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OPINION: How climate change and inequalities will impact women IPS 18/12/2014

How climate change can aggravate inequality, particularly for women living in poor countries, where their lives are often directly dependent on the natural environment, is a topic considered by Susan McDade, UN Development Programme Deputy Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, in this opinion piece for IPS. “The success of climate change actions depend on elevating women’s voices, making sure their experiences and views are heard at decision-making tables and supporting them to become leaders in climate adaptation,” she says.

AIDS response is leaving African men behind IPS 17/12/2014

Research reveals that, across Africa, men have lower rates of HIV testing, enrollment on antiretroviral treatment, adherence, viral load suppression and survival, than women. As of December 2012, men represented only 36 percent of all people on antiretroviral therapy (ART) in Africa, according to the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Some experts argue that the focus of public health services across Africa on maternal and child health, coupled with successful advocacy for women’s special vulnerabilities around HIV, have overshadowed the needs of men.

Groups push Obama to clarify U.S. abortion funding for wartime rape IPS 15/12/2014

A number of health, advocacy and faith groups are calling on President Barack Obama to take executive action clarifying that U.S. assistance can be used to fund abortion services for women and girls raped in the context of war and conflict. For over 40 years, the Helms Amendment has been applied as a complete ban on abortion care in U.S.-funded global health programmes – with no exceptions. News calls are being made to amend the law so appropriate post-rape care, including abortion services, legal and social services, and treatment for mental and physical health can be given to those in need.

Only half of global banks have policy to respect human rights IPS 15/12/2014

New research has found that just half of major global banks have a public policy to respect human rights. Findings published by BankTrack identified that of the 32 of the global banks examined, none had publicly put in place a process to deal with human rights abuses, if identified. Against a set of 12 criteria, the average score was only a three. The report also stated that the banks it investigated, “have been found to finance companies and projects involving forced removals of communities, child labour, military backed land grabs, and abuses of indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination.”

Mexico’s undead rise up IPS 08/12/2014

The unknown fate of 43 student teachers in Mexico allegedly abducted by police and handed over to a notorious drug gang in Iguala, continues to spark nationwide anger over corruption within the Mexican government and police force. The case also throws light on a growing scepticism about the government’s competence—not only to deliver justice, but also to carry on an investigation with any kind of legitimacy or credibility. IPS reports.

Kyrgyzstan debates Russian-style “Foreign Agents” Law IPS 08/12/2014

The Kyrgyz parliament may vote in December 2014 to consider a possible new law that would label foreign-funded organisations “foreign agents.” But some critics of the bill, which closely resembles a similar law already passed in Russia, argue it would add layers of bureaucracy and possibly force some civil society NGOs to close their doors.

Pakistan’s paraplegics learning to stand on their Own Feet IPS 01/12/2014

When a stray bullet fired by Taliban militants became lodged in her spine last August, 22-year-old Shakira Bibi gave up all hopes of ever leading a normal life. Though her family rushed her to the Hayatabad Medical Complex in Peshawar, capital city of Pakistan’s northern-most Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, doctors told the young girl that she would be forever bed-ridden. Bibi fell into a deep depression, convinced that her family would cast her aside due to her disability. Worse, she feared that she would not be able to care for her daughter, particularly since her husband had succumbed to tuberculosis in 2012, making her the sole breadwinner for her family. IPs reports on new hope for Pakistan’s paraplegics.

Jewellery Industry Takes Steps to Eliminate “Conflict Gold” IPS 01/12/2014

Major US jewellery companies and retailers have started to take steps to eliminate the presence of “conflict gold” from their supply chains, according to the results of a year-long investigation. Human rights advocates, backed by the United Nations, have been warning for years that mining revenues are funding warlords and militia groups operating in the Great Lakes region of Africa, particularly in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). “Just a few years ago, jewellery companies were pretty resistant to making progress on this, but today there is clearly interest in supporting peace and finding out more about the role they can play in this issue," says Holly Dranginis of Enough Project. IPS reports.

How a small tribe turned tragedy into opportunity IPS 24/11/2014

When the Asian tsunami washed over Indian Ocean rim countries on Boxing Day 2004, it left a trail of destruction in its wake, including a death toll that touched 230,000. Millions lost their jobs, food security and traditional livelihoods and many have spent the last decade trying to pick up the pieces of their lives. But for a small tribe in southern India, the tsunami didn’t bring devastation; instead, it brought hope. IPS reports.

War-ravaged South Sudan struggles to contain AIDS IPS 24/11/2014

After four decades of on-off war, South Sudan gained independence from North Sudan in July 2011. But stability did not last long and violence erupted last December, and now the world’s newest sovereign state is battling to contain AIDS. IPS reports.

Fishing for peace in Korea IPS 17/11/2014

Environmental problems, by their nature, don’t respect borders. Air and sea pollution often affect countries that had nothing to do with their production. Many extreme weather events, like typhoons, strike more than one country and climate change affects everyone. These environmental problems can aggravate existing conflicts among countries. But they can also bring countries together in joint efforts to find solutions. IPS reports on how fishing is helping ease tensions between two bitter enemies, North Korea and South Korea.

Children in Aleppo forced underground to go to school IPS 17/11/2014

Winter has not yet hit the nearly besieged city of Aleppo in Syria but children are already attending classes in winter coats and stocking hats. Cold, damp underground education facilities are less exposed to regime barrel bombs and airstrikes but only about 20 original school buildings are still operating from some 750 in the area prior to the uprising. IPS reports on how children are trying to go to school as an intractable crisis continues.

Disciples of John the Baptist flee ISIS IPS 17/11/2014

“Going back home? That would be suicide. The Islamists would cut our throats straight away,” says Khalil Hafif Ismam, a Mandaean refugee from one of the oldest yet most decimated communities in Mesopotamia. The Ismams are Mandaeans, followers of a religion that experts have tracked back 400 years before Christ, and which consider John the Baptist as their prophet. Accordingly, their main ritual, baptism, has taken place in the same spots on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates for almost two millennia. But their existence is now under threat from ISIS. IPS reports.

Ending violence against women is a global responsibility IPS 10/11/2014

Addressing violence against women, in all of its forms, is a global imperative and should be one of the international community’s top priorities, says Lakshmi Puri who is the assistant-secretary-general of the United Nations and deputy executive director of UN Women. In an opinion piece for IPS, Puri argues that the focus of prevention and response to violence against women should be on strengthening global policy frameworks and ensuring accountability mechanisms are in place.

Journalists silenced as killers walk free IPS 10/11/2014

A new report published by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) shows that nine out of 10 cases of journalist killings go unpunished. The report found that between 2004 and 2013, 370 journalists were murdered “in direct retaliation for their work” and that in 90 percent of these cases there was total impunity – “no arrests, no prosecutions, no convictions.” IPS reports.

Inside Pakistan’s Untapped Fishing Industry IPS 10/11/2014

Every day some 2000 boats jostle for space in the murky waters of Karachi Harbour, one of Pakistan’s oldest. The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers an area of about 240,000 square km and extends up to 350 nautical miles from the coastline, giving Pakistan the potential to become a major producer of seafood, not only for local consumption but for the global market as well. Nearly 400,000 people are directly engaged in fishing in Pakistan but an industry that could create a huge job market contributes a dismal one percent to Pakistan’s GDP. IPS reports.

Bangladeshi ‘Char Dwellers’ in search of higher ground IPS 03/11/2014

Heavy rains throughout the monsoon months, beginning in August, left thousands of people in northern Bangladesh homeless or in dire straits as the mighty Brahmaputra, Dharla and Teesta rivers burst their banks, spilling out over the countryside. Some of the worst hit people were the roughly 50,000-70,000 ‘char dwellers’, residents who have been forced to make their homes on little river islands or shoals, the result of years of intense sedimentation along some of Bangladesh’s largest rivers. IPS reports.

Guatemalan Officers Face Sexual Slavery Charges in Historic Trial IPS 03/11/2014

A Guatemalan court has ruled that charges should be brought against two members of the army for sexual and domestic slavery against women during the nation’s civil conflict. Forced work was accompanied by sexual violence and women were systematically raped by soldiers. The sexual and domestic slavery perpetrated against the women of Sepur Zarco formed part of a military plan executed in stages that started with the kidnapping, torture and forced disappearance of their husbands, who were peasant leaders. After that, soldiers brutally gang-raped the women in their homes, in front of their children. Their homes and belongings were burned and their crops destroyed.

The invisible reality of Spain’s homeless IPS 03/11/2014

“On the street I feel vulnerable, so inferior. You lose your dignity and it’s hard to get it back. I want out of this,” says Miguel Arregui speaking in Malaga. Spain’s severe recession and high unemployment rate, which currently stands at 24.4 per cent, have impoverished its population while government budgets for social services for the poor have been cut drastically. According to statistics earlier this year, between 20.4 and 27.3 percent of Spain’s population of 47.2 million lives below the poverty line. Even worse is the fact that 27 percent of the country’s children – more than 2.3 million girls and boys – live in or on the verge of poverty, according to the United Nations children’s fund, UNICEF. IPS reports.

US Contractors Convicted in 2007 Blackwater Baghdad traffic massacre IPS 27/10/2014

A federal jury has convicted one former Blackwater contractor of murder and three of his colleagues of voluntary manslaughter in the deadly shootings of 14 unarmed civilians killed in Baghdad’s Nisour Square seven years ago. The massacre resulted in a wave of popular anger in Iraq against the United States and the army of private security contractors it employed there. It also sealed the reputation of Blackwater as a trigger-happy mercenary outfit whose recklessness and insensitivity to local populations jeopardised Washington’s interests in conflict situations. IPS reports.

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