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Good morning, this is Pip and today we’re speaking to human rights defender Ales Bialiatski about the ongoing crisis in Belarus, as the government continues to crackdown on dissent.

We’re also hearing from two directors who highlight the human impact of Europe’s hostile asylum policy in their film Shadow Game, premiering at this year's International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva.

In other news, the US has given the UN a nudge to recommence peace talks on Afghanistan, and Switzerland has suspended development aid to Myanmar as the crisis in the country escalates.

photo journaliste

Pip Cook


Peace and humanitarian news

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Ales Bialiatski lays flowers at a memorial to Aliaksandr Taraikouski, a protester who was killed during a demonstration on August 10, 2020. (Credit: HRC Viasna)

✊ Defending human rights in Belarus. A former political prisoner who has spent his life advocating for human rights, Ales Bialiatski says Belarus is facing an “absolute catastrophe”, as the government ramps up its crackdown on rights defenders, journalists and activists. But half a year on from the rigged election that sparked the largest peaceful protests the country has ever seen, the people of Belarus are not giving up.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

🇦🇫 🇺🇳 US pushes for UN-led peace talks on Afghanistan. US secretary of state Anthony Blinken has pushed to restart stalled peace talks between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban. In a letter to President Ashraf Ghani, Blinken calls for the two sides to come together and discuss “a unified approach to supporting peace in Afghanistan”.

The Guardian (EN)

💰 🚫 Switzerland suspends development aid to Myanmar. The foreign ministry has confirmed that only emergency aid is being maintained, in response to an escalation in the violent crackdown by the country’s military on massive protests against last month’s coup.

Swissinfo (EN)

Here’s what else is happening

Image of the day

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Mustafa, 17, fled Iraq three years ago. (Credit: Shadow Game)

The teenagers in crisis at Europe’s borders. Every day, children fleeing conflict and persecution in their home countries attempt to cross Europe’s borders in search of protection. Violent pushbacks and beatings are commonplace, but these are preferable to the interminable wait in squalid camps or sleeping rough on the streets. Shadow Game, premiering at this year's International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva, tells their stories.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Number of the day

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Credit: Pakistani women hold placards during a rally to mark International Women’s Day in Lahore, Pakistan, 08 March 2021. (Keystone/EPA/Rahat Dar)

New analysis from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has found that 15 million people in need, mainly women and girls, are currently left out of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) service provisions. Despite the acknowledged “shadow pandemic”, the IRC also found that GBV funding did not grow proportionally alongside need nor Covid-19 funding requests, and in some cases, GBV funding requests actually declined.


Next on the agenda

📌 14 March | Helping migrants: a perilous mission for humanitarians. NGOs are being prosecuted for acts of solidarity with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. Kurdish Iranian journalist and writer Behrouz Boochani and Spanish activist Helena Maleno join Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Switzerland director Stephen Cornish to discuss the criminalisation of solidarity.


📌 18 March | Digital technologies and humanitarian action in armed conflict. This discussion will explore the risks and benefits of digitalisation in humanitarian action, as well as how digitalisation has impacted armed conflicts and conduct of hostilities.


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