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World News in Brief: Protection call for refugees in Pakistan, ‘One Health’ plan launched, radio waves saving lives

According to news reports, Pakistani security forces began detaining and deporting dozens of Afghans under the new policy this week after a Government deadline for them to leave ran out.

The majority of undocumented refugees who have settled in Pakistan over decades are from neighbouring Afghanistan, and following the Taliban takeover, thousands more fled seeking sanctuary.

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The UN refugee agency UNHCR, migration agency IOM, together with children’s agency UNICEF, said they are “deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of children and families affected…and alarmed at the potential consequences of this plan’s implementation.” 

Almost 30 million people require humanitarian assistance and 3.3 million are internally displaced inside Afghanistan amidst overlapping crisis.

Since 15 September an estimated 160,000 Afghans have left Pakistan, with 86 percent of families reported fear of arrest as the most common reason for leaving.

‘Generosity still needed’

“Pakistan has a proud tradition of hosting refugees, saving millions of lives. This generosity is still needed”, the agencies said.

Although the undocumented are designated for repatriation in phase one, there are reports of registered refugees, including Afghan Citizenship Card holders and Afghans scheduled for resettlement, being pressurised despite assurances they will be protected.”

Any return needs to be voluntary and done in a safe and orderly manner, with full respect for rights and protection of those in need” stressed UNHCR’s Representative, Philippa Candler.

UNICEF Pakistan Representative, Abdullah Fadil, said: “A child is a child. Children everywhere must be protected at all times to live with dignity, so they can grow, learn and reach their full potential”.

UNHCR, IOM and UNICEF continue to appeal to the international community to increase support for hosting vulnerable children and families and refugees in Pakistan.

‘Our best bet for preventing the next pandemic’: New ‘One Health’ approach launched

UN health agency WHO called on world leaders on Friday to invest in a holistic approach to tackle major health threats including zoonotic diseases, focusing on the connections between the health of humans, animals, plants and the environment.

The “One Health” approach, as it’s known, “makes public health sense, economic sense and common sense”, said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“It’s obvious that we can only protect and promote the health of humans by protecting and promoting the health of animals, and the planet on which all life depends,” he insisted.

In support of the call, UN Environment Programme head Inger Andersen wrote on social platform X on Friday that “a unified One Health approach is our best bet for preventing the next pandemic and building a more resilient future for all”.

She highlighted that human activities and stressed ecosystems make it easier for diseases to emerge and spread.

WHO estimates that air pollution leads to seven million deaths and $3 trillion losses every year, while antimicrobial resistance leads to five million deaths every year, with losses of up to $100 trillion by 2050.

WHO said that according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Bank, One Health efforts “could bring at least $37 billion per year back to the global community” while investing in One Health requires less than 10 per cent of this amount.

Protect radio frequencies from harmful interference, urges WMO chief

Having radio frequency bandwidth is a key requirement for all weather observation systems which must be protected from harmful interference, according to the head of the UN weather agency WMO.

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Secretary-General Petteri Taalas outlined WMO’s concerns on Friday writing in a publication of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) ahead of the forthcoming UN World Radiocommunication Conference.

Access to the radio-frequency spectrum is critical to the meteorological and hydrological infrastructure that underpins weather and related environmental services worldwide”, said Mr. Talaas.

Underpinned by radio waves

“Satellites, weather radar, hydrological observing systems, and drifting buoys all operate based on radio or microwave transmissions,” he writes.

The safety of life and property depends on weather and environmental forecasts. Extended warning times for severe events enable citizens, civil authorities and first responders to act.”

The World Radiocommunication Conference in Dubai later this month will update global Radio Regulations, the treaty governing radio spectrum and satellite orbits.

Ahead of the conference, ITU News published a dedicated edition on Science services – Earth observation at the World Radiocommunication Conference.

“Radio networks are vital to making our world more sustainable, and WRC-23 can help us move forward together on all fronts,” said ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin.

“One of those fronts is climate monitoring, mitigation, and adaptation. ITU is a key partner in Early Warnings for All – the UN Secretary-General’s groundbreaking initiative to ensure everyone on Earth is protected from climate hazards and disasters through life-saving alerts by the end of 2027.”

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