Archive for ‘Middle East’


Biodiversity, the Hidden Jewel that Is Being Depleted at an “Alarming Rate”

Biodiversity for food and agriculture is among the earth’s most important resources, says the UN Food and agriculture Organization (FAO)*. It is indispensable: be it the insects that pollinate plants, the microscopic bacteria used for making cheese, the diverse livestock breeds used to make a living in harsh environments, the thousands species of fish, and other aquatic species in our lakes, rivers and oceans, or the thousands of varieties of crops that sustain food security worldwide.

Source: FAO

Genetic resources are the raw materials that local communities and researchers rely upon to improve the quality and output of food production.Biodiversity and genetic resources are essential for achieving nutritional diversity in diets – a diverse food basket – which is important for human health and development.
However, they are being lost at an alarming rate.
Here are just few of the hard facts:


Five Billion People -Over Two Thirds of World Population– Will Be Living in Cities by 2030

Human Wrongs Watch

More than two-thirds of the world population – an estimated 5 billion people – will be living in cities by 2030, placing increasing amounts of pressure on housing, services, resources and the environment, according to estimates by UN-Habitat on the occasion of the first-ever World Cities Day on 31 October 2014. Over 60 per cent of urban populations will be under the age of 18.

On the first-ever World Cities Day, the UN highlighted the need for sustainable urban planning to make cities more “liveable.” Shown, street traffic in Kathmandu, Nepal. World Bank/Simone D. McCourtie

As the world’s urban areas inevitably expand, growing both in size and in population, they will also need to transition into better planned and better managed environments or risk exacerbating negative trends, the United Nations warned on 31 October 2014.*

Marking the inaugural edition of World Cities Day, a global event aimed at promoting sustainable urban development in cities and towns around the world, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared humanity’s future to be an urban one as the world’s population will increasingly become city-dwelling.


Global Media Campaign to End Female Genital Mutilation

Human Wrongs Watch

The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) must come to a quick end and the global media can play a critical role in making that happen, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 30 October 2014 affirmed during his visit to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

At age one, Fatima was subjected to female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in her village in Afar Region of Ethiopia which has one of the world’s highest prevalence rates. Photo: UNICEF/Kate Holt

Speaking at the launch of the Global Media Campaign against female genital mutilation organized by the Guardian Media Group, the Secretary-General underscored the importance of placing a greater media focus on the issue, which condemns millions of girls and women to the brutal practice each year.

“Change can happen through sustained media attention on the damaging public health consequences of FGM, as well as on the abuse of the rights of hundreds of thousands of women and girls around the world,” Ban confirmed.


UN Human Rights Expert Urges Reversal of UK Decision to Halt Mediterranean Migrant Rescues

Human Wrongs Watch 

The United Nations human rights expert on migrants on 30 October 2014urged British authorities to reconsider a decision not to support search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea, saying allowing people to die at Europe’s borders just because of their administrative status “is appalling.”

Asylum-seekers and economic migrants take to the seas, waiting out the dangerous journey in the boat’s cramped cargo space. Photo: UNHCR/A. D’Amato

Asylum-seekers and economic migrants take to the seas, waiting out the dangerous journey in the boat’s cramped cargo space. Photo: UNHCR/A. D’Amato

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, said in a press release issued in Geneva on 30 October 2014 that “governments that do not support the search and rescue efforts have reduced themselves to the same level as the smugglers.”*

“They are preying on the precariousness of the migrants and asylum seekers, robbing them of their dignity and playing with their lives,” Crépeau said.


Countries Pledge to Develop and Implement Youth Policies — Will They… Really?

Human Wrongs Watch

The United Nations-backed Global Forum on Youth Policies, which brought together over 700 participants from over 165 countries, concluded on 30 October 2014 in Azerbaijan with the launch of an outcome document pledging to support countries that are in the process of developing and “elevating” national youth policy.

Source: Youth Policy Forum

Photo: Youth Policy Forum

“I am happy to say that we will be launching a global initiative on youth policies that will be providing technical support and assistance to many governments and countries that are in the process of developing national youth policies,” said the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Ahmad Alhendawi, as the Forum wrapped up its work.

The Baku Commitment on Youth Policies agreed to by participants and co-conveners, highlights the principles to guide formulation, implementation and evaluation of youth policy in the 21 century. It calls for greater youth involvement in youth policy monitoring and evaluation.


85 Individuals Have the Same Wealth as Half the People on Our Planet– Even It Up!

By OXFAM*, 30 October 2014* – 85 individuals have the same wealth as half the people on our planet. Such extreme economic inequality is standing in the way of ending global poverty, and widening other inequalities like the gap between women and men. It is time to Even it up!

Source: OXFAM

Source: OXFAM

The number of billionaires doubles since financial crisis as inequality spirals out of control

In same period at least a million mothers died in childbirth due to lack of basic health services

Rising inequality could set the fight against poverty back by decades, Oxfam warned on 29 October 2014 as it published a new report showing that the number of billionaires worldwide has more than doubled since the financial crisis.

The report, Even it Up: Time to End Extreme Inequality, details how the richest people in the world have more money than they could ever spend while hundreds of millions live in abject poverty without essential health care or basic education.


Understanding Climate Science in 10 Easy Steps

Human Wrongs Watch

By Kat Skeie*, 28 October, 2014 (Greenpeace) – The latest United Nations report on climate change is about to be finalized, written by thousands of scientists. The report is VERY important, but also a bit dull.

Source: Greenpeace

Source: Greenpeace

What we really want to know is: How bad is climate change? And what can we do about it? Using the latest IPCC findings and a few other recent discoveries, here’s our take on what you need to know about climate change and what to do about it.

1. Politicians talk – too little happens

Politicians spend a lot of time talking about reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are causing the planet to heat up. But despite all the chatter, emissions are still growing.

From 2000 to 2010, greenhouse gas emissions grew faster than before. The reason? We keep burning more fossil fuels. The climate scientists’ advice, however, is clear: we need to get rid of man-made carbon emissions entirely.

2. Without action, things will get bad

Source: Greenpeace

Source: Greenpeace


Israelis Picking Palestinian Olives

Jerusalem, 28 October 2014 (IRIN)* — It is still dark when the minibus rolls into Jerusalem, picking up Israelis bound for occupied Palestinian land. Their leader, a rabbi, dons a shawl and quietly prays in the back seat. 

During the autumn olive harvest, Palestinian villagers are especially nervous about visits from Israelis: Last year the UN recorded 38,532 trees destroyed or damaged incidents linked to Israeli settlers between 2009 and the end of August 2013.

These are part of a strategy of so called “price tag” attacks carried out by settlers, often coming after actions by the government seen as counter to the settlers’ agenda, or following perceived violence from Palestinians.

But armed with sun-hats and bottles of water, these Israelis have come to help not destroy.


An “Immense” Humanitarian Emergency Unfolding in Iraq on the Eve of Harsh Winter

Senior officials from the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on 27 October 2014 warned today that an “immense” humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Iraq and called for greater resources from the international community to help with the upcoming winter season, as they concluded a four-day mission to conflict-riven areas in the country.

With rainy season started, and winter on doorstep, UNHCR, together with partners, and support from Kuwait, hurries finishing construction of Khanke camp for displaced people from Sinjar area. Photo: UNHCR Iraq

“We were able to see for ourselves the magnitude of the crisis,” said Rashid Khalikov, Director in Geneva of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in a press briefing at the end of a 20 to 23 October mission to Iraq. “An immense humanitarian emergency is unfolding in front of our eyes,” he added.*


Muhammad, Where Are You?

Human Wrongs Watch

By Uri Avnery*, TRANSCEND Media Service


It sounds like a joke. But it isn’t.

About a month ago, on the eve of the Jewish New Year, the government statistical office published a set of interesting items about the population of the state. It is intended as a gift for the citizens. The population is growing, it is getting richer and it is satisfied.

**Children returning home to Aida Palestinian refugee camp north of Bethlehem; Israeli West Bank barrier is in the background. |  Author: Mrbrefast | Wikimedia Commons.

**Children returning home to Aida Palestinian refugee camp north of Bethlehem; Israeli West Bank barrier is in the background. | Author: Mrbrefast | Wikimedia Commons.

One of the items lists the most popular names given last year to newborn boys and girls.

When the statisticians saw the results, they were flabbergasted. It appears the name that topped the list was Muhammad.

Muhammad? The most popular name in the Jewish state?


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