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    World News in Brief: Aid worker deaths ‘inevitable result’ of Gaza war tactics, ‘waste trafficking’ update, Malawi drought

    António Guterres was addressing a UN General Assembly meeting on the topic of “human security”, which he described as a useful framework that could promote “bold, decisive, collective action” amid growing turbulence worldwide.

    He said civilians in Gaza “have no security at all” in the face of relentless Israeli attacks, adding that Israelis themselves “feel a terrible absence of human security” as Hamas rocket attacks continue following the terror attack of 7 October.

    Nothing can justify such attacks, “but nothing can justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people of Gaza”, he said, noting that more than 175 UN staffers have been killed under bombardment in the enclave so far.

    ‘Unconscionable’ killings

    “This is unconscionable, but it is an inevitable result of the way the war is being conducted; it demonstrates yet again the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and the expansion of humanitarian aid into Gaza” as the Security Council demanded last week, he said, calling for that resolution to be acted on “without delay”. 

    The global security challenges continue on many levels, he said, citing the climate emergency and cost of living crises which are combining to reverse sustainable development.

    “Deepening divisions and growing inequalities are leaving people with a heightened sense of anxiety and even fear,” the Secretary-General said, noting that six out of seven people report feeling insecure.

    He said this was feeding a “global epidemic of mis- and disinformation”, undermining public trust in institutions and adding to the cycle of instability.

    Southeast Asia still key destination for ‘waste trafficking’

    A new UN report mapping so-called “waste trafficking” trends was published on Tuesday revealing that Southeast Asia remains a key destination for the illicit trade in garbage shipments from Europe and elsewhere.

    Produced by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the new research sheds light on how criminals exploit legal trade alongside regulatory and enforcement loopholes and explores the negative impact the trade has on the global economy.

    The report identified Europe, North America and Asia as the primary regions of origin.

    Common trafficking tactics include false declarations, a lack of or incorrect paperwork to get around regulations and avoid controls along with missing or inadequate licenses.

    Waste trafficking operates under the guise of legitimate transactions, making it difficult to combat. The European Commission estimates that illegal waste shipments within the European Union and to third countries, represent 15 to 30 per cent of the total EU waste trade and generate €9.5 billion in annual revenue.

    According to the World Bank, global waste is likely to increase by 70 per cent from current levels to 3.4 billion tonnes per year by 2050, driven by rapid urbanisation, population growth and consumption habits.

    ‘Increasingly pressing’

    “In today’s globalized world, waste management has become an increasingly pressing concern in which production, consumption habits, waste crime, waste trafficking, corruption, organised crime, money laundering and the circular economy are intertwined,” said Masood Karimipour, UNODC regional representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “The crime of waste trafficking is taking away the value that legal, well-regulated waste trade brings to sustainable economies,” he added. 

    Despite regulatory and enforcement measures implemented by countries in which illegal waste ends up – such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Viet Nam – waste trafficking continues to pose a major challenge in the region. 

    “The environmental impacts of waste trafficking are contributing to the pollution crisis and need to be addressed,” said Patricia Kameri-Mbote, Director of the law division at UNEP.

    “To do this, we must pursue good environmental governance and robust environmental rule of law. Projects such as Unwaste are critical in tackling issues through a multisector, multidisciplinary approach,” she added. 

    Waste most commonly trafficked includes plastic, e-waste, metal and paper, with mixed materials, textiles, vehicle parts, industrial and medical waste also frequently in the mix. 

    Malawi drought threatens millions as WFP appeals for funding

    A family eats a daily meal of dried peas at home in Balaka district in Malawi. (June 2016)

    Aid teams in Malawi are appealing for an additional $70 million to those affected by serious drought conditions that have hit 23 out of 28 districts nationwide.

    Four in 10 people face going hungry in the southern African country where President Lazarus Chakwera has declared a state of disaster.

    Paul Turnbull from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said that nearly two million farming households have been hit, along with 749,000 hectares of land, which represents just under half of all land available for cultivation.

    “The prices of maize in 2023 have doubled the prices of the previous year and will triple those of the five-year average. With over 80 per cent of the population relying on agriculture to cover their basic needs, the steep decline in staple crops will be devastating for millions of people.”   

    The dangers of drought are not restricted to Malawi and have already affected farmers in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Angola. WFP’s Mr. Turnbull urged donors to provide funding “to avert a hunger catastrophe for the hardest-hit families” and to save lives.

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