The UN Security Council met last week to discuss the deaths and devastation
caused to civilians in ongoing military conflicts and civil wars, the killings
in Yemen and the air attacks on hospitals, schools, mosques, and market
places—whether deliberate or otherwise– were singled out as the worst ever.
But the destruction and irreparable damage to civilian infrastructure and
human lives were caused by weapons provided by some of the permanent members of
the Security Council, including the US, France and UK.
And last week, in defiance of US Congressional opposition to arms sales to
some of the warring Middle Eastern nations, the Trump administration went one
better: it justified the proposed sale of a hefty $8.1 billion dollars in
American arms to Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia under
a so-called “emergency notification”. All three countries are part of
a Saudi-led coalition unleashing attacks on Yemen … and the new weapons systems
are expected to add more fire power to the coalition.
Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco and
coordinator of the program in Middle Eastern Studies, told IPS this is not
about deterring Iranian aggression and it is certainly not an
“emergency.” “It’s about the profits of American arms
manufacturers at the expense of countless Yemeni lives.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council May 23 that
civilians continue to make up the vast majority of casualties in conflict, with
more than 22,800 civilians dying or being injured in 2018 in just six
countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.
London-based Amnesty International said parties to armed conflict unlawfully kill, maim and forcibly displace millions of civilians while world leaders shirk their responsibility and turn their backs on war crimes and immense suffering.
A Maltese armed forces patrol boat picked up more
than 200 migrants from two dinghies in the Mediterranean and brought them to Malta on Saturday, a spokesman said.
At least one pregnant woman and a number of children were believed to be
among the 216 rescued migrants. Their nationality was not known.
An AFM spokesman said a patrol boat had been deployed to a sinking dinghy
south of Malta on Friday. After picking up the migrants, it was diverted to a
second dinghy while on its way to Malta, picking up those migrants as well.
The armed forces said that with good weather conditions prevailing,
departures of migrants from Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria had increased in the
past two days, resulting in 12 migrant boats arriving in Sicily, Sardinia, and
The Libyan coast guard said on Friday it had rescued 290 migrants from
inflatable rafts near the capital Tripoli.
Global sea levels could rise by over 6 feet by 2100––twice as much as had
previously been predicted––threatening major cities and potentially flooding
hundreds of millions of people, a study published
The implications for coastal populations around the world could be severe if the predictions in the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences prove accurate. In the worst-case scenario, where global emissions are not curtailed and the climate warms by 5°C (9° Fahrenheit), the report authors predict sea levels could rise by as much as 7.8 feet (2 meters).
Large parts of low-lying countries like Bangladesh would become uninhabitable, while critical areas for food production would be lost. Major cities, including New York and London, would also be threatened, according to the study.
Shanghai, Mumbai and some island nations could become permanently flooded, according to that scenario. Almost 1.8 million square kilometers (about 700,000 square miles) of land, including some used for farming, could be permanently flooded.
“There are roughly 240 million people in the world who would be flooded if
we had 7.8 feet of sea level rise,” says Bob Kopp, a climate and sea level
scientist with Rutgers University in New Jersey and a co-author of the study.
“Most of them are in Asia.”
But it “would also have fairly significant implications for coastal cities
in the U.S. like New Orleans and Miami where a large chunk of economic activity
is exposed to flooding, as well as other cities like New York and Boston.”
Reports of the rate of glacier melt in Greenland
is accelerating at a faster than expected rate. The world is facing a risk of
sea level rise “substantially higher than were in the 2013 assessment report of
the IPCC,” Kopp says.
Malaria cases appear to be on the rise again after a decade of success in combating the deadly disease.
RTS,S — the only malaria vaccine to successfully pass clinical trials — will now be made available to 360,000 children in Kenya, Malawi and Ghana in the first round of implementation testing.
Immunologist Faith Osier spoke to the Sierra Leone Times about the process and next steps for her work, tracking the efficacy and potential side effects of the vaccine, the results of which are expected in 3-5 years.
“While we wait, the scientific effort to develop a more effective vaccine will continue as vigorously as ever,” she said. “Researchers like myself are energized by the limited success of the current vaccine and are convinced that we can do better.”
Watch Faith Osier’s TED Talk.
A new report
produced by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable
Energy Agency (IRENA), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World
Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO) and released this week says that
despite significant progress in recent years, the world is falling short of
meeting the global energy targets set in the United Nations Sustainable
Development Goals (SDG) for 2030.
Ensuring affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030 remains possible but will require more sustained efforts, particularly to reach some of the world’s poorest populations and to improve energy sustainability, according to the report.
Notable progress has been made on energy access in recent years, with the number of people living without electricity dropping to roughly 840 million from 1 billion in 2016 and 1.2 billion in 2010. India, Bangladesh, Kenya and Myanmar are among countries that made the most progress since 2010.
more sustained and stepped-up actions, 650 million people will still be left
without access to electricity in 2030. Nine out of 10 of them will be living in
Following a decade
of steady progress, the global electrification rate reached 89 percent and 153
million people gained access to electricity each year. However, the biggest
challenge remains in the most remote areas globally and in sub-Saharan Africa
where 573 million people still live in the dark.
[Renewable Energy World]
Korea has vowed to move quickly on its plans to provide $8 million worth of
humanitarian aid to North Korea through international organizations and is also
considering sending food to the country that says it’s suffering its worst
drought in decades.
Unification Ministry said Monday it will discuss its plans with the World Food
Program and the United Nations Children’s Fund so the aid reaches North Korean
children and pregnant women quickly.
Seoul hopes the aid will help revive diplomacy and engagement with Pyongyang that tapered off amid a stalemate in nuclear talks between the United States and North Korea. But Seoul has yet to decide on concrete plans amid public frustration over recent North Korean missile tests.
North Korea’s worst drought in decades is being driven by the lowest
rainfall in a century, according to the country’s official state newspaper.
North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper—the official
publication of Kim Jong Un’s ruling party—blamed the ongoing drought on
lower than expected levels of precipitation. The newspaper said North
Korea received just 56.3 millimeters (2.21 inches) of rain or snow from
January to May 15, the lowest amount since 1917. The article noted that
water was running out in the country’s lakes and reservoirs, and
explained the lack of rainfall “is causing a significant effect on the
cultivation of wheat, barley, corn, potatoes and beans,” according to Al
Yonhap reported that South Korean authorities are preparing to send food to
North Korea if the situation deteriorates. Any food aid may give a shot in the
arm to stalled negotiations between the North, South and U.S. on the
denuclearization of the peninsula and the lifting of sanctions, the agency
Earlier this month, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and
World Food Programme (WFP) said more than 10 million North Koreans—representing
some 40 percent of the national population—were already facing severe food
shortages. Such an extensive drought will likely exacerbate such food
pressures, leaving many at risk of starvation. The report said that North
Koreans have been surviving on just 300g (10.5 oz) of food each day so far this
year. During a visit to South Korea earlier this week, WFP Executive Director
David Beasely told reporters the body has “very serious concerns” about the
situation in North Korea.
Last week, Mohamed Babiker, the head of the International Federation of Red
Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ North Korea office, said the organization was
“particularly concerned about the impact that this early drought will have on
children and adults who are already struggling to survive. Even before this
drought, one in five children under 5 years old was stunted because of poor
nutrition. We are concerned that these children will not be able to cope with
further stress on their bodies.”
Thus far, there is no suggestion the drought could spark a famine as severe
as the one that is believed to have killed millions of North Koreans in the
Science popularizer Bill Nye told viewers of a popular American late-night show that Earth is “on [expletive] fire”, while lighting a globe with a blowtorch!
During his appearance on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” on May 12, Nye used frank language to talk to millennials about the impacts of global warming on Earth.
“By the end of this
century, if temperatures keep rising, the average temperature on Earth could go
up another 4 to 8 degrees,” Nye
said to Oliver. (Nye was referring to degrees Celsius; the equivalent change in
Fahrenheit is roughly 7 to 14 degrees). “What I’m saying is, the planet’s
on [expletive] fire.”
He explained that addressing
climate change means making tough choices in our daily lives to reduce carbon
emissions, which are caused by activities such as driving vehicles or burning
coal. These emissions produce greenhouse gases that trap
heat in the atmosphere — warming the planet up, causing ocean levels to rise as
glaciers melt, and increasing the severity of hurricanes and storms.
Nye, adding a few more expletives in his explanation,
said none of these options to address global warming come free. So, he urged
his viewers to grow up and make tough choices. “I didn’t mind explaining
photosynthesis to you when you were 12, but you’re adults now. This is an
actual crisis — got it?”
Nye is best known for more family-friendly content, such as PBS’s “Bill Nye the Science Guy” in the 1990s and, more recently, the Netflix series “Bill Nye Saves the World.”
More than 20 million babies were born with a low birthweight (less than 2500g / 5.5 pounds) in 2015—around one in seven of all births worldwide according to the first-ever estimates documenting this major health challenge. These findings and more are documented in a new research paper developed by experts from the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, published in The Lancet Global Health.
More than 80% of the world’s 2.5 million newborns who die every year are of
low birthweight. Those low birthweight babies who survive have a greater risk
of stunting, and developmental and physical ill health later in life, including
diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“Low birthweight is a complex clinical entity…,” says co-author Dr Mercedes
de Onis from the Department of Nutrition at WHO. “This is why reducing low
birthweight requires an understanding of the underlying causes in a given
country. For example, in Southern Asia a large proportion of low birthweight
babies are born at term but with intrauterine growth restriction, which is associated
with maternal undernutrition, including maternal stunting.
“Conversely, preterm birth is the major contributor to low birthweight in
settings with many adolescent pregnancies, high prevalence of infection, or
where pregnancy is associated with high levels of fertility treatment and
caesarean sections (like in USA and Brazil). Understanding and tackling these
underlying causes in high-burden countries should be a priority.”
Affordable, accessible and appropriate health-care is critical for
preventing and treating low birthweight. Reductions in death, illness and
disability in newborn babies will only be achieved if pregnancy care is fully
integrated with appropriate care for low birthweight babies.
[World Health Organization]
Unless UNRWA secures at least an additional US$ 60 million by June, their
ability to continue providing food to more than 1 million Palestine refugees in
Gaza, including some 620,000 abject poor – those who cannot cover their basic
food needs and who have to survive on US$ 1.6 per day – and nearly 390,000
absolute poor – those who survive on about US$ 3.5 per day – will be severely
“This is a near ten-fold increase caused by the
blockade that lead to the closure of Gaza and its disastrous impact on the
local economy, the successive conflicts that razed entire neighborhoods and
public infrastructure to the ground, and the ongoing internal Palestinian
political crisis that started in 2007 with the arrival of Hamas to power in
Gaza,” said Matthias Schmale, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza.
Moreover, the tragic death of 195 Palestinians – including 14 students from UNRWA schools and the long-lasting physical and psychological injuries of 29,000 people during the year-long demonstrations known as the Great March of Return – come after three devastating conflicts in Gaza since 2009, which resulted in at least 3790 deaths and more than 17,000 injuries combined.
A report issued by the United Nations in 2017 predicted that Gaza would be unlivable by the year 2020.
[Read full UNRWA article]