Russia denies it killed civilians in air strikes on Syria’s Idlib

Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson General Igor Konashenkov. (Photo courtesy: video grab)
Updated 26 September 2017
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Russia denies it killed civilians in air strikes on Syria’s Idlib

MOSCOW: The Russian Defense Ministry on Tuesday denied allegations that its air strikes had killed civilians in Syria’s Idlib province, saying that in the past few days it had only bombed Islamist militant fighters in the area.
Moscow said it was responding to the allegations from the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which on Monday said six civilians had been killed in the province, including a woman and a child.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also criticized Russia on Monday for the same reason, saying that recent Russian bombing in Idlib had killed civilians and moderate rebels and that this would be discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin when he visited Turkey this week.
Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov of the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the Russian and Syrian air forces did not bomb residential areas and accused the observatory of making up allegations and of sympathizing with radical Islamist militants.
“In the last few days, after drone reconnaissance and confirmation via other channels, Russian planes struck 10 terrorist targets in Idlib Province,” Konashenkov said.
“These were militant bases, ammunition stores, armored vehicles, rocket systems, and workshops fitting out ‘jihad jeeps’ which were located a long way from residential areas,” he said.
The targets struck had taken part in a militant offensive last week which surrounded 29 Russian military policemen who then had to be broken out in a special operation backed by air power, he added.


UN envoy: 1.1 billion people face risks from lack of cooling

Rachel Kyte. (Twitter)
Updated 10 min 48 sec ago
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UN envoy: 1.1 billion people face risks from lack of cooling

  • “Access to cooling is not a luxury. Access to cooling is now a fundamental issue of equity”
  • For the first time in a decade, the number of people who are undernourished has increased — from 777 million people in 2015 to 815 million in 2016

UNITED NATIONS: New data from 52 countries in hot climates reveals that over 1.1 billion people face “significant risks” from lack of access to cooling including death, a UN envoy said Monday.
Rachel Kyte told a press conference that “millions of people die every year from lack of cooling access, whether from food losses, damaged vaccines, or severe heat impact.”
The UN envoy, who is promoting the United Nations goal of providing sustainable energy for all people by 2030, said nine countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America with the biggest populations that face major risks are Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan and Sudan.
Kyte stressed that “’cooling for all’” doesn’t mean “putting an air conditioner in every home.”
She said an urgent effort is needed to clarify cooling needs, engage governments and the private sector, and develop and test possible new solutions.
Kyte spoke on the sidelines of this week’s high-level event assessing progress on six of the 17 UN goals adopted by world leaders in 2015 to combat poverty, promote development and preserve the environment by 2030. One of the goals is universal access to sustainable energy.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told the opening session that there has been progress on reducing maternal and child mortality, tackling childhood marriage, expanding access to electricity, addressing global unemployment, and cutting the rate of forest loss around the globe.
But Mohammed said in other areas “we are either moving too slowly, or losing momentum.”
“For the first time in a decade, the number of people who are undernourished has increased — from 777 million people in 2015 to 815 million in 2016 — fundamentally undermining our commitment to leaving no one behind,” she said.
Young people remain three times more likely to be unemployed than adults, most of the world’s extreme poor are projected to live in urban settings by 2035, and basic sanitation remains “off track,” she said. And “we are seeing alarming decline in biodiversity, rising sea levels, coastal erosion, extreme weather conditions and increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases” that cause global warming.
As for access to energy including renewable energy, Mohammed said the rate of progress “is not fast enough to meet our target.”
“We need to also double our efforts on energy efficiency,” she said. “250 million more people in Africa have no access to clean fuels for cooking compared to 2015.”
Kyte, who is also CEO of the nonprofit organization Sustainable Energy for All, stressed that without ensuring access to cooling for all people, the UN goal of universal access to energy will not be achieved.
She stressed that “access to cooling is not a luxury” but “a fundamental issue of equity. And as temperatures hit record levels, this could mean the difference between life and death for some.”
While 1.1 billion people lack access to cooling, Kyte said another 2.3 billion people present “a different kind of cooling risk.”
They represent “a growing lower-middle class who can only afford to buy cheaper, less efficient air conditioners, which could spike global energy demand and have profound climate impacts,” she said.
As examples of other hurdles that must be overcome in the next 12 years, she said, 470 million people in poor rural areas don’t have access to safe food and medicines and 630 million people in hotter, poor urban slums “have little or no cooling to protect them against extreme heatwaves.”
In India, Kyte said, “nearly 20 percent of temperature-sensitive health care products arrive damaged or degraded because of broken or insufficient cold chains, including a quarter of vaccines.”