Global perspective Human stories

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: water quality crisis, Yemen and Libya updates, Venezuelan children appeal, ocean protection

Coral Reefs restoration at the coast of Banaire in the Caribbean.
UN Environment Programme
Coral Reefs restoration at the coast of Banaire in the Caribbean.

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: water quality crisis, Yemen and Libya updates, Venezuelan children appeal, ocean protection

Peace and Security

This Tuesday, we cover: new report on water quality worldwide; Yemen envoy briefs the Security Council on Aden; intensifying clashes in southern Libya; UNICEF appeals for increased aid for Venezuela youngsters; and UN negotiations continue over a new ocean protection agreement.  

‘Invisible’ crisis of water quality threatens human and environmental well-being: World Bank report 

Water, along with pollutants and contaminating agents, flows into a canal in Maputo, Mozambique. (File) Photo: John Hogg / World Bank

Deteriorating water quality worldwide is slashing the economic potential of heavily polluted areas, according to a new World Bank report, released on Tuesday. It also warns that the “invisible” crisis of water quality is threatening human and environmental well-being. 

In some regions, rivers and lakes are so polluted that they are literally catching fire. Prime examples include the Bellandur Lake in Bangalore, India, which has carried ash onto buildings up to six miles away. 

Many other bodies of water, however, are polluting less dramatically, but just as dangerously, with a toxic cocktail of bacteria, sewage, chemicals and plastics, sucking oxygen out of water supplies. 

The World Bank’s study, Quality Unknown: The Invisible Water Crisis, sheds new light on the ways that this process is taking place, using the world’s largest global database on water quality, gathered from monitoring stations, remote sensor technology and machine learning tools. 

Read our story here.  

‘No time to lose’ UN envoy tells Security Council, ‘Yemen cannot wait’ 

Shaker Ali sits in front of what used to be a marketplace in Aden, Yemen. (22 June 2019)

One month ago, the United Nations top Yemen envoy told the Security Council the country was facing “a crucial moment” in the course of its long and bloody conflict, and on Tuesday, he again urged members to acknowledge that recent infighting around the Government stronghold of Aden were “a clear sign” that the conflict must be brought to a swift, peaceful end. 

“A continuation of this current situation is simply untenable”, Special Envoy Martin Griffiths said via video-link from Amman, Jordan, referring to a series of clashes in the port city this month between formerly-allied separatists and pro-Government forces that have led to dozens of civilian deaths and injuries to hundreds of others. 

Here’s our full coverage. 

Deadly airstrikes and drone hits displace thousands of civilians in Libya oasis town 

 IDP Tawerghan children in a damaged car in the Qaryounis IDP settlement in Benghazi. The Qaryounis settlement is home to 204 families almost all of whom were displaced from Tawergha in 2011.

Intensifying clashes in the southern Libyan town of Murzuq involving air and drone strikes in recent days have left at least 90 people dead and displaced thousands of “terrified” civilians, the UN said on Tuesday. 

“Casualties on all sides of the fighting have continued as a result of airstrikes by planes and drones, indiscriminate rocket attacks and shelling, and direct fighting on the ground,” said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).  

The alert follows reports by local media that the clashes involved tribal opponents of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) of commander Khalifa Haftar, which began an offensive on the southern outskirts of Libya’s capital, Tripoli, in April. 

Read our full story here

Venezuela: UNICEF seeks $70 million to aid 900,000 children 

A child plays soccer on the roof of El Carmen school in Barrio Union in the outskirts of Caracas, Venezuela.

On Tuesday, the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has appealed for help to provide life-saving assistance to 900,000 youngsters in Venezuela.  

As the country continues to face a dire economic crisis, more than three million children need help, amid food shortages and limited access to healthcare and safe water, UNICEF said in a statement. 

In its appeal for more than $70 million, the UN agency said that vaccine-preventable diseases including measles and diphtheria have re-emerged, while yellow fever and malaria are on the rise. 

Around 1.3 million children and adolescents need protection services, while over a million are now out of school, UNICEF added. 

Negotiating legally-binding agreement to provide future generations with a ‘healthy, resilient and productive ocean’ 

An underwater sculpture at Molinere Bay, in the Marine Protected Area of Grenada.

While the world’s oceans contain some 200,000 identified living species, the actual numbers could reach the millions – all exposed to the dangers of climate change, pollution and over-exploitation. To stem these threats, the United Nations is meeting to negotiate a treaty that would protect three-quarters of the earth’s surface by 2030. 

On Monday, the Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument kicked off its third of four rounds of UN meetings toward achieving a global treaty for the oceans under the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea, known as UNCLOS. 

Our full coverage here.  

Listen to or download our audio News in Brief for 20 August on SoundCloud: