News in Brief 21 July 2016 (AM)

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Children in Haiti cooling off. Photo: UN/MINUSTAH/Logan Abassi

First six months of 2016, hottest ever recorded

The first six months of 2016 have been the hottest ever recorded, making it likely that the year overall will be a record-breaker.

That's according to the latest data released on Thursday by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

WMO Secretary-General said that "decades-long trends of climate change are reaching new climaxes, fuelled by the strong 2015/16 El Niño," weather phenomenon.

June marked the 14th consecutive month of record heat for both land and oceans, and in terms of the long-term trend, it marked the 378th consecutive month, with temperatures above the 20th Century average, according to new data.

Calls grow for release of prominent journalist detained by South Sudan

Calls are growing for the release of Alfred Taban, a prominent journalist and author who is being held by authorities in South Sudan.

The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, called for the "immediate release" of Mr Taban, who is editor in chief of the Juba Monitor newspaper, and a former BBC correspondent.

He was arrested on 16 July by National Security Services agents, a day after publishing an article calling for the removal of the country's President and First Vice President, after their forces clashed across the capital, leaving many dead.

The independent UN expert said Mr Taban was being held without charges, and that it was "crucial for a country seeking to establish peace and stability, that it takes active steps to encourage freedom of expression for everyone."

Mr Kaye's statement was also endorsed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

90 countries sign up to help end "harmful" fishing subsidies

A "roadmap" to help end overfishing caused by too many government subsidies, was endorsed by 90 countries meeting on Thursday at the annual meeting of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD.

Global fishing subsidies are estimated to be around US$35 billion, of which US$20 billion contributes directly to overfishing, according to UN data.

Meanwhile fish stocks are in deep decline, with a 20 per cent drop in sustainable levels over the past 40 years.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said that getting the 90 countries to sign up showed the need for the initiative "in building consensus for meaningful change."

The roadmap calls on countries to be transparent about what subsidies they are providing and introduce new policies to prevent overfishing, illegal fishing, and any further harmful subsidies.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’15″

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