Annan "Deeply Distressed" by Displacement of Afghan Civilians
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan released a statement yesterday saying that he was "deeply distressed by reports of widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Afghanistan."
A spokesperson for the U.N. added that Annan "strongly condemns the ongoing forceful displacement of civilians, resulting from the most recent offensive by the Taliban, and remains alarmed by reports of violations affecting inhabitants of the Shomali plain, as well as displaced persons in Kabul." Annan also expressed concern about reports that children as young as age 14 were engaging in combat.
As a result of the Taliban's latest military endeavors, approximately 100,000 people have been displaced from their homes. Almost 20,000 of those people have fled to or were forced into the capital city of Kabul, where the Taliban has detained those who lived in areas held by the Taliban's opposition. Many are in danger of dying due to disease, starvation, and dehydration. Residents of Afghanistan's Shomali plain were quoted as saying that Taliban soldiers had set entire villages on fire in an attempt to force civilians out.
Annan urged the Taliban and its opposition to "immediately end the conflict" and to take measure to protect aid workers and civilians while fighting ensues.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .