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Witnessing Humanitarian Crises up Close

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As tensions between Russia and the West increase, Europe's main security and human rights body, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe called last week's two-day summit “successful,” even though a joint political declaration eluded delegates. The international body also failed to reach consensus on the recent war between Russia and Georgia and respond to calls by Moscow for a new European security pact.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Washington forfeited its place at the heart of the world order and that the Russian war with Georgia showed that NATO and the U.S. should be replaced as Europe's main security mechanism.

Russia launched a counter-attack against Georgia in August after Tbilisi's forces tried to retake Moscow-backed South Ossetia, which unilaterally declared independence from Georgia. Some political analysts say violence could flare again.

In other news, today the Philippine human rights group Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights (Karapatan) declared that at least 50 extrajudicial killings have been reported so far this year, while seven persons have been “involuntarily disappeared.” In the eight years since Philippines President Macapagal-Arroyo came to power, the group said it has recorded 977 victims of extrajudicial killings and 201 victims of “enforced disappearances.” 

Anna Niestat is Senior Emergencies Researcher for Human Rights Watch. When catastrophes hit, be they natural or man-made, Anna is one of the first people Human Rights Watch puts on the ground. Anna has witnessed the aftermath of humanitarian crises in countries such as Georgia and Zimbabwe, Currently, she's working on a report about extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

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