Monday, August 26, 2013

Number of Children Who Have Fled Syria Reaches a Million, Says U.N.

GENEVA | Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:01am EDT 

(Reuters) - The number of Syrian children forced to flee their devastated homeland will on Friday reach a million, half of all the refugees driven abroad by the conflict, the United Nations said. 

Another two million Syrian minors are uprooted within their country and are often attacked or recruited as fighters in violation of humanitarian law, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR and U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) said.

"The youth of Syria are losing their homes, their family members and their futures. Even after they have crossed a border to safety, they are traumatized, depressed and in need of a reason for hope," Antonio Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement.

Nearly two million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and North Africa, the UNHCR says. They include 40,000 Syrian Kurds who flooded into Iraqi Kurdistan in the past week.

UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake said Syrian youth were bearing the brunt of the war, which has taken the lives of some 7,000 children among the estimated 100,000 victims. The one millionth child refugee was not just another number, he said.

"We must all share the shame, because while we work to alleviate the suffering of those affected by this crisis, the global community has failed in its responsibility to this child. We should stop and ask ourselves how, in all conscience, we can continue to fail the children of Syria," he said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Andrew Roche)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Scientific Feud: Does Global Warming Make Us More Violent?

A group of scientists recently released a paper claiming that global warming makes violent conflict more likely. Others, though, have sharply criticized the study, leading to a widening scientific tiff. In related news, it has been a hot summer.

There's a widely held assumption that climate change will have horrific consequences, not only for the environment but also for its inhabitants. As resources become scarcer, the logic goes, the number of violent conflicts across the globe will increase. At first glance, the claim would seem to make sense. And yet for the last 20 years, scientists have been debating the question as to whether global warming necessarily makes conflict more likely. A flood of studies on the subject has failed to provide much clarity. Some researchers see climate change as a danger to peace, some don't. Still others believe that global warming could even reduce the risk of war.

Given the lack of consensus, a recent study that appeared in the respected journal Science was all the more astounding. A team led by Solomon Hsiang from the University of California, Berkeley analyzed 60 studies from a variety of disciplines and came to the conclusion that global warming clearly increases the danger of violent conflict. Should average temperatures increase by 2 to 4 degrees Celsius (4 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050 as forecast, the study claimed, armed conflict could increase in some regions by as much as 50 percent. 

From: SPIEGEL ON LINE, August 9,2013

Monday, August 12, 2013

New United States Ambassador to the UN

Human rights advocate Samantha Power easily won Senate confirmation as President Barack Obama's next ambassador to the United Nations on Thursday.

The Senate voted 87-10 in favor of Power, a former White House national security staffer and former journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for her book "A Problem from Hell," a study of U.S. failure to prevent genocide.

Power, who was backed by all of Obama's fellow Democrats and many Republicans, had been expected to easily win the Senate's approval. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee overwhelmingly approved her nomination last month. The 10 "no" votes on Thursday were all from Republicans.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Bill Trott)