Fome no Sudão do Sul alcança níveis alarmantes, segundo a ONU

Integrantes do Exército de Libertação do Povo do Sudão chegaram ao aeroporto de Juba, na segunda-feira (28) (Foto: Albert Gonzalez Farran / AFP)Integrantes do Exército de Libertação do Povo do Sudão chegaram ao aeroporto de Juba, na segunda-feira (28) (Foto: Albert Gonzalez Farran / AFP)

A fome alcança níveis alarmantes no Sudão do Sul, no leste da África, onde os preços dos alimentos são exorbitantes depois de dois anos de guerra civil, denunciou a Organização das Nações Unidas para Alimentação e Agricultura (FAO).

“Há informações alarmantes sobre a fome, a desnutrição aguda e os níveis catastróficos de insegurança alimentar nas zonas mais afetadas pela atual violência”, indica em um comunicado a Organização das Nações Unidas para a Alimentação e a Agricultura (FAO).

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A agência também alerta que os prognósticos para o resto do ano são sombrios, com um rápido esgotamento dos produtos alimentícios.

Apesar da assinatura de um acordo de paz em agosto de 2015, os combates prosseguem em muitos lugares do Sudão do Sul.

O Sudão do Sul proclamou sua independência em julho de 2011, antes de mergulhar novamente dois anos e meio mais tarde uma guerra motivada por um conflito político-étnico, nutrido pelas rivalidades entre o chefe de Estado Salva Kiir e seu ex-vice-presidente Riek Machar. O conflito já deixou milhares de mortos e mais de dois milhões de deslocados.

Direitos humanos
No início do mês, a Organização das Nações Unidas (ONU) afirmou que a situação dos Direitos Humanos no país do leste da África é “uma das mais espantosas” do mundo. “Trata-se de uma das situações mais espantosas no mundo para os direitos humanos, com um uso maciço dos estupros como instrumento do terror e arma de guerra”, afirmou Alto Comissário da ONU para os Direitos Humanos, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

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Hijacker of EgyptAir flight arrested as Cyprus airport drama ends

Authorities arrested the hijacker of an Egyptian airliner that was diverted to Cyprus on Tuesday, after the plane’s passengers and crew were able to escape unharmed.

The hijacker, who officials said was motivated by personal reasons and who had reportedly claimed to be wearing an explosives belt, was detained after several tense hours at Larnaca airport where the plane had landed.

“The hijacker has just been arrested,” Cypriot government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Twitter. No further details were immediately available.

An AFP correspondent saw a man emerging from the aircraft, walking across the tarmac and then raising his hands to two awaiting counter-terrorism officers. They laid him on the ground and searched him for around two minutes before taking him away.

Passengers and crew had earlier been seen leaving the aircraft, including one who climbed out of the cockpit window.

“The passengers are safe and the crew is safe,” Egypt’s civil aviation minister Sherif Fathy said on state television minutes after Cyprus said the hijacker had been taken into custody.

Egypt’s Prime Minister Sharif Ismail said in televised remarks that the alleged hijacker was an Egyptian and had demanded to speak to a European Union representative.

Officials earlier said there was no link to “terrorism” in the incident and that the hijacker had demanded to see a Cypriot woman who was his estranged lover, with whom he had children.

– ‘Psychologically unstable’ –

“This is not about terrorism. This is about the individual action of a person who is psychologically unstable,” said the Cypriot foreign ministry’s permanent secretary, Alexandros Zenon.

The EgyptAir plane landed at the airport in the southern coastal city of Larnaca at 8:50 am (0550 GMT), after the hijacker had contacted the control tower 20 minutes earlier to demand the diversion.

Egyptian civil aviation said he had threatened to detonate an explosives belt on the Airbus A-320, which had been headed from the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria to Cairo.

Most of the passengers were allowed to disembark after the plane landed, but a handful of crew and passengers had remained on board until shortly before the hijacker’s arrest.

Fathy had told a press conference that the captain, a co-pilot, an air hostess and a security guard, along with three passengers, had remained on board after other passengers and crew were released.

Fathy said there had been 55 passengers on board the plane and that the hijacker had demanded it land in either Turkey or Cyprus.

The plane had been carrying 21 foreigners including eight Americans, four Dutch citizens, four Britons and a French citizen, an Egyptian civil aviation ministry statement said.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades had earlier told reporters the incident appeared to be motivated by personal reasons.

“The hijacking is not terrorism-related,” he told a joint news conference with the visiting president of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz.

Asked about reports that the hijacker had demanded to see a Cypriot woman, Anastasiades laughed and said: “Always there is a woman.”

– Flights diverted –

The plane had been parked on the tarmac away from the new terminal building but just 200 metres (yards) from a beach where dozens of foreign tourists were out.

The airport, the main entry point for tourists to the resort island, was closed and incoming flights diverted to Paphos on the country’s western edge.

Concerns were raised about security at Egyptian airports after a Russian airliner was downed on October 31 over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. The Islamic State group claimed to have smuggled a bomb on board the plane.

Larnaca is no stranger to hostage crises. Several hijacked planes were diverted to the airport in the last few decades.

In August 1996, a Sudan Airways Airbus A-310 was hijacked by seven Iraqis between Khartoum and Amman with 199 people on board. After a stopover in Larnaca it flew on to London’s Stansted airport, where the hijackers gave themselves up.

In 1988, a Kuwait Airways flight hijacked en route from Bangkok to Kuwait was diverted to Iran’s second city Mashhad and later to Larnaca, where hijackers killed two Kuwaiti passengers and dumped their bodies on the tarmac.

In February 1978, an Egyptian commando unit stormed a hijacked Cyprus Airways DC-8 at Larnaca airport, where 15 passengers were being held hostage. Some 15 Egyptian soldiers were killed and 15 wounded in a firefight with Cypriot forces. All the hostages were freed and the hijackers arrested.

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Which countries are most at risk from climate change and how can we help?

The countries most vulnerable to climate change are among the poorest and least able to respond. How to resolve that dilemma and help these places adapt to a warming world remains among the knottiest problems facing climate financing.

The good news is that identifying those most in need – step one – is now a good deal easier thanks to a global league table developed by the University of Notre Dame.

The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) measures a country’s vulnerability in relation to its ability to cope with climate change.

It calculates exposure to climate stress (for example a reliance on agriculture); sensitivity to the impact of climate shocks; and adaptive capacity. It then scores a country’s readiness – defining that in terms of a  willingness to leverage its economic, governance and social resources to reduce climate risk.

According to the index, the world’s five worst performers are Eritrea, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By comparison, the over-achievers – and you’d guess at least a couple of them – are New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Germany, in that order.

Hooray for Paris

One of the important outcomes of the Paris climate summit in December was the recognition that reducing greenhouse gasses is not enough. Adaptation – how to live with a warming world – is now also accepted as key, and there is a greater realisation that poorer countries will need support to help achieve that.

Paris affirmed the financing target of $100 billion a year from public and private sources by 2020. A game-changer could also be the Green Climate Fund, which will devote 50 percent of all its funding to adaptation, which has historically been overshadowed by spending on mitigation projects like renewable energy.

“Paris was wonderful, but what’s really important now is what happens on the ground,” said Koko Warner, of the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security. “The true yardstick of success is in these highly vulnerable countries.”

Money alone will not be enough to build climate security. “The question of access [to financing] is not a simple answer as it concerns multiple challenges including technical capacity to develop bankable proposals, [tackle the] knowledge and capacity gaps, and provide access to resources needed to do the necessary feasibility studies,” Barbara Buchner of the Climate Policy Initiative said in an emailed response.

“We need to find ways to increase the absorptive capacity of countries that need the funding the most, and harmonise investment standards, transparency and governance issues,” noted Warner. “We need more nuance on how to deliver financing to really help the poor, to unravel the knots around climate impact and livelihoods.”

That needs to happen quickly, because the estimates are that the true climate bill will be in the trillions rather than billions of dollars – especially if the world cannot keep below two degrees Celsius of global warming agreed in Paris.

“We know that public resources in all countries are stretched, and that $100 billion will not satisfy the needs on the ground,” said Buchner. “It is therefore essential that the $100 billion be spent wisely. If we can do this, much more private investment will flow.”

Making money

The ND-GAIN index is more than a ranking system. Its purpose is “to help businesses and the public sector better prioritise investments for a more efficient response to the immediate global challenges ahead,” explained Joyce Coffee, ND-GAIN managing director.

“The private sector is looking for projects where it can make money,” she added. “They won’t be investing in countries with poor governance records, or social structures that are completely confusing to them.” That, she suggested, will be left to multinational funding mechanisms like the Green Climate Fund.

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Green Climate Fund feels the heat

COP 21 – a turning point?

Briefing on climate financing

There is no reliable data on the scale of private investment flowing to adaptation projects. But, said Buchner, “private investment will be key” and therefore “domestic policy signals are critically important because all investors want to see impact, and value for money.”

Improving the “bankability” of projects involves quantifying and enumerating risk, and allowing the market to track progress, said Coffee. The private sector won’t suddenly pivot to adaptation, but we should make it “more tempting”.

A business case is easily made for the mega alternative energy initiatives – from solar to wind – sprouting across the globe. But adaptation tends to be more granular and local rather than immediately transformational.

“Tons to learn”

Warner acknowledges there is “tons to learn” – but if public policy managers can “set the incentives, the private sector will respond”.

While corporates may well hesitate to invest in the most vulnerable countries, “it is important to remember that households and families [in these countries] are also private investors,” said Buchner.

“Developing projects that help them to access affordable, clean energy and water, housing, and sustainable agricultural practices can support economic development and poverty alleviation as well as climate change,” she added.

There is a gulf between genuine, community-appropriate adaptation projects and private sector “green- washing” – good old-fashioned PR spin. Coffee cited a Coca-Cola initiative in an unnamed country to improve the water sources where it bottles as a positive example that had a benefit “beyond its fence line”.

She also pointed to a mining firm investing in Mali that built a hospital as part of its adaptation efforts. Yes, improving healthcare is a form of adaptation, but she acknowledged a sense of queasiness over that particular deal – with its hint of contract sweetening.

“But we can’t turn our back on investments. We just need to demand more from [the corporates],” she insisted.

Warner agreed, saying the magnitude of investment and the scale-up required to respond to climate change means there is a “significant role for the public and private sector – we just need to get the mix right”.

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War-torn South Sudan starvation levels 'alarming'

PHOTO: amediaagency.com

PHOTO: amediaagency.com

UN food experts warned Tuesday of “alarming” levels of starvation in South Sudan with food prices at record highs after two years of civil war marked by atrocities.

Fighting in the war rages despite an August agreement, and food experts have repeatedly warned parts of South Sudan’s northern Unity region are on the brink of famine.

“Alarming reports of starvation, acute malnutrition and catastrophe levels of food insecurity have been reported in areas worst affected by the ongoing violence,” the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a statement.

It warned of “a bleak forecast” for the rest of year, with “rapidly depleting food supplies and a likely protracted lean season”, adding that “food prices have reached record highs.”

The world’s youngest country is struggling to stem soaring inflation caused by the war, rampant corruption and the near collapse of the oil industry upon which the vast percentage of government foreign exchange earnings depend.

“Food insecurity has spread to areas previously considered relatively stable, highlighting the cumulative impact of conflict, economic downturn and climactic shocks,” FAO added.

Fighting has spread to previously largely peaceful Western Equatoria and Western Bahr el Ghazal regions, bread basket areas for the rest of the country.

“Increased fighting puts the upcoming agricultural season at risk, with alarming potential to impact on food security for the entirety of South Sudan,” FAO added.

Meanwhile the first batch of rebel soldiers arrived in Juba on Monday as a much delayed part of the peace deal, with 39 out of a planned 1,370 troops arriving, ceasefire monitors said.

The monitors also called for rebel leader Riek Machar to return to take up his post of vice-president.

“There are no remaining difficulties in the return of the First Vice President-designate and the formation of the new transitional government of national unity,” said Festus Mogae, who heads the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC).

Civil war began in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of planning a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings that have split the poverty-stricken, landlocked country along ethnic lines.

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