Major aid agencies warned on 26 July that over 300,000 people in Aleppo and 60,000 people in Manbij have been completely cut off from humanitarian assistance. Amid the particularly dire situation in eastern Aleppo, during a 25 July UN Security Council briefing the UN’s humanitarian chief, Stephen O’Brien, called for weekly, 48-hour humanitarian pauses. Meanwhile, the Syrian government’s assault on healthcare continued, with airstrikes targeting four hospitals and the only remaining blood bank in Aleppo between 23 and 24 July. Such attacks constitute war crimes under international humanitarian law.
Political turmoil in South Sudan worsened after First Vice President Riek Machar was replaced by Taban Deng Gai, whose nomination by the fractured opposition was accepted by President Salva Kiir on 24 July. The United Nations warned the appointment was a violation of the August 2015 peace agreement, which is already in peril following five days of intense fighting in Juba from 7 to 11 July.
South Sudan continues to witness sporadic violence, including reports of sexual violence against women and girls and ethnic targeting by government forces in Juba on 17 July. The rapes took place near a UN base while peacekeepers reportedly witnessed some attacks but failed to act. The UN Security Council will renew the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) mandate this week. It is critical that the new mandate reinforces UNMISS and calls upon peacekeepers to robustly protect civilians from mass atrocities. The Security Council should also immediately impose an arms embargo on South Sudan.
While the government and representatives of the Houthi rebels formally resumed UN-facilitated peace talks in Kuwait on 16 July, populations in Yemen continue to suffer as a result of ongoing ceasefire violations and a growing humanitarian crisis. On 26 July the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen highlighted the plight of besieged populations in Taizz, calling upon all parties to agree to a humanitarian pause. Government forces reportedly retook the al-Sarari area of Taizz from the Houthis earlier this week. Meanwhile, the Houthis have reportedly tightened their siege of Taizz city, where more than 200,000 people are being deprived of vital resources.