UN warns of ‘serious threat’ to CAR's stability

Updated 18 August 2013
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UN warns of ‘serious threat’ to CAR's stability

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council warned on Wednesday that turmoil in the Central African Republic poses a “serious threat” to the country and the region, and urged new measures to restore stability.
A unanimous declaration of the 15 council members did not specify what these new options could be, but a recent report by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recommended sanctions against officials from the Seleka coalition suspected of committing atrocities.
According to UN Special Representative Babacar Gaye, the threat of sanctions is a form of pressure to improve the human rights situation in the Central African Republic.
The Central African Republic has been sliding into chaos since Seleka rebels took over in March, with reports of executions, looting and epidemics.
After ousting Francois Bozize from power, the international community granted the Seleka rebel alliance de facto recognition and a shot at steering the nation through a transition period leading to fresh polls.
But on Wednesday Security Council members “expressed deep concern at the security situation in CAR, characterized by a total breakdown in law and order, and the absence of the rule of law.”
“They stressed that the armed conflict and crisis in CAR pose a serious threat to the stability of the CAR and the region,” it said, highlighting “grave concern” about a deterioration in the humanitarian situation.
It cited “reports of widespread human rights violations, notably by Seleka elements, including those involving arbitrary arrests and detention, sexual violence against women and children, torture, rape, extrajudicial killings, recruitment and use of children and attacks against civilians.”
Top UN officials earlier called on the international community to act to keep the crisis-torn Central African Republic from becoming a “failed state.”
“The Central African Republic is not yet a failed state but has the potential to become one if swift action is not taken,” UN under-secretary-general and emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos said.
According to the United Nations, 1.6 million people in the Central African Republic are in need of urgent help. The crisis has forced 60,000 people to flee to neighboring countries and has displaced 206,000.
Amos called for the Security Council to support the new International Support Mission to Central Africa (MISCA). The 3,600-strong force, under the auspices of the African Union, is tasked with helping the government secure its territory.
She also called on the international community to provide “funds and logistical support” for the country, noting that only 32 percent of $195 million requested by the United Nations has been provided thus far.
The International Federation for Human Rights said last month it had documented at least 400 murders by Seleka-affiliated groups since March. Barring a few arrests in Bangui, all those killings have gone unpunished.


David Attenborough makes impassioned plea for natural world in Davos interview with Prince William

Updated 9 min 17 sec ago
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David Attenborough makes impassioned plea for natural world in Davos interview with Prince William

DAVOS, Switzerland: Naturalist David Attenborough won a standing ovation from delegates at the World Economic Forum after warning them that the planet faces destruction if climate change is not dealt with imminently.

In an interview conducted by Prince William, Attenborough said it is “difficult to overstate the climate change crisis.”

He said humans have become “so numerous” and possess a “frightening” array of destructive mechanisms that “we can exterminate whole ecosystems without realizing.”

Attenborough was the star turn on the first day of the gathering of the business and political elites in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

Attenborough urged participants to preserve the childlike wonder with which they first encountered the natural world. “I don’t believe a child has yet been born who doesn’t look at the world around it with those fresh eyes and wonder,” he said. “If you lose that first wonder, you’ve lost one of the great sources of delight, and pleasure, and beauty in the whole of the universe,” he said.

“Caring for that brings joy and enlightenment that is irreplaceable.”

Nature filmmaking, he noted, has benefited immensely from the advance of technology. “The facilities we now have are unbelievable. We can go everywhere. We can to the bottom of the sea, we can go into space. We can use drones, we can use helicopters … we can speed things up, we can slow things down, and film in the darkness. The natural world has never been exposed to this degree before,” he said.

But with these technological advances came a growing awareness of the dangerous power in the hands of humanity. “When I started 60 years ago, in the mid-50s, to be truthful there was no one who thought we might annihilate the world. The notion that human beings might exterminate whole species seemed the exception. Now we are well aware that … we can do things to accidentally to destroy whole parts of the natural world and exterminate whole species,” Attenborough warned.

Even as the ready accessibility of nature programs and the ability of filmmakers to reach the remotest corners of the world have made it easier for people to learn about nature, humanity’s connectedness with the natural world is more tenuous than ever. “Now there are more people living in towns, in conurbations, than living in the wild,” said Attenborough. “The majority of people are out of touch to some degree with the richness of the natural world.”

The threat posed by anthropogenic climate change is “difficult to overstate,” he said. “We are now so numerous, so powerful, so all-pervasive, and the mechanisms we have for destruction are so frightening that we have really to be aware of the dangers,” he warned. Humanity has done “appalling damage upon marine life, the extent of which we don’t fully know,” said Attenborough.

“I think the paradox is that there’s never been a time when more people are out of touch with the natural world, and yet we have to recognize that every breath of air and every mouthful of food comes from the natural world – and if we damage the natural world, we damage ourselves. It’s not just beauty and wonder: it is essential to human life. We are in the danger of wrecking that. We are destroying the natural world, and with it, ourselves,” he said.

But his outlook is not pessimistic. “We are discovering more ways in which we can get in front of [the pending disaster]. The fact we are now beginning to get power directly from the sun, with no need to pollute the world with by-products of our devices, is becoming reality all over the world,” he said. “We have the power, we have the knowledge, to live in harmony with nature.”

Attenborough then previewed powerful scenes from his latest film, which will debut at the World Economic Forum. The scenes of an Arctic glacier calving, with skyscraper-sized blocks of translucent blue ice crashing spectacularly into turbulent seas, were shot, as Attenborough explained, by skilled teams on helicopters maintaining steady positions despite powerful and unpredictable updrafts. “Within 20 minutes,” Attenborough narrates,” 75 million tons of ice break free.”

Attenborough is spearheading efforts to strengthen conservation efforts for a summit in Beijing in 2020.

Attenborough told the audience that, “Every breath of air we take, every mouthful of food comes from the natural world and that if we damage the natural world we damage ourselves.”