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To Diffuse The Situation Venezuela, U.N.Rights Chief Calls For Talks

The three member nations of the Lima Group that have not supported Guaido are Guyana, Saint Lucia and Mexico.

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United Nations
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Dec. 5, 2018 VOA

U.N. rights chief Michelle Bachelet has called for talks to defuse the situation in Venezuela, saying that it “may rapidly spiral out of control with catastrophic consequences.”

Bachelet also called for an independent investigation into reports that Venezuelan security forces had killed 20 people and detained more than 350 in protests this week.

United States President Donald Trump bluntly warned Maduro Thursday that “all options are on the table” if there is not a peaceful transition to democracy in the South American country.

Severing diplomatic ties

On Wednesday, Venezuela’s disputed president Nicolas Maduro said he was ending diplomatic relations with the United States in response to Trump’s announcement that the U.S. was officially recognizing National Assembly President Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim leader, as Guaido declared himself interim president during a day of mass demonstrations.

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Anti-government protesters hold their hands up during the symbolic swearing-in of Juan Guaido, head of the opposition-run congress who declared himself interim president of Venezuela until elections can be called, during a rally demanding President Nicolas step down. VOA

Maduro ordered U.S. diplomats to leave within 72 hours. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, said Maduro no longer has the authority to issue orders.

Thursday, 16 of the 34 nations in the Organization of American States (OAS) recognized Guaido, the opposition head of the National Assembly, as the interim president of Venezuela at an emergency session.

Pompeo urged members to oppose the “illegitimate” Maduro and pledged to make $20 million available for humanitarian assistance to Venezuela.

“All OAS member states must align themselves with democracy and respect for the rule of law,” the top U.S. diplomat said.

Meanwhile, the State Department ordered non-emergency personnel to leave Venezuela, but is not closing its embassy in Caracas.

The department said it was ordering the evacuating for security reasons, and that U.S. citizens should “strongly consider” leaving the country.

Venezuela

More sanctions possible

White House officials emphasized that Trump is not ruling out any response, such as a naval blockade or other military action, if Maduro unleashes violence against protesters or takes action against Guaido.

The most immediate action by Washington likely would be enhanced sanctions against members of Maduro’s government.

“In our sanctions, we’ve barely scratched the surface on what actions the United States can take,” said a senior administration official.

Several nations have joined the U.S. in recognizing Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president, including Canada and 11 of the 14 members of the newly formed Lima Group of Latin nations, among them Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru.

French President Emmanuel Macron called Venezuela’s elections “illegitimate” in a Tweet on Thursday, and saluted the bravery of Venezuelans demanding freedom.

 

Antonio Guterres
Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of United Nations addresses the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 24, 2019. VOAead: 

 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Thursday the situation in Venezuela could descend into “disaster” if the country’s main political rivals fail to reach an agreement.

Speaking Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Guterres said the U.N. hopes “dialogue can be possible, and that we avoid an escalation that would lead to the kind of conflict that would be a disaster” for the people of Venezuela and the region.

Warnings from Russia, China

But officials in Russia, one of Venezuela’s biggest allies, reacted with anger Thursday at the United States and other Western nations for backing Guaido, accusing them of interfering in its internal affairs. Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned the United States against any military intervention, saying such a move would have “catastrophic” consequences.

China urged the United States to stay out of the crisis. Beijing and Moscow have extensive economic interests, having loaned Caracas billions of dollars.

Bolivia, Cuba, Iran and Syria also have issued statements throwing their support behind Maduro.

Also Read: Assam’s Citizen Register Raises Concern of U.N. Human Rights Expert

The three member nations of the Lima Group that have not supported Guaido are Guyana, Saint Lucia and Mexico.

“From a constitutional, humanitarian, and democratic perspective — and according to international law — there was no option left for the United States and the international community but to recognize Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela,” Moises Rendon, associate director and associate fellow of the CSIS Americas Program, told VOA.

Venezuela and its state-owned oil company, PDVSA, are estimated to owe $7 billion on a combined trade debt of about $60 billion. The country’s oil-based economy, which is wracked by hyperinflation, has collapsed. (VOA)

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Sea Levels Rising Faster & Higher Than Expected: UN Varsity

"When migration is the only way out, it turns into forced relocation, an option that is not attractive to many Marshallese families."

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In addition, with 12 inches of sea level rise, visits would be reduced by about 24 per cent, a figure that could mean hundreds of thousands in lost revenue, as per the researchers.  Pixabay

Sea levels are rising faster and higher than previously expected. Long-term sea level rise will vary greatly depending on emissions, but could reach nearly four meters by 2300 if emissions are not reduced, experts with the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) said on Friday.

Extreme events at the coast, such as hurricanes, tsunamis and floods, that used to occur once a century, will hit many coasts every year by 2050, even under low emission scenarios.

This is especially problematic for low-lying islands, such as the Pacific Islands, which will suffer from disasters and see a loss of livelihood as sea water salinizes the soil and freshwater resources, hampering farming activities.

Some islands could become entirely uninhabitable because there is no more access to fresh water.

“Sea level rise is here to stay. Even in a wonderful, but completely unrealistic zero emission scenario, we will see the consequences of sea level rise,” said Zita Sebesvari, a senior scientist at the UNU-EHS.

“This is because the sea level rise we are experiencing at the moment is the consequence of global warming that started from emissions released decades ago. Because large bodies of water like oceans warm up slowly, changes in sea level lag behind warming of the atmosphere.”

According to the recently released IPCC special report on the oceans and cryosphere in a changing climate, for which Sebesvari was a lead author, by 2050 sea levels will rise by 20 to 40 cm globally.

There will be regional differences, but all parts of the world will be affected.

“After 2050, however, we could see anything from stabilization, if we stick to the emissions goals of the Paris Agreement, to the aforementioned four metres by 2300, if we continue with the current emissions.”

“What the report shows is that both mitigation and adaptation will be necessary. We have to reduce emissions to avoid the more extreme scenarios, but we also have to prepare for the extent of sea level rise that we cannot avoid,” said Sebesvari in a statement.

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People living in coastal areas are highly affected by economic losses caused by frequent flooding and the impact worsens when the sea level rises, making them more frequent, says a new study. Pixabay

As one of the lowest-lying island nation states in the world, the Republic of the Marshall Islands is particularly vulnerable to the rising sea level and other climate hazards, and it is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, such as salinity intrusion and an increase of extreme weather events.

In the last 10-20 years, more than a third of the Marshallese have moved abroad, mostly to the US.

“Marshallese cite many reasons for moving abroad, predominantly work, healthcare, and education,” said Kees van der Geest, a senior migration expert at UNU-EHS.

“Climate change is a big concern to them, but is not yet seen as a reason to move.”

However, a new study by van der Geest, together with colleagues from the University of Hawaii, does show a correlation between climate impacts and migration rates at the household level: Those who experience more severe climate stress, especially drought and heat, also have higher migration rates.

Also Read: Uber Receives 3,045 Cases of Sexual Assault in U.S. in Year 2018

Despite this finding, the study also shows that most Marshallese fiercely resist the idea that climate change could make their home uninhabitable and they would need to leave their islands someday.

They think that adaptation is possible, and with support of their government and international donors, they are finding ways to adapt. Recently installed fresh water tanks on the islands will ensure the availability of drinking water even with increasing salinity intrusion.

As the world leaders gather for two-week UN climate change conference or COP25, it is countries like the Marshall Islands that urgently depend on solutions and ambitious climate action.

“Adaptation must be considered as the first and preferred option,” concludes van der Geest.

“When migration is the only way out, it turns into forced relocation, an option that is not attractive to many Marshallese families.” (IANS)