Category Archives: U.N

Coronavirus seen threatening global goals to end poverty, inequality

People queue to receive food aid following a 14-day lockdown aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Abuja, Nigeria April 3, 2020.REUTERS/Afollabi Sotunde

NEW YORK, – Ambitious global goals set out by the United Nations to end poverty and inequality are under threat from the coronavirus pandemic, even as they are most needed, experts have warned.

A 2030 deadline to meet the U.N.’s development goals is at risk as economies suffer in the fight against the virus, public financing dries up and international cooperation wanes, said experts interviewed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

From ending hunger, gender inequality and violence against women to expanded access to education and health care, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were approved unanimously by U.N. member nations in 2015, with a 15-year deadline.

“They’re a really incredible symbol of international unity and agreement on what is important for underlying social and environmental and economic health,” said Sara Enright, director of collaborations at BSR, a global nonprofit that focuses on sustainable business strategies.

“Coming into a crisis … I think it’s more important now than ever to have a North Star,” she said.

Earlier critical assessments predicted that conflict or climate change would slow progress, but the pandemic marks the biggest obstacle yet, the experts said.

Reported cases of the coronavirus have crossed 2.3 million globally, according to a Reuters tally.

Businesses have closed, myriad jobs have been lost and global economies have taken an unprecedented blow.

The fallout could increase global poverty by as much as half a billion people, or 8% of the world population, according to research released last week by the United Nations University.

“This really could put us into a very negative spiral,” said Michael Green, chief executive of the Social Progress Imperative, a U.S.-based nonprofit.

“If we then get a breakdown in international cooperation, that’s even worse.”

Experts said nations responding to the coronavirus by tightening borders, bickering over limited resources and blaming one another may not bode well for the international cooperation needed for implementing the global goals.

“My greatest fear is the breakdown in international relations,” said Enright.

“What I fear is as we become more insular, as we become more national in our approaches to the crisis, as we close our borders …. My concern is that that underlying partnership might be in danger.”

The pandemic has exposed failings that the goals were intended to address, said Natasha Mudhar, co-founder of The World We Want, an SDG advocacy organization.

“Countries globally have been exposed to the fragility of their health care systems, the economy and society,” she said.

“Had we worked towards strengthening these, precisely as called for by the SDGs, we would have potentially been better placed to handle the current pandemic crisis.”

Alexander Trepelkov, a top SDG official at the U.N.’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the goals “will be more essential than ever during and after this crisis.”

“The SDGs are a commitment to leave no one behind, and this includes ensuring everyone is able to take measures to reduce their exposure to the disease and have the means to cope and recover,” he said in an email.

Countries that have incorporated the global goals’ inclusive and sustainable values will likely fare best in the pandemic, while those with poor public health systems, vast inequality and weak social nets will struggle, Green added.

“The optimistic scenario is perhaps this is going to be the kick in the pants we need to take some of this stuff seriously,” he said.

https://news.trust.org/item/20200420151405-u26ba

UN ‘horrified’ by killing of five aid workers in Nigeria

Aid groups provide a vital lifeline for some 7.9 million people who, the United Nations says, need urgent assistance in the region [File: AFP]

The United Nations has said it is “utterly shocked and horrified” by the killing of five aid workers by unknown armed groups in northeastern Nigeria.

The statement late on Wednesday by Edward Kallon, UN humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, followed the release of a video showing the murder of the humanitarian workers who were kidnapped last month in Borno state.

The Nigerian government identified the victims as employees of the country’s State Emergency Management Agency as well as international aid organisations Action Against Hunger (ACF), International Rescue Committee and Rich International. 

“They were committed humanitarians who devoted their lives to helping vulnerable people and communities in an area heavily affected by violence,” Kallon said.

The aid workers were abducted while travelling on a main route connecting the town of Monguno with Borno state capital, Maiduguri.

Kallon said he was troubled by the number of illegal checkpoints set up by non-state armed groups along the region’s main supply routes.

“These checkpoints disrupt the delivery of life-saving assistance and heighten the risks for civilians of being abducted, killed or injured, with aid workers increasingly being singled out.” 

Northeast Nigeria has been ravaged by a decade-long armed campaign led by the armed group Boko Haram that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced about two million from their homes.

Last year, fighters from a Boko Haram splinter group, the Islamic State West Africa Province, abducted a group of six humanitarian workers – including a female ACF employee – in the region.

Five of the hostages were later executed and the ACF worker remains in captivity.

Aid groups provide a vital lifeline for some 7.9 million people in the region who the UN says are in need of urgent assistance.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/07/horrified-killing-aid-workers-nigeria-200723081635932.html

COVID-19 exposes ‘distorted picture’ of global poverty gains, U.N. envoy says

FILE PHOTO: Philip Alston, at the time the U.N.’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, attends a news conference in Beijing, China, August 23, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

NEW YORK, – The coronavirus pandemic has exposed complacency and “misplaced triumphalism” by international aid organizations that have taken credit for progress on eradicating extreme poverty, a top United Nations rights official said.

Global entities have failed to end severe hardship around the world, and COVID-19 will plunge even more people into dire economic straits, said Philip Alston, the outgoing U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

“Even before COVID-19, we squandered a decade in the fight against poverty, with misplaced triumphalism blocking the very reforms that could have prevented the worst impacts of the pandemic,” he said in a statement accompanying his final report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

“The international community’s abysmal record on tackling poverty, inequality and disregard for human life far precede this pandemic,” he added.

COVID-19 has exposed how vulnerable poor people are, unable to practice safety measures like staying home and forced to risk getting sick because they need to keep working, said the report, which was to be presented to the Council on Tuesday.

“When you look at what COVID-19 has done, which has really been just to pull the Band-Aid off the poverty wounds, we see all too clearly that in fact it was very far from being eliminated,” Alston told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview ahead of the presentation.

He pointed to a 2018 World Bank document declaring “remarkable and unprecedented progress” in reducing extreme poverty.

It said 10% of the world’s population, some 736 million people, were living in extreme poverty in 2015, compared with nearly 2 billion people or 36% in 1990.

The report used the World Bank’s definition of extreme poverty as living on $1.90 a day or less.

A similar assessment of a drop in extreme poverty to about 11% of the population from 35% was made in a 2017 report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

‘SLEEPWALKING TOWARDS FAILURE’

But Alston, a professor at New York University School of Law, said a poverty line of $1.90 a day “provides a distorted picture.”

“That in turn made people complacent,” he said. “$1.90 a day is really miserable subsistence and by no means amounts to eradicating poverty.”

More accurate measures show only a slight decline in extreme poverty over the last 30 years, he said.

A separate report published in June by UNU-WIDER, part of the United Nations University, said economic fallout from the pandemic could swell the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day to as many as 1.12 billion.

Alston, who was appointed U.N. special rapporteur six years ago, also criticized the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approved in 2015 by U.N. member states to end poverty, inequality and other global woes by 2030.

The global goals rely on economic growth and shared prosperity to solve problems, rather than seeking structural solutions such as wealth redistribution or a taxation system that does not encourage tax avoidance, he said.

“The U.N. and its member states are sleepwalking towards failure,” he said in the statement.

https://news.trust.org/item/20200707170510-1izgn/

‘Care for nature’ to keep people safe and well, leaders urge

Workers clean up trash at a beach on World Environment Day in West Aceh, Aceh Province, Indonesia June 5, 2020. Antara Foto/Syifa Yulinnas/via Reuters

BARCELONA, – The COVID-19 crisis has exposed how the health of people and nature is intertwined, and protecting the planet, its climate and ecosystems will be crucial to preventing further pandemics, the U.N. chief and political leaders said on Friday.

In a video statement for World Environment Day, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said humans had been harming the natural world “to our own detriment”.

“Habitat degradation and biodiversity loss are accelerating. Climate disruption is getting worse,” he said, noting more frequent and damaging fires, floods, droughts and super-storms.

Oceans are heating and acidifying, harming coral reefs, while the new coronavirus is “raging”, undermining health and livelihoods, he said.

“To care for humanity, we must care for nature,” he added, urging more sustainable consumer habits and decision-making centred around safeguarding the natural world.

The presidents of Colombia, Costa Rica and Switzerland, joined by ministers from a dozen other countries, on Friday launched a “High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People”, aimed at persuading governments to agree on a global goal to preserve at least 30% of the planet’s lands and oceans by 2030.

This, together with retaining wildernesses and conserving biodiversity, is “a crucial step to help prevent future pandemics and public health emergencies, and lay the foundations for a sustainable global economy”, they said in a statement.

The World Health Organization has said the novel coronavirus probably has its “ecological reservoir” in bats, while scientists say 60% of the infectious human diseases that emerged from 1990 to 2004 came from animals.

The new nature coalition noted that illegal and non-regulated wildlife trade, deforestation and ecosystem destruction can increase the risk of disease transmission from wildlife to people, and urged tighter control.

“This pandemic provides unprecedented and powerful proof that nature and people share the same fate and are far more closely linked than most of us realised,” they said in a statement.

Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told a coalition event that protecting nature was “about security and health”.

The COVID-19 crisis was a predictable manifestation of what scientists branded a “planetary emergency” several months before the pandemic began, he added.

World Environment Day should be renamed “human safety day”, he proposed, adding “it’s no longer about nature – it’s all about humans and our equitable, prosperous future on Earth”.

‘RACE TO ZERO’

The U.N. climate change secretariat (UNFCCC), alongside Britain and Chile, meanwhile, launched a “Race to Zero” campaign, committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest and “a healthy, resilient and zero-carbon recovery” from the economic fallout of the pandemic.

“Net-zero” means producing no more climate-heating emissions than can be absorbed by planting carbon-sucking trees or using other methods to trap greenhouse gases.

A U.N. climate science panel has said global emissions need to be slashed by 45% by 2030 and to net-zero by mid-century to have a 50% chance of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.

The new climate campaign unites 120 countries with net-zero emissions initiatives backed by 992 businesses, 449 cities, 21 regions, 505 universities and 38 big investors, the UNFCCC said.

U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa said “Race to Zero” should also spur stronger national climate action plans due this year, including targets to cut emissions over the next decade.

The companies signed up to the net-zero goal have combined annual revenues of $4.72 trillion, the UNFCCC said, with new joiners including computer software giant Adobe, alcoholic drinks maker Diageo, fashion retailer Inditex and engineering firm Rolls-Royce.

According to analysis from the UK-based Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) think-tank, 53% of global GDP is now produced in countries, states, regions and cities that have either set a net-zero target or intend to do so.

Alison Doig, international lead at the ECIU, said participants in the “Race to Zero” campaign would have to present plans to reach net-zero, including interim emissions targets for the next decade, by the time of the delayed COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow in November 2021.

“This is not… about pushing climate action to some date in the future. No entity can reach net-zero in 2050 without starting now,” she said.

https://news.trust.org/item/20200605130846-9n69a/

Women, migrants, minorities to suffer most in Latin America as coronavirus rages -UN agency

Screenshot_2020-05-13 Women, migrants, suffer most in Latin America as coronavirus rages
People line up outside of a pharmacy amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Guayaquil, Ecaudor April 15, 2020. REUTERS/Santiago Arcos

SANTIAGO, – The coronavirus pandemic will make a bad economic situation worse for women, indigenous people, migrants and people of African descent in Latin America, a region already plagued by deep-rooted inequality, a United Nations agency said in a report issued on Tuesday.

Unequal access to potable water, sanitation, healthcare and housing could also mean higher rates of infection and death among these higher-risk populations, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said in the report.

Women are in a “particularly vulnerable situation,” the report said, because their work is more often informal, with few guarantees, leaving them more exposed to the risk of unemployment.

Domestic workers in Latin America, who account for 11.4% of employed women in the region, will be especially hard hit by the virus and economic downturn, with limited access to an already tenuous social safety net in many countries.

Many domestic workers are migrants, or of indigenous or African descent, compounding the discrimination, the agency said.

Women are also most likely to be saddled with the responsibilities that come with quarantine and the closure of schools, increasing stress at home and the potential for domestic violence.

“The burden of unpaid domestic work assumed by women, adolescents and girls, as well as cases of violence against them, are significantly increased,” the agency warned.

Although the UN report focused partly on women, data from around the world has shown that men are dying at a higher rate than women from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Latin America has more than 369,000 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and more than 20,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to a Reuters count based on official data.

The region’s economies are set to contract by a record 5.3% in 2020, unleashing the worst social and economic crisis in decades, the agency said in a prior report in April.

The crisis is expected to exacerbate festering social and labor discrimination suffered by the indigenous and African-American populations, who already face greater wage gaps compared to other groups, ECLAC said.

 

 

 

https://news.trust.org/item/20200512171007-8v6yv/

 

UN agency says 35 migrants rescued off Libyan coast

Rescue
Most migrants make the perilous journey in ill-equipped and unsafe rubber boats [File: Pablo Garcia/AFP]

A commercial ship rescued 35 Europe-bound migrants off Libya’s Mediterranean coast and returned them to the capital, Tripoli, the UN migration agency said.

The International Organization for Migration posted on Twitter that the migrants, intercepted on Thursday, were given medical assistance and relief items upon disembarkation.

“Saving lives at sea is a moral and legal obligation. It is, however, unacceptable that migrants continue to be returned to an unsafe port,” said the IOM.

Libya, which descended into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi, has emerged as a major transit point for Africans and Arabs fleeing war and poverty in their home countries and hoping to travel to Europe.

Most migrants make the perilous journey in ill-equipped and unsafe rubber boats. As of last October, roughly 19,000 people had drowned or disappeared on the sea route since 2014, according to IOM.

Last week, a rubber dinghy packed with 91 migrants set out from Libyan shores for Europe; it went missing in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea.

In recent years, the European Union has partnered with the coastguard and other forces in Libya to stop the flow of migrants.

Rights groups say those efforts have left people at the mercy of armed groups or confined in squalid detention centres that lack adequate food and water.

The latest developments come amid criticism of the EU’s lack of rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea.

Member countries agreed earlier this month to end an anti-migrant smuggler operation involving only surveillance aircraft and instead deploy military ships to concentrate on upholding a widely flouted UN arms embargo that’s considered key to winding down Libya’s relentless war.

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/agency-35-migrants-rescued-libyan-coast-200228084755739.html

Yemen war: A look at a ‘serious humanitarian crisis’

Yemen
A Yemeni man holds a rifle in Aden, Sept. 14, 2006. Credit: Dmitry Chulov/Shutterstock.

– Nearly 24 million people in Yemen are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, according to a Center of Strategic and International Studies report.

Speaking Jan. 9 to diplomats accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis called the current situation in Yemen “one of the most serious humanitarian crises of recent history.”

The Yemeni Civil War between a Saudi Arabian-led coalition and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels has left more than 100,000 dead since 2015, and millions more in need of basic food and medical necessities. Between Saudi air strikes on hospitals and schools and Houthi forces holding aid hostage, both sides of the conflict have violated international humanitarian law.

In his speech to diplomats last month the pope decried the “general indifference on the part of the international community” to the human suffering in Yemen.

The United Nations was $1.2 billion short of meeting its $4.2 billion goal for international donations to address the situation in Yemen in 2019. However, the greater challenge has been getting the existing food and medical aid to the millions of Yemeni people who need it.

Severe movement constraints on humanitarian organizations, aerial bombardments, and restrictions on importation has left 80% of Yemen’s population in need of food, fuel, and medicine, the CSIS Task Force on Humanitarian Access reported.

On Feb. 19, the Associated Press reported that half of the United Nations’ aid delivery programs had been blocked by the Houthi rebels. The rebels had requested that 2% of the entire aid budget be given to them, heightening concerns that the rebels have been diverting humanitarian aid to fund the war.

“To implement a tax on humanitarian assistance are unacceptable and directly contradict international humanitarian principles,” a USAID spokesperson told the AP.

Because the UN and other donors refused to pay the 2% demand, more than 300,000 pregnant and nursing mothers and children under 5 did not receive nutritional supplements for six months, a U.N. official said.

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes have attacked Yemeni hospitals, a breach of international humanitarian law. On Feb. 10, the UN reported that two more hospitals north of Marib City had been hit.

More than 19.7 million people in Yemen are in need of basic health care after the conflict severely damaged vital health care facilities.

A cholera outbreak in Yemen has affected tens of thousands of people, but cases of cholera have significantly declined since September 2019 when the World Health Organization reported 86,000 cases. In January 2020, WHO reported 35,000 suspected cholera cases in Yemen.

A UN spokesman reported Feb. 18 that aid staff have not heard reports of “famine-like conditions” in 2020 as they had in 2018. However, 7 million people in Yemen remain malnourished as the country relies on imports for 90% of its grain and other food supplies.

In early months of 2020, the conflict has displaced 26,800 people in northern Yemen, according to the UN.

In January 2020, a representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN spoke during an open debate at the UN Security Council.

Pope Francis is concerned about the continued “silence and indifference” on the situation in Yemen and concerned that the lack of international attention could allow further suffering and loss of life, Vatican diplomat Monsignor Fredrik Hansen told the Security Council.

The pope has often asked for prayers for the Yemeni people in his public audiences in recent years.

“Pray hard, because there are children who are hungry, who are thirsty, who have no medicine, and are in danger of death,” Pope Francis said during an Angelus prayer in February 2019.

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/yemen-war-a-look-at-a-serious-humanitarian-crisis-25491

Female Genital Mutilation: Not just an Emotional and Health Impact on Women but a $1.4 Billion Dollar Cost to Communities

6893703916_a3bf8126e5_c
The World Health Organisation has released a Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) “Cost Calculator” that highlights the massive economic costs societies have to go through as a result of the practice that’s considered a human rights violation by advocates. Credit: Travis Lupick/IPS

UNITED NATIONS, – When society doesn’t act to prevent Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) it has a massive economic cost — over $1 billion — on communities globally. And while the practice is starting to become less common over time, experts say a large number of women and girls still remain affected.  

“By calculating the costs of FGM to women and society, this study shows that inaction has an economic cost and that investment in prevention will reduce costs in the long-term,” Elizabeth Noble, Information Officer of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Unit of the World Health Organisation (WHO), told IPS.

She was referring to last week’s release of FGM “Cost Calculator” by the WHO, that highlights the massive economic costs societies have to go through as a result of the practice that’s considered a human rights violation by advocates.

The interactive tool, available here, was launched on Feb. 6 to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.

  • Currently, the economic burden of treating health complications arising out of FGM practices across 27 countries included in WHO’s dataset, stands at a staggering $1.4 billion annually.
  • Taking into account population growth, the amount can increase by 50 percent in the next 30 years, given that the prevalence of FGM remains as it stands today, explained Noble.
  • However, abandoning the practice would lead to a projected decrease in 60 percent of that cost, she told IPS.

The calculator, she says, “allows the user to visualise the costs of treating the health complications of FGM, by country, over a 30 year period, while also showing the costs averted by preventing FGM”.

An official from Plan International told IPS that there are currently 200 million girls and women alive today who have been affected by FGM.

“It is believed that by mutilating the girl’s genital organs, her sexuality will be controlled and her virginity before marriage will be guaranteed. This has severe consequence for girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights,” Alex Munive, Head of Gender and Inclusion of the Girls 2030 Programmes at Plan International Global Hub, told IPS.

He also detailed the long-term and short-term effects of the practice: infection, haemorrhage, psychological trauma and even death as seen in the immediate aftermath of the practice, and chronic pain, chronic urinary problems, obstetric complications including fistula and sexual problems seen in the long-run.

Munive says the practice, while becoming less common overtime, still has a large number of girls and women affected when taking into account population growth.

Beyond health, it also affects girls in their education.

“FGM is seen as initiation rite preparing girls for marriage,” Munive told IPS. “Once a girl is cut, they are married off quickly and are taken out of school. They are treated like adult women and lose all their child rights.”

Education itself can be means to address the concerns, he says.

“We recognise that education is a powerful tool for preventing FGM,” he said. “Girls who benefit from a quality education are less likely to marry while they are still children.”

It’s also pertinent to take into account that FGM is often done as part of cultural practices, which means advocates have to tread softly when approaching communities to address this issue.

To this, Noble of WHO said “strategies towards abandonment must take into consideration the underlying social and cultural beliefs about the practice.”

“It is therefore important to engage with opinion leaders in practicing communities,” she told IPS. “WHO is also working with nurses and midwives and other health care providers to strengthen their role as opinion leaders in abandonment of the practice.”

 

 

http://www.ipsnews.net/2020/02/female-genital-mutilation-not-just-emotional-health-impact-women-1-4-billion-dollar-cost-communities/

Plastic: The Largest Predator in Our Oceans

Environment
Plastics are increasingly polluting the seas and oceans and threatening marine ecosystems. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

LONDON, (IPS) – Plastic pollution is currently the largest global threat to marine life. Each year, 10-20 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans, killing approximately 100,000 marine mammals and over a million seabirds.

Whilst the media has certainly helped raise awareness and inspire a change of attitude towards plastics, the amount of plastic in our oceans is still rising. As a result, vast numbers of sea species are now critically endangered, and the need for urgent action has never been stronger.

Marine Debris

So, where does all this plastic come from? Well, around 80% of all marine debris, derives from from land-based sources. This includes littering, illegal waste dumping, and the improper disposal of products such as wet wipes, sanitary products and cotton buds.

And although more parts of the world are now turning their attention towards the issue, the amount of rubbish entering the ocean is rising, with one truckload of plastic entering the ocean every single minute.

The remaining 20% of marine debris is the result of ocean based activity. This is mainly from the fishing industry, but also caused by boats that collect trash and dump it out at sea.

Dwindling Populations

Currently, there are more than 5 trillion plastic particles floating around the world’s oceans and this number is continuing to rise fast. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 if we don’t act now.

But what exactly would this mean for marine life?

The WWF states as many as 700 marine species are currently threatened by plastics. But whilst large numbers die from choking on shards of plastic, the chemicals in plastic such as petroleum and bisphenol, are proving just as deadly.

Recent studies have revealed that 50% of the world’s coral reefs have already been destroyed, and another 40% could be lost over the next 30 years.

When plastic is ingested, these toxic chemicals are released and absorbed into the body tissue. Overtime, this can impact fertility and weaken the immune system. As a result, those feeding on plastic are breeding less and becoming increasingly vulnerable to diseases and infections, resulting in population decline.

This is particularly concerning for top marine predators such as dolphins, polar bears and whales, with studies revealing higher contamination levels among predators at the top of the food chain. Yet this isn’t caused by ingesting plastic directly.

Instead, pollutants are accumulating in their bodies through a process called trophic transfer. This is where toxins consumed by smaller creatures such as plankton and krill are stored into their body tissue. Over time, these toxins are passed up through the food chain. In most cases, these toxins come from microplastics.

The Rise of Microplastics

Microplastic are small plastic particles (less than 5mm) and it’s estimated there are between 15-51 trillion of these individual individual plastic pieces floating in our oceans.

In a recent UK study, scientists examined 50 stranded sea creatures including porpoises, dolphins, grey seals and a pygmy sperm whale, and microplastics were found in the gut of every single animal.

And it’s not just ocean creatures that are at risk. Microplastics have also been discovered in seafood, with research suggesting that each seafood consumer in Europe ingests an average of 11,000 plastic particles each year.

How Can We Beat It?

Plastic pollution is a man-made disaster, and it won’t go away by itself. To end plastic pollution, we must start by reducing our plastic consumption, particularly single-use plastics.

Much of the power lies with the large corporations and manufacturers, and they desperately need to realise their responsibility, and find other alternatives to plastic.

But you can still make an impact on a smaller scale, by reducing your own plastic consumption and encouraging others around you.

It won’t be easy, since almost everything we buy is packaged in plastic. In fact, UK supermarkets alone produce 800,000 tonnes of plastic every year. But start by making small changes wherever possible.

Look for zero waste products like shampoo bars and deoderant sticks, or products made from plastic alternatives such as bamboo toothbrushes and glass milk bottles. Participate in a beach clean every time you visit a body of water.

There are also plenty of great charities working to help combat plastic pollution. Plastic Oceans, Project Aware and Changing Tides Foundation are just a few examples but there are many more out there to choose from!

*SLO active are an exciting new social enterprise dedicated to cleaning up and protecting our ocean. They are cause-led, focusing on oceanwear and activism. For every piece bought, SLO active will donate to one of their ocean charity partners of your choice. They call it ‘Earth to Ocean’. Learn more at https://sloactive.com/

 

 

 

 

http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/12/plastic-largest-predator-oceans/

Dozens dead as migrant boat sinks off Mauritania coast: UN

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West Africa is struggling to generate enough jobs for its mushrooming young population, forcing many to take the perilous journey to Europe [File: Arturo Rodriguez/AP]

At least 58 people, including women and children, were killed after a boat carrying dozens of migrants capsized in the Atlantic Ocean off the West African nation of Mauritania, the UN’s migration agency said.

The perilous sea passage from West Africa to Europe was once a major route for migrants seeking jobs and prosperity.

The sinking is one of the deadliest incidents since the mid-2000s when Spain stepped up patrols and fewer boats attempted the journey.

The boat carrying at least 150 people was low on fuel while approaching Mauritania before it capsised, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

It said 83 people swam to shore. The survivors were being helped by Mauritanian authorities in the northern city of Nouadhibou, IOM said.

Survivors said the boat left The Gambia on November 27.

IOM’s Leonard Doyle said the vessel was unseaworthy and overcrowded when it overturned.

“It speaks really to the callousness of the smugglers who of course have made their money and disappeared into the wilderness. That’s the problem here, people are being exploited, people are looking for a better life,” Doyle told Al Jazeera.

An unknown number of injured were taken to hospital in Nouadhibou.

There was no immediate statement from authorities in The Gambia, a small West African nation from which many migrants set off in hopes of reaching Europe.

‘Horrible story’

Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall, reporting from Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott, said the military police discovered the survivors – most of whom came from The Gambia – and that is when the extent of the tragedy became clear.

“It’s a very horrible story and one of the deadliest incidents in regard to migrants trying to cross the Atlantic Ocean or the Mediterranean Sea towards Europe this year,” said Vall. “It’s been confirmed that women and children were on that boat and some of them lost their lives.”

Although home to some of the continent’s fastest-growing economies, West Africa is struggling to generate enough jobs for its growing population of young people.

Doyle said the survivors would likely be returned to their home countries.

“We can imagine that they’re deeply traumatised. People will need some medical care and our staff will need to establish their origin and try to help them return in the most dignified way as possible. The tragedy in all this is there is no happy solution for people who take these routes,” he said.

Despite the Gambia’s small size, more than 35,000 Gambian migrants arrived in Europe between 2014 and 2018, according to the IOM.

Economic hardship

The 22-year long oppressive rule by then-president Yahya Jammeh severely affected the country’s economy, especially for The Gambia’s young people, prompting some to look to migrating.

Since Jammeh was voted out of office in 2016 and fled into exile in January 2017, European countries have been pushing to return asylum seekers, but the country’s economy has still to recover.

The coastal nation, a popular tourist destination, was shaken earlier this year by the collapse of British travel company Thomas Cook.

At the time, The Gambia’s tourism minister said the government convened an emergency meeting on the collapse, while some Gambians said the shutdown could have a devastating impact on tourism, which contributes more than 30 percent of the country’s GDP.

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/12/dozens-dead-migrant-boat-sinks-mauritania-coast-191205011010131.html