Haiti Seeking to fend off cholera threat UN agencies deliver aid call

The storm started at night, but it wasn’t until sunrise that the families of this coastal town started to fear for their lives. “The roofs and tree branches flew away. Water started coming in, things were flying everywhere… no one could get hold of them,” explains Dicejour Gelin, 13. Photo: UNICEF/UN035046/Moreno Gonzalez Picking Up The Pieces. Credit: WFP WFP spokesperson Bettina Luescher said that food for 300,000 people has been prepositioned in the country, and it has delivered food rations to more than 10,500 people in Jérémie and Les Cayes in the southwest. WFP has been flying aid workers into that part of the country as roads had been damaged. Once the markets start working again, WFP will move to cash aid, the spokesperson said. Education should not be forgotten in emergency situations“Education should not be forgotten in emergency situations,” said Christophe Boulierac, spokesperson for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Geneva. In the storm’s wake, more than 100,000 children in Haiti are missing out on learning as their schools were either damaged or converted into shelters. “At least 100,000 children today will not experience the joy, safety and stimulation that being in a classroom brings,” said UNICEF’s Deputy Representative in Haiti, Jean Metenier, in a news release. “We need to get them back to learning as soon as possible. Hurricane Matthew took away their schools, homes and textbooks. It shouldn’t take away their sense of hope.” Schools have reopened across the country but, according to initial national estimates, at least 300 public schools have been partially or entirely damaged in the country and many others are being used to shelter displaced families. Schools in Sud and Grande Anse departments will remain closed for at least another week. UNICEF is working with partners to help set up temporary learning spaces. Priorities include rehabilitating damaged schools, delivering adequate school supplies, furniture and teaching materials, and providing children with psychosocial support. Dicejour’s father, Jeody Luckmane, 28, works in the field. The heavy winds and rains have destroyed all the crops. “I do not know what we will do now. Everything is destroyed. There is nothing left. There is no food or water, and children are starting to get sick,” he says. Photo: UNICEF/UN035023/Moreno Gonzalez UNICEF teams in Haiti are working closely with the Government and NGO partners to provide a first delivery of humanitarian supplies to the most affected zones. Surviving Hurricane Matthew means not only surviving the biggest storm in a decade; but also getting ready for what lies ahead. UNICEF/UN035024/Moreno Gonzalez For Renel Ginol, the father of Renelson, 6, and Bethsaiina, 8, education is what worries him most. “The school is totally damaged. They will start building the school but it will take several months and my children will lose the whole academic year”. Photo: UNICEF/UN035031/Moreno Gonzalez Pierre Yolande, 52, and her two granddaughters, Dorry Wideline, 10, and Pierre Saraphila, 12, managed to get back some of their belongings. “The whole wall collapsed and the waves entered right into our room. It was a nightmare but we were not sleeping,” says Dorry. Photo: UNICEF/UN035027/Moreno Gonzalez Hurricane Matthew has put the lives of millions of children in Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic in danger. In Haiti, it is estimated that half a million children live in the most affected areas, particularly in Grand-Anse and the South. Photo: UNICEF/UN035025/Moreno Gonzalez Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) decided to send one million cholera vaccine doses and dispatch Dr. Dominique Legros, WHO’s cholera focal point, to Haiti at the end of the week to discuss with the Ministry of Health how to best use the vaccines. WHO had already deployed some 80 staff from its regional office, and had also provided materials for cholera care, treatment centres, beds and materials for treatment of patients. The agency has also mobilized partners, such as Médecins Sans Frontières, known as Doctors Without Borders, which deployed 40 of its own staff. “The top priority for people affected by the hurricane is to give them access to safe drinking water. It is the only way to control cholera on the long term in Haiti and elsewhere,” Dr. Legros told reporters in Geneva at the regular bi-weekly press briefing, noting that Hurricane Matthew hit at a time when cholera was still putting a heavy burden on the tiny Caribbean island nation. It is necessary to plan for the worst case scenario and be ready to face the situation with all the usual elements of a response plan such as surveillance, access to safe water, and vaccinesIn the context of flooding and potential contamination of drinking water by faecal sludge, WHO was concerned about the further increase in cholera cases, particularly at this time of the year, as there is usually an increment in cases reported between November and January, he said. About a quarter of the health care facilities, or 35, including cholera treatment centres and units, have been either destroyed or seriously damaged in the south of the country, which caused problems of access to health care for patients, Dr. Legros said, adding that with partners, WHO staff are actively rebuilding health care facilities. “It is necessary to plan for the worst case scenario and be ready to face the situation with all the usual elements of a response plan such as surveillance, access to safe water, and vaccines,” Dr. Legros said. He said that before the storm, WHO had vaccinated about 400,000 people in Haiti, using 800,000 doses, or two doses per person, essentially in the central part of the country and towards Cap Haitien. Another one million doses announced yesterday would cover 500,000 people, or one million people if a single-dose approach is used, Dr. Legros explained. Then the protection would be relatively short. He went on to note that WHO has had one experience of a large-scale single-dose campaign in Bangladesh two years ago. It had proved effective for six months. After six months, there was still a 60 to 70 per cent effectiveness for severe cholera cases. After one year, the effectiveness had disappeared. “Protection for six months would be enough to cover the period of highest risk in Haiti,” he said. Dr. Legros said that since the beginning of the cholera outbreak in October 2010 there had been 790,000 cases and more than 9,000 deaths in Haiti. There had since been a sharp drop, but from 2014, cases have increased every year. In 2016, there had been 30,000 cases to date. Not having access to safe water is the main reason for these cases, he added. Nearly 100 per cent of crops destroyed in hard-hit southwestMeanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has reported that in the country’s northwest, 60 to 90 per cent of the harvest has been destroyed, and the fishing industry was paralyzed because boats and fishing materials had been swept away. However in the southwest, where Hurricane Matthew made landfall, almost 100 per cent of the crops are gone. In the town of Jeremie, in the Garnd-Anse Department where the hurricane hit the hardest, families are trying to get back to their normal lives. Despite the desolate landscape, the sight of children playing and the sounds of their laughter bring a spark of hope for a better future. Photo: UNICEF/UN035026/Moreno Gonzalez Big waves caused by the hurricane destroyed the whole coastline, flooding hundreds of homes. “That night, I was at home but the water inundated us. We were able to get out but left all our things behind. The day after, we had to get them from a ditch,” recalls Dicejour. Photo: UNICEF/UN035028/Moreno Gonzalez The roof of their house collapsed and hurt one of Renel’s legs, before they could get away and take shelter in a nearby vocational school. “Now I help my father as much as I can,” explains Renelson. “I want him to know that I am also strong and we can fix our home together.” Photo: UNICEF/UN035041/Moreno Gonzalez Surviving Hurricane Matthew The death toll from Hurricane Matthew which hit Haiti on October 4 continues to rise. Haiti is facing the largest humanitarian emergency since the earthquake in 2010. The full extent of the damage remains unknown, but the incredible stories of the families who survived this fierce storm need to be told. Photo: UNICEF/UN034980/Abassi, UN-MINUSTAH “We heard on the radio that a storm was coming. My father also told me, but I was very scared when the roof fell over our heads,” says Renelson. “And now the radio doesn’t work any longer.” Photo: UNICEF/UN035029/Moreno Gonzalez ‹ › Together with its partners ACTED and Oxfam, UNICEF has prepositioned emergency supplies for 10,000 people in the departments of Grand Anse and Sud, including water kits, water purification tablets, and mosquito nets. UNICEF has also provided a 10,000 liter water reservoir to the hospital in Les Cayes. Investment in disaster risk governance neededMeanwhile, Denis McClean, a spokesperson for the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), said it is totally unacceptable that hundreds of people could die in a disaster which was as well forecast as Hurricane Matthew. “There had been plenty of time for warnings to be issued and for evacuations to take place,” he said. “The question now has to be asked: why, six years after the earthquake in Haiti, adequate multi-hazard warning systems were not in place to ensure a minimal loss of life in such events?” It was totally unacceptable that hundreds of people could die in a disaster which had been so well forecast as Hurricane MatthewUNISDR is calling for a zero-casualty approach to cyclones and hurricanes preparedness to be supported, in countries like Haiti, he stressed. This requires investment in disaster risk governance to ensure that warnings are disseminated and acted on. People should know they have a safe place to go to in their neighbourhood, be it a church, a school or another public building, he said, urging greater efforts to ensure that populations in hazard-prone areas are risk-informed, and fully understand the nature of the threat they are facing. Mr. McClean said that earlier this year, Fiji was hit by a Category 5 cyclone, the strongest storm ever to hit the island nation. The death toll was 44 even though one million people were affected. Similarly, India and Bangladesh had remarkable successes against major cyclone events, which in years past, would have cost thousands of lives. These lessons need to be applied elsewhere, he stressed. @media only screen and (min-width: 760px), screen9 {#PhotoHolder3 #PhotoCrop { max-height: 770px; /* sets max-height value for all standards-compliant browsers */ width: 134%; margin-left:-161px; margin-top: -418px;}#story-headline{ font-size: 4.5em; line-height: 1.05em; color:#fff; position: relative; top: 60px; margin-left:-1em; text-shadow: 10px 10px 10px rgba(0,0,0,0.8); width:50%;}#sidebar {display:none;} div#story-content .span8 {width:100% !important} #fullstory p { font-size: 14px; line-height: 1.7em;}strong { font-size: 1.2em; line-height: 1.7em; xfont-family:Georgia, “Times New Roman”, Times, serif;}li { font-size: 15px; xline-height: 1.7em;}blockquote { font-size: 1.2em; line-height: 1.5em; font-style:italic;} .videoWrapper { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; /* 16:9 */ padding-top: 1em; height: 0; margin-bottom:1em;}.videoWrapper iframe { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%;} read more

Read More..

On World Day UN agencies urge countering threats to cultural diversity

“Across the world, violent extremists have targeted cultural minorities and destroyed our shared heritage, to weaken the essential links between people and their history,” said Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Marking the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, Ms. Bokova called for a new humanism for the 21st century, to renew the fundamental aspirations to justice, mutual understanding and dignity that guide all women and men. She quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying: ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.’ By embracing cultural diversity, the international community can more easily achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which draw upon “the strength and creative potential of humanity’s diversity of cultures.” Similarly, the Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), William Lacy Swing, urged Governments and their citizens to embrace migration, despite its challenges, and help to develop common understandings, values and perspectives.“It is sometimes asked whether the West’s multiculturalism, its diversity, has reached its limits? Can a society only cope with so much diversity? The answer is no. There has never been a city or a country brought down by too much ‘diversity,’” said Mr. Swing. IOM has compiled stories from some of the migrants with whom it has worked, highlighting their lives and journey, and how they are making their families and their new community better. The ‘I am a migrant’collection is available online. In today’s statement, Mr. Swing noted that all societies are so-called multi-ethnic because no single State lives with a single culture: “Even States averse to permitting entry to more ‘foreigners’ must acknowledge the multiple ‘cultures’ within their own borders. All countries have them: religious, ethnic, social, societal, sexual, occupational, educational, dietary specificities.” The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 2002 and celebrated annually on 21 May, is meant to be an opportunity for mobilization on the part of governments, policy makers, civil society organizations, communities and cultural professionals to promote culture in its diversity and in all its forms. read more

Read More..

Attacks on hospitals and medical staff symptoms of grave disregard for international

“Despite our efforts, civilians continue to bear the brunt of conflict around the world,” Mr. Guterres told the 15-member body, stressing that attacks on medical staff and facilities continue in conflict zones. Alongside him were Christine Beerli, Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Bruno Stagno Ugarte, Deputy Executive Director for Advocacy of Human Rights Watch. The UN chief recalled that last year, the Council took specific action to improve the protection of medical care during conflict, by adopting Resolution 2286, which, among others, urged ‘States and all parties to armed conflict to develop effective measures to prevent and address acts of violence, attacks and threats against medical personnel and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties.In August, his predecessor submitted recommendations for the swift implementation of this resolution.“But on the ground, little has changed,” Mr. Guterres warned, citing statistics from the World Health Organization showing that attacks on medical care took place in at least 20 countries affected by conflict in 2016.Attacks on hospitals and medical staff, and the removal of medical supplies from humanitarian convoys, are symptoms of a continued grave disregard for international law and the protection of civiliansIn Syria, Physicians for Human Rights has documented more than 400 attacks on medical facilities since the conflict began. More than 800 medical staff have been killed, and more than half of all medical facilities are closed or are only partially functioning, with two-thirds of specialized medical personnel having fled the country.In Yemen, just a few months after the adoption of resolution 2286, 15 people including three medical staff were reported killed when a hospital was hit in an airstrike.In Afghanistan, the number of reported attacks against health facilities and personnel almost doubled in 2016 compared with 2015.In South Sudan, after years of attacks, less than 50 per cent of medical facilities are functional in areas affected by conflict. Some 17,000 people who fled to a UN Protection of Civilians site in Wau, South Sudan, following violence, have access to water, and are putting up basic structures to shield from the hot sun. Photo: UNMISS/Nektarios Markogiannis (file) “These attacks are evidence of a broader trend: parties to conflict are treating hospitals and health clinics as targets, rather than respecting them as sanctuaries,” Mr. Guterres said.He went on to highlight the three main protection priorities; ensure greater respect for international humanitarian and human rights law; stepping up the protection of humanitarian and medical missions, by implementing his predecessor’s recommendations on Security Council resolution 2286 (2016); and preventing forced displacement and finding durable solutions for refugees and internally displaced people.On the third point, he stressed the need to address the root causes of conflicts that are driving displacement, by investing in inclusive and sustainable development, promoting all human rights and the rule of law, strengthening governance and institutions, and enhancing mediation capacity, from communities to national governments.“Preventing and ending conflict is my first priority,” he declared. “I call on you all to make it yours, for the sake of the millions of civilians who are suffering around the world.” According to a concept note circulated by Uruguay, which holds the Council presidency for May, Member States are invited to place the issue of the protection of healthcare in a broader context, connecting it to overarching ‘protection of civilian’ issues. read more

Read More..

FEATURE Climate change and the worlds oceans

“Oceans are continuing to warm, acidify and lose oxygen,” said IPCC chair Hoesung Lee. “Warm water coral reefs are already under pressure and 90 per cent would suffer significant risk from global warming of 1.5 degree Celsius.” Photo: UNEP/Jerker TamelanderAbove-normal ocean temperatures have contributed to coral bleaching and disruption of ecosystems, including in the Great Barrier Reef, which has seen up to 50 per cent of its coral die in certain parts. Photo: UNEP/Paul MarshallThe UN backs the International Coral Reef Initiative – an informal partnership between nations and organizations to preserve coral reefs and their ecosystems by reducing pollution from plastic microbeads and sunscreen, and financing projects that help protect and restore coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses. Photo: UNEP/Jerker TamelanderCorals that have shown some resistance to rising temperatures are being grown on coral farms in Marine Protected Areas. Photo: Reef Explorer Fiji Rising ocean temperaturesAlthough the ocean is the single largest habitat on the planet and is inextricably linked to human survival, climate change and the impact of increasing carbon dioxide emissions on the oceans have been largely overshadowed in the climate change debate, according to Isabella Lövin, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, one of the co-chairs of the Ocean Conference.The oceans – which produce half of the world’s oxygen, regulate the earth’s climate and temperature, provide food and water, and are home to hundreds of thousands of species – have been a staunch ally in curbing climate change.More than 93 per cent of all the heat people have added to the planet since the 1950s has been absorbed by the oceans – but at a price, Ms. Lövin stressed. Rising ocean temperatures and increased acidification are now becoming apparent in melting Arctic sea ice and coral bleaching. Immediate mitigation, protection, restoration and adaptation actions are needed.Healthy oceans, stable climate“Whether on the coast or in the high seas far away from all, safeguarding biodiverse marine sites is vital for ensuring the sustainable long-term use of precious natural resources,” says Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).Fishermen in the Bay of Bengal, India, sail at dawn in their catamarans, consisting of four or five pieces of balsa wood tied together. Photo: UN Photo/John Isaac The importance of the ocean to global climate cannot be underestimated, according to UNESCO. It absorbs a significant portion of carbon and an overwhelming amount of excess heat. Still, warmer atmospheric temperatures and increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases exert an enormous pressure on the ocean’s ability to regulate the climate.UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) helps in developing ocean sciences, observations and capacity-building to monitor the ocean’s major role in the climate system and predict ocean changes. Laying the ground for efficient climate adaptation and mitigation strategies, IOC focuses on the most damaging impacts, such as temperature increase, sea-level rise, storm variations and changes in marine biodiversity. Its scientifically-founded services help countries, particularly coastal and small island developing States, become more resilient to present and future climate impacts. Impact of sea-level riseThe oceans are experiencing “major stress” from climate change, according to Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed. “Globally, the sea level has risen by 20 centimetres since the start of the 20th century, due mostly to thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of glaciers and ice caps. Some regions are experiencing even greater sea level rise. “General warming trends, massive episodes of coral bleaching, acidification and the sea level rise are affecting eco­systems in all regions, threatening fisheries, food chains and the oceans’ ability to act as efficient carbon sinks. Rising sea levels pose a threat to low-lying atoll islands. Photo: OCHA/D.Parry According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), both the Artic and Antarctica are warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. Glaciers and ice shelves are melting and sea ice and snow coverage are shrinking. Polar wildlife ecosystems and indigenous population are already feeling the impact of climate change as polar conditions impact weather across the globe. “Because of teleconnections, the poles influence weather and climate conditions in lower latitudes where hundreds of millions of people live,” warns Petteri Taalas, WMO’s Secretary-General. “Warming Arctic air masses and declining sea ice are believed to affect ocean circulation and the jet stream, and are potentially linked to extreme phenomena such as cold spells, heat waves and droughts in the northern hemisphere.” With relatively little data available on the Earth’s Polar Regions, the UN weather agency kicked off of a two-year international effort to close gaps in polar forecasting capacity and improve future environmental safety. The Year of Polar Prediction was launched in May to close the gaps in polar forecasting capacity and improve predictions of weather, climate and ice conditions in the farthest reaches of the planet. The global campaign aims to minimize environmental risks and maximize opportunities associated with climate change in polar regions.Social scientists will examine how polar forecasts can be factored into socio-economic decision making while stakeholders in transport, shipping and tourism will provide input on community needs.Coral reefs under threat from climate change The oceans, which cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface, play a vital role in the global climate system, generating oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Changes to the climate, brought about by increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, will thus lead to changes in the oceans, including sea-level rise and ocean acidification, which will put marine ecosystems and coastal communities at risk. SDG 14 is the only universally agreed road map for conserving and sustainably managing marine resources – Peter Thomson, President of the UN General AssemblyWorld leaders acknowledged the importance of the oceans when they adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the universal blueprint for ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. SDG 14 sets out specific targets to be met in order to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. “SDG 14 is the only universally agreed road map for conserving and sustainably managing marine resources. Its faithful implementation is therefore our best hope for remedying the ocean’s woes,” said Peter Thomson, President of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly.Pounding early winter surf from massive 15 foot ocean swells. Photo: Irin News/Mike Baird “In a world where demands for freshwater are ever growing, and where limited water resources are increasingly stressed by over-abstraction, pollution and climate change, neglecting the opportunities arising from improved wastewater management is nothing less than unthinkable in the context of a circular economy,” according to the UN World Water Development Report 2017, Wastewater: The Untapped ResourceWeighing the linkages and significant socio-economic benefits of the earth’s freshwater and marine systems, UNDP underscores the need to take adaptive, integrated, ecosystem-based approaches to manage freshwater and ocean resources.As such, UNDP is assisting countries in equitably allocating water resources and implementing integrated management through adaptive water governance, which helps to reduce poverty and vulnerability, sustain and enhance livelihoods and protect environmental resources.Oceans are part of the solutionHumanity owes much to the oceans in many aspects of life: providing invaluable ecosystems, climate regulation and cultural support to the millions of people who live near the sea, according to José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).When families in the Haut-Katanga and Haut-Lomami provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo do not drill their own wells, they use the waters of the Congo River, one of the main vectors of disease, including cholera. Photo: OCHA/J-L. Mbalivoto Tropical coral reefs cover a mere 1 per cent of the ocean but are among the most bio-diverse systems on the planet, supporting one quarter of all marine species. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), coral reefs exist in over 100 nations, including more than 80 developing countries. They sustain human society through a range of ecosystem services, such as livelihoods and food security from fisheries; revenue from tourism; erosion prevention; and protection from extreme weather events through dissipation of wave energy. They also help to lessen inundation and damage during storms. Among the planet’s natural ecosystems, mangroves, sea-grass beds and coral reefs return the highest value in terms of ecosystem services. A square kilometre of healthy, well-managed coral reef can yield a catch of over 15 tons of fish and other seafood every year. Some 850 million people live within 100 km of coral reefs, deriving some benefits –with at least 275 million depending directly on reefs for livelihoods and sustenance. Climate change and water supplyAccording to the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the planet’s freshwater and oceans are inextricably linked through the earth’s water cycle. The agency notes that 97 per cent of the world’s water is in the ocean and the ocean supplies almost all the water that falls on land as rain and snow. Of the small portion that is fresh water; about a third is in in the ground and a mere .3 per cent in accessible surface waters. Climate change scenarios project that discrepancies between water supply and demand will heighten. The frequency and severity of floods and droughts will likely change many river basins worldwide – with droughts causing significant socio-economic and environmental consequences. The UNEP estimates the cumulative economic impact of poor ocean management practices at minimally $200 billion per year. In the absence of mitigation measures, climate change will increase the cost of damage to the ocean by an additional $322 billion annually by 2050.Local fishermen in Mozambique. Photo: Andrea Borgarello/World Bank < Previous Next > “Warmer temperatures are causing more extreme weather events, and a projected two-metre rise in sea levels by the end of the century would be catastrophic for coastal habitats and economies. Hundreds of millions of people are at risk,” she warns.Particularly at risk are the inhabitants of small island States, with hurricanes, cyclones and tsunamis becoming increasingly more common threats.Ocean health and economic prosperity “Trouble for the oceans means trouble for people. Human well-being and health, economic prosperity, and a stable climate depend on healthy oceans,” says Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the Ocean Conference.According to the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), losses due to disasters from natural and man-made hazards including floods, storms and the impacts of climate change are mounting, costing governments over $300 billion globally each year.UNISDR recently aligned its Disaster Resilience Scorecard, which provides a set of overarching assessments on disaster resilience, with the Sendai Framework – boosting the number of cities and towns capable of reducing their disaster losses by 2020Global warming and the Polar RegionThe effects of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, one of the leading causes of global warming, are felt most intensely in the Polar Region. View of the melting Collins Glacier off King George Island, Antarctica, in November 2007. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe As 3 billion people ultimately depend on marine and coastal biodiversity, all nations agree on the need to step up efforts to protect oceans and seas, especially in the era of climate change, when transformational interventions are becoming even more urgent and encompassing. The oceans cover almost three quarters of the Earth’s surface, storing one third of all the carbon emissions stemming from human activity. They are part of the solution, and they must be a key focus of global efforts to cope with and mitigate climate change, he stresses.“Oceans play a crucial role in the achievement of global food security, as well as human health and well-being,” says Miguel de Serpa Soares, UN Legal Counsel and Special Adviser to the Presidents of the Ocean Conference on oceans and legal matters.“They are the primary regulator of the global climate, function as an important sink for greenhouse gases, serve as the host for huge reservoirs of biodiversity and play a major role in producing the oxygen we breathe.”He adds that oceans, seas and marine resources are increasingly threatened by human activities, including increased CO2 emissions, climate change, marine pollution, unsustainable extraction of marine resources, and physical alterations and destruction of marine and coastal habitats. read more

Read More..

In Kabul UN chief calls for peace and compassion

‹ › VIDEO: Secretary-General António Guterres urges all parties to forge a political solution to the country’s long-standing conflict. Credit: UN News “I have an enormous admiration for the courage and the resilience of the Afghan people, and they were very eloquently demonstrated in my meeting this morning,” noted the UN chief. The Secretary-General also held bilateral meetings with Ashraf Ghani, the President of Afghanistan, as well as the country’s Chief Executive Officer, Abdullah Abdullah, where they discussed cooperation between the Organization and the Government of Afghanistan as well as the security situation in the country and the need to better mobilize the international community to counter terrorism. Speaking at a press conference, Mr. Guterres said he has “enormous admiration” for the courage and the resilience of the Afghan people. Photo UNAMA/Fardin Waezi On the outskirts of the capital, Kabul, Mr. Guterres met with some of the 800,000 Afghans displaced by conflict in the last 18 months. Photo UNAMA/Fardin Waezi Mr. Guterres also met with Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer, Abdullah Abdullah. Photo UNAMA/Fardin Waezi The Secretary-General met in the capital with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Photo UNAMA/Fardin Waezi Mr. Guterres expressed his solidarity with the displaced, and assured them of the UN’s commitment to work with the Government and people of Afghanistan to address their needs and build a sustainable and prosperous future. Photo UNAMA/Fardin Waezi “Peace is the solution […] the international community, the neighbouring countries [and] all those related to the Afghan crisis need to come together and understand that this is a war that has no military solution,” said the Secretary-General, at a press conference in Kabul, where he arrived earlier today. “We need to have peace,” he added, underscoring that at the same time, the level of humanitarian assistance to the country had to be increased and conditions needed to be created for Afghanis to be able to live in dignity. Since his time as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (2005-2015), Mr. Guterres has been paying a solidarity visit to Muslim communities during the holy month of Ramadan, and his visit to Afghanistan was a continuation of his expression of solidarity with them. While in Kabul, the UN chief met with displaced men and women from the Kapisa province, now living in a settlement on the outskirts of Kabul. In their interaction, the displaced persons underscored that security remained the prerequisite for their return to their homes and that education, including for women and girls was critical for supporting themselves and their families. They also stressed their need for medical care. Secretary-General António Guterres arrived for a one-day visit to Afghanistan to show solidarity with its people, and support for both the Afghan-led peace process and the communities most affected by conflict. Photo UNAMA/Fardin Waezi They told him that security was the prerequisite for their return to their homes, and stressed the need for education, vocational training and medical care. Photo UNAMA/Fardin Waezi read more

Read More..

Lake Chad Basin UNICEF warns 56 million children at risk of waterborne

“The rains will further complicate what is already a dire humanitarian situation, as millions of children made vulnerable by conflict are now facing the potential spread of diseases,” said Marie Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, in a press release. The threat of disease outbreaks in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria coincides with growing regional insecurity and increased population movements particularly in Nigeria’s north-east.“Unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene conditions can lead to cholera outbreaks and to Hepatitis E, a deadly disease for pregnant women and their babies, while standing water pools can attract malaria-carrying mosquitos. Staving off disease is our top priority,” Ms. Poirier said.The 5.6 million children in need in the Lake Chad region are spread across the four countries in varied living conditions from host communities to camps for internally displaced and refugees.Flooding and muddy roads are expected to severely limit humanitarian access to remote areas for several weeks, just as the needs of children and families are sharply on the rise because of heightened insecurity across the region. In Nigeria, security concerns have made it difficult to preposition supplies ahead of the rains and UNICEF is concerned about the availability of clean water for large numbers of people returning from Cameroon. In the Diffa region of Niger, UNICEF explains, some 150,000 people are living in makeshift shelters and will be exposed to heavy rains and unsanitary conditions.Across the Lake Chad region, UNICEF and its partners are working in communities at higher risk of cholera outbreaks to teach families about the effects of the disease and practical steps like hand washing to help avoid infection. In Niger, Cameroon and Chad, essential drugs and bars of soap have been prepositioned in warehouses close to IDP camps in case of a cholera outbreak.Less than 20 per cent of the $80 million required to meet urgent needs for water, sanitation and hygiene in the Lake Chad Basin for 2017 has been received. read more

Read More..

On World Day UN announces global initiative to end deaths from dogtransmitted

VIDEO: Rabies Vaccination can save lives/FAO Dr. Ren Minghui, WHO Assistant Director-General for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases maintained, “Working across sectors to eliminate human rabies aligns with WHO’s mission to leave no one behind by building a better, healthier future for people all over the world.”The plan will generate and measure impact by implementing proven effective guidelines for rabies control, and encouraging the use of innovative surveillance technologies to monitor progress towards ‘zero by 30.’ “Eliminating human rabies contributes to the goal of providing affordable and equitable health care, while working with partners to prevent the disease in dogs, which is the most frequent source of infection,” underscored Dr. Minghui. The plan will also demonstrate the impact of the United against Rabies collaboration in national, regional, and global rabies elimination programmes to ensure the continued engagement and sustained financing of stakeholders at all levels. Expressing FAO’s enthusiasm in being part of the development of the initiative, Ren Wang, FAO Assistant Director-General said, “Rural communities suffer the most from this preventable disease. Rabies puts not only their own health and wellbeing at risk, but also that of their animals, which can be a major or sole source of their livelihoods.” “FAO has been supporting vaccination campaigns and the development of community-based programmes to prevent and eliminate rabies. This new initiative will enhance that work and can play an essential role in FAO’s overall goal to build stronger rural communities,” Mr. Wang stressed. “The plan ensures support to countries in developing national plans, and provides innovative training and education tools across regional rabies networks,” said Dr. Bernadette Abela-Ridder today in a press statement on behalf the United Against Rabies collaboration, consisting of the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC). The plan Zero by 30: The Strategic Plan centres on a ‘One Health’ approach, addressing the disease in a holistic and cross-sectoral manner while highlighting the important role veterinary, health and educational services play in rabies prevention and control.“Vaccines are a key component of the global plan and a trigger for national programmes. The United Against Rabies collaboration provides leadership and advocates for resources critical to reaching zero human rabies deaths by 2030,” Dr. Abela-Ridder added. Rabies – a viral disease that occurs in more than 150 countries and territories – is usually fatal once symptoms appear. Dog-transmitted rabies accounts for about 99 per cent of human rabies cases. It is estimated that 59,000 people die every year from the disease.The statement pointed out that rabies is 100 per cent preventable, saying that the world has the knowledge, technology and vaccines for its elimination. The alliance aims to prevent and respond to dog-transmitted rabies by improving awareness and education, reducing human rabies risk through expanded dog vaccinations and improving access to healthcare, medicines and vaccines for populations at risk. read more

Read More..

Security Council debate on women peace and security spotlights prevention and gender

“We will ensure our prevention initiatives and monitoring include a focus on women’s rights violations [and] we will tackle the structural and root causes of crisis, including gender inequality,” Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the Chef de Cabinet, speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General, told a day-long debate in the Security Council, underlining the need for more action on the ‘women, peace and security agenda’ – with prevention as a core pillar.Noting the importance of gender equality and security of women as reliable indicators for peace, she added: “We will [also] strengthen the collection and analysis of gender statistics and encourage Member States to monitor gender equality indicators as part of their work to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”In her briefing, the Chef de Cabinet spoke of the need to ensure adequate representation of women in the security sector both to reduce their exposure to harm as well as to realize their potential in conflict prevention.Noting, further, that only three per cent of peacekeepers are women, she informed the 15-member Council of the Secretary-General’s efforts with troop- and police-contributing countries to increase the number of female uniformed personnel.Ms. Viotti also noted that 17 years after its adoption, Security Council resolution 1325 on women and peace and security was too often being implemented in an ad hoc fashion, and called on UN Member States to share evidence and examples in order to examine gaps and successes.‘Women, peace and security’ agenda central pillar of global affairsAlso briefing today, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) said said that while atrocities against women and girls in armed conflict are now the focus of attention and documentation, it is critical that perpetrators are brought to justice, and that survivors are accorded dignity and support.“This impunity cannot be allowed to continue,” she underlined.Further, informing the Security Council of an overall decline in women’s participation in UN-led peace processes, inclusion of gender-sensitive provisions in peace agreements and consultation with women’s civil society organizations, in comparison with one year ago, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said that the political marginalization was not only limited to peace talks.Only 17 countries have an elected woman Head of State or Government and the proportion of women parliamentarians in conflict and post-conflict countries has stagnated at 16 per cent in the last two years.“The use of quotas and temporary special measures would help,” she said, noting examples from Somalia and Mali, and called on donors to continue supporting efforts targeted at women’s empowerment and highlighted the importance of ensuring gender-conscious funding for policies and programmes.Concluding her remarks, the head of UN-Women stressed that women, peace and security agenda is now an essential pillar of global affairs.“This is only the beginning. The chorus of voices that are appalled by the persistent political marginalization of women in decision-making is speaking louder […] this agenda unites us because people from all over the world, every day, look up to the United Nations for peace, equality and inclusion,” she said.Also speaking today were Charo Mina-Rojas of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, and Michaelle Jean, Secretary-General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, who underscored the need to effectively combat sexual and gender-based violence and end impunity.“The silence around these crimes is as appalling as the crimes themselves,” stressed Ms. Mina-Rojas.They also called for greater participation of women’s organizations and community leaders in the design and implementation of security and peacebuilding efforts.“More than lip service should be paid to ensuring that women were invited to participate in national dialogues,” said Ms. Jean. read more

Read More..

Alarming levels of methamphetamine trafficking in Asias Mekong UN warns

“Significant changes have been underway in the regional drug market for a number of years now,” Jeremy Douglas, Regional Representative of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told the conference, which opened in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw. “Responding to the situation requires acknowledging some difficult realities, and agreeing to new approaches at a strategic regional level,” he added.The conference brings together senior drug policy leaders from Cambodia, China, Lao, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam to consider the latest data, and discuss drug law enforcement, justice, health and alternative development strategies and programmes.It also reviews the implementation of the last Mekong strategy that the countries agreed under the so-called Mekong Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Drug Control and negotiates a new strategic plan.The Mekong has long been associated with the production and trafficking of illicit drugs, particularly heroin, but has undergone “significant transformation” in recent years, according to UNODC. Opium and heroin production have recently declined, while criminal gangs have intensified production and trafficking of both low grade yaba methamphetamine – commonly known as meth – and high purity crystal methamphetamine, to “alarming levels”.Several Mekong countries have already passed the total number of seizures for all of last year, just a few months into 2018, and methamphetamine from the Golden Triangle – the border areas of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar – is being seized in high volumes across Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, UNODC said. For affected countries, the shift to synthetics like methamphetamine is particularly difficult to address; partly because the remote and clandestine makeshift laboratories where it’s manufactured, can easily be moved.“Methamphetamine and heroin are currently estimated to be worth US $40 billion in the regional drug market,” said UNODC Advisor Tao Zhiqiang. “Effective coordination between countries is essential and the Mekong MOU remains the best vehicle available for this coordination.” He stressed that law enforcement operations are part of the solution, but addressing growing regional demand is also important.The Mekong MOU has provided a platform in recent years for the countries to agree to standard operating procedures for multi-country law enforcement operations, as well as a framework to exchange ideas and experience.In a significant development, the Mekong MOU was aligned last year with the recommendations that came out of the UN General Assembly Special Session on tackling illegal drugs on a global level, ensuring a strong emphasis on reducing demand and the impact on health.The recommendations also include creating alternative development programmes, to provide alternative means of income for communities where drugs are being made, and beefing up law enforcement targeting the criminal gangs at the centre of the trade. read more

Read More..

Preserving biodiversity vital to reverse tide of climate change UN stresses on International Day

Biodiversity in plant and animal life in the world – in terms of species, habitats and genetics – leads to ecosystems that are healthier, more productive and better able to adapt to challenges like climate change, says the UN, and human activity is threatening the fate of species around the world like never before, according to an alarming new UN report earlier this month. The theme “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health” aims to leverage knowledge and spread awareness of how much all life depends on biodiversity.  In his message to mark the day, celebrated every 22 May, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, notes that “the quality of the water we drink, the food we eat and the air we breathe all depend on keeping the natural world in good health”, also underlining that biodiversity was essential to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and to address climate change.  Healthy ecosystems can “provide 37 per cent of the mitigation needed to limit global temperature rise”, he said, warning that the “current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems are projected to undermine progress towards 80 per cent of the targets for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We cannot allow this to happen.” What is #biodiversity? It’s the existence of many different types of plants and animals that makes the 🌍 a healthier and more productive place.We wouldn’t be able to survive without it! Learn more 👉https://t.co/rr3tq8anVk#BiodiversityDay #IDB2019 #ZeroHunger pic.twitter.com/dDJvJ7AnL0— FAO (@FAO) May 22, 2019 “The world’s current food system is increasingly broken.  Billions of people lack access to proper nutrition”, said the UN chief. “Approximately one third of what is produced is lost or wasted.  The ways in which we grow, process, transport, consume and waste food are leading causes of biodiversity loss, while also contributing to climate change.” Addressing the issue of deforestation, Mr. Guterres said it had caused the “loss of more than 290 million hectares of forests that help to absorb harmful carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere”.  Mr. Guterres urged all governments, businesses and civil society to “take urgent action to protect and sustainably manage the fragile and vital web of life on our one and only planet”.  Highlighting the galvanizing effect of biodiversity for human health and well-being, the Secretary-General stressed that “solutions exist”.  “By halting environmentally harmful practices, diversifying our food systems and promoting more sustainable production and consumption patterns, we can improve global health, increase food security and strengthen resilience to climate change”, he concluded.  How can you help? By choosing to eat only seasonal and local produce, we can ensure that the demand for the right foods is high in the right season.  According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), more than 90 per cent of traditional crops have disappeared from farmers’ fields, while half of the animals bred by humans have been lost. All of the world’s 17 main fishing grounds are being fished at or above their sustainable limits. FAO also underlines that agricultural biodiversity is fundamental for coping with a changing climate, and helping to remove carbon from the atmosphere, and securing the future of diverse sources of healthy and nutritious food. read more

Read More..