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Zambian Hip-Hop Artist Flees Amid Threats Over Song

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA Zambian hip-hop artist Fumba Chama won't say where he is, or whom he is referring to in a song that caused him to run for his life.But when the artist, who goes by the stage name Pilato, spoke to VOA this week, after fleeing...
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Study Shows Coral Reefs Get Sick from Plastic Waste

OSLO Billions of bits of plastic waste are entangled in corals and sickening reefs from Thailand to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, scientists said Thursday.

The trash is another pressure on corals, already suffering from overfishing, rising temperatures caused by climate change and other pollution.

In the Asia-Pacific region, a total of 11.1 billion plastic items � including shopping bags, fishing nets, even diapers and tea bags � are ensnared on reefs, the scientists wrote in the journal Science.

They projected the numbers would rise by 40 percent by 2025 as marine pollution gets steadily worse.

The plastic increases the likelihood of disease about 20 times, to 89 percent for corals in contact with plastics from 4 percent in comparable areas with none.

Trash may damage the tiny coral animals that build reefs, making them more vulnerable to illness. And bits of plastic may act as rafts for harmful microbes in the oceans.

Scientists were shocked to find plastic even in remote reefs.

"You could be diving and you think someone's tapping your shoulder but it's just a bottle knocking against you, or a plastic trash bag stuck on your tank," lead author Joleah Lamb of Cornell University told Reuters.

"It's really sad," she said.

"Corals are animals like us and have really thin tissues that can be cut and wounded, especially if they are cut by an item covered in all sorts of micro-organisms," she said.

The scientists, from the United States, Australia, Thailand, Myanmar, Canada and Indonesia, surveyed 159 reefs from 2011-14 in the Asia-Pacific region.

They found most plastic in Indonesia, with about 26 bits per 100 square meters (1076 square feet) of reef, and least off Australia, which has the strictest waste controls.

The link between disease and plastic may well apply to other reefs such as in the Caribbean and off Africa, and may be harming other life on the ocean floor such as sponges or kelp, Lamb said.

At least 275 million people worldwide live near reefs, which provide food, coastal protection and income from tourism. The presence of plastics seemed especially to aggravate some common coral afflictions, such as skeletal eroding band disease.

The scientists urged tougher restrictions on plastic waste. In December, almost 200 nations agreed to limit plastic pollution of the oceans, warning that it could outweigh all fish by 2030.

Co-author Douglas Rader of the U.S. Environmental Defense Fund said better management of fisheries was the best way to strengthen coral reefs to enable them to fend off man-made threats such as more plastics.

"This is not a story about 'let's give up on corals,'" he told Reuters. "Overfishing today is the biggest threat." He said nations from Belize to the Philippines were acting to regulate fisheries on corals.

Source: Voice of America

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South Sudan Envoy to Russia Resigns

Telar Ring Deng, South Sudan's ambassador to Russia, tendered his resignation Thursday in a letter to President Salva Kiir.In an exclusive interview with VOA's South Sudan in Focus, Deng confirmed that he'd quit his job. "The letter is authentic. I rea...
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EVENT: Humanitarian crises in the spotlight at Davos

While 2017 was tough, the humanitarian horizon suggests 2018 will be even worse. This week, IRIN is at the World Economic Forum in Davos where we will be discussing crises to look out for in 2018, sharing our unique perspective from the front lines to help policy makers take decisions that save lives.

Tuesday 23 January, 15:00 GMT+1:Watch the live press conference with IRIN Director Heba Aly, alongside Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Sara Pantuliano, Managing Director of the Overseas Development Institute, and moderated by Georg Schmitt, Head of Corporate Affairs at the World Economic Forum.

Wednesday 24 January, 21:00 - 23:00 GMT+1: Watch the Global Humanitarian Outlook, an IRIN-ODI event where we will be in conversation about the crises on the horizon in 2018 with UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth, Managing Director of the Overseas Development Institute Sara Pantuliano, and Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, author of 'A Theory of ISIS'.

Global Humanitarian Outlook: Fireside Chat at the Tradeshift Sanctuary, Davos

24 January 2018 21:00 - 23:00 GMT+1 | Public event | Streamed live online


Heba Aly @HebaJournalist - Director, IRIN News


Mark Lowcock @UNReliefChief - Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, UN

Kenneth Roth @KenRoth - Executive Director, Human Rights Watch

Sara Pantuliano @SaraPantuliano - Managing Director, Overseas Development Institute 

Professor Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou @IHEID - The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies


Heba Aly is the Director of IRIN, one of the world's leading sources of original, field-based journalism about humanitarian crises. A Canadian-Egyptian multimedia journalist, Heba spent one decade reporting from conflict zones in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia before becoming part of the team that successfully led IRIN's transition from the United Nations to a non-profit media organization. Her work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Christian Science Monitor, Bloomberg News and IRIN, among others, took her to places like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Chad and Libya; and she received a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for her work in northern Sudan.

Mark Lowcock is the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Emergency Relief Coordinator, and former Permanent Secretary to the UK Department for International Development. Mr Lowcock began his career at DFID (formerly the Overseas Development Administration) in 1985, and he served in a diverse range of roles - including overseas postings in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Kenya - in addition to holding leadership positions at headquarters. Mr Lowcock was appointed Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Emergency Relief Coordinator, in 2017.

Kenneth Roth is the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, one of the world's leading international human rights organisations, which operates in more than 90 countries. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch in 1987, Roth served as a federal prosecutor in New York and for the Iran-Contra investigation in Washington, DC. A graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University, Roth has conducted numerous human rights investigations and missions around the world. 

Sara Pantuliano is a Managing Director at ODI, where she has led the humanitarian team for six years. She is a member of the Global Future Council on the Humanitarian System of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Managing Editor of Disasters Journal and a Trustee of IRIN news and SOS Sahel. She has recently been appointed as the Vice-Chair of the Board of Muslim Aid, and has served on a range of advisory boards, including Oxford University’s Refugees Studies Centre and the UN Association of the UK.

Professor Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mauritania from 2008 until 2009. A Harvard University academic, Prof. Mohamedou is currently Professor of International History at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. He is a member of the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding, and is regarded as a leading international specialist on the new forms of transnational terrorism.

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