Archive for ‘Asia’

28/07/2014

Tracing Dead Migrants in Europe

Human Wrongs Watch

By Kristy Siegfried , Johannesburg, 28 July 2014 (IRIN)* - As the number of migrants and asylum seekers reaching southern Europe’s shores this year continues to climb – to about 75,000 at last count – so too does the death toll from attempts to cross the Mediterranean in over-crowded, unseaworthy boats.

**Photo: Sara Prestianni/Flickr Many bodies of migrants recovered from shipwrecks are never identified

**Photo: Sara Prestianni/Flickr. Many bodies of migrants recovered from shipwrecks are never identified

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that more than 800 migrants have died trying to make the treacherous crossing from North Africa since the beginning of the year. Last week alone, the bodies of 29 migrants were found in the packed hold of a fishing boat where they are thought to have been overcome by engine fumes.

According to survivor accounts, 60 others who tried to escape from the suffocating hold were stabbed and thrown overboard by five fellow passengers. A day earlier, the Italian navy rescued 12 people after their rubber dinghy capsized off the coast of Libya.
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Another 109 who were on the boat are missing. An unknown number of other migrants who attempt the journey disappear without a trace, their bodies presumably claimed by the sea, leaving families back home desperate for news of their loved ones that never comes.
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28/07/2014

They Know Full Well It Is Dangerous, But They Have Little Other Choice

Despite knowing full well the dangers of mercury, millions of small-scale gold miners across the globe continue to use the metal to separate gold from ore – usually because they have little other choice.*
An Indonesian woman pans for gold while her family looks on, credit: Usman Tariq, UNEP

An Indonesian woman pans for gold while her family looks on, credit: Usman Tariq, UNEP

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The mercury is mixed into ore and combines with the gold in a compound that can easily be scooped out and squeezed into a small bar of amalgam.
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This is then burned so that the mercury evaporates, leaving behind the gold. The dangerously toxic mercury vapour is often inhaled by the miners and their families, since these activities are usually conducted in their homes, or by the owners of gold shops who will process the amalgam for the miners before buying.
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“When you burn off the amalgam – your head will feel like it’s going to explode and you’ll find it hard to breathe,” says Bapak Amit, a gold miner from Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. However, introducing miners to simple recycling technologies can dramatically reduce the impact of mercury on human health and the environment.

26/07/2014

Is What We Hear About Migration Really True? Questioning Eight Stereotypes

Human Wrongs Watch

It is a common belief that migration harms European societies, and that the European Union would be better off with either very few immigrants or none at all, says a report by the Italy-based Migration Policy Centre*. These are the report’s key findings: 

Hundreds of Syrian families living in camps have faced difficulties sending their children to school. To address this concern, IOM organized a transport initiative where fleets of school buses bring children to school everyday. Before the transportation initiative was launched, many children had no choice but to stay at home. © IOM 2014

Hundreds of Syrian families living in camps have faced difficulties sending their children to school. To address this concern, IOM organized a transport initiative where fleets of school buses bring children to school everyday. Before the transportation initiative was launched, many children had no choice but to stay at home. © IOM 2014

Such perceptions are misguided, and they risk causing serious damage to the EU’s economy, living standards, and global clout if they are used as a basis for policy.

The EU is shrinking.

The EU27 held 14.5% of the world’s population after World War II. Today, with a total population of 500 million, the EU’s relative weight has been cut in half (7%). EUROSTAT predicts that without further migration, the combined population of the EU27 in 2050 will be 58 million less than it was in 2010. If the EU continues to lose people, one unavoidable consequence will be the loss of its prominence in international affairs and global institutions.

25/07/2014

UN Urges Europe to Act to Stop Rising Refugee, Migrant Deaths at Sea

Human Wrongs Watch

24 July 2014 – In the wake of recent tragedies, the United Nations refugee agency today called on European countries to take urgent action to stop the rising number of deaths among refugees and migrants attempting to reach the continent by sea.

Onboard an Italian ship, a Syrian father holds his one-year-old son as they wait to be checked by doctors. They were rescued in the middle of the Mediterranean. Photo: UNHCR/A. D'Amato

Onboard an Italian ship, a Syrian father holds his one-year-old son as they wait to be checked by doctors. They were rescued in the middle of the Mediterranean. Photo: UNHCR/A. D’Amato

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 260 people have died or been reported missing in the past 10 days after attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea towards Europe.

The total number of deaths for this year amounts to more than 800 people, compared with 600 in 2013 and 500 in 2012.  “The death of 260 people in less than 10 days, in the most horrifying circumstances, is evidence that the Mediterranean crisis is intensifying” said High Commissioner for Refugees Antònio Guterres.

25/07/2014

2.2 Billion People Are Poor or Near-Poor, Without Basic Social Services

Human Wrongs Watch

Tokyo, 24 July 2014 — Persistent vulnerability threatens human development, and unless it is systematically tackled by policies and social norms, progress will be neither equitable nor sustainable.

Source: UNDP

Source: UNDP

This is the core premise of the 2014 Human Development Report, launched here on 24 July 2014 by Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark and Director of the Human Development Report Office Khalid Malik.

Entitled Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience, the Report provides a fresh perspective on vulnerability and proposes ways to strengthen resilience. According to income-based measures of poverty, 1.2 billion people live with $1.25 or less a day.

However, the latest estimates of the UNDP Multidimensional Poverty Index reveal that almost 1.5 billion people in 91 developing countries are living in poverty with overlapping deprivations in health, education and living standards. And although poverty is declining overall, almost 800 million people are at risk of falling back into poverty if setbacks occur.

23/07/2014

Full Employment, Decent Work for All Women and Men by 2013?

Human Wrongs Watch

New York, ILO* — The United Nations is one step closer to agreeing on a new set of development objectives that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
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Photo source: ILO

Photo source: ILO

After sixteen months of deliberations, the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals adopted by acclamation a set of 17 proposed goals that will be submitted to the General Assembly in September, and will jump start the final phase of negotiations before the adoption a new UN development agenda in 2015.
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The proposal calls for a transformative goal to “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.”
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23/07/2014

The Story of a Village that Has Unshackled Itself from Darkness

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By Neha Khator and Ruhie Kumar*, GreenpeaceJuly, 2014 – In this world where we seem surrounded by news of gloom and doom, we don’t often hear stories of positive change.
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Woman in Dharnai Village in India. 06/24/2014 © Vivek M / Greenpeace
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But here is one: a story of a village that has unshackled itself from darkness, after 30 years of having its energy needs neglected by governments.
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Today, Dharnai is blooming with hope and ambition.
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Dharnai village in Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, is now lit-up by a Greenpeace India solar-powered micro-grid.
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Enter the village and you’ll see electric poles all around. The solar micro-grid supplies the electricity for homes, street lighting for roads and lanes, and water pumps.

22/07/2014

More Than 700 Million Women Alive Today Were Married As Children

Human Wrongs Watch

22 July 2014 – New data released today by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) shows the need for urgent action to end female genital mutilation and child marriage – two practices that affect millions of girls across the globe.

Kalpona was 12 when her parents arranged for her to marry a man more than twice her age. A few days before the wedding, they agreed to let her continue with school instead. Photo: UNICEF/BANA2014-00451/MAWA

Kalpona was 12 when her parents arranged for her to marry a man more than twice her age. A few days before the wedding, they agreed to let her continue with school instead. Photo: UNICEF/BANA2014-00451/MAWA

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According to the newly-released data, more than 130 million girls and women have experienced some form of female genital mutilation, also known as FGM, in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the harmful practice is most common.

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In addition, child marriage is widespread, the agency pointed out in a news release. More than 700 million women alive today were married as children. More than 1 in 3 – or some 250 million – were married before the age of 15.

18/07/2014

UN: Can You Spare 67 Minutes to Take Action on Nelson Mandela Day?

Human Wrongs Watch

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be among citizens around the world who will be volunteering 67 minutes of their time on Friday 18 July 2014, Nelson Mandela Day, to make a small gesture in solidarity with humanity – one minute for every year of the South African leader’s public service.*

Source of image: UN

Source of image: UN

The UN General Assembly declared 18 July Nelson Mandela International Day in 2009 in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to democracy, justice and reconciliation.
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The overall campaign slogan is: “Take Action, Inspire Change.” And this year is the first commemoration after Mr. Mandela’s passing last December at the age of 95.
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18/07/2014

Lead in Infant Formula, Arsenic in Rice — UN Sets New Food Safety Standards

Human Wrongs Watch

17 July 2014, Geneva – UN food standards body the Codex Alimentarius Commission this week adopted new standards to protect consumer health worldwide, including setting out maximum acceptable levels of lead in infant formula and of arsenic in rice.

Rice for sale at a vendor's stall in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. | Source of photo: FAO

Rice for sale at a vendor’s stall in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. | Source of photo: FAO

Jointly run by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the Codex Alimentarius Commission sets international food safety and quality standards to promote safer and more nutritious food for consumers worldwide.*

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