31 August 2014 — According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug Report 2014, there are approximately 180,000 drug related deaths each year, most of them due to preventable overdoses.
Opioid overdose makes up the largest category, affecting mainly young people: 13 per cent of overdose deaths reported in Europe occur among those aged under 25 years. Additionally, in countries with low HIV prevalence, drug overdose is the main cause of death among problem drug users, accounting for up to 50 to 60 per cent of deaths among people who inject drugs.
International Overdose Awareness Day (31 August) was initiated in 2001 by the Penington Institute, an Australian civil society organisation.
This day is an opportunity to raise awareness and call for action to save lives and reduce the stigma associated with drug-related deaths. On this 31 August, UNODC highlights that death by overdose is preventable.
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30 August 2014 – Stressing that the enforced disappearance of individuals by States constitutes an unacceptable violation of human rights, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has declared that the time has come for the end to this “abhorrent” practice.
A mother tells her story about her son, one of the victims known as “desaparecidos” of the military government that ruled Argentina in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. UN Photo/E. Schneider (file photo)
“Enforced disappearance is a practice that cannot be tolerated in the twenty-first century,” Ban said in a message to mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, which is observed annually on 30 August*.
“This abhorrent practice places people outside the protection of the law, and thus, potentially in great danger of physical violence and sometimes barbaric execution. In addition to causing unimaginable worry and anguish for the victims and their loved ones, this creates a generalized climate of fear and terror across entire societies.”
Ban noted that enforced disappearance was once employed mainly by military dictatorships. “Increasingly, it has become a tool of many States around the world, some operating under counter-terror strategies, or fighting organized crime, and others seeking to quash dissent and human rights activism.
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29 August 2014 – The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has identified six countries at risk for spread of the Ebola virus disease, adding that it is working with them to ensure that full surveillance, preparedness and response plans are in place.
A WFP convoy with needed food supplies entering West Point in Monrovia, Liberia, a community quarantined to prevent the spread of Ebola. Photo: UNMIL/Emmanuel Tobey
“The following countries share land borders or major transportation connections with the affected countries and are therefore at risk for spread of the Ebola outbreak: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Senegal,” the agency said in the first in a series of regular updates on the Ebola response roadmap that was issued yesterday 28 gust 2014.*
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Electronic cigarettes, known as e-cigarettes, represent an “evolving frontier filled with promise and threat for tobacco control,” a new United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) report said on 26 August 2014, urging regulations to impede their promotion to non-smokers and young people.*
E-cigarette. Photo: WHO
“Evidence shows that while they are likely to be less toxic than conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes use poses threats to adolescents and fetuses of pregnant mothers using these devices,” said Douglas Bettcher, WHO Director of Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases in an interview with UN Radio.
Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), of which electronic cigarettes are the most common prototype, are devices that do not burn or use tobacco leaves but instead vaporise a solution the user then inhales. The report says existing evidence shows that e-cigarette aerosol is not merely “water vapour” as is often claimed in the marketing of these products.
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**180 degree rotated map of the world| Released into the public domain by its author, Vardion. | Wikimedia Commons
By Roberto Savio*
Rome, 24 August 2014 – In 1980, I had a debate at the United Nations with the late Stan Swinton, then the very powerful and brilliant director of Associated Press (AP). At one point, I furnished the following figures (which had been slow to change), as an example of Western bias in the media:
In 1964, four transnational news agencies – AP, United Press International (UPI), Agence France Presse (AFP) and Reuters – handled 92 percent of world information flow. The other agencies from industrialised countries, including the Soviet news agency TASS, handled a further 7 percent. That left the rest of the world with a mere 1 percent.
Why, I asked, was the entire world obliged to receive information from the likes of AP in which the United States was always the main actor? Swinton’s reply was brief and to the point: “Roberto, the U.S. media account for 99 percent of our revenues. Do you think they are more interested in our secretary of state, or in an African minister?”
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“I had not then learned the measure of “man’s inhumanity to man,” nor to what limitless extent of wickedness he will go for the love of gain.” ― Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave (1853).
Those words were written by Solomon Northup in “Twe lve Years a Slave” more than 150 years ago, but they ring as true today as they did then.*
Shackles used to bind slaves. UN Photo/Mark Garten
“More than a century after being banned in the developed world, and decades after being outlawed in the newly emerging developing world, modern forms of slavery—forced labour, human trafficking, forced sexual exploitation—still exist, and unfortunately risk growing in extent and profitability in the world today.”
These statements are part of chapter “Conclusions” of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Report Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour. The Chapter is here reproduced.
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23 August 2014 — The night of 22 to 23 August 1791, in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) saw the beginning of the uprising that would play a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
Photo from UNESCO
International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is intended to inscribe the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples. In accordance with the goals of the intercultural project “The Slave Route“, it should offer an opportunity for collective consideration of the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of this tragedy, and for an analysis of the interactions to which it has given rise between Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean.*
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Over 20,000 people risked their lives in sea crossings in the Indian Ocean in the first half of this year, many of them Rohingya who fled Myanmar, according to a new report released on 22 August 2014 by the United Nations refugee agency.
Fishermen manoeuvre a boat in a waterway near Sittwe in Mynamar. People risking their lives to leave Myanmar and cross the Bay of Bengal board boats in locations like this. Photo: UNHCR/V. Tan
The report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on irregular maritime movements in South-east Asia also notes that several hundred people were intercepted on boats heading to Australia.*
Produced by a newly-established Maritime Movements Monitoring Unit at UNHCR’s Regional Office in Bangkok, the report focuses on departures from the Bay of Bengal and elsewhere passing through South-east Asia, and highlights the abuses people are facing on their journeys, and developments related to Australia’s Operation Sovereign Borders policy.
It shows that more than 7,000 asylum-seekers and refugees who have travelled by sea are at present held in detention facilities in the region, including over 5,000 in Australia or its offshore processing centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
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