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29 Mar

Climate change “is still moving much faster than we are,” UN Chief warns

Climate change “is still moving much faster than we are,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned on Thursday, calling for the political will, innovation and financing to cut global emissions by at least 25 per cent over the next two years.

“Scientists are now worried that unless accelerated action is taken by 2020, the Paris goal may become unattainable,” the UN chief told reporters at the world body’s New York Headquarters.
The Paris Agreement on climate change, adopted by world leaders in December 2015, aims to keep global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursues efforts to limit the temperature increase even further, to 1.5 degrees.
“I am beginning to wonder how many more alarm bells must go off before the world rises to the challenge,” Mr. Guterres said, noting that 2017 had been filled with climate chaos and 2018 has already brought more of the same.
“Climate change is still moving much faster than we are,” he warned, calling the phenomenon the greatest threat facing humankind. 
Recent information from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the World Bank and the International Energy Agency shows the relentless pace of climate change.
For instance, the UN chief said, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 per cent, to a historic high of 32.5 gigatonnes.
Moreover, weather-related disasters caused some $320 billion in economic damage, making 2017 the costliest year ever for such losses.
In social as well as economic terms, the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was devastating, washing away decades of development in an instant.
In South Asia, major monsoon floods affected 41 million people.
In Africa, severe drought drove nearly 900,000 people from their homes.
Wildfires caused destruction across the world. Arctic sea ice cover in winter is at its lowest level, and the oceans are warmer and more acidic than at any time in recorded history.
“This tsunami of data should create a storm of concern,” Mr. Guterres said, noting that next year he will convene a climate summit in New York aimed at boosting global ambition to meet the level of the climate challenge.
“The Stone Age did not end because the world ran out of stones. It ended because there were better alternatives. The same applies today to fossil fuels,” he said, stressing the need for a further cut in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 25 per cent by 2020.

 

Read the full story at UN News: https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/03/1006271

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15 Mar

UN agency issues refugee protection guidance for thousands of Venezuelans fleeing crisis-torn country

As deepening economic woes force thousands of Venezuelans to flee the crisis-gripped country, the United Nations on Tuesday issued guidance on treating the population as “refugees,” while the head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) warned that the outflow into neighboring countries such as Colombia constitutes a “humanitarian disaster.”

“The movements are taking place for a variety of reasons, including insecurity and violence, lack of food, medicine or access to essential social services as well as loss of income,” Aikaterini Kitidi, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters at the regular press briefing in Geneva.

“While not all Venezuelans leaving are prompted to do so for refugee-related reasons, it is becoming increasingly clear that, while all may not be refugees, a significant number are in need of international protection,” she added.
Since 2014, there has been a 2,000 per cent increase in the number of Venezuelan nationals seeking asylum worldwide, principally in the Americas during the last year.
While in 2017 over 94,000 Venezuelans have been able to access refugee procedures in other countries, many in need of protection opt for other legal stay arrangements, which may be faster to obtain and provide the right to work, access to health and education.

Yet, hundreds of thousands remain without documentation or legal permission to stay in asylum countries – making them vulnerable to discrimination, trafficking, sexual abuse and xenophobia.
UNHCR’s guidelines encourage States to ensure Venezuelans have access to territory and refugee procedures.

“In addition,” Ms. Kitidi pointed out “UNHCR welcomes and calls on governments to adopt pragmatic protection-oriented responses for the Venezuelan people, such as alternative legal stay arrangements, including visas or temporary residence permits, as well as other regularization programmes, which guarantee access to the basic rights of health care, education, family unity, freedom of movement, shelter and the right to work.”

UNHCR applauds countries in Latin America that have introduced such arrangements, and hopes that costs and requirements are eased, where necessary to ensure accessibility.

“It is crucial that people are not deported or forcibly returned there,” she underscored.
While Governments in the region have been generous in their response, host communities receiving Venezuelans are under increasing strain and need urgent and robust support, to promote peaceful coexistence and prevent manifestations of discrimination and xenophobia.

“UNHCR is working with Governments to address the protection and basic needs of the outflow,” she continued. “Consequently, UNHCR has developed a regional response plan that covers eight countries and the Caribbean sub-region.”

Meanwhile, WFP Executive Director David Beasley, who is in Colombia, said the outflow of Venezuelans into neighbouring countries constitutes a “humanitarian disaster.” He said it was catastrophic that around 50,000 people are now choosing to cross the border each day, just at one location – “and that’s the legal border crossing.”

Read the full story at: UN News

More information on the UNHCR Guidance Note on the Outflow of Venezuelans

 

 

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14 Mar

As Venezuelans flee throughout Latin America, UNHCR issues new protection guidance

In light of the continuing outflow of Venezuelans to neighbouring countries and beyond, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has released new guidance for governments to address the situation of persons in need of international protection and humanitarian assistance.

As a result of the complex political and socio-economic developments in Venezuela, a country that has traditionally been host to thousands of refugees, the number of people compelled to leave their homes continues to increase. The movements are taking place for a variety of reasons, including insecurity and violence, lack of food, medicine or access to essential social services as well as loss of income. While not all Venezuelans leaving are prompted to do so for refugee-related reasons, it is becoming increasingly clear that, while all may not be refugees, a significant number are in need of international protection.

There has been a 2,000% increase in the number of Venezuelan nationals seeking asylum worldwide since 2014, principally in the Americas during the last year. Although over 94,000 Venezuelans have been able to access refugee procedures in other countries in 2017, many more of those in need of protection opt for other legal stay arrangements, that may be faster to obtain and provide the right to work, access to health and education.

[ read the full story on OHCHR ]

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08 Mar

International Women’s Day: The ‘time is now’ to transform global push for women’s rights into action – UN

“The historical and structural inequalities that have allowed oppression and discrimination to flourish are being exposed like never before,” Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message on the Day, marked annually on 8 March and this year

From Latin America to Europe to Asia, on social media, on film sets, on the factory floor and in the streets, women are calling for lasting change and zero tolerance for sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination of all kinds, said the UN chief, declaring that achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls “is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.”

“The activism and advocacy of generations of women has borne fruit,” he continued. “There are more girls in school than ever before; more women are doing paid work and in senior roles in the private sector, academia, politics and in international organizations, including the United Nations.”  

However, some remaining serious obstacles include that more than a billion women lack legal protection against domestic sexual violence; over the next decade millions more girls will undergo genital mutilation; and women’s representation in parliaments stands at less than one quarter – and even lower in boardrooms.

“Where laws exist, they are often ignored, and women who pursue legal redress are doubted, denigrated and dismissmantled,” he lamented.

[ read the full story on UN News Centre ]


 

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Feature photos

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  • parent an students who attended in 2nd Climate Change workshop, with UNIC Director, Costa Rican Abassador, ASPnet Coordinator and guest presenter