Human rights violations continue to be reported in Darfur say UN experts

24 September 2007Serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by all sides in the Darfur conflict continue to be reported, a group of seven independent United Nations rights experts said today in an interim report on the situation in the war-wracked Sudanese region. The report of the Group of Experts on Darfur, presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, said they had received “excellent cooperation” from the Sudanese Government in their consultations and meetings since they issued their last report and recommendations in June.But the ultimate measure of the Government’s implementation of those recommendations would be a concrete improvement in the human rights situation in Darfur, they said. While they noted that Khartoum had partially implemented some recommendations, there was no indication so far “that a clear impact on the ground has been identified.”More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2.2 million others have been displaced from their homes since rebels began fighting Government forces and allied Janjaweed militia groups in 2003.In March this year, the Human Rights Council set up the Group of Experts to monitor the situation on the ground amid mounting international concern at armed attacks against civilians and humanitarian workers, the widespread destruction of villages and the lack of accountability for the perpetrators of gender-based violence against women and girls.The Group of Experts said it was not able yet to deliver a detailed assessment, which would have to wait until a complete report can be delivered to the Council in December.The experts called on the Government to continue its efforts to implement the recommendations, such as by tackling impunity and by ensuring that all allegations of human rights violations are duly investigated and any perpetrators brought to justice.They also urged all parties to the Darfur conflict to end violence against civilians, particularly women, children, internally displaced persons (IDPs), people with disabilities and humanitarian workers.The Group is chaired by Sima Samar, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan, and its Rapporteur is Walter Kälin, the Secretary-General’s Representative on human rights of IDPs. Mr. Kälin presented today’s interim report to the Council.The other members of the Group are: the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston; the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on the situation of human rights defenders, Hina Jilani; the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, Manfred Nowak; and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Yakin Ertürk. read more

More Canadians are saying the countrys housing is unaffordable regardless of income

OTTAWA — Feel like a house in your city is unaffordable? Apparently, you’re not alone.A new poll suggests that just over two in five Canadians believe housing in this country is not affordable for them, a finding that cuts almost evenly across income levels.The poll by EKOS Research appears even more bleak in some of Canada’s hottest housing markets, where only a small sliver of respondents said they believe homes are affordable.The data closely lines up with more formal benchmarks the federal government uses to measure affordability, as well as other data about the cost of housing, whether purchased or rented.The Trudeau government has promised a national housing strategy to help Canadians find and afford suitable housing, part of a larger strategy to reduce poverty. But the poll suggests the government is also dealing with public fears about affordability.Mortgage rate hike looms as Canadians hit near-record debtHas Poloz been more hawkish than people think? The July 12 rate decision will offer up some clues“It’s a deeply troubling finding that in certain portions of Canada, either geographically or societally, that this is a crisis level,” said Frank Graves, president of EKOS Research.The poll found about half of respondents who consider themselves poor or working class believe that the cost of local housing is beyond their means. The rate was 38 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively, with respondents who consider themselves middle or upper class.Looking at cities, only six per cent of respondents in Toronto and two per cent in Vancouver said they believe housing was affordable. In Calgary, the number was 11 per cent; in Montreal, 22 per cent.The results of the telephone poll of 5,658 Canadians, conducted between June 1 and 19, are considered accurate to within 1.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.The federal government hopes to halve the number of the hardest-to-help homeless, lifting tens of thousands out of “core housing need” — meaning they spend more than one-third of their before-tax income on housing that may be substandard or doesn’t meet their needs.The Liberal government believes the biggest impact could be on renters who are stretched financially in many of Canada’s biggest cities.Research from the University of Calgary’s school of public policy finds that affordability crunch is most acute in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto, where a low-income family can spend upwards of half their income on the lowest-priced apartments.Different situations in different cities make crafting a national housing strategy a challenge, because it must account for regional variations in incomes and costs, the school says in its June research note.Municipal leaders are asking the government to prioritize federal spending on repair existing and construct new affordable housing units to deal with chronic shortages and deepening poverty in Canada. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is also recommending the government provide direct housing support newcomers to Canada and provide more help for indigenous peoples living in urban centres.The recommendations are part of a submission to the Liberals’ anti-poverty strategy consultations.The Canadian Press read more