News in Brief 23 February 2017 (PM)

23 February 2017

UN launches global campaign to rid oceans of plastic

A global campaign has been launched by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to rid the world’s oceans and seas of plastic.

People are being urged by the agency to change their throwaway habits before irreversible damage is done.

Forgoing plastic at the grocery and using green cutlery are some ways people can reduce their plastic footprint.

Stéphane Dujarric is the UN Spokesperson.

“More than eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans a year: equal to unloading a garbage truck of plastic every minute. The new campaign, called #CleanSeas, urges governments to pass plastic reduction policies; calls on industry to minimize plastic packaging and redesign products; and appeals to consumers to change their throwaway habits before irreversible damage is done to our seas.”

A high-level Oceans Conference is scheduled in June this year at UN Headquarters in New York to discuss how to safeguard the planet’s oceans and help them recover from human-induced problems.


Health system in Yemen crumbles, threatening lives of millions

The health system in Yemen is collapsing as millions of people are at risk of dying from malnutrition and other diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

Since the flare up of violence in March 2015, the country’s health system has been another victim of the conflict, the agency says.

The budget allocated to health authorities has been drastically reduced, leaving health facilities without funds for operational costs and health workers without regular salaries since September last year.

Only half of the health facilities in Yemen are fully functional.

More than 14.8 million people in the country are currently lacking access to basic health care, says Dr Nevio Zagaria, the WHO acting representative in Yemen.

Security Council extends mandate of UN Guinea-Bissau peacebuilding office

The mandate for the UN Integrated Peace-Building Office in Guinea-Bissau has been extended by the Security Council for another year, amidst ongoing political turmoil in the West African nation.

According to media reports, hundreds of protestors marched in the capital, Bissau, on Thursday, to demand the departure of President Jose Mario Vaz.

Meanwhile, the Council has urged all political actors in the country to implement the provisions of the Conakry Agreement, named after the Guinean town where it was signed.

The Agreement was signed in October last year following talks between political leaders, civil society and religious leaders of Guinea-Bissau.

The talks were hosted by the regional bloc ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States.

However, the implementation of the Agreement and the ECOWAS roadmap has been challenging, the UN says.

In 2014, the West African nation concluded a second round of presidential elections, which are widely seen as essential to restoring constitutional order, economic growth and development, following a 2012 military coup.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 2'45''


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