News in Brief 30 August 2016 (PM)

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Plastic bottles and garbage waste from a village in Timor-Leste wash on the shores of a river and then spill into the sea. UN Photo/Martine Perret

Polluted water threatening millions in Africa, Asia and Latin America

The rise in water pollution in Asia, Africa and Latin America is placing hundreds of millions of people at risk of life-threatening illnesses such as cholera and typhoid.

The warning comes in a report released this week by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) which describes the development as “worrying.”

Factors contributing to the increase in surface water pollution across the three continents include population growth, expansion of agriculture and a rise in the amount of untreated sewage discharged into lakes and rivers.

Diseases associated with human waste in water kill roughly 3.4 million people each year, according to UN data.

The report recommends better water monitoring, particularly in developing countries.

UNEP Chief Scientist Jacqueline McGlade said “Luckily it is possible to begin restoring rivers that have already been heavily polluted and there is clearly still time to prevent even more rivers from becoming contaminated.”

She stressed the importance of countries coming together to combat what she called “this growing menace.”

Welcome for ruling that overturns “burkini ban”

The decision by France’s highest court to suspend the so-called “burkini ban” has been welcomed by the UN’s Human Rights Office, OHCHR.

The ruling came after a French seaside town banned supposedly inappropriate beachwear.

OHCHR is now calling for all other resorts that have adopted similar bans to take note of the court’s decision.

Spokesperson Rupert Colville said the ban was unhelpful and inflammatory in the wake of recent terror attacks in the country.

“It does nothing to increase security, it does nothing to improve public order; if anything it stimulates friction and therefore undermines public order, if anything it’s having a counter-productive effect.”

Those negative effects have included religious intolerance and the stigmatization of Muslims in France, according to OHCHR.

The UN office also noted the humiliating and degrading way in which the anti-burkini decrees have been implemented, in reference to women being forced to remove clothing in public.

US exceeds Syrian refugee target

More than 10,000 Syrian refugees have resettled in the United States which means the country has exceeded an admissions target set for this fiscal year, UN partner agency the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has announced.

As of 29 August, 10,172 Syrian refugees entered the US as part of the Obama administration’s promise to increase admissions by the end of this September.

Most of the new arrivals were processed through an IOM support centre based in Jordan.

The agency, together with the US State Department, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and other partners, helped with their resettlement.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 3’00”