World News Brief: Sandstorm Alert, Albinism and Climate Change, Rights in Peru

United Nations This is stated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in a new report on Thursday that about 2,000 million tonnes of dust enter the atmosphere each year, “darkening skies and damaging air quality in regions that may be thousands of kilometers away”.

WMO Chief Petteri Taalas said this was partly due to poor water and soil management. The phenomenon was also exacerbated by higher temperatures and droughts caused by a warming climate, leading to higher evaporation and drier soils.

The WMO said exposure to dust particles has been linked to heart attacks, cardiovascular disease and lung cancer. Sand and dust storms also pose risks to aviation and land transport as well as agriculture.

According to the WMO, in 2022 hotspots with significantly higher dust concentrations were identified in Central and South America, most of Central Africa, Spain, the Red Sea, the Arabian Peninsula, as well as in Iran, South Asia and northwestern China.

Prof. Taalas emphasized WMO’s commitment to helping countries improve dust storm forecasting and early warning. He also stressed that more needs to be done in light of continued environmental degradation and rapidly advancing climate change.

Climate change ‘a matter of life and death’ for people with albinism

And staying with climate change: its impact on skin cancer in people with albinism is both deadly and largely overlooked, a UN-appointed independent rights expert said Thursday.

Muluka-Anne Miti-Drummond, the Special Rapporteur on albinism issuessaid that in Africa alone, people with albinism are up to 1,000 times more likely to develop skin cancer, with many dying by age 40.

She emphasized that she has fought tirelessly for sunscreen to be made freely available to people with albinism, as a “life-saving medical product that can prolong and improve the quality of life for many who cannot afford it”.

People with albinism also have visual impairments, the expert said, and as such are disproportionately affected by climate-related disasters.

Miti-Drummond called for the inclusion of people with albinism in all forums related to climate change and disaster management, insisting that for many of them climate change is “a matter of life and death”.

Peru needs ‘meaningful reforms’ of police during protests

Peruvian authorities must implement meaningful reforms to ensure that human rights are respected during protests and demonstrations, following an alarming increase in the use of force.

Independent human rights experts issued the warning in a new report on Thursday with a call for “decentralized and inclusive national dialogue”.

The report focuses on the conduct of security forces during nationwide protests between December 2022 and March 2023.

It concludes that the Peruvian authorities unduly restricted the human rights of protesters.

Security forces used unnecessary and disproportionate force, including lethal force, outside the circumstances permitted by international human rights standards, the report said.

It also documents the use of less lethal weapons, incompatible with international standards, which resulted in protesters being seriously and – in some cases – fatally injured.

Hundreds killed and wounded

Rights office OHCHR, recorded that 50 people were killed and 821 injured in protests from December 7 to March 31, allegedly by security forces. around 208 members of the security forces were injured.

Criminal investigations were initiated against 241 people who participated in the demonstrations. Of these, at least 221 have since been closed due to lack of evidence. This includes 192 people who had been arrested at San Marcos University in Lima on 21 January.

In April 2023, the authorities set up a dedicated team in the Public Prosecution Service to investigate alleged crimes committed in connection with the protests.

“Those responsible for human rights abuses must be held accountable through a fair trial,” said UN rights chief Volker Türk. “Responsibility is crucial if we want to begin to heal wounds and create trust in the State’s institutions. The victims must be fully compensated.”

“It is crucial that grievances and concerns across the spectrum of Peruvian society are addressed. An inclusive national dialogue is needed. This is the only way forward. Everyone needs to feel heard and represented in society to stop endless political and social crises,” said Mr. Türk.

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