The United Nations acknowledged World Humanitarian Day over the weekend with a "living petition" installation at UN headquarters intended to advocate for the safety of aid workers and civilians in conflict areas. "The thousands of faces that make up the living petition will be on display to remind world leaders of their legal obligation to protect civilians in conflict," said Mark Lowcock, chief of UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Humanitarian Affairs.
Kofi Annan, the former United Nations Secretary-General who died Saturday at 80, was "a guiding force for good," said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Annan was UN peacekeeping chief before serving two terms as secretary-general, where he championed the UN Global Compact, and later diplomatic efforts in Kenya, Syria and Myanmar.
Language regarding the ability of governments to disregard medical patents for the sake of public health is a sticking point in negotiations ahead of a United Nations meeting on tuberculosis and noncommunicable diseases.
Increased emphasis, training and funding is needed to ensure humanitarian workers have access to mental health care, experts say. "In order to really address mental health issues, I would approach it from the other side and ask what does our workforce look like when it has good mental health, and take a more optimal and ethical approach," says Christine Williamson of Duty of Care International.
Swiss-based Energy Vault provides an alternative to pumped-hydro energy storage by using concrete blocks and cranes instead of water and dams. The Energy Vault concept contends that because concrete is denser than water, lifting a block of concrete requires more energy and can store more energy than a water tank of the same size.
Taliban forces kidnapped about 170 people from buses in Afghanistan, but government forces had rescued nearly 150 of them within hours. Twenty-one hostages are still being held.
Cleanup workers at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are at risk of exploitation and may have been misled about the health risks of the job, United Nations experts say. "Workers hired to decontaminate Fukushima reportedly include migrant workers, asylum seekers and people who are homeless," the experts say.
Many Central American child migrants end up being deported to their home countries, where they face poverty, gang violence and a lack of access to education, according to a UNICEF report. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime says 60% of human trafficking victims in Central America and the Caribbean are children.
Workers from the World Health Organization and UNICEF are continuing efforts to contain an Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo with vaccinations, education and hand-washing stations. The risk is that authorities fail to stop the disease's spread and it becomes a "multicountry regional outbreak," said Peter Salama, a WHO deputy secretary-general.
The federal government in Nigeria paid a ransom to Boko Haram militants for 111 girls who were kidnapped from a school this year, according to a United Nations report. Ransom payments and the widespread use of cash are fueling extremist activities in the country, the report suggests.
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