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About 30,000 foreign Jihadists fight in Iraq, Syria: UN

Former French judge urged greater cooperation with internet giants like Google, Twitter and Microsoft to help track potential terrorists online

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Syrian war. Image source: www.cnn.com
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  • IS Jihadist group is able to adapt much faster and more flexible than the governments fighting them
  • IS has shown a “remarkable ability to adapt” such as seeking new funding sources like drug smuggling
  • Terrorist attacks in Syria and Iraq are getting bigger and bigger to counter-balance the pressure on them

GENEVA, July 6– There are almost 30,000 foreign jihadists fighting in war-ravaged Syria and neighbouring Iraq currently, the head of the UN Security Council’s counterterrorism agency said, warning that the risk of attacks in their home countries was growing.

“The number of foreign terrorist fighters is very high inSyria and Iraq,” said Jean-Paul Laborde, UN assistant secretary general and head of its counter-terrorism Committee on Tuesday, July 5.

“There are nearly 30,000, and now that the territory held by Daesh (the Islamic State group) is shrinking in Iraq, we are seeing them return, not only to Europe but to all of their countries of origin, like Tunisia, Morocco,” he told reporters in Geneva.

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The figure is based on information compiled from governments, he said.

Attacks launched by foreign fighters returning to their home countries were likely to increase in ferocity, in retaliation for international military action that is putting them on the back foot, Laborde warned.

“The terrorist attacks in those countries of origin risk getting bigger and bigger to counter-balance the pressure on them” on the ground in Syria and Iraq, he said.

Syria War. Image source: www.nbcnews.com
Syria War. Image source: www.nbcnews.com

Another danger is that terrorist organisations like the Islamic State jihadist group have shown themselves able to adapt much faster and more flexible than the governments fighting them, Laborde warned.

IS has shown a “remarkable ability to adapt” such as seeking new funding sources like drug smuggling, even as the territory it controls has been shrinking, he said.

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The former French judge urged greater cooperation with internet giants like Google, Twitter and Microsoft to help track potential terrorists online and urged states to share more information faster.

“If we don’t do that, we will continue to see a growing number of terrorist acts,” Laborde said. (IANS/AKI)

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  • Aparna Gupta

    30000 is a large number and will require quite an effort from the government side to counteract.

  • Karishma Vanjani

    Jihad a word very well misinterpreted. Now referencing only to extremist groups it once related to a fight against ones inner demons.

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UNAIDS : World Is At A “Defining Moment” In A Battle Against HIV/AIDS

36.7 million people globally are living with HIV

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Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS, speaks during a news conference, Sept. 25, 2014.
Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS, speaks during a news conference, Sept. 25, 2014., VOA

The head of UNAIDS says the global community is at a “defining moment” in the effort to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030.

“This midpoint is important for us to reflect on what was not working,” Michel Sidibe told VOA, noting this year marks the halfway point to agreed global targets. “It’s about how to deal with vulnerable communities, fragile society.”

According to 2016 data, 36.7 million people globally are living with HIV. There were nearly 2 million new infections and 1 million AIDS-related deaths.

But the good news is there has been success in expanding access to critical anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), which reached nearly 21 million people in 2016, leading to a reduction by one-third in global AIDS-related deaths.

Eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission through childbirth and breast-feeding also has become a real possibility by 2030. This was considered a dream just a few years ago, Sidibe said.

“Today, we are seeing after six years that we reduced by almost 61 percent the infection among children — the transmission from mother to child,” Sidibe said. “But we still have 39 percent of babies born with HIV. We want to stop that and we are working very closely with countries who are lagging behind to make sure we have a catch-up plan.”

Scientist Professor Salim Abdool Karim, a South African epidemiologist and infectious diseases specialist, and one of the conveners of the march leads people during the 'March for Science' in Durban on April 14, 2018.
Scientist Professor Salim Abdool Karim, a South African epidemiologist and infectious diseases specialist, and one of the conveners of the march leads people during the ‘March for Science’ in Durban on April 14, 2018. VOA

Know your HIV status

The UNAIDS executive director says one of the most critical factors in ending the epidemic is making sure people are tested and know their HIV status. This requires lifting taboos and making testing more widely available.

“We need to reduce the price of self-testing; we need to go to community levels, family levels, to reach people where they are,” he said. “The family-centered approach and also community-based approach will become central to what we will do in the future, if we want to reach those millions of people who don’t know their status.”

A recent United Nations report on the AIDS response found that at the end of 2016, some 70 percent of people living with HIV knew their status, and 77 percent of them were accessing ARV therapy. Once on those treatments, 82 percent had suppressed the virus to undetectable levels in their systems. That is not a cure. HIV still remains in their body, but it greatly reduces the likelihood of transmission to a partner.

45-year-old Oscar Tyumre uses an HIV self-testing kit, administered by students from the University of the Witwatersrand in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, on March 19, 2018.
45-year-old Oscar Tyumre uses an HIV self-testing kit, administered by students from the University of the Witwatersrand in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, on March 19, 2018.
VOA

Uneven progress

While there have been significant successes, progress is uneven, especially for women and adolescent girls. This is the case in sub-Saharan Africa, where females aged 15-24 accounted for 23 percent of new infections in 2016, compared to 11 percent for their male counterparts.

Sidibe says women and young girls face unique challenges, including cultural norms, child marriage and early pregnancies.

“It’s something which we need to address at not just a peripheral level, we need to deal with poverty, to deal with violence against women, to change the laws, to make sure we give them services,” he said.

In order to stop new HIV infections, other vulnerable populations also need a scaled-up response, including intravenous drug users, sex workers and men who have sex with men.

Working with at-risk groups and spreading awareness of the importance of condoms and single-needle use for drug addicts are all crucial to the fight against HIV.

Also read:HIV Infected Smokers More likely to die of lung cancer than AIDS, Reveals Indian-origin Researcher

Next month, thousands of experts, activists and people living with HIV/AIDS will meet in Amsterdam for the International AIDS conference. Special attention will be focused on the need to reach key populations, including in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, where epidemics have grown. (IANS)