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French soldiers raped children searching for food in Central African Republic, says leaked UN report

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

A leaked UN report  has revealed shocking information about UN Peacekeeping force in Central African Republic.

According to the report titled, Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces, some French soldiers working as UN peacekeepers raped and sodomized hungry children in exchange for food in the capital city of Bangui in early 2014.

A nine-year-boy told human rights investigators how some French soldiers at the camp for internally displaced sexually abused him and his friend when they went there looking for food.

The report has surfaced as the UN Security Council has extended the stay of international force in the country by one year. It has also decided to strengthen the force by 1,000 soldiers in the country, which is torn by Christian-Muslim violence.

UN has already suspended Anders Kompass, a peacekeeper from Sweden for passing the report to the French authorities and not complying with UN protocol of confidentiality.

“A United Nations aid worker has been suspended after being found leaking a confidential report on child abuse, ” according to a statement released by the Secretary General’s spokesman.

According to the Guardian, spokesperson of UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that a probe into the issue was going on.

The United Nations had conducted a human rights investigation in late spring of 2014, following serious allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of children by French military personnel, Xinhua news agency reported.

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Cybercrime on Rise During Pandemic, Warns UN

There has been a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the ongoing pandemic

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A Toyota Hybrid during a test for hackers at the Cybersecurity Conference in Lille, northern France, Jan. 29, 2020. VOA

The U.N. disarmament chief said the COVID-19 pandemic is moving the world toward increased technological innovation and online collaboration but warned that “cybercrime is also on the rise, with a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the current crisis.”, as suggested by Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) news.

Izumi Nakamitsu told an informal meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday that “there have also been worrying reports of attacks against health care organizations and medical research facilities worldwide.”

She said growing digital dependency has increased the vulnerability to cyberattacks, and “it is estimated that one such attack takes place every 39 seconds.”

According to the International Telecommunication Union, “nearly 90 countries are still only at the early stages of making commitments to cybersecurity,” Nakamitsu said.

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Nearly 90 countries are still only at the early stages of making commitments to cybersecurity. Pixabay

The high representative for disarmament affairs said the threat from misusing information and communications technology “is urgent.” But she said there is also good news, pointing to some global progress at the United Nations to address the threats as a result of the development of norms for the use of such technology.

Also Read: New York Times Devotes Entire Front Page to COVID-19 Victims

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas, whose country holds the Security Council presidency and organized Friday’s meeting on cyber stability and advancing responsible government behavior in cyberspace, said “the COVID-19 crisis has put extra pressure on our critical services in terms of cybersecurity.”

He said the need for “a secure and functioning cyberspace” is therefore more pressing than ever, and he condemned cyberattacks targeting hospitals, medical research facilities and other infrastructure, especially during the pandemic.

“Those attacks are unacceptable,” Ratas said. “It will be important to hold the offenders responsible for their behavior.” VOA

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Alarming Rate of Deforestation Threatens Biodiversity

Biodiversity at risk as forests cut down at alarming rates globally

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As forests continue to be cut down at "alarming rates", the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says biodiversity in danger. Pixabay

The world’s forests continue to be cut down at “alarming rates”, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in its State of the World’s Forests 2020 report.

The 188-page report released on Friday, which caps a decade of studies on biodiversity under the oversight of the UN, examines the contributions of forests and of the populations that use and manage them, with an eye toward forest conservation, reports Xinhua news agency.

According to the report, forests occupy less than a third of the world’s land, but they account for 80 per cent of all amphibian species, 75 of bird species, 68 per cent of mammal species, and around 60 per cent of all vascular plant species. But that biodiversity is at risk, the report said.

“Deforestation and forest degradation continue to take place at alarming rates, which contributes significantly to the ongoing loss of biodiversity,” the FAO report said.

It added that over the last 30 years at least 420 million hectares of forests have been lost to land-use changes, mostly to agricultural development, or in some cases for the production of wood.

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Deforestation at a massive rate poses a threat to biodiversity. Pixabay

The lost forest land is roughly the equivalent to the size of the north African country of Libya, FAO said.

The news is not all bad, however.

Also Read: COVID-19 Virus Infections by Touching Surfaces Relatively Lower: Reports

The report said the rate of deforestation has slowed in recent years, from around 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s to 10 million hectares per year over the last five years. FAO headed the production of the report in collaboration with the UN Environment Program. (IANS)

 

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Commute to Work by Walking, Cycling Instead of Car to Reduce Early Death Risk

Driving to work may increase risk of early death

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Cycling your way to work may reduce risk of early death. Pixabay

People who walk, cycle and travel by train to work are at reduced risk of early death or illness compared with those who commute by car, according to a new study.

For the findings, published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health, the researchers conducted a study on more than 300,000 commuters in England and Wales. They used census data to track the same people for up to 25 years, between 1991-2016. The researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge in the UK, suggest increased walking and cycling post-lockdown may reduce deaths from heart disease and cancer.

“As large numbers of people begin to return to work as the COVID-19 lockdown eases, it is a good time for everyone to rethink their transport choices,” said study researcher Dr Richard Patterson from the University of Cambridge.

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People travel by train to work are at reduced risk of early death or illness. Pixabay

The research team found that compared with those who drove, those who cycled to work had a 20 per cent reduced rate of early death, 24 per cent reduced rate of death from cardiovascular disease during the study period, a 16 per cent reduced rate of death from cancer, and an 11 per cent reduced rate of a cancer diagnosis.

Walking to work was associated with a seven per cent reduced rate in cancer diagnosis, compared to driving. The team explain that associations between walking and other outcomes, such as rates of death from cancer and heart disease, were less certain.

One potential reason for this is people who walk to work are, on average, in less affluent occupations than people who drive to work, and more likely to have underlying health conditions which could not be fully accounted for.

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The study shows that those who drove had a 20 per cent increased rate of early death compared to those who cycled to work. Pixabay

Also Read: IMPPA Clarifies Rumours of Shoot Restart, Says Decision Remains Pending

The research also revealed that compared with those who drove to work, rail commuters had a 10 per cent reduced rate of early death, a 20 per cent reduced rate of death from cardiovascular disease, and a 12 per cent reduced rate of cancer diagnosis.

This is likely due to them walking or cycling to transit points, although rail commuters also tend to be more affluent and less likely to have other underlying conditions.”With severe and prolonged limits in public transport capacity likely, switching to private car use would be disastrous for our health and the environment,” Patterson said.”Encouraging more people to walk and cycle will help limit the longer-term consequences of the pandemic,” Patterson wrote. (IANS)