Connect with us

Global Affairs

Swedish Researcher Warns COVID-19 Will Be ‘a Fond Caress’ in Comparison With Next Pandemic

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Europe

Get short URL

As the most likely explanation for several of the most recent pandemics, including Ebola, Zika, and COVID-19, being that viruses jump species from wild animals to humans, Professor Björn Olsen urged to limit potential exposure and warned of the dangers associated with wet markets.

Björn Olsen, a Swedish professor of infectious diseases at Uppsala University, has warned of future pandemics, triggered by a new influenza virus.

According to Olsen, the scope and the effect of future pandemics may overshadow that of COVID-19, with its millions of deaths, lasting lockdowns, and countless restrictions on travelling and public life.

“Then the corona pandemic will be like a fond caress in comparison”, Björn Olsen told national broadcaster SVT.

In calling the pandemic imminent, Olsen ventured it will be triggered by a flu virus, something that could be deeply problematic.

“A flu is incredibly contagious. If it is a new flu where there is no herd immunity at all, it will be able to spread faster through all different age groups”, Olsen mused.

While viruses transmitted from animals to humans are generally believed to have become more common as humans continue to ravage untouched nature, Olsen warned that food markets pose a particular danger. Via the large wet markets with slaughtered wild animals, the risk of viruses jumping species and infecting humans is great. The most likely explanation for several of the world’s most recent pandemics such as Ebola, Zika, and COVID-19 is that viruses have spread from wild animals to humans.

“The food markets are a gigantic public health problem. Not just for biodiversity”, Björn Olsen mused.

As a precaution against coronaviruses, Olsen suggested limiting exposure to animals that can potentially infect humans, which includes switching to locally produced meat.

“If we try to eat more locally produced, the points of contact for new pandemics will decrease. But we also need a monitoring system where you look for problematic viruses and problems with a more aggressive sampling”, Olsen mused.

So far, Asia has been in international focus as the area where several recent pandemics including SARS and COVID originated, but a new report points out East and West Africa as the next hotbed of crisis. Here, cities grow rapidly, rainforests are being devastated, and the climate changes as a result of forests being felled in search of new agricultural land. Humans and animals are increasingly becoming crowded together.

In particular, rapid urbanisation and swift population growth, alongside climate change, led researchers to single out coastal cities in West Africa as the next crisis hotspot for a pandemic.

Professor Björn Olsen previously emerged as a staunch critic of the Swedish approach to battling the coronavirus. Olsen claimed that the Swedish authorities failed to understand the seriousness of the situation, and reiterated his criticism several times, suggesting that the pandemic wasn’t handled well enough, allowing a spread that could have been potentially avoided. In particular, he slammed Sweden’s initial strategy of attaining herd immunity as “dangerous and unrealistic”.

So far, COVID-19 has harvested close to 2.8 million deaths worldwide.



Source link

Global Affairs

Ten women and girls killed every day in Mexico, Amnesty report says | Global development

Voice Of EU

Published

on

At least 10 women and girls are murdered every day in Mexico, according to a new report that says victims’ families are often left to carry out their own homicide investigations.

The scathing report, released on Monday by Amnesty International, documents both the scale of the violence and the disturbing lack of interest on the part of Mexican authorities to prevent or solve the murders.

“Mexico is continuing to fail to fulfil its duty to investigate and, therefore, its duty to guarantee the rights to life and personal integrity of the victims as well as to prevent violence against women,” says the report, Justice on Trial.

“Feminicidal violence and the failings in investigation and prevention in northern Mexico are not anecdotal, but rather form part of a broader reality in the country,” the report adds.

Femicide has been rife in Mexico for decades – most notoriously in an epidemic of murders which claimed the life of some 400 women in the border city Ciudad Juárez during the 1990s. In recent years, a growing feminist movement has held massive street protests against the violence, but authorities have proved unwilling to take action to stop the killing.

“It’s always a question of political will,” said Maricruz Ocampo, a women’s activist in the state of Querétaro.

Ocampo has been part of teams lobbying state governors to issue an alert when femicides reach scandalously high levels – a move to raise awareness and mobilise resources. But officials often resist such moves, she said, as governors worry about their states’ images and investment.

“They refuse to recognise there is a problem,” she said.

The president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has also downplayed the problem. He branded the women protesting on 8 March, International Women’s Day, as “conservatives” and alleged a dark hand manipulating the demonstrations.

When asked last year about rising violence against women, he responded, “Tell all the women of Mexico that they are protected and represented, that we’re doing everything possible to guarantee peace and quiet and that I understand that our adversaries are looking for ways to confront us.”

Mexico recorded the murders of 3,723 women in 2020. Some 940 of those murders were investigated as femicides.

The Amnesty report focused on Mexico state, a vast collection of gritty suburbs surrounding Mexico City on three sides. It has become notorious for femicides over the past decade – and for the way the former president, Enrique Peña Nieto, a former Mexico state governor, ignored the problem.

The report found cases of families carrying out their own detective work, which were ignored by investigators. In many cases, authorities contaminated crime scenes or mishandled evidence. They often did not even pursue leads such as geolocation information from victims’ mobile phones.

In the case of Julia Sosa, whose children believe she was killed by her partner, two daughters found her body buried on the suspect’s property – but had to wait hours for police to arrive and process the crime scene. One of her daughters recalled the subsequent interview process, in which “the police officer was falling asleep”.

Sosa’s partner hanged himself, prompting police to close the case, even though family members said there were more leads to pursue.

In states rife with drug cartel violence, activists say cases of femicides go uninvestigated as impunity is commonplace.

“The authorities say it’s organised crime and that’s it,” said Yolotzin Jaimes, a women’s rights campaigner in the southern state of Guerrero. “Many of these aggressors find protection under the excuse of organised crime.”

The persistence of femicides is a stark contrast to recent gains by the women’s movement in Mexico. The country’s supreme court decriminalised abortion earlier this month. A new congress recently sworn in has gender parity and seven female governors will be installed by the end of year – up from just two before last June’s election’s

The decriminalisation of abortion “let off some steam” from the pressure driving the protests “because part of the demands was over the right to choose,” Ocampo said. “But when it comes to violence, we still see it everywhere.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Global Affairs

US official urges EU to speed up enlargement

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Gabriel Escobar, the US’ newly-appointed acting deputy secretary of state for South Central Europe, has urged Europe to speed up Western Balkans enlargement. “To return 20 years later and see that there hasn’t been much progress on that front was a little disappointing,” he told the RFE/RL news agency Friday, referring to his last post in Europe in 2001. “We would like to see a more rapid integration,” he said.

Source link

Continue Reading

Global Affairs

Climate crisis leaving ‘millions at risk of trafficking and slavery’ | Global development

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Millions of people forced to leave their homes because of severe drought and powerful cyclones are at risk of modern slavery and human trafficking over the coming decades, a new report warns.

The climate crisis and the increasing frequency of extreme weather disasters including floods, droughts and megafires are having a devastating effect on the livelihoods of people already living in poverty and making them more vulnerable to slavery, according to the report, published today.

Researchers from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and Anti-Slavery International found that drought in northern Ghana had led young men and women to migrate to major cities. Many women begin working as porters and are at risk of trafficking, sexual exploitation and debt bondage – a form of modern slavery in which workers are trapped in work and exploited to pay off a huge debt.

Boys at lathes turning aluminium pots
Children working in an aluminium pot factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Up to 85 million children work in hazardous jobs around the world. Photograph: NurPhoto/Getty

One woman, who migrated to Accra from northern Ghana, used to farm until the land was ruined by flooding and she was forced to move. For seven years she has worked as a porter (kayayie), carrying items on her head.

She said: “Working as a kayayie has not been easy for me. When I came here, I did not know anything about the work. I was told that the woman providing our pans will also feed us and give us accommodation. However, all my earnings go to her and only sometimes will she give me a small part of the money I’ve earned.”

She dropped a customer’s items once and had to pay for the damage, which she could not afford. The woman in charge paid up on condition that she repay her. She added: “I have been working endlessly and have not been able to repay.”

A woman from Bangladesh
A woman from the Sundarbans in Bangladesh, who moved to Kolkata after a cyclone to support her family. Now she cannot return to home without her employer’s permission. Photograph: Somnath Hazra

In the Sundarbans, on the border between India and Bangladesh, severe cyclones have caused flooding in the delta, reducing the land available for farming. With countries in the region tightening immigration restrictions, researchers found that smugglers and traffickers operating in the disaster-prone region were targeting widows and men desperate to cross the border to India to find employment and income. Trafficking victims were often forced into hard labour and prostitution, with some working in sweatshops along the border.

Fran Witt, a climate change and modern slavery adviser at Anti-Slavery International, said: “Our research shows the domino effect of climate change on millions of people’s lives. Extreme weather events contribute to environmental destruction, forcing people to leave their homes and leaving them vulnerable to trafficking, exploitation and slavery.”

The World Bank estimates that, by 2050, the impact of the climate crisis, such as poor crop yields, a lack of water and rising sea levels, will force more than 216 million people across six regions, including sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia and Latin America, from their homes.

The report is a stark warning to world leaders in advance of the Cop26 UN climate summit in Glasgow in November and calls on them to make sure efforts to address the climate emergency also tackle modern slavery. The report says labour and migrant rights abuses are disregardedin the interests of rapid economic growth and development.

Ritu Bharadwaj, a researcher for the IIED, said: “The world cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking that’s being fuelled by climate change. Addressing these issues needs to be part and parcel of global plans to tackle climate change.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!