This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Wildlife crime affects us all by bringing animal pathogens closer to humans: UN report
Endangered pangolins - identified as a potential source of coronaviruses - are the most trafficked wild mammals in the world, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said on Friday. In a new report, the agency warns that wildlife crime affects all countries and that stopping it “will help prevent future public health emergencies” – while also protecting biodiversity on Earth. It highlights research indicating that zoonotic diseases, which pass from animals to humans, represent up to 75 per cent of all emerging infectious sickness today.
These include the bug behind the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When wild animals are poached from their natural habitat, butchered and sold illegally, the potential for transmission of zoonotic diseases …is increased”, UNODC said in a statement.
According to the agency’s findings, seizures of pangolin scales have increased tenfold between 2014 and 2018.
But no single species is responsible for more than five per cent of trafficked goods found by the authorities, it says, with nearly 6,000 different species of fauna and flora seized between 1999 and 2018, and “nearly every country in the world” involved.
Wildlife crime is a “business that is global, lucrative, with high demand driving high prices and extremely widespread”, the UNODC report said.
Floods across South Asia, more rainfall forecast, warn weather experts
Devastating seasonal floods have hit several South Asian countries including India, China and Japan and even more heavy rainfall is expected in the coming days, UN weather experts said on Friday.
The forecast, from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), comes as communities in northeast India, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal brace themselves, amid fresh alerts for the next 48 hours.
Here’s spokesperson Clare Nullis, speaking in Geneva:
“More than 200 millimetres of rain could fall in 24 hours, this is in addition to what has already fallen with further similar amounts falling in coming days. So, this is a lot of rainfall coming in a very short space of time. Inevitable consequences will be floods, flash floods and landslides.”
Ms. Nullis added that China has been affected by severe flooding since June, which had impacted millions of people and caused dozens of casualties.
Continuous downpours have lashed southwestern and central provinces and the authorities have issued further weather warnings for the coming days, she said.
Major waterways have swollen, including the Yangtze River, with around 300,000 people reportedly evacuated in the eastern provinces of Anhui and Jiangxi, with homes destroyed and electricity cut.
In Japan, “several dozen” victims have been reported from flooding, as the country prepares for yet more heavy rainfall and thunderstorms.
Although the development is linked to the South Asian monsoon season, the WMO spokesperson maintained that climate change had made the situation much worse, more quickly.
Waiting to declare famine ‘will be too late for Yemenis on brink of starvation’: WFP
In Yemen, fears of famine have resurfaced as UN humanitarians also warned on Friday that 360,000 severely malnourished children could die unless they continue to get treatment and aid is stepped up. In an urgent appeal for funding, the World Food Programme (WFP) said that it needs $200 million per month to maintain assistance in the war-torn country.
“If we wait for famine to be declared, it will already be too late as people will already be dying”, it said in a statement.
The UN agency has already had to limit distributions in the north of the country and fears that it may not be able to prevent people from starving, as it did last year.
WFP spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs said that the dire economic situation caused by the conflict had led to reduced imports and soaring food prices in a country that imports almost everything it needs.
“There are 10 million people who are facing (an) acute food shortage, and we are ringing the alarm bell for these people, because their situation is deteriorating because of escalation of conflict of course, and because of the lockdowns and the constraints and the social-economic impact of the coronavirus,” she said. “Those people cannot go to find work, they have to stay home, they cannot feed themselves and their families.”
Widely described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the country has been torn apart by more than five years of war conflict between President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi - supported by a Saudi-led international coalition – and mainly Houthi forces.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.