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World News in Brief: Ethiopia food aid resumes, ‘Stop the Lies’ campaign against big tobacco, Syria ruling, climate action – key to peace

WFP food aid in the country, which was suspended in June, will aim to reach 3.2 million people after the relaunch.

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‘Working around the clock’

WFP chief Cindy McCain said that the agency’s teams and partners “have been working around the clock to get to this point.”

The UN agency’s new approach will rely on reinforced tracking to follow food movements from warehouses to beneficiaries and a system of community feedback to help report misuse.

WFP said that it had successfully tested the new systems in Ethiopia’s Tigray province and will now roll them out in Afar, Amhara and Somali regions.

Last month, WFP resumed food assistance to nearly 900,000 refugees in camps across Ethiopia, including some 35,000 who have fled the brutal military power struggle in Sudan in recent months.

UN Syria Commission welcomes ‘landmark’ ICJ order

The UN Syria Commission of Inquiry has welcomed a landmark order by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which binds Syria to take “all measures within its power” to prevent acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

It also demands that Syrian officials – as well as “any organizations or persons under its control, direction or influence” – not to commit any such acts.

“This is a landmark order by the world’s top court to stop torture, enforced disappearances and deaths in Syria’s detention facilities,” said Commission Chair Paulo Pinheiro. “Such violations have been a hallmark of the Syrian conflict for 12 years – and were among its chief root causes.”

Some 6.8 million people are internally displaced in Syria.
© UNOCHA Syria

Some 6.8 million people are internally displaced in Syria.

“While we have seen dozens of criminal trials of individual Syrians for war crimes and crimes against humanity, this is the first time that the Syrian State itself is part of a judicial process – required to defend its abysmal record of violations of the Convention against Torture before international justices at the highest level,” Mr. Pinheiro added.

Preserve evidence

In its decision, the Court also ordered Syria to take effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of any evidence related to the allegations of acts falling within the Convention against Torture – such as medical records.

“For the tens of thousands who have been arbitrarily detained, tortured, ill-treated, disappeared and killed in Syria’s detention facilities, this process has reignited hopes for justice,” said Commissioner Hanny Megally.

“Our Commission has investigated such violations since 2011. We have seen first-hand the long-term, immense suffering they cause not only the detainees, but also their families”, she added.

WHO launches ‘Stop the Lies’ campaign to protect youth from tobacco

The UN health agency (WHO) on Thursday launched a new campaign to protect young people from continuing misinformation on the part of the tobacco industry.

The Stop the Lies initiative calls for an end to tobacco industry interference in health policy, supported by new evidence published by non-profit watchdogs STOP and the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control.

This shows that efforts to protect health policies around the world from tobacco companies “have deteriorated”, said WHO.

The campaign will amplify youth voices, expose industry tactics and increase public awareness of the need to defend health policies to curb the use of tobacco products “and protect the health of future generations.”

Demanding protection

“WHO stands with young people globally who have demanded governments protect them against a deadly industry that targets them with new harmful products while outright lying about the health impacts”, said Dr. Ruediger Krech, WHO’s Director of Health Promotion.

“We call on all countries to safeguard health policies from this deadly industry by not letting them have a seat at the policy-making table”.

The industry tries to interfere with the right to protect health, by taking governments to court or offering financial in-kind incentives to be able to influence tobacco control policies, said WHO.

The agency stressed that it supports countries in defending evidence-based control measures, in the face of such interference.

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Climate action holds key to peace: Young Sudanese activist

Young people in the Arab world should keep up the fight for climate action – especially in the face of wars and violence raging in the region.

That’s the message from Nisreen Elsaim, a climate activist from Sudan who took the floor at the UN in Geneva on Thursday, having seen first-hand how climate change drives hunger, displacement and conflict.

She told UN News about her advocacy for increased investment in renewable energy as a strategy for sustainability and peace, at a time of increased competition for natural resources.

She also highlighted the key role of youth in climate adaptation and preparedness and stressed that more scientific education is needed to help young people understand the issues and get involved.

Despite only being in her twenties, Nisreen has already gained experience in international advocacy as the Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change.

She shared the stage at the UN in Geneva on Thursday as part of the “Young Activists Summit” with four other outstanding campaigners, from Burkina Faso, Colombia, India and Myanmar, working to build peace in the Sahel, protect the environment, end child marriage and realize the rights of the Rohingya people.

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