This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Smartphone listener guidelines unveiled to prevent growing levels of hearing loss
More than one billion 12 to 35-year-olds risk irreversible hearing loss from exposure to loud sounds, such as music played on their smartphone, UN health experts said on Tuesday, as they unveiled new guidelines to make listening safer.
The recommendations to prevent noise-induced hearing loss and related conditions such as tinnitus – which is commonly experienced as a ringing sound in your ears - include functions on personal audio devices that monitor how loud and for how long people listen to music.
Here’s Dr Shelly Chadha from the World Health Organization (WHO), which has joined forces with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for this initiative:
“Over a billion young people are at risk of hearing loss simply by doing what they really enjoy doing a lot, which is listening regularly to music through their headphones over th eir devices. At the moment, we don’t really have anything other than our instinct – not really anything solid other than our instinct - to tell us: are we doing this right or is this something that is going to lead to tinnitus and hearing loss a few years down the line.”
Latest data shows half of all young listeners have the volume at unsafe levels, through personal audio devices including smartphones. Their use continues to grow globally.
A parental volume control option is also included in the UN recommendations to industry, which participated in two-years of discussions, along with experts from government, consumer bodies and civil society.
Thousands flee fresh violence in South Sudan’s Equatoria State
Thousands of people have fled a fresh outbreak of violence in South Sudan’s Equatoria state, seeking safety in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Tuesday.
Some 5,000 people have settled in several villages along the border near the town of Ingbokolo in Ituri province in north-eastern DRC, according to spokesperson Babar Baloch:
“Most are women, children and the elderly. They arrived exhausted, hungry and thirsty. Among them are people suffering malaria or other illnesses. Many have suffering from trauma after witnessing violent incidents, including armed men reportedly murdering and raping civilians and looting villages.”
According to reports, the violence has displaced another 8,000 people inside South Sudan, near the town of Yei.
The clashes started on 19 January between the army and a rebel group, the National Salvation Front, UNHCR says, which has warned that the clashes have blocked humanitarian access to affected areas.
Automatic braking guidelines will reduce crashes, says UNECE
And finally, 40 countries have agreed draft UN guidelines on automatic braking in cars, in a move that could significantly improve road safety.
Announced by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, UNECE, the development concerns the sensors that are used on cars to detect other vehicles – or pedestrians.
In the European Union alone, more than 9,500 people died in road traffic accidents in 2016. Inside urban areas, 50 per cent of the fatalities were drivers and 40 per cent were pedestrians, UNECE says.
The Advanced Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS) kicks in if the driver does not react to audible alerts, applying the brakes automatically to avoid a collision or mitigate its effects.
In addition to cars, the new regulation will be applicable to vans and minibuses with fewer than nine passengers.
Once it is adopted by the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations this June, the new Regulation will likely enter into force in early 2020.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.