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United Nations’ Wake Up Call: Another alleged chemical attack reported in Syria’s Hama province

Accusations of chemical attacks in Syria by government forces and Islamic State militants are central to the conflict and the UN needs to act fast !

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This photo provided by the Syria Press Center (SPC), an anti-government media group, shows civilians leaving the town of Suran, in Hama province, Sept. 1, 2016. Source: VOA
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Sept, 08, 2016:Fighting between Syrian government army and insurgents in Syria’s central Hama province forced about 100,000 people to leave their homes between August 28 and September 5, the U.N. humanitarian agency said Wednesday.

OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) said figures from a camp coordination group show nearly half of the displaced from Hama arrived in the neighboring rebel-held Idlib province.

Others fled toward government-controlled Hama city, where four mosques were converted into temporary shelters, OCHA said. In rural areas of Hama province dozens of schools were also converted into shelters.

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However, many displaced families are sleeping outdoors in parks in Idlib, OCHA said, due to a shortage of shelter space.

Chlorine attack

Meanwhile, an official in Syria’s rebel-held Aleppo, Mohammed Abu Jaafar, said that at least one person died of heart failure from a suspected chlorine attack reported Tuesday.

FILE - Civilians breathe through an oxygen mask at al-Quds hospital, after a hospital and a civil defence group said a gas, what they believed to be chlorine, was dropped alongside barrel bombs on a neighbourhood of the Syrian city of Aleppo, Syria, early August.
FILE – Civilians breathe through an oxygen mask at al-Quds hospital, after a hospital and a civil defence group said a gas, what they believed to be chlorine, was dropped alongside barrel bombs on a neighbourhood of the Syrian city of Aleppo, Syria, early August. Image Source: VOA

The Syria Civil Defense group said helicopters dropped several barrels containing chlorine on the opposition-held al-Sukkari neighborhood.

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The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported a barrel bomb attack in the area, but could not confirm whether chlorine was involved.

Accusations of chemical attacks have been a fixture of the Syrian conflict with both the government and rebels blaming the other during the past five years.

International inspectors issued a report last month saying government forces and Islamic State militants had each carried out chemical attacks. United Nations experts said Tuesday more investigations are ongoing into alleged chemical attacks earlier this year, including in Aleppo. (VOA)

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Earth Will Reach 1.5 Degrees Above Pre-Industrial Levels By 2030

Countries in the southern hemisphere will be among the worse off.

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An aerial view of downtown San Francisco, California

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Monday said the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.

In a report, the IPCC said that governments around the world must take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid disastrous levels of global warming, CNN reported.

The date, which falls well within the lifetime of many people alive today, is based on current levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

The planet is already two-thirds of the way there, with global temperatures having warmed about 1 degree Celsius. Avoiding going even higher will require significant action in the next few years, the report said.

climate, global warming, celsisu
A fisherman stands on his boat as he fishes at the Tisma lagoon wetland park, also designated as Ramsar Site 1141 in the Convention on Wetlands, in Tisma, Nicaragua. VOA

Global net emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net zero” around 2050 in order to keep the warming around 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Lowering emissions to this degree, while technically possible, would require widespread changes in energy, industry, buildings, transportation and cities, according to the report.

“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1 degree Celsius of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, co-chair of IPCC Working Group I.

Coral reefs will also be drastically effected, with between 70 and 90 per cent expected to die off, including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

climate, global warming, celsisus
Waves from Hurricane Florence pound the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle, N.C. VOA

Countries in the southern hemisphere will be among the worse off, the report said, adding “projected to experience the largest impacts on economic growth due to climate change should global warming increase”.

“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5 degrees C or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some eco-systems,” CNN quoted Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II, as saying.

Monday’s report is three years in the making and is a direct result of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Also Read: Paris Adopts Climate Action Plan, Aims At Achieving A ‘Zero Carbon’ Future

In the Paris accord, 197 countries agreed to the goal of holding global temperatures “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

More than 90 authors from 40 countries were involved in leading the report, helped by 133 contributing authors. (IANS)