of a man from the Penal and Correctional Facility in Foca.


Germany: Woman on Trial for Committing Alleged Crimes against Humanity in Syria

On 25 January 2022, a German national referred to as ‘Leonora M’ (now 22 years old) who fled to Syria as a teenager in order to join the Islamic State (IS) was charged with aiding and abetting crimes against humanity. The charges stem from her involvement in human trafficking which occurred when her IS husband ‘purchased and sold a 33-year-old Yazidi woman.’ Additionally, she ‘also faces charges of being a member of a terrorist organization and having committed violation of weapons law.’ The trial, which is predicted to continue until mid-May, is currently taking place in a closed court in the eastern city of Halle. Prior to leaving the country, Leonora is reported to have attended a mosque in Frankfurt which was being monitored by German security services due to being ‘…a possible hub of Islamic radicalization.’ Upon fleeing to Syria, Leonora married a German national (becoming his third wife) and resided in then ‘de-facto capital of the group, Raqqa.’ Official estimates suggest that this is not an isolated case with approximately 61 Germans still detained in camps across northern Syria, 30 of which are believed to have a link to Germany. Germany has been making significant strides in relation to these cases lately, as in November 2021, a German court was the first (on an international level) to ‘recognise crimes against the Yazidi community as genocide, in a verdict hailed by activists as a “historic” win for the minority.’



Germany: Syrian Doctor Denies Charges of Committing Crimes against Humanity in Trial

On 25 January 2022, updates were provided in relation to the ongoing trial of Syrian Doctor, Alaa Mousa, for crimes against humanity. The doctor is reported to have now taken the stand where he ‘…denied setting fire to a teenage boy’s genitals or operating on detainees without anaesthesia.’ Whilst on the stand, he also informed judges that ‘he felt sorry for patients who were beaten and blindfolded.’ Mr Mousa is charged with ’18 counts of torturing detainees in Damascus and the western city of Homs between 2011-12.’ This case continues to mark Germany’s progress in relation to the successful prosecution of universal jurisdiction cases, as just ‘earlier this month, another German court sentenced a former Syrian colonel to life in jail for overseeing the murders of 27 people and the torture of 4,000 others at a Damascus detention centre a decade ago.’



ECtHR: Imprisonment of German-Turkish Journalist Deniz Yucel a Violation of his Human Rights

On 25 January 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that Turkey had violated the rights of journalist Deniz Yucel. Mr. Yucel was charged with ‘engaging in propaganda in favour of Kurdish rebels’ and placed in pre-trial detention for a year. Yucel was tried in absentia in a court in Istanbul and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than two years and nine months. This despite Turkey’s constitutional court (the highest court in the system) having already previously denounced the detention of Mr. Yucel as a violation of his rights. Mr. Yucel’s case is reported to have led to ‘…a diplomatic crisis with Germany, which accused Turkey of conducting “arbitrary arrests” of German citizens suspected of links to the PKK or the network led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.’ Ultimately, the ECtHR found that his imprisonment had ‘…amounted to a violation of his right to liberty and security as well as his right to freedom of expression’ for which he had not been compensated. German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann applauded the verdict stating that it ‘speaks clearly: It is incompatible with our European values when unwanted journalists are locked up to muzzle them.’



Azerbaijan: Criminal Cases Initiated against 297 Armenian Suspects

On 26 January 2022, Azerbaijani Prosecutor-General Kamran Aliyev announced that cases had been brought by the Military Prosecutors Office against 297 Armenian suspects for alleged war crimes and crimes against peace and humanity. These individuals have been charged in accordance with the Azerbaijani Criminal Code under the following provisions, ‘…103 (genocide), 113 (torture), 115 (violation of the laws and customs of war) and 116 (breaching norms of international humanitarian law during an armed conflict).’ Mr. Aliyev stated the joint investigation team had been tasked with beginning investigations into crimes committed by both the ‘Armenian armed forces’ as well as ‘illegal Armenian armed groups operating on Azerbaijani territory.’ Finally, Mr. Aliyev also used this opportunity to provide an update in relation to the cases brought against Ludvik Mkrtichyan and Alyosha Khosrovyan (for war crimes and crime against peace and humanity) stating that they had been concluded and ‘sent to the Baku Military Court for consideration.’


KSC: Fears that President Hashim Thaci May Interfere with Witnesses Results in Prolonged Detention  

On 28 January 2022, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers refused the defence’s request to release President Hashim Thaci whilst proceedings are ongoing. President Thaci is currently on trial for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity believed to have occurred during the Kosovo war. The President and his three co-accused have pled not guilty to charges which allege their involvement in ‘…illegal detentions, torture, murder, enforced disappearances and persecution from at least March 1998 to September 1999.’ In light of the circumstances, the pre-trial judge held that ‘…the risks that Mr. Thaci will abscond, obstruct the progress of SC [Specialist Chambers] proceedings, or commit further crimes against those perceived as being opposed to the KLA, including witnesses who have provided or could provide evidence in the case and/or are due to appear before the SC, continue to exist.’ Furthermore, the judge noted that the ‘risk of flight; risks of obstruction and committing further crimes cannot to be ignored and that no other conditions that might be implemented could sufficiently address the risks posed by Mr. Thaci.’


DRC: Military Court Sentences 51 People to Death for the Killing of UN Experts

On 29 January 2022, a military court in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has sentenced 51 people to death, several in absentia for the killing of Zaida Catalan, a Swede, and Michael Sharp, an American when investigating violence in the Kasai region almost five years ago. In 2017, both UN experts were stopped along the road by armed men forcing them to march into the field where they were killed. Prosecutors at the military court in Kananga had demanded the death penalty against 51 of the 54 accused, 22 of whom are fugitives and are being tried in absentia. The charges ranged from “terrorism” and “murder” to “participation in an insurrectional movement” and “the act of a war crime through mutilation”. Prosecutors argued that the fighters had carried out the murders of UN experts to take revenge against the UN, which they accused of failing to prevent attacks against them by the army.



UN: ‘Global Learning Crisis’, 31 Million Students Affected By School Closures

On 24 January 2022, during commemorations for the International Day of Education, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, called upon the international community to take action to address the ‘ongoing learning crisis’. Mr Guterres noted that in the absence of such action the ‘share of children leaving school in developing countries who are unable to read could increase from 53 to 70 percent.’ He also made reference to the COVID-19 pandemic, which at its peak, disrupted the studies of ‘…some 1.6 billion school and college students.’ Whilst there have been some positive developments, the UN made it clear that the existing crisis is not over yet and that the ‘…turmoil goes beyond questions of access and inequality.’ Under the current circumstances, education systems are “struggling” to equip individuals with the required ‘…knowledge, skill and values that are needed to create a greener, better and safer future for all.’ In light of this, the Secretary-General is hosting a Summit in September targeted at ‘Transforming Education’ to help address the situation. Data provided by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) showed that in 135 countries schools were operational and that in 25 countries schools were currently on their end-of-year break (some of which were extended due to the pandemic). Only a small handful of countries had opted to close schools and adopt online learning due to Omicron. The agency noted that this was a stark improvement from last year when learning was being conducted remotely in 40 countries, with most schools shut. UNESCO’s Director-General Audrey Azoulay, stated that ‘education continues to be deeply disrupted by the pandemic, but all countries are now keenly aware of the dramatic costs of keeping schools closed as UNESCO said for the past two years.’ Various countries have now adopted measures which allow education to continue in-person, these measures include ‘…mask wearing, hand washing, ventilation, but also indoor and outdoor distancing, and class closures on a case-by-case basis to avoid impacting all students.’




UN: Burkina Faso Coup Leaders Called Upon to ‘Lay Down Arms’ Amid Ongoing Crisis

On 24 January 2022, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, via his spokesperson, noted his disproval of ‘…any attempt to take over a government by the force of arms.’ This statement came in light of the coup that was carried out by certain factions of the armed forces in Burkina Faso (West Africa) on Sunday. Mr. Guterres noted that President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré had been missing since the events unfolded on Sunday and expressed concern for his safety, and for the ‘worsening security situation’ in Ouagadougou (the capital). According to news outlets in the area, an army officer (on behalf of the armed forces in the area) announced the rise to power of these military factions and stated that the President had now been overthrown. The reports also stated that ‘…civilians and military elements have voiced growing criticism for months over the Government’s inability to tackle a growing Islamist insurgency that has destabilized much of the country.’ Mr. Guterres asked parties involved to restore peace in the area by laying down their arms and by providing protection to the institutions of Burkina Faso (including the President). Furthermore, he emphasized the UN’s ‘…full commitment to the preservation of the constitutional order’ and its ‘…support to the people of Burkina Faso in their efforts to find solutions to the multifaceted challenges facing the country.’ Sadly, this is not an isolated incident with military coups, staged and attempted, occurring last year throughout West Africa and the Sahel (Chad, Sudan and Guinea). The UN Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel informed the UN Security Council that ‘this resurgence of conflict is often the result of political practices which are against the aspirations of the populations.’  


UN: January ‘Record-Shattering’ Month for Civilian Casualties in Yemen

On 25 January 2022, Hans Grundberg, Special Envoy for Yemen, and William David Gressly, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen issued a statement expressing concern regarding the ongoing situation in Yemen amid rising casualties. Mr. Grundberg and Mr. Gressly stated that ‘the scale of the escalation is exacerbating an already severe humanitarian crisis in Yemen, complicating efforts to provide relief, threatening regional security and undermining efforts to bring an end to the conflict.’ They also took this opportunity to support the UN Secretary-General in condemning attacks being carried out on key infrastructure, such as, hospitals, schools and water facilities. In particular, reference was made to the airstrikes which targeted a prison facility in Sa’dah, during which 91 detainees were killed and another 226 injured. The UN officials reminded all parties to the conflict that even during times of war their existing obligations and duties under existing international frameworks do not cease and that they will be held accountable for their actions. In particular, they noted that international humanitarian law ‘…strictly prohibits disproportionate attacks and requires that all feasible precautions be taken to avoid civilian harm.’ The World Food Programme (WFO), which has also been affected by the humanitarian crisis, issued a warning in December regarding the situation in Yemen. The WFO noted that their funds were running low and that as a result, they would struggle to assist over 13 million individuals throughout the country. Thus far, in January, approximately eight million Yemenis have been impacted by this, receiving limited assistance. Mr. Grundberg and Mr. Gressly stated that the UN had been actively involved in the situation in order to try ‘achieve de-escalation’ and begin ‘…an inclusive dialogue to reach a political settlement that ends the conflict.’


OHCHR: Concern Expressed Over Children Detained in Prison During Siege in Syria

On 25 January 2022, the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) expressed deep concern about the situation unfolding in Syria days after ISIL terrorists’ attacks. On 20 January 2022, a series of seemingly coordinated attacks were unleased on a prison in Northeast Syria in an effort to free ISIL members. These attack have resulted in the eruption of violence between both ‘…ISIL fighters and Kurdish-led Syrian Defence Forces (SDF) which control the prison, including in residential areas of Al-Hasekeh.’ OHCHR Spokesperson, Ravina Shamdasani, stated that ‘we are particularly disturbed by reports that a significant number of boys, possibly several hundred, are held there and are extremely concerned for their safety and well-being.’ UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore also expressed concern for all the children innocently caught up in the violence and called upon involved parties to ensure their safety. Fore noted that, ‘almost 850 children, some as young as 12 years old, are currently in detention in northeast Syria, most of them are held in Ghwayran facility. The majority of these children are Syrian and Iraqi boys while the rest are of 20 other nationalities. None of them has been charged with any crime under national or international law. The children of foreign nationals have received little to no support from their home countries.’ The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, referred to ongoing actions as a ‘…affront to the dignity of the child and the right of every child to be treated with dignity.’  It remains to be seen to whether the calls to action by UN agencies will be heeded as the situation continues to unfold.  



UNSC: UN Secretary-General’s Call to Action in Afghanistan ‘Hanging by a Thread’

On 26 January 2022, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reminded the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) of the imperative of assisting Afghanistan in this time of crisis. Mr. Guterres stated that ‘daily life has become a frozen hell for the people of Afghanistan. As a matter of moral responsibility – and regional and global security and prosperity – we cannot abandon them. They need peace. They need hope. They need help. And they need it now.’ He then elaborated by calling upon the international community to take action, ‘…to put their hands on the wheel of progress, provide resources, and prevent Afghanistan from spiralling any further.’ In addition to calling upon the international community, Mr. Guterres called upon those in power (including de facto leaders and the Taliban) to adhere to his plan of action which provides for the safety and protection of civilians, and enforces human rights. The Secretary-General, in his talks with the UNSC, recalled the $4.4 billion appeal which had been launched in order to secure food, educational and economic systems in Afghanistan. In doing so, he encouraged countries to amend existing rules and restrictions negatively impacting on the delivery of humanitarian operations. He stated that ‘our team in Afghanistan stands ready to work with Member States and others to establish accountable systems to ensure that funds go to the Afghan people most in need and are not diverted.’ In order to aid the existing situation, the aforementioned team has now launched a ‘One-UN Transitional Engagement Framework’ which includes a ‘$3.6 billion plan to save lives and sustain health, education and other essential services throughout 2022.’ Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Special Representative Deborah Lyons, expressed hope that the Taliban would cooperate with the UN and its partners in order to engage positively with the international community. Ms Lyons referring to the existing ‘environment of intimidation’ and violence noted that ‘given the common interest in addressing this threat, if sufficient trust can be established this could be an area for potential cooperation between the international community and the de fact authorities.’ Furthermore, she stated that if the Taliban demonstrated an ability to begin the journey ‘towards national reconciliation… a process that must be entirely initiated and shaped by Afghans’ then ‘…a new conversation, a new dialogue on this is warranted.’


WFP & FAO: Food Insecurity On the Rise in 20 Regions

On 27 January 2022, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) released a new report entitled ‘Hunger Hotspots Report’ which identified Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen as the ‘countries of highest concern.’ According to this report, these are the specific areas in which people ‘…were experiencing, or projected to experience, starvation and death, requiring the most urgent attention.’ WFP and FAO noted that whilst hunger and conflict are interrelated concepts, their relationship is plagued by complexities. Further, they highlighted that the existing situation was being exacerbated by the fact that individuals were being displaced due to conflict and forced to ‘…abandon their land, homes, and jobs.’ The report delved further into the situations in Ethiopia, Mali, northern Nigeria, Niger, Syria, the Central African Republic and Colombia, where ‘humanitarian access constraints and complex security environments, continue to pose a challenge to operations.’ It also touched upon the situation in the Afghanistan where a high number of people continue to be afflicted by the significant deterioration of food security. Currently, ‘there are 22.8 million Afghans facing acute food insecurity. By March 8.7 million of those are expected to slide into critical levels of food insecurity, more than double the number from the same time last year and a record high for the country.’



UNEP: ‘State of Finance for Nature in the G20’ Report Released; Wealthy Nations Called Upon to Increase Funding for Nature Conservation

On 27 January 2022, the G20 countries alongside the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative presented their research addressing how countries may assist with ‘nature-based solutions.’ TheState of Finance for Nature in the G20’ report covered ‘promoting sustainable farming and supply chains, or initiatives such as creating green spaces in cities to tackle rising heat’ and stated that ‘…G20 States – a group representing many of the world’s most advanced economies – must address interrelated climate, biodiversity and land degradation crises by increasing their annual investments in nature to $285 billion by 2050.’ The report drew upon the 2021 version entitled ‘State of Finance for Nature – Tripling Investments in Nature-based Solutions (NbS) by 2030’ which sought $4.1 trillion in funding by 2050. Data contained in the current report identified that contributions from the private sector ‘remained small’ at ’11 percent, or $14 billion annually.’ Though, in addressing what is referred to as the ‘trillion-dollar gap’, the report noted that the G20 countries had collectively spent $120 billion on official development assistance throughout 2020. However, it also stated that there is a need for further investment in order ‘to meet all agreed biodiversity, land restoration and climate targets by 2050’, to achieve this there is a ‘…need for annual G20 NbS investments to increase by at least 140 per cent.’ The aforementioned agencies also called upon G20 countries to increase their contributions to non-G20 countries to improve the existing situation. Touching upon the need for a ‘paradigm shift’ the Head of UNEP’s Climate Finance Unit, Ivo Mulder, stated that ‘systemic changes are needed at all levels, including consumers paying the true price of food, taking into account its environment footprint… Companies and financial institutions should fully disclose climate and nature-related financial risks, and governments need to repurpose agricultural fiscal policies and trade-related tariffs.’


FAO: Director Considers Reversal of Soil Degradation ‘Vital’ for Feeding Growing Population

On 28 January 2022, Director General of FAO Qu Dongyu, during his remarks at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA), stated that reversal of soil degradation was necessary if the ‘planet’s climate crisis’ is to be resolved, biodiversity protected and the ever-increasing population fed. Statistics show that currently approximately ‘95 percent of global food production’ is reliant on soil. However, there is a risk that this soil will be damaged or become increasingly limited as ‘…unsustainable agricultural practices, the overexploitation of natural resources and a growing population are putting increased pressure on our soils. A third of them are already degraded, and experts estimate that soil erosion could lead to a 10 percent loss in crop production by 2050.’ Accordingly, this ten percent loss would equate to a loss of 75 billion tonnes of soil. The ‘State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture’ report issued by FAO includes a warning that ‘…our agricultural systems – the interconnect complex web of soil, land and water – are at breaking point.’ With this in mind, the Director General urged countries to take further action in their commitment to the cause and encouraged the use of instruments such as the ‘Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management’, ‘World Soil Charter’ and the ‘International Code of Conduct for the Sustainable Use and Management of Fertilizers.’ FAO reminded the international community that an increased commitment to practices targeting ‘sustainable soil management’ will result in ‘…better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all, leaving no one behind.’


OHCHR: UN Experts Call for Laws ‘Shaming’ Leprosy Discrimination to be Repealed

On 28 January 2022, human rights experts called for the removal of ‘more than 100 laws’ targeted at shaming those with leprosy. They noted that such laws ultimately discriminate against those suffering with the disease, and thus, violating international law. Furthermore, these laws often lead to segregation and in some instances, the incitement of violence. UN Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, Alice Cruz, stated that ‘it is time for all States concerned to make a choice: whether to keep such discriminatory laws against persons affected by leprosy in violation of international human rights standards, or to eliminate such discrimination in law without delay.’ Statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that across 139 countries ‘…there were 127,558 new leprosy cases detected globally in 2020 …. It is believed that the real numbers are much higher as diagnosing and reporting have been affected by the COVID pandemic.’ According to experts, India is believed to have the highest number of discriminatory laws, with a total of 97 provisions. However, India is not alone, there are another 30 countries which have these kinds of law in place. In light of World Leprosy Day, which occurs on 30 January, the UN expert stated that disproportionate affects were felt by certain groups such as women. Ms. Cruiz stated that ‘the mere existence of laws allowing for divorce on the grounds of leprosy have a devastating impact on women, hindering their access to health care and justice.’ She also added that ‘by formalizing harmful stereotypes as lawful labels and normalizing humiliation and violence as authorized practices, such laws significantly compromise livelihoods, exclude people affected by leprosy from political and civic participation, and augment the State’s negligence towards this marginalized group.’ With these sentiments in mind, Ms. Cruz pleaded with states to amend and repeal provisions which were discriminatory in nature as ‘matter of priority’ and to put anti-discrimination laws in their place.  


UNICEF: Lebanese Crisis Depriving Youth of Education

On 28 January 2022, the UN’s Children Fund (UNICEF) released a new report entitled ‘Searching for Hope’ which shed light on the existing state of education within Lebanon. The report noted that young people were leaving school and entering into the labour market due to the crisis, the problem being that these jobs are often ‘ill-paid’ and ‘irregular.’ These young people often have no other choice and are forced into these kinds of jobs in order to help their family survive. As a consequence, young individuals are not acquiring the required skills they need from education to obtain jobs with better conditions. The report states that ‘more than four in 10 young Lebanese over just a 12-month period, reduced spending on education to buy basic food, medicine and other essential items, and nearly a third, have been forced to stop studying altogether.’ As a consequence, the level of enrolment in varying academic institutions had also dropped, ‘…from 60 percent in 2020-2021, to just 43 per cent for the current academic year.’ UNICEF Representative for Lebanon, Ettie Higgins, reflecting on the situation, noted that the crisis meant that young people were constantly facing instability. Ms. Higgins stated that ‘investments are needed to ensure financial concerns do not prevent them from getting the education and skills they need to eventually find decent work and contribute to the stability and prosperity of Lebanon.’ According to the agency, ‘working youth have an average monthly income of 1,600,000 Lebanese pounds which is equivalent to about $64 at the black market rate.’ Furthermore, ‘about 13 per cent of families sent children under 18, out to work. Almost one in two young people reduced expenses on health, and only six out of 10 received primary health care when they needed it.’ UNICEF has been reaching out to affected youths, with one individual referred to as Hind (who is 22 years of age), stating that ‘for the first time in my life, I want to leave my country, I want to leave Lebanon.’



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