Expansion of Garzweiler, an open-pit lignite mine, has led to the town’s remaining residents being relocated to New Immerath, several kilometres away from the original town site, in North Rhine-Westphalia, whose biggest city is Cologne.
By Baher Kamal & The Like
Some 26,500 South Sudanese, mostly women and children, have crossed into Uganda since fighting between rival forces erupted in and around the capital, Juba, on 7 July, the United Nations refugee agency on 22 July 2016 reported.
Yesterday alone [21 July], an estimated 8,337 refugees crossed into Uganda, setting a single-day record since the influx began in 2016.
“Thousands of people continue to flee uncertainty and fighting in South Sudan,” a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Andreas Needham, told reporters in Geneva, adding that more than 90 per cent of those are women and children.
20 July 2016 – The United Nations food relief agency has launched what is set to become the largest ever emergency food relief operation in Malawi, where an unprecedented El Niño-related drought has left nearly 40 per cent of the population in need of emergency assistance.
Wrapping up a visit to southern Africa, the United Nations deputy humanitarian chief on 22 July 2016 called for urgent action to assist millions of people across the region where local coping capacities have been impacted by the worst El Niño-induced drought in 35 years.
“In Anjampaly, Southern Madagascar, people are carting water from muddy puddles on the dirt road, a water source shared with animals,” said Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Kyung-wha Kang. “This is an alarming health issue: clean water is essential to combat the high rates of malnutrition,” she stressed.
So what is at stake ?
Forests play a major role in sustainable agricultural development through a host of channels, including: water cycle, soil conservation, carbon sequestration, natural pest control, influencing local climates and providing habitat protection for pollinators and other species.
But agriculture accounts for the lion’s share of the conversion of forests.
Failure to prepare for and adapt to the ‘new normal’ of increasing climate-linked emergencies such as El Niño could put global development targets at risk and deepen widespread human suffering in areas already hard hit by floods and droughts, top UN officials on 6 July 2016 said in Rome.
Calling for governments and the international community to ramp up efforts to strengthen resilience and safeguard livelihoods in the wake of El Niño’s devastating effects, the heads of the three Rome-based UN agencies, along with the newly-appointed UN Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate, warned that more than 60 million people worldwide, about 40 million in East and Southern Africa alone, are projected to be food insecure due to the impact of the El Niño climate event.
The lives and livelihoods of more than 60 millions people around the world have been turned upside down by the extreme weather events linked to the El Niño phenomenon, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 19 July 2016 said, calling for a scaled-up, unprecedented response that goes beyond humanitarian action.
“Extreme weather events reverse development gains. People and communities cannot escape poverty or banish hunger if their resources are wiped out by floods, storms or droughts every few years,” the Secretary-General said at a high-level event at the UN Headquarters in New York on Responding to the Impacts of and Mitigating Recurring Climate Risks, organized by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Now that the 2015-2016 El Niño –one of the strongest on record– has subsided, La Niña – El Niño’s ‘counterpart’– could strike soon, further exacerbating a severe humanitarian crisis that is affecting millions of people in the most vulnerable communities in tens of countries worldwide, especially in Africa and Asia Pacific.
11 July 2016 – TRANSCEND Media Service – A recent report from the National Academy of Science of The United States, titled Gene Drives on the Horizon : Advancing Science, Navigating Uncertainty, and Aligning Research with Public Values”, warns:
“One possible goal of release of a gene-drive modified organism is to cause the extinction of the target species or a drastic reduction in its abundance.”
Gene Drives have been called “mutagenic chain reactions”, and are to the biological world what chain reactions are to the nuclear world. The Guardian describes Gene Drives as the “gene bomb”.
Kevin Esvelt of MIT exclaims “a release anywhere is likely to be a release everywhere”, and asks “Do you really have the right to run an experiment where if you screw up, it affects the whole world?”
The NAS report cites the case of wiping out amaranth as an example of “potential benefit”. Yet, the “magical technology” of Gene Drives remains a Ghost, or the Department of Defence of the United States Government’s secret “weapon” to continue its War on Amaranthus Culturis.