This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
One in three people impacted by water stress, says UN
Floods, droughts and other water-related hazards have increased because of climate change, the UN warned on Tuesday, in an appeal for better management, monitoring and forecasting of the dangers.
According to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and partner agencies, one in three people in the world has already been exposed to major water stress, and this number is expected to soar.
Early warning systems are “fragmented and inadequate”, WMO said, adding that global climate finance efforts to improve the situation, have been insufficient.
In Geneva, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas told journalists that climate change has been responsible for the seven per cent increase in global humidity levels; this has fuelled devastating rainfall, particularly across Asia:
“Asia has been the continent which has been mostly exposed to both the deaths and the economic losses related to the flooding, and it’s very much river flooding that we’re talking about here.”
Apart from extreme rainfall that has caused massive flooding in Japan, China, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and India, displacing millions in the past year, wealthy nations in Europe have also been hit by catastrophic flooding, which led to hundreds of deaths and widespread damage in Germany, France and Belgium.
In Africa, the lack of water continues to be a major cause of concern, WMO’s Professor Taalas said, with more than two billion people living in water-stressed countries where there is a lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
Children ‘indoctrinated’ to fight for insurgents in Mozambique
In northern Mozambique, worrying reports have emerged that children as young as five have been shown how to handle weapons and indoctrinated to fight with insurgents.
The warning on Tuesday from UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, came as aid access improved to previously inaccessible areas in Cabo Delgado province, that were occupied by al-Shabab militia.
When fighting broke out in March, humanitarian access to the district was completely blocked – and to tens of thousands of displaced people, including those who had fled the coastal town of Palma.
It was only very recently that UNICEF and partners managed to deliver hygiene kits, water purification tablets, food and shelter to the displaced population in Palma, with the help of the Mozambican authorities.
Here’s the agency’s spokesperson in Geneva, James Elder:
“Unverified video material secured by armed forces in an abandoned training camp apparently shows abducted children as young as five handling weapons and being indoctrinated to fight. Other recent reports showing young boys and girls who were abducted from their families and villages, match accounts told by family members to UNICEF’s field staff and partners. This is leaving little doubt that children are being forcefully recruited by this non-state armed group.”
Hurricane forecasts: Storm season naming conundrum
There have been so many major storms in the Atlantic Ocean so far this year that the usual list of names given to them could well be exhausted, UN weather experts said on Tuesday.
The development follows 2020’s record-breaking hurricane season, which saw 30 named tropical storms including nine names from the Greek alphabet; the devastating storms Eta and Iota were among them.
With two weeks remaining of the current storm season, hurricane Sam has been “churning away” in the north Atlantic and causing big swells, “but (it is) not really a threat to the land”, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Relatively few storms have made landfall this season with the exception of hurricane Ida – the deadliest and most damaging of the year – and Hurricane Grace in mid-August, that affected the Caribbean.
Here’s WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis:
“The Atlantic season in 2021 has been so active that we are on the verge of exhausting the regular list. We’ve just got to Victor who’s now dissipated without ever becoming a threat; the final name on the list is Wanda which at the moment shows no sign of forming, but you know, there’s still a couple of weeks until the end of the hurricane season.”
If new names are needed before this year’s Atlantic storm season ends, Ms. Nullis explained that a WMO hurricane committee had decided that Greek letters should not be used, but rather a supplementary list.
The first name on that list is Adria, Ms. Nullis explained.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.