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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By Russia Today* (RT), 22 August 2014 — Police in Chile used water cannons and tear gas in Santiago as they clashed with outraged students demanding the government to speed up the process of national education reform. Tens of thousands took to the streets to join the largely peaceful protest.
2011–13 Chilean student protests | Uploaded by Flickr upload bot | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Throngs of students flooded the streets of Chile’s capital and other cities on Thursday to protest the slow-moving reform of the country’s education system. Tensions have boiled over for expanded free education and more public universities in recent years, changes to a system largely unchanged since the end of General Augusto Pinochet’s authoritarian rule.
Branded as the “National March for Education,” the action was called for by numerous student and teacher groups, and was spread on social media under such hashtags as #PorLosQueVienen and #YoMarchoEl21.
There are conflicting reports as to the exact number of students that came out, with police estimating around 25,000 people in Santiago, while student organizers round the number to 80,000 people. On Twitter, some boasted of a 300,000-strong turnout. Other marches took place around Chile as well.
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Investing in ways to adapt to climate change will promote the livelihood of 65 per cent of Africans, the UN environmental agency on 13 August 2014 reported*, warning also that failing to address the phenomenon could reverse decades of development progress on the continent.
New UN report says investment in climate change adaptation can help promote the ivelihoods of 65 per cent of Africans. Photo: UNEP
Africa’s population is set to double to 2 billion by 2050, the majority of whom will continue to depend on agriculture to make a living, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). “With 94 per cent of agriculture dependent on rainfall, the future impacts of climate change – including increased droughts, flooding, and seal-level rise – may reduce crop yields in some parts of Africa by 15 – 20 per cent,” UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said. “Such a scenario, if unaddressed, could have grave implications for Africa’s most vulnerable states,” he added.
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By Jasmine Pilbrow*, 14 August 2014 — Last week marked the 69th anniversary since the devastating nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On the 6th and 9th of August this year, people around the world took the time to remember the tragic loss of lives, and the disastrous effects the atomic bombs had on Japan and so many of its people.
Photo from: International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
On the 6th of August 1945, a 12 year old boy was at school in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped.
69 years later he says that “even now, I carry the scars of war and that atomic bombing on my body and in my heart. Nearly all my classmates were killed instantly. My heart is tortured by guilt when I think how badly they wanted to live and that I was the only one who did.”
Mayor Kazumi Matsui of Hiroshima and Mayor Tomihisa Taue of Nagasaki both took the time last week to write Peace Declarations to mark the significant dates, and to announce their priority to join with people around the world, to ban nuclear weapons.
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12 August 2014 – Each year 20 per cent of the world’s young people experience a mental health condition, the United Nations reported in a new publication launched to coincide with International Youth Day which this year shines a spotlight on the importance of mental health.
Image: United Nations
“The United Nations wants to help lift the veil that keeps young people locked in a chamber of isolation and silence,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day, stressing that mental-health should be talked about in the same way as overall health.*
He noted that lack of access to mental health services, stigma, shame, and irrational fears leave people with mental health conditions “more vulnerable to poverty, violence and social exclusion, and negatively impacting society as a whole.”
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12 August 2014, Geneva (ILO)*– Today some 75 million young people are unemployed globally and more than 220 million young workers are struggling for survival in the informal economy and living in extreme poverty.Young people are, on average, three times more likely to be unemployed than adults – in some places it escalates to four and five times more. Many others are disconnecting from the labour market.*
Youth unemployment | Photo: ILO
The youth employment crisis is a multidimensional crisis. This is undoubtedly a stressful time for young people and in some cases even more so for young women. The theme of this year’s International Youth Day observance “mental health matters” is, therefore, timely.
The scenario of widespread and persistent unemployment or under-employment may leave young people with a sense of growing despair and hopelessness and in a state of heightened vulnerability.The indications are that mental health difficulties have become widespread among youth in recent years. For instance, in many OECD countries up to one in four young people is affected.
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11 August 2014 – Spotlighting humanitarians who often take great risks to help communities in need, World Humanitarian Day 2014 will feature events ranging from a 5K run/walk in Mogadishu, a wreath-laying ceremony at London’s Westminster Abbey, a radio talk show with disaster management experts in Papua New Guinea, and the launch of a postage stamp honoring the late United Nations humanitarian veteran Sergio Vieira de Mello.*
Sergio Vieira de Mello was one of the 22 people killed and more than 150 people wounded in the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad in 2003.
That attack prompted the UN General Assembly to proclaim August 19 each year as World Humanitarian Day to celebrate the spirit of humanitarian work around the world.
“The recent attacks witnessed in Gaza and South Sudan is a reminder of the bravery of aid workers,” Louis Belanger, spokesperson for World Humanitarian Day 2014, told the UN News Centre, referring to the months of July and August that saw an alarming rise in the level of attacks and incidents involving humanitarian workers. “Humanitarians often take great risk to help communities in need and they deserve to be protected.”
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They are around 370 people in 90 countries around the world who constitute 15 per cent of the world’s poor and about one third of the world’s 900 million extremely poor rural people. They are the remains of millions of peoples who suffered historical extermination and still face continuos injustices… But they have an International Day!
Participants at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in May 2014. Photo by Broddi Sigurdarson, United Nations
Marking the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 9 August 2014, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said indigenous peoples have a central interest in development and can act as “powerful agents of progress.”*
“In order for them to contribute to our common future, we must secure their rights,” said Ban in his message on the Day, in which he added: “Let us recognize and celebrate the valuable and distinctive identities of indigenous peoples around the world. Let us work even harder to empower them and support their aspirations.”
The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is commemorated annually on 9 August in recognition of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, held in Geneva in 1982.
“Historical injustices have all too often resulted in exclusion and poverty,” Ban said, adding that power structures continue to create obstacles to indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination.