Ms. Lawlor has issued a statement expressing her increasing concern for the health and life of Mohammad Al-Qahtani, a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, which was dissolved in 2013.  

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I'm concerned at reports that Mohammad Al-Qahtani's family has lost contact with him since 23 Oct. I call on #SaudiArabia to inform his family of his whereabouts & current state of health & to allow them access.
@stephenkalin @ALQST_En @KSAPermanentGVA
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Mary Lawlor UN Special Rapporteur HRDs
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He was sentenced to a decade in prison that same year for allegedly providing false information to outside sources, including UN human rights mechanisms. 

Appeal to authorities 

“I am concerned at reports that his family has lost communication with Mohammad Al-Qahtani since 23 October 2022, after filing a complaint about attacks on him by other inmates,” said Ms. Lawlor.  

“I am calling on the relevant authorities in Saudi Arabia to inform his family of his whereabouts and current state of health, and to allow access by his family and lawyers.” 

The Special Rapporteur is in contact with the authorities about the case. 

Against incommunicado detention 

Mr. Al-Qahtani has repeatedly protested against ill treatment at Al-Ha’ir Reformatory Prison in the capital, Riyadh, where he is serving his sentence. 

The human rights defender has complained about attacks by other prisoners since May, but authorities have refused his request to be transferred. 

Ms. Lawlor said she is gravely concerned about the use of incommunicado detention as it represents a violation of detainees’ rights under international law.  

“Such methods give rise to grave concerns for the personal integrity of detainees, as they run a heightened risk of being subjected to ill-treatment and torture when all contact with the outside world has been blocked,” she added.

The League is among the regional organizations which have a vital role to play in advancing peace, sustainable development, and human rights, he added. 

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Our world faces great trials and tests.

Geopolitical divides are growing and inequalities and injustices are deepening.

Cooperation is the only way forward.

- @antonioguterres at the Summit of the League of Arab States. https://t.co/vk5LJUvbeN

UN Spokesperson
UN_Spokesperson

Mr. Guterres also appealed for unity across the Arab world, which he said has never been more essential. 

“Division opens the door to foreign, non-Arab, interference, to terrorism, to manipulation, and sectarian strife. But united, your leadership can shape a region that makes the most of its enormous potential and contributes to global peace and security,” he said

Support for Palestine refugees 

The Secretary-General began his remarks by focusing attention on the continued suffering of the Palestinian people, underlining the UN’s clear position that peace must advance, and occupation must end. 

“Our shared goal remains two States – Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace and security, with Al-Quds/Jerusalem as the capital of both States,” he said. 

With the UN agency that assists Palestine refugees, UNRWA, in financial crisis, Mr. Guterres urged Arab States to generously support this “vital pillar of regional stability”

He also looked forward to continued collaboration to address conflicts and rising humanitarian needs in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan. 

Concern for developing countries 

The Secretary-General highlighted how developing countries require greater support today because they are not getting the financing they need. 

Nations in the Arab world, Africa and beyond, are being weakened by conflicts, battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, and pummelled by the climate crisis. 

Fallout from the war in Ukraine, in the form of soaring food and energy prices, spiralling inflation, and crushing debt, have added to the burden.

The first case was reported to WHO by the Ministry of Public Health on 6 October, and there have been 381 laboratory-confirmed cases.

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Join our media briefing on cholera outbreak in the @WHOEMRO Region, focusing on the situation in Syria and Lebanon.

🗓Wednesday, 2 November 2022
🕐15:00 Cairo time (GMT+2)

#HealthForAll_ByAll
#AskEMRO https://t.co/NLautPjT86

WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO)
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While the outbreak was initially confined to northern districts, it has spread rapidly said WHO’s office in Lebanon, with laboratory-confirmed cases now reported from all eight governorates and 18 out of 26 districts.

Serotype Vibrio cholerae O1 El-Tor Ogawa was identified as the cholera strain in circulation, similar to the one circulating in Syria.

Deadly, but preventable

“Cholera is deadly, but it’s also preventable through vaccines and access to safe water and sanitation. It can be easily treated with timely oral rehydration or antibiotics for more severe cases,” says Dr. Abdinasir Abubakar, WHO Representative.

“The situation in Lebanon is fragile as the country already struggles to fight other crises – compounded by prolonged political and economic deterioration.”

WHO is working alongside the public health ministry to try and curb the outbreak, along with other humanitarian partners.

Together they have drawn up a national cholera preparedness and response plan, outlining the most urgent response interventions required, while scaling up surveillance and active case-finding in case hotspots.

WHO support

Given the shortage of both health staff and medical supplies in the country, WHO has provided the two reference laboratories, three prisons and 12 hospitals designated for cholera treatment with laboratory reagents, treatment kits and rapid diagnostic tests.

The UN health agency has also deployed nurses and doctors as surge capacity to hospitals in the most affected areas. The procurement and prepositioning of additional cholera supplies are being also finalized, said WHO.

The protracted fighting has taken countless lives, displaced millions in and outside the country and left much of the country’s infrastructure in tatters. The failure of international efforts to make much progress has been ascribed to the lack of understanding amongst formal mediators of the situation on the ground in local communities.

This is where Syrian women come to the fore. Most women involved in local mediation have some connection to the dispute, and are perceived as trustworthy and credible by the disputing parties. As “insider mediators”, they demonstrate two consistent strengths: the ability to build or leverage relationships, and the possession of detailed knowledge on the conflict and its parties.

An example of this strength came early in the war, in the Zabadani district, northwest of Damascus. As the district began to fall under the control of opposition forces, it was besieged by the government. The authorities demanded that men hand over weapons and surrender, which meant that only women could move safely across the lines of control.

A reversal of roles

Whilst, before the war, Zabadani women were usually expected to focus on responsibilities inside the home, the new restrictions and risks suddenly faced by men made it acceptable—and even necessary—for women to get involved in negotiations with government forces.

Quickly stepping into this newfound role, a group of women in Zabadani gathered and initiated a mediation process with the besieging forces in order to negotiate an end to the siege as well as a potential ceasefire.

“Most of these women became involved because their husbands were implicated with the opposition forces and were wanted by the government,” says Sameh Awad,* a peacebuilding expert familiar with the case. “The women themselves were mostly housewives and did not have any formal role in the community, but they gained their significance because they wanted to protect their husbands”.

Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, was briefing the Security Council in the wake of escalating confrontations between Israeli security forces (ISF) and militants, culminating in a large ISF raid in Nablus early this week, which saw five Palestinians killed and 21 wounded.

Calling on both leaderships “to recognize what is at stake and to take the steps within their power to restore calm”, he said “core political issues” had to be addressed, or “the deep-rooted mistrust and hostility will continue to grow. I see clearly the mounting frustration and anger of Palestinians in the face of decades of Israeli occupation.”

Urgent support

He added that the Palestinian Authority (PA) the governing body of the West Bank under the 1994 Oslo Accords, “urgently needs the economic support and political space to fully exercise its authority, including security, in areas under its control.”

Too many have died in recent weeks, “overwhelmingly Palestinian”, he told ambassadors creating an atmosphere of “mounting hopelessness, anger and tension” fuelling a deadly cycle of violence, that is increasingly difficult to contain.

“Decades of violence and its toll on both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as a prolonged absence of meaningful negotiations and a failure to resolve the key issues fuelling the conflict, have created fertile ground for this dynamic.”

Tor Wennesland (on screen), Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
UN Photo/Manuel Elías
Tor Wennesland (on screen), Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

“For over 55 years, the Israeli military occupation has prevented the realisation of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, violating each component of that right and wilfully pursuing the ‘de-Palestinianisation’ of the occupied territory,” said Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, in her report to the UN General Assembly.

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#Israel’s occupation of #Palestine is illegal & indistinguishable from settler-colonialism, which must end as a pre-condition for Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination –UN expert @FranceskAlbs presents report at #UNGA77.

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UN Special Procedures
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The report asserts the Israeli occupation violates Palestinian territorial sovereignty by seizing, annexing, fragmenting, and transferring its civilian population to the occupied territory.

The occupation furthermore “endangers the cultural existence of the Palestinian people”, said the UN rights office press release summarizing the report, by erasing or appropriating symbols expressing Palestinian identity and violates Palestinians’ ability to organise themselves, free from alien domination and control, by repressing Palestinian political activity, advocacy and activism.

‘Strategic fragmentation’

“This is, in essence, proof of the intent to colonise the occupied territory, and manifests Israel’s policies of domination through the “strategic fragmentation” of the occupied territory,” the expert said.

The international community’s political, humanitarian, and economic approach towards resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict, have failed without exception, the report notes.  

“These approaches conflate root causes with symptoms and serve to normalise Israel’s illegal occupation instead of challenging it. This is immoral and renders the regulatory and remedial function of international law futile,” Albanese said.

Paradigm shift 

The report calls for “a paradigm shift”, which entails moving away from the narrative of “conflict” between Israelis and Palestinians, and recognition of Israel’s “intentionally acquisitive, segregationist and repressive settler-colonial occupation.

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