This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
One billion people suffer from preventable eye conditions: WHO
A staggering 2.2 billion people already suffer from eye conditions and visual impairment today, but the global need for eye care is set to increase “dramatically”, with lack of exercise a key factor, the UN health agency said on Tuesday.
While welcoming recent successes in eliminating common conditions such as trachoma in eight countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted evidence indicating that eye problems are increasingly linked to lifestyle choices, including screen time.
Youngsters are among those at risk, WHO’s Dr Alarcos Cieza told journalists in Geneva:
“In children, one of the factors that may influence the increased number of children with myopia, is that children do not spend enough time outdoors. It is a trend that is already observed in some countries like in China, but of course, it is a trend that we can predict in other countries if they are everyday habit, especially with children populations.”
When you stay indoors, the lens inside your eyes remains flexed, WHO says, whereas outside, it relaxes.
In a statement calling for quality eye care to be made available everywhere, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that it was “unacceptable” that 65 million people with bad eyesight had not undergone a simple cataract operation, or that over 800 million struggle every day because they don’t have a pair of glasses.
Latest shipwreck tragedy off Italian coast brings deaths at sea to 1,071
At least 30 people are believed to have died in a new boat tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea involving migrants trying to reach Europe.
In an update on Tuesday, the UN migration agency, IOM, said that the shipwreck happened late on Sunday, when an overloaded wooden boat that left Tunisia capsized seven miles from the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa.
It had been carrying around 50 people when the accident happened in bad weather.
Twenty-two people survived, while 13 bodies – all women – were recovered by the Italian coastguard.
As of Tuesday morning, 17 migrants were still missing, including more women and at least two children.
The latest tragedy brings the number of fatalities in the waters of the Mediterranean so far this year to 1,071.
It’s time for Australia to roll back restrictive asylum and migration policies, urges Michelle Bachelet
And finally to Australia, where UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet appealed to the authorities on Tuesday to “roll back” its “entrenched” policies towards migrants and refugees held offshore.
In a wide-ranging speech in Sydney, Ms. Bachelet said that mandatory detention was a “mainstay” of the country’s migration and asylum system.
“The people it affects have largely committed no crime,” she told the Australian Human Rights Commission conference, adding that some of those detained in offshore centres such on Nauru and Manus Island were children who had been subjected to “prolonged, indefinite and effectively unreviewable confinement”.
At the same time, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Australian authorities to do more to create a “free and equal society”, particularly for women.
The country had a “significantly better track record” in gender equality than many other countries, she noted, before insisting that women “still face many barriers, including unequal pay, workplace discrimination and pervasive sexual harassment”.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.