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Jordan flash flooding: UN chief ‘saddened’ by loss of life

According to news reports, at least 18 have been killed, and dozens of others injured. The victims were washed away by the floods in the Zara Maeen hot springs area, following heavy rains on Thursday. Many are being treated for serious injuries, and search and rescue efforts are ongoing.

Mr. Guterres conveyed his “condolences and deepest sympathy to the families of the victims” and the Government of Jordan.

He added that the “the United Nations stands ready to support ongoing rescue and relief efforts”.

The Dead Sea valley is prone to flooding as it lies below sea level and flash floods tend to occur when rain water rushes down from the adjacent hills.

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/10/1024202

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Oslo leads the way in ‘Breathe Life’ campaign for cleaner cities in climate change era

The city is a global front runner when it comes to sustainability, having implemented methods of recycling waste into heat and electricity, and allowing cyclists precedence over private cars.

The Executive Director of UN Environment Erick Solheim, said the capital city’s pollution reduction sets the example for “turning climate action into an opportunity.”

A major contributor to dwindling emissions has been the city’s transition toward renewable fuel solutions. Oslo has the highest number of electric vehicles in the world per capita, which alone has decreased CO2 emissions by 35 per cent since 2012, UN Environment reports.

Benefits for drivers include reduced taxes, access to bus and taxi lanes, free travel on toll roads and public ferries, together with free municipal parking. All public transport in Oslo, and neighbouring Akershus, is to be powered completely by renewable energy by 2020.

 

Oslo is one among 42 cities taking part in Breathe Life, a campaign led by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNEP, and the Climate Clean Air Coalition aimed at exploring clean air options and reducing pollutants to safe levels by 2030.

The network of participating cities are spread across the world, each tailoring their approach to clean air issues locally.

In Colombia’s Santiago de Cali, the city has focused on the reduction of agricultural burning along with transport emissions. While in the capital of Ghana, Accra, where long hours are spent near wood and charcoal cookstoves, the city has outlined strategies to improve household and ambient air pollution.

Highlighting that such changes will improve the everyday lives of citizens, Mr. Solheim said, “I hope that other cities around the world will be inspired by what Oslo is doing.”

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/10/1024112

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Sulawesi devastation ‘beyond imagination’ as massive aid operation continues: UN relief agencies

Three weeks since disaster struck, it is estimated to have killed more than 2,000 people, displaced 80,000 and destroyed nearly 70,000 houses. At least 680 individuals remain unaccounted for, UNHCR says.

In addition to the tremors and tidal waves, huge landslides turned the ground into liquid mud which washed over large areas.

“Our staff described the effects of the earthquake and tsunami as ‘beyond imagination’ and ‘devastating’,” said Charlie Yaxley, spokesperson for UNHCR in Geneva. “Communities have seen their houses, schools and hospitals reduced to rubble. Entire villages have been decimated.”

Mr Yaxley confirmed that UNHCR had delivered 435 tents to the hub at Balikpapan airport, on the neighbouring island of Borneo earlier on Friday. The relief items were delivered to Indonesian authorities, which assisted with transferring them to Sulawesi.

Another 1,305 tents will be delivered to Balikpapan in “the next few days”, he added, noting that this initial consignment will provide “much-needed shelter” to around 6,500 of the most vulnerable.

Far more material and psychological assistance will be required, however, and additional emergency tents, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and solar lamps will be delivered in the coming weeks.

‘Strong resilience’ of survivors continues

“There remains a strong resilience, with people helping each other where they can and simply by sharing their stories,” Mr Yaxley said. “One woman said that she felt ‘lucky’ that she had only lost her father, and that her husband and son had survived.”

The World Food Programme (WFP) is also assisting with the relief effort after installing storage facilities at Palu airport in Sulawesi in early October.

Another 10 “mobile storage hubs” are being set up around Palu and Donggala “to ensure the smooth flow and distribution of aid to where it is needed”, WFP said in a statement.

“WFP is due to have 40 trucks in operation in and around Palu by 20 October,” said spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel. “These trucks will be available to all partners through a common services agreement for transporting and distributing aid.”

Palu in Central Sulawesi, is one of the worst-hit areas. Earlier this week, UNHCR staff went there to coordinate with local government and partners. In Petobo and Balaroa, “many people have not only lost their home, but even the land on which it once stood”, Mr Yaxley said.

In answer to a question about aid workers’ access to Sulawesi, the UNHCR spokesperson insisted that the Government of Indonesia and humanitarian workers had been working “tirelessly” as first responders in the affected areas.

“The Government is leading the response and they are coordinating that,” he said. “It’s Indonesian aid staff who are leading that as well. Our staff were on the ground earlier this week and they’ve had no issues with access to the affected areas.”

Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/10/1023612

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