News in Brief – 08 June 2016 (AM)

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Photo: UNEP

Air pollution, climate change: greatest threats to European health

Poor air quality and climate change are the "two greatest threats to human health" across Europe, according to a new UN report.

The latest Global Environment Outlook assessment prepared by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN's Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) concludes that 95% of the urban population is exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution.

That's according to World Health Organization guidelines.

More than 500,000 premature deaths each year were attributable to outdoor air quality, and a further 100,000 to indoor quality, according to the latest available data.

The report also said that climate change was a serious threat to human and ecosystem health, and would hinder sustainable development.

Each day, European Union countries lose 275 hectares of agricultural land through soil and land erosion, according to the report.

UN chief shares concerns over rights' violations in Central African Republic

The UN chief has said he shared concerns raised on Wednesday in a report from the international NGO Human Rights Watch regarding impunity for abuses committed in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Ban Ki-moon said that in the case of allegations against peacekeeping troops from the Republic of Congo serving in CAR, he fully expected that the Republic of Congo "will ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are held fully accountable."

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Departments of Peacekeeping and Field Support have been actively engaged in all abuse allegations since they first came to light in 2014, said the Secretary-General's statement.

It added that working with the African Union through "formal and informal channels" the UN would continue to follow up on these cases.

Killing of journalist and interpreter in Afghanistan condemned

The killing of a photojournalist from the United States and his Afghan interpreter has been condemned by the Director-General of the UN Cultural Organization, UNESCO.

David Gilkey and Zabihullah Tamanna were part of a convoy that was attacked in Afghanistan on Sunday.

Both were on assignment for US-based National Public Radio (NPR).

Two other colleagues from NPR were also travelling in the convoy, but were unhurt.

UNESCO chief Irina Bokova said that the rights of media workers to "exercise their professional duties in safe conditions", had to be recognized as being "in the interests of society as a whole".

Janie Cangelosi, United Nations.

Duration:2’00”

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