Ukraine fighting leaves children caught in crossfire
More than 200,000 schoolchildren remain caught up in the conflict in Ukraine where warring parties should respect international humanitarian law and the youngsters’ right to protection, UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said on Friday.
Four years into the fighting between government forces and separatists in the east, UNICEF’s Ukraine Representative Giovanna Barberis described the mental impact on children and teachers:
“On April 12 a school bus of 30 children were on their way home from school had to be immediately evacuated and taken to a safe space because the bus was caught in crossfire. This happened in the early afternoon. The harm these incidents have on a child’s psychological well-being cannot be overestimated. Principals and teachers are also suffering from this situation; for example, a school director told UNICEF, ‘If I had one word to describe the impact of this on children, it is horror.’”
At least 45 schools have been damaged or destroyed since January last year, in addition to another more than 700 schools left in a similar condition since the conflict began.
The development comes as IOM, the UN migration agency, warned that 3.4 million people in eastern Ukraine urgently require humanitarian assistance and protection, but the international appeal is 97 per cent unfunded.
Of 1.5 million registered internally displaced people, more than half “have barely enough money to buy food on a day-to-day basis”, IOM warned.
Record temperatures and storms 'happening more frequently': WMO
Deadly storms in India and record temperatures in Pakistan are an indication that more extreme weather events are happening globally owing to climate change, UN weather experts said on Friday.
Amid flash-floods in the East and Horn of Africa and sand and dust storms in the Arabian Gulf, Clare Nullis from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that this week’s storms in northern India had left a reported more than 100 people dead.
Unusual conditions were also recorded this week in Pakistan, Ms. Nullis told journalists:
“Two meteorological stations in Pakistan just over the border reported temperatures of at least 50° Celsius on 30 April; this is April, it’s not June or July, this is April, we don’t normally see temperatures above 50 degrees C. In fact, as far as we’re aware, we’ve never seen a temperature above 50 degrees C in April.”
The new national temperature record of 50.2 degrees Celsius – that’s 122.4 Fahrenheit — was recorded in Shaheed Benazirabad in Nawabshah District, Pakistan, earlier this week.
'Bad' fats targeted in new health global guidelines
People everywhere are to be advised to cut down on popular foods containing artery-clogging fats, under new proposals from the World Health Organization (WHO) out Friday.
The initiative is a bid to prevent some of the 17 million deaths caused every year by cardiovascular diseases, which have been linked to food containing saturated fats and trans-fats.
Saturated fats are very common and found in butter, salmon, egg yolks and cow’s milk.
WHO wants adults and children to ensure that their intake of these fats are just 10 per cent of their total daily energy needs.
And the UN health agency wants trans-fats – which are found in baked and fried foods and cooking oil — to account for just 1 per cent of what people need to eat in a day, that’s well below the current 1.4 per cent level.
The good news is that there are healthier alternatives to food laden with saturated and trans-fats which are often labelled as “hydrogenated” — an indication of industrial processing.
Here’s Dr. Francesco Branca, WHO’s nutrition director:
“If we really want to get rid of the dangers of the excess trans-fat then there must be a very strong, energetic action from Governments to make sure that manufactured products do not use hydrogenated vegetable oil. … The removal of trans-fat which has been done in many countries is not even noticed by the consumer. So, the producers can use another fat with the same property and you can have your wonderful croissant that does not contain any trans-fats.”
WHO says that Western Europe has almost eliminated industrial trans-fat use today but poorer regions still face major challenges in tackling the threat.
Before WHO publishes its draft guidelines officially later this year, it intends to hold public consultations around the world to ensure that they best meet regional needs.
Daniel Johnson, United Nations