News in Brief 17 August 2016 (AM)

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Peacekeepers from the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) speak with the local population near Bhimbar UN Field Station, Pakistan. UN File Photo/Evan Schneider (2014)

India and Pakistan urged to grant access to Kashmir

India and Pakistan are being urged by the UN human rights chief to grant independent observers access to the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir.

Since an outbreak of violence in July, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has been engaging both countries to allow his office to visit the area.

According to media reports, over 30 people were killed when protesters in Kashmir clashed with security forces on 10 July after the death of an independence leader.

Zeid's office is seeking access to verify allegations of violations of international law to be able to establish the facts accurately.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed "deep regret" that his requests have not been granted.

Impact of toxic waste dumping in Cote d'Ivoire still unknown

Ten years on, survivors of the toxic waste dumping incident in Côte d'Ivoire remain in the dark about the ongoing dangers to their health.

That's according to a group of UN human rights experts who are calling on the Government and international community to address this issue.

In 2006, a cargo ship called "Probo Koala" discharged 500 tonnes of toxic waste in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan.

The hazardous substances belonged to the Anglo-Dutch commodity trading company Trafigura.

The waste was later dumped at 18 sites around the city while many other possible locations remain unknown to date.

According to official estimates, 15 people died, 69 were hospitalized and over 108,000 others sought medical treatment after the incident.

Residents of Abidjan still complain of the smell from the waste when it rains heavily, as well as headaches, skin problems and respiratory issues that they believe are linked to the incident.

The UN experts are asking the company behind the incident to disclose all the information it has about the contents and nature of the waste dumped in Côte d'Ivoire.

Sea containers "floating dangers" of pests and disease

Sea containers represent "floating dangers" and can spread pests and disease, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned.

The threat is not only in the cargo or goods that are being shipped, but also in the steel contraptions themselves, the agency says.

These containers can serve as vectors for the spread of exotic species and can wreak ecological and agricultural havoc where they land.

Globally, around 527 million sea container trips are made each year.

China alone deals with over 133 million sea containers annually.

Over the past five years, an analysis of over 100,000 sea containers arriving in New Zealand showed that one in 10 was contaminated on the outside.

Unwelcome pests included the gypsy moth, the Giant African snail, Argentine ants and the brown marmorated stink bug, each of which threaten crops, forests and urban environments.

Meanwhile, soil residues can contain the seeds of invasive plants and infectious organisms like plant pathogens.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 3'09"


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