Belgium’s Ghent University severs ties with all Israeli universities

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According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 114 million people are on the run because countries are not addressing the causes of the conflict

GENEVA: The number of people fleeing war, violence and persecution has reached 114 million and continues to rise because states have failed to address the root causes and fighters refuse to respect international law, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on Thursday.
In a sharp speech, Filippo Grandi criticized the UN Security Council, which is responsible for maintaining world peace and international security, for not using its voice to resolve conflicts from Gaza, Ukraine and Sudan to Congo, Myanmar and many other places.
He also accused unnamed countries of making “short-sighted foreign policy decisions that are often based on double standards. While compliance with the law is appreciated, the Council rarely shows its strength to actually uphold the law and, with it, peace and security.”
Grandi said failure to comply with international humanitarian law meant that “parties to conflict – and increasingly all over the world, indeed almost all of them – have ceased to respect the laws of war,” even if some only pretend to do so.
The result is more civilian deaths, sexual violence is used as a weapon of war, hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure are attacked and destroyed, and humanitarian workers are targeted, he said.
Grandi called himself a frustrated humanitarian and looked directly at the 15 council members. Rather than using their voices, “the cacophony of the council has resulted in you instead continuing to preside over a larger cacophony of chaos around the world.”
The High Commissioner for Refugees told the Council that it was too late for the tens of thousands killed in Gaza, Ukraine, Sudan and other conflicts.
“But it is not too late to focus and energy on the crises and conflicts that have not yet been resolved, so that they do not simmer and escalate again,” said Grandi. “It is not too late to step up assistance to the millions of people who have been forcibly displaced so that they can return to their homes voluntarily, in safety and dignity.”
Moreover, it is not yet too late to save millions of people from the scourge of war, said the refugee commissioner.
But the Security Council is increasingly polarized, with the five permanent members, who have veto power, divided. The United States, Britain and France are often vehemently opposed to the views of Russia and China.
On the Gaza war, the Council has not called for a ceasefire due to opposition from the United States, Israel’s closest ally. And on Ukraine, the Council has been ineffective because Russia, one of the main parties to the conflict since Moscow invaded in February 2022, would veto almost any solution.
Grandi described the events in the Gaza Strip since Hamas’ surprise attack on October 7, as well as the “cruel” recent events in the southern city of Rafah, where an Israeli airstrike led to a deadly fire in a camp for displaced Palestinians, as examples of the “brutal conduct of hostilities whose aim is not only annihilation but also the fear of civilians”, who are increasingly forced to flee.
He said Gaza was also “a tragic reminder of what happens when conflict (and by extension a refugee crisis) goes unaddressed for decades.” He also pointed to Syria, where after 13 years of conflict, 5.6 million Syrian refugees still live in neighboring countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, which also host Palestinian refugees.
Grandi said violations of international law, including the displacement of people, have devastating effects on people everywhere.
In Myanmar, for example, more than 1.5 million people have been displaced by fighting since October, bringing the total to more than three million. “Many are trying to find refuge in neighboring countries,” he said.
In Ukraine, international humanitarian law is violated daily by Russian attacks on the country’s power grids, homes and other civilian infrastructure, he said.
And in Congo, Grandi said, “violence between armed men is so commonplace that no other place on earth is as dangerous for women and children as the east of the country.”
“But how can the members of the United Nations, how can ‘we the people’, pay so little attention and remain so inactive in a place where sex with a child can be had for less than a cold drink?” asked the refugee chief.
“What a disgraceful stain on humanity!” said Grandi.

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