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Monday’s Daily Brief: Geopolitical strife, Australia bushfires, Burkina Faso, Cambodia updates

Stop escalation, urges UN chief, as geopolitical tensions reach ‘highest level this century’

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on world leaders to de-escalate geopolitical tensions on Monday, which he described as being “at their highest level this century” as the new decade dawns.

The New Year has begun with our world in turmoil. We are living in dangerous times”, said the UN chief, noting that turbulence is only escalating. 

Here’s more on this story.

Australia bushfire crisis: UNICEF offers help and support

Raging bushfires wreaking havoc across Australia have prompted the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, to offer its support to the Australian Government and its partners which are battling the “unprecedented disaster”.

While acknowledging “the selflessness, professionalism and dedication” of first responders and all organizations working on the ground, UNICEF issued a statement on Monday extending its condolences to the children and families affected by the fires that continue to devastate the country.

Read our full coverage here.

UN chief offers support after Burkina Faso bus blast

The UN Spokesperson has conveyed the UN chief’s condolences to the families of those killed on Saturday when a bus, carrying mainly students, hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in the Mouhoun region of Burkina Faso.

“He wishes a speedy recovery to those injured”, the Spokesperson said in a statement on Monday.

The Secretary-General also reaffirmed the UN’s continued support to the people and Government of Burkina Faso as they “continue to work to restore peace and stability in the country in the face of growing insecurity”.

While it is not clear who was behind the attack, amidst ignited ethnic and religious tensions, jihadist threats have increased as insecurity continues to spread across the Sahel region.

So far 14 are confirmed dead and at least 19 injured, three of them seriously, according to government figures.

New shipping regulation cuts harmful Sulphur oxide emissions

A new global shipping regulation to benefit both human health and the environment came into effect on the first day of this year.

The new rules substantially reduce harmful sulphur oxide emissions, from ships’  fuel oil, lowering the global upper limit from 3.5 per cent to 0.5 percent.

The new limit is part of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships, a key environmental treaty under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) – the UN specialized agency responsible for developing and adopting standards for preventing pollution from ships, as well as shipping safety and efficiency, and maritime security. 

“IMO 2020”, as it is called, mandatorily limits all ships operating outside certain designated Emission Control Areas, where the limit is already 0.1 per cent.

The new limit will mean a 77 per cent drop in overall sulphur emissions from ships that should yield reductions in stroke, asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases.

Cutting the emissions will also help prevent acid rain and ocean acidification, benefitting crops, forests and aquatic species.

Cambodia: Building collapse leaves dozens dead

And now to Cambodia where a building collapse in the coastal city of Kep left 36 workers dead and another 23 injured.

On Monday, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Country Office for Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, issued a statement saying it was gravely concerned following Friday’s incident.

The UN’s labour agency also extended its deepest sympathy to the families and dependents of those killed and injured.

“This is the most fatal workplace accident in Cambodia in recent years and the second major tragedy of this type in less than seven months after a disastrous building collapse in Sihanouk Ville last June”, the statement read.

ILO called for greater attention to be paid to the risks that thousands of workers face every day and demanded urgent action by authorities to improve safety and health in the workplace.

Listen to or download our audio News in Brief for 6 January, on Soundcloud:

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