The day peaceful, welcoming New Zealand lost its soul

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People write on a sign at a memorial as a tribute to victims of the mosque attacks, near a police line outside Masjid Al Noor in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 16, 2019. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva)
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Police stand by makeshift memorial near the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday, March 16, 2019, where one of the two mass shootings occurred. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
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Police officers stand guard in front of the Masjid al Noor mosque after a shooting incident in Christchurch on March 15, 2019. (AFP)
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Police corden off the areas close to the mosque after a gunman filmed himself firing at worshippers inside in Christchurch on March 15, 2019. A gunman opened fire inside the Masjid al Noor mosque during afternoon prayers, causing multiple fatalities. (AFP)
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Police officers secure the area in front of the Masjid al Noor mosque after a shooting incident in Christchurch on March 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 March 2019
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The day peaceful, welcoming New Zealand lost its soul

  • NZ legal procedures mean it might take several days for the bodies to be removed from the mosque
  • Police, who are not armed while on normal duty, had few details of how the attack was coordinated

CHRISTCHURCH: When Brenton Tarrant walked into Al-Noor mosque and opened fire, it was if a whole nation’s soul died.
“The worst of the world has visited our shores, and we’ll never be the same again,” New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters said.
He spoke for New Zealand’s 4.9 million people, avowedly multicultural and welcoming.
There are about 60,000 Muslims in New Zealand, mostly ethnic Indians from Fiji, attracting little attention in a country of 200 ethnicities and 160 languages. Most of the victims of Friday’s terrorist attack were from Fiji’s islands, but there were also Afghans, and Muslims from Turkey and Somalia.
There was anger on social media that the attack appeared to have come as such a surprise to the security services. New Zealand police, who are not armed while on normal duty, had few details of how the attack was coordinated.
When Tarrant’s live video footage of his attack emerged on Facebook, authorities quickly —and mostly successfully — appealed to people not to share it on social media. New Zealanders quickly rejected a rambling, ranting manifesto posted by Tarrant. It was given little space and was mostly dismissed.
One prominent security analyst, Paul Buchanan, director of 36th Parallel Assessments, said the focus of New Zealand’s intelligence and security services had been on the threat from Islamist extremism, and limited resources meant they had neglected the threat from other sources.
Right-wing extremists have been visible and vocal in Christchurch recently. Terrible as Friday’s attack was, it was not surprising, Buchanan said, and Tarrant’s manifesto was “straight out of the white supremacist playbook.”
During the attack, police issued an urgent nationwide appeal to all Muslims to stay at home and to close all mosques. Armed police were posted quickly outside most city mosques.
Mulki Abdiwahab had been praying in a mosque with her mother when she heard gunshots. “I didn’t know what it was,” she said, “I’d never heard a gunshot, ever. I thought at first it must have been somebody banging on the window.
“My mum grabbed my hand and then we just we ran outside. Everyone was in chaos, just running for their lives. We just kept running, and running. The gunshots kept going on for about a good 10 minutes.”

People write on a sign at a memorial as a tribute to victims of the mosque attacks, near a police line outside Masjid Al Noor in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 16, 2019. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva)

Idris Khairuddin said prayers were just about to begin when he heard gunshots. His uncle Tamizi was one of six people he knew who was shot. “The gunshots sounded like pop, pop, pop,” he said. “I heard over 50.”
Carl Pomare, who had been driving past the mosque as the attack began, saw people running, and saw a five-year-old girl shot. “We looked at it thinking, we’ve got to get this little girl to the hospital now otherwise she’s going to die,” he said. “It was a pretty scary situation because there were still other shots being fired at the time inside the mosque.”
New Zealand legal procedures mean it is likely to be several days before the bodies of the victims are removed from the mosque. Identification is likely to take several days.
Friday’s terrorist attack was the worst in New Zealand history. The last was in 1985 when French secret agents blew up a ship in Auckland harbor, killing one person.
Christchurch has only recently recovered from a series of severe earthquakes, including one in 2011 that killed 187 people.


World population expected to rise to 9.7 billion in 2050: UN

In this Jan. 31, 2014 file photo released by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), shows residents of the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk, lining up to receive food supplies, in Damascus, Syria. (AP)
Updated 18 June 2019
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World population expected to rise to 9.7 billion in 2050: UN

  • The global fertility rate fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 births in 2019 and is projected to decline further to 2.2 births by 2050

UNITED NATIONS: The world’s population is getting older and growing at a slower pace but is still expected to increase from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050, the United Nations said Monday.
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division said in a new report that world population could reach its peak of nearly 11 billion around the end of the century.
But Population Division Director John Wilmoth cautioned that because 2100 is many decades away this outcome “is not certain, and in the end the peak could come earlier or later, at a lower or higher level of total population.”
The new population projections indicate that nine countries will be responsible for more than half the projected population growth between now and 2050. In descending order of the expected increase, they are: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States.
In sub-Saharan Africa, population is projected to nearly double by 2050, the report said.
Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Lu Zhenmin said in a statement: “Many of the fastest growing populations are in the poorest countries, where population growth brings additional challenges in the effort to eradicate poverty,” promote gender equality and improve health care and education.
The report confirmed that the world’s population is growing older due to increasing life expectancy and falling fertility levels.
The global fertility rate fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 births in 2019 and is projected to decline further to 2.2 births by 2050.
A fertility rate of 2.1 births per woman is need to ensure population replacement and avoid declines, according to the report.
In 2019, the fertility rate in sub-Saharan Africa was the highest at 4.6 births per woman, with Pacific islands, northern Africa, and western, central and southern Asia above the replacement level, said the report.
But since 2010, it said 27 countries or areas have lost one percent or more of their population.
“Between 2019 and 2050 populations are projected to decrease by one percent or more in 55 countries or areas, of which 26 may see a reduction of at least 10 percent,” the UN said. “In China, for example, the population is projected to decrease by 31.4 million, or around 2.2 percent, between 2019 and 2050.”
Wilmoth, the head of the Population Division, told a news conference launching the report that the population growth rate is slowing down as the fertility level gradually decreases. That decrease usually follows a reduction in the mortality level that initially instigated growth, he said.
Wilmoth stressed that multiple factors lead to lower fertility including increasing education and employment, especially for women, and more jobs in urban than rural areas, which motivate people away from costly large families to smaller families.
But to achieve this, he said, people also need access to modern methods of contraception.
According to the “World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights” report, migration is also a major component of population growth or loss in some countries.
Between 2010 and 2020, it said 14 countries or areas will see a net inflow of more than one million migrants while 10 countries will experience a similar loss.
For example, some of the largest outflows of people — including from Bangladesh, Mepal and the Philippines — are driven by the demand for migrant workers, the report said. But some migrants are driven from their home countries by violence, insecurity and conflict, including from Myanmar, Syria and Venezuela.
The UN said countries experiencing a net inflow of migrants over the decade include Belarus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine.