Young foreigners stranded in Syria,India toxic smog crisis, Ebola worker death shows frontline risks

Channel 1 Los Angeles


UNICEF urges governments to repatriate children stranded in Syria

The head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is appealing for countries to repatriate scores of foreign children who are stranded in northeast Syria in the wake of the Turkish-launched offensive which began last month.

The agency estimates nearly 28,000 children from more than 60 countries remain trapped in the region, mostly in displacement camps. This includes almost 20,000 from Iraq.


India’s New Delhi choking on record levels of smog

Unbearable levels of air pollution in India’s capital of New Delhi, declared a public health emergency by the local government as of Monday, have made “the invisible killer, visible”, a UN senior pollution expert has said.

According to media reports, residents of the capital city are set to suffer record-levels of smog for at least a week, even with emergency measures in place to tackle the problem, with some flights delayed and diverted due to thick smog.

Valentin Foltescu, Senior Programme Management Officer for the UN Environment Programme in India, UNEP, told UN News that current levels of fine particulate matter, containing unsafe chemicals harmful to human health, are 40 times higher than the World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended level.

The major contributor is poor farming practices, Mr. Foltsecu explained, with states adjacent to the capital region practicing widespread stubble burning in open fields. In addition, waste mismanagement and heavy traffic are also raising toxicity levels.

WHO has outlined the detrimental impact of particulate matter pollution, or PM2.5 on humans; stunting children’s brains, and triggering heart disease, stroke, pulmonary disease and lung cancers, with an estimated 4.2 million premature deaths globally linked to ambient air pollution. 

UNEP is working with various sectors in a bid to help reduce the toxic smog in New Delhi and beyond, including Government-led agricultural initiatives, and projects on the ground to eliminate harmful open burning practices.

Ebola emergency chief decries new attacks on frontline staff, after DR Congo worker death

Security measures for staff helping to fight health emergencies need to be stepped up urgently, a UN health agency top official said on Monday, after a frontline Ebola epidemic community worker was reportedly stabbed to death at his home in northeast Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Speaking at a public event in Geneva, Dr Mike Ryan from the World Health Organization (WHO), said that in his 25-year humanitarian career, violence carried out deliberately against health workers and hospitals had never been so bad.

US withdrawal from Paris Agreement to take effect in November 2020

The United States announced on Monday that it was formally beginning the process of withdrawal from the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, signed by 193 countries in 2015.

The UN Spokesperson’s Office issued a note to correspondents, in reaction to the notice of withdrawal, which came from US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, addressed to the Secretary-General:

“This letter constitutes notification by the United States of America of its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.  Pursuant to Article 28, paragraph 2, of the Paris Agreement, the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement shall take effect upon expiry of one year from the date on which you receive this notification of withdrawal.”

The Spokesperson said the withdrawal of the United States “will take effect on 4 November 2020.” President Donald Trump made withdrawal from the Agreement a campaign pledge, although the US signed it in April 2016, and expressed consent to be bound by the deal in September that year.

In a statement from Mr. Pompeo released on Monday he said that in June 2017, President Trump “made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because of the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses, and taxpayers by U.S. pledges made under the Agreement. ”

The US is the only one of the signatories to the agreement – to keep CO2 emissions to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – to announce it is pulling out.

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