U.N.: Environmental hazards, social factors hamper poor nations

Somalia
Environmental trends threaten to halt or even reverse development progress in the world’s poorest nations unless significant measures are taken to curb influences such as climate change and habitat destruction, according to the United Nations Development Program’s annual report on the quality of life worldwide.

But social factors such as subpar healthcare, poor education, gender inequality and income disparities also play a role in hindering the sustainability of the world’s population, according to the report entitled “Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All.” It was launched Wednesday in Copenhagen.

“Sustainability is not exclusively or even primarily an environmental issue,” UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said in the foreword of the report. “It is fundamentally about how we choose to live our lives, with an awareness that everything we do has consequences for the 7 billions of us here today, as well as for the billions more who will follow, for centuries to come.”

The report points out that between 1970 and 2010, countries ranking in the lowest 25% on the human development index improved their overall status by a notable 82%, and had the potential to improve their rankings even further over the next 40 years. But mounting environmental hazards, such as drought, flooding and exposure to air and water pollution were threatening to halt further progress of these nations by mid-century, according to the report.

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African Union denies Somalia militia's claims to have killed 70 soldiers

Somalia-blog
REPORTING FROM JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA -- The African Union on Friday dismissed as propaganda claims by Somali insurgents to have killed dozens of African Union soldiers in Mogadishu.

The Al Shabab militia, which is linked to Al Qaeda, displayed dozens of bodies -- along with bibles and wooden crosses that allegedly belonged to the dead -- on the outskirts of the war-torn capital Thursday, claiming to have killed around 70 soldiers. The images were shown on the website of a Mogadishu radio station sympathetic to Al Shabab.

The bodies wore AU camouflage and many had flak jackets and helmets -- worn by AU troops in Somalia and not Al Shabab insurgents or Somali government troops.

But the AU said only 10 of its soldiers had been killed in action and two were missing, insisting that Al Shabab had dressed the corpses of its own dead to look like AU soldiers as a propaganda stunt.

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Somali militia claims slaughter of African Union soldiers

Bodies of alleged soldiers in Somalia
REPORTING FROM JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA -- A Somali militia linked to Al Qaeda claimed Thursday to have killed dozens of African Union soldiers in fighting in Mogadishu and displayed the bodies on the outskirts of the war-torn capital.

If the claim is confirmed, it would represent the largest loss for the 9,000-member AU mission in Somalia since it began in 2007. And it would serve as a blunt warning of the Shabab militia’s capabilities, even as Kenyan soldiers press into its stronghold in famine-ravaged southern Somalia.

In recent months, the Shabab has been pushed out of much of Mogadishu by forces of the African Union and the weak, Western-backed transitional government. But this month it claimed responsibility for a suicide attack at a government compound that killed more than 80 people. Among them were students waiting for exam results that could have meant scholarships to study in Turkey.

The African Union force, made of up soldiers from Uganda and Burundi,  is in Somalia to protect the transitional government.  The AU did not confirm the killings Thursday.

Shabab spokesman Ali Mohamed Raghe held up the small wooden crosses and Bibles of the dead, claiming they were Burundian troops.

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