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News in Brief 1 September 2020

News in Brief 1 September 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Ice sheets and European Alps suffer major climate warming

Climate warming in the Arctic has caused tremendous damage over the summer months, and the European Alps have suffered too, UN weather experts said on Tuesday.

In an update to coincide with the start of autumn in the northern hemisphere, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported major impacts on ice shelves and glaciers.

Heat records in the polar region included one on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago.

The town of Longyearbyen hit 21.7 degrees Celsius - or 71 degrees Fahrenheit - on 25 July, shattering the previous record that had stood for 41 years.

Also this summer, the UN agency noted that an 81 kilometre-squared portion of the Milne ice shelf broke off, reducing the total area of the ice shelf by 43 per cent.

Warmer conditions have also been seen in the European Alps, the UN agency said, with similar consequences.

Temperatures in the Alps in fact increased by 2 degrees Celsius during the 20th century, and the damage that they have caused has been amplified by the decrease in snow ice cover which has revealed darker rocks that absorb more solar radiation.

Hundreds of millions of children unable to return to school

Some 450 million children cannot go back to school as their new academic year begins because of the COVID-19 crisis, the head of the UN education and cultural organization, UNESCO, said on Tuesday.

Describing the situation as “an emergency for global education”, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay warned that several generations of youngsters face the threat of school closures.

According to the UN agency, 900 million pre-primary to secondary students, were set to return to school between August and October.

But fewer than half – from more than 150 countries – can actually return to classrooms today, according to UNESCO.  

With some 128 million students already in the middle of their academic year, only around one-in-three pupils globally – or 561 million students - will attend classes. 

According to UNESCO, till date, students around the world have lost an average of 60 days of schooling since coronavirus lockdowns began in February and March.  

Attacks on journalists are attacks on all of society: Bachelet

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet has urged all countries to do more to protect journalists, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, as their work helps save lives.

Speaking at an event in support of Press freedom in Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that around 1,000 journalists have been killed in the last decade – and that nine in 10 cases “are unresolved”.

Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the work of the media is paramount, she insisted, as their reports are an essential tool for officials to quickly learn where measures are being inadequately applied”, and what concerns are most important to people.

Ms. Bachelet also spoke out against the “intentional targeting” of journalists in protests against authority.

“These attacks are intended to silence all of civil society, and this is of deep concern,” she insisted. (I’ll stick a quote in when I get it from the TV edit)

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • Arctic and Alps hit by scorching heat: WMO
  • Millions of children locked out of school due to COVID-19
  • Journalists play "lifesaving" role in pandemic pushback
Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Photo Credit
WMO/Tapio Niemi