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News in Brief 15 September 2020

News in Brief 15 September 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations. 

Record northern heat, fuels concerns over US wildfire destruction 

The northern hemisphere has just had its hottest summer and warmest August on record, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Tuesday. 

Confirmation of the scorching conditions comes amid ongoing devastating wildfires on the US west coast. 

Data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that from June to August, temperatures were 2.11 degrees Fahrenheit (1.17 degrees Celsius) above average. 

According to WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis, the five warmest summers for the northern hemisphere, have happened since 2015. 

Globally, August was the second warmest on record, at 1.69F (or 0.94C) above the 20th-century average of 60.1F (15.6C). 

The 2020 fire season on the West Coast of the USA has also been record-breaking in its scale, with some 16,0000 firefighters involved in the effort to protect people and towns in California alone. 

In addition to fatalities and destruction, the fires have impacted air quality for millions of people and turned skies orange, impacting even New York on Tuesday, on the east coast. 

Concerns for Rohingya sea rescue survivors as three die after seven-month ordeal at sea  

To Indonesia now, where three ethnic Rohingya people have died after their seven-month ordeal at sea, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday. 

In an alert, the UN agency said that it was saddened by the deaths of the three refugees who reached northern Aceh last week – they are described as a “young man and two young women, all under the age of 25”. 

UNHCR said that it is also “deeply concerned” about the health of “many others” in the group of nearly 300 people who left Cox’s Bazar settlement in Bangladesh in February and spent months floating in the Andaman Sea. 

More than 30 people are believed to have died on that journey and the UN has warned that more than a third of those who reached Indonesia require hospitalization, having been “repeatedly turned away and refused disembarkation” in the region. 

Four out of five are women and children and around half are girls under the age of 18, UNHCR said, noting that the survivors had suffered serious trauma. 

Many children in the group are also without their parents, and at least one 12-year-old boy was left without a caregiver during the journey when his father died. 

In a statement, UNHCR commended the Government of Indonesia and the local community in Aceh for their assistance. 

Action needed now to protect world’s biodiversity - UN’s Global Biodiversity Outlook report 

Only six out of 20 global goals to protect natural biodiversity have been achieved, natural experts have warned, ahead of the Organization’s Nature Summit on 30 September. 

“Biodiversity is declining at unprecedented rates”, according to the latest Global Biodiversity Outlook report from the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. 

It is urging heads of State attending the summit to adopt radical changes to ensure human wellbeing and that of the planet. 

These include adopting sustainable agriculture and food systems, and adding green space to cities. 

Despite the lack of overall success in protecting nature, there has been progress in many biodiversity targets, that were agreed by the international community in Japan in 2010. 

These include in reducing the amount of forest cut down, controlling over-fishing, and protecting island species from non-native invasive intruders. 

David Cooper – Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Biodiversity Convention, said that numbers of bird and mammal extinctions that have occurred over the past 10 years would have been up to four times higher without the actions that have already been taken. 

 “One clear message is that policies work if they are put in place and implemented. And so we need to learn from that, be encouraged by that, and step up those policies more widely in order to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss.” 

The UN Biodiversity Convention’s David Cooper there. 

Daniel Johnson, UN News. 

  • Record northern heat, fuels concerns over US wildfire destruction 

  • Concerns for Rohingya sea rescue survivors as three die after seven-month ordeal at sea 

  • Action needed now to protect world’s biodiversity - UN’s Global Biodiversity Outlook report  

Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Audio Duration
Photo Credit
San Francisco Fire Department