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					                        THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
                                 Monday, 14 August 2006
     UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
    Israel asked to help clean up coastal oil spill near Beirut (Jerusalem Post)
    IMO convenes Greek summit over oil spill in Mediterranean (Lloyd's List)
    La marée noire souille les plages libanaises (Le Figaro)
    UA professor to aid in Lebanon oil spill (Anchorage Daily News)
    Die natürlichen Wasserreiniger (Berliner Zeitung)
    Malaysian envoy urges quick resolution of Middle East conflict (Angola Press)
    Lebanon: Israeli attacks ruin environment (People's Weekly World)

     Caviar, oil targeted by Caspian protection plan (Reuters)
     Is an Armament Sickening U.S. Soldiers? (Associated Press)
     Living dead of Rantau Abang (The Star)
     Científicos investigan el deshielo en el Ártico (El Universal)
     Est-il trop tard pour les singes? (Le Monde)

     Linking sport with the environment (The Jamaica Observer)
     Der Teufel ist aus Kohlenstoff (Berliner Zeitung)
     Role of UN in spotlight (The Gulf Daily News)
     Fair trade and fair tourism (Le Monde Diplomatique)

             Other Environment News
     Marée noire sur les côtes libanaises (Libération)
     Lebanon Running Out of Fuel, Food, Water, Aid Agencies Paralyzed (ENS)
     Oléoducs caducs (Libération)
     Calvados: extension des zones interdites à la pêche aux coquillages (Nouvel
     Un incendie détruit 140 hectares de forêt dans le Var (Le Figaro)
     Pyrénées-Orientales : des dizaines d'hectares partent en fumée (TF1)
     Más de 60.000 hectáreas calcinadas en ocho días, las mismas que en todo 2005 (La
     Go-ahead for dam that will drown history (The Times)
     EU warns Poland over environment (BBC)
     Clean coal can plug UK's energy gap (BBC/The Green Room)
     Canadian uranium company to list in London with £500m price tag (The Guardian)
     Seven days to green your life (The Independent)
     Low public acceptance of evolution theory in US (Xinhua)

          Environmental News from the UNEP Regions
     ROWA

             Other UN News
     UN Daily News of 11 August 2006
     S.G.‘s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 11 August 2006

                  Communications and Public Information, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya
    Tel: (254-2) 623292/93, Fax: [254-2] 62 3927/623692,,
The Jerusalem Post: Israel asked to help clean up coastal oil spill near Beirut
Adina Greene
Lebanon's Mediterranean coast is facing a crisis of its own as oil from a spill a month ago
continues to contaminate the water. The spill started when an explosion at the Jiweh power
plant south of Beirut released 15,000-30,000 tons of heavy fuel oil into the sea.
While the water currents are carrying the pollutants north and away from Israel, the United
National Environment Program-Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP-MAP) has called on
member states to aid the clean-up effort and Israel has answered. The cleanup was to have
begun on Sunday but this was moved to Tuesday with hopes that a cease-fire would be in place
by then.
UNEP-MAP has 22 members, countries that border the Mediterranean.
Friends of the Earth-Middle East has asked Defense Minister Amir Peretz to guarantee the
safety of the volunteers performing the cleanup.
"We are responding positively with ideas for assistance in equipment and expertise," said
Ya'acov Keidar, an official in the Foreign Ministry's Middle East department. "I don't know if
they will eventually want it, but we are responding positively. We are checking what can be
done in order to assist."
The cause of the oil spill remains unknown, according to Keidar. Some media reports have
accused the Israel Air Force of hitting the plant and causing the oil spill, but "we won't know
until after the war ends and it can be checked thoroughly. Nobody can ask Israel to take
responsibility for something we are unsure about," he said.
Luis Colasimone, the information officer for UNEP-MAP, agrees. The reports she has received
from the Lebanese Ministry of Environment and local authorities there say that an explosion
causing the spill, but none placed the blame on a particular party.
"The Ministry of Environment in Lebanon didn't indicate what set it off," Colasimone said in a
telephone interview. "Media reports have said, because of the ongoing conflict, it can be called
a bombing, but that hasn't been indicated in any press releases we've seen. I don't know where
they get it from," he said.
Gidon Bromberg, Israel director of Friends of the Earth-Middle East, called for an investigation
into why the oil tanks were targeted. He claimed the IAF had definitely bombed the tanks.
UNEP-MAP had sent an expert to Syria from one of its regional activity centers, the Regional
Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre (REMPEC), because of the difficulty in entering
Lebanon. Colasimone said the organization needed to retrieve samples of the oil from the sea
and from rocks to be able to better plan a cleanup.
Because the Mediterranean is a semi-closed sea, the pollutants could remain in the water for up
to a century, according to Colasimone.
A military source said the IDF helped coordinate a clean-up effort in Tripoli, northern Lebanon,
last week but had not heard about any other such plans.
"Maybe they will coordinate, but so far they haven't," the military source said.

The effects of the spill for the coast of Lebanon and possibly for countries to the north will be
long lasting.
"The oil spill will first and foremost affect the marine life in the sea," said Bromberg. "It's
killing breeding areas for fish, killing marine life swimming in the oil spots directly and other
marine life covered by the oil slick."
The marine habitat near the coast will be damaged if not destroyed by the oil. A prime example
of the effect on marine life is the green turtle. They have already laid their eggs, which will soon
hatch. If there is oil on the sand and in the water near the hatchlings, the likelihood of these
endangered animals surviving is slim.
"It's a priority for the government and the citizens and that's why the environmental community
is coming out so quickly under risk to do their part to clean up," said Bromberg.

Lloyd's List: IMO convenes Greek summit over oil spill in Mediterranean

GREECE'S minister of merchant marine Manolis Kefaloyiannis will this week host a meeting to
mount a co-ordinated response to the oil spill fouling the coast of Lebanon and Syria.

The meeting, convened by the secretary general of the International Maritime Organization,
Efthimios Mitropoulos, and Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations
Environment Programme, is aimed at streamlining the response from the two UN agencies and
other parties including governments in the region.

Among those attending will be Stavros Dimos, European commissioner for the environment,
officials said.

Apart from trying to agree a common strategy to address the pollution, objectives include
preparing to counter the possibility of the spill threatening the marine environment of
neighbouring countries as well as considering possible financial and other support.

At this stage it is envisaged that the Piraeus meeting, set for Thursday, will also be attended by
representatives of Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, the United Nations Development
Programme, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs and regional
pollution response centre Rempec.

Mr Mitropoulos said; "Although the spill and the ensuing environmental damage has not been
caused by a shipping-related operation or accident, IMO was conscious to contribute to any
effort undertaken to mitigate the impact of the serious pollution incident harming the waters
adjacent to the coasts of Lebanon and Syria."

The IMO also wanted to advise on the clean-up operation, "to be undertaken as soon as the
circumstances so allow", and to assist other countries in the region prepare in case the spill
spread further, Mr Mitropoulos added.

The spill, estimated to be one of the largest ever to affect the Mediterranean, follows an incident
in mid-July in which an oil storage unit at a power plant at Jiyyeh, 30 km south of Beirut, was
bombed by the Israeli air force.

Last week the first UN clean-up experts arrived in Syria amid general anguish that more has not
been done to contain the spill as expert help ritually spoke of the impossibility of a clean-up
under war conditions.

In UNEP's statement the spill was likened to the Erika tanker catastrophe off France and, in a
worst case scenario, "if all the oil contained in the bombed power plant at Jiyyeh leaked into the
Mediterranean Sea", the spill "could well rival the Exxon Valdez disaster of 1989".

Said Mr Steiner: "We are dealing with a very serious incident and any practical steps are still
constrained by the continuation of hostilities. We are glad that two of our experts will now be
able to provide advice from Damascus, even though much more is needed."

Meanwhile, experts on site have been joined by senior scientist Ezio Amato, chairman of the
IMO technical group on oil pollution preparedness and response, who has been sent to Syria to
carry out an assessment of the situation.

Rempec has also sent a marine biologist to Syria amid fears of the spill's possible toll on
biodiversity in the region. Marine species such as sea turtles and bluefin tuna are feared to have
been affected by the oil spill.

According to the information received by UNEP-MAP, the Mediterranean tuna population
could suffer serious consequences if surface-borne eggs have been directly affected by the slick.

Le Figaro:La marée noire souille les plages libanaises
 Isabelle Brisson

LE 14 JUILLET, les frappes israéliennes ont endommagé les réservoirs de la centrale électrique
de Jieh, située à 30 km au sud de Beyrouth (Liban), déversant en Méditerranée 10 000 tonnes de
mazout. Le Liban a attendu le 25 juillet pour demander l'assistance internationale. L'aide est
coordonnée par le Centre régional méditerranéen de lutte antipollution (Rempec), une
organisation basée à Malte qui agit dans le cadre du Programme d'action pour la Méditerranée
(MAP-Unep) installé à Athènes.

Le Rempec a reçu une proposition d'aide du ministère de l'Environnement israélien. Une
réunion d'urgence aura lieu le 17 août à Athènes. Elle mettra en présence les acteurs de la lutte
antipollution et des représentants du Liban, de Syrie, de Grèce, de Chypre et de Turquie.
Situation catastrophique à Byblos «Près de 140 kilomètres de littoral du Liban, soit 80% des
plages, sont actuellement pollués par la marée noire», confirme Ghaby Khalas, biologiste et
directeur du Centre national des sciences marines à Batroun (Liban). «La nappe se dirige vers le
nord du pays et remonte le long de la côte syrienne en direction de la Turquie.» Si elle a pu être
circonscrite en Syrie, en revanche, les travaux d'assainissement n'ont pas encore commencé au
Liban. Seules certaines municipalités comme Byblos nettoient leurs plages, mais les bombes et
le manque de carburant empêchent de circuler librement. Certaines plages ont subi de fortes
dégradations. Dans le port de Byblos, la situation est catastrophique, les ruines antiques sont
recouvertes de plusieurs centimètres de pétrole, une pollution comparable à celle de l' Erika en
1999. «Dramatique pour l'écosystème méditerranéen plus fragile que celui de l'Atlantique. Ici
les organismes marins qui permettent aux poissons de se nourrir mettront sûrement beaucoup

plus de dix ans à se reconstituer», explique Daniel Cossa de l'Ifremer (Nantes) qui travaille avec
le Centre de Batroun. Pour l'instant, deux espèces emblématiques de tortues marines qui
viennent se reproduire sur l'est de l'île des Palmiers face à Tripoli ne sont pas atteintes, bien que
la nappe fasse 1,20 m de profondeur à l'ouest de cette réserve naturelle. Des échantillons de
fioul, de sédiments recueillis à des profondeurs différentes et d'organismes marins comme les
moules et les patelles ont été congelés. Ils seront analysés à Nantes dès que les liaisons seront
rétablies avec le Liban. Plusieurs experts ont été dépêchés par la Commission européenne au
Liban et en Syrie. A leur retour, ils analyseront eux aussi leurs échantillons afin d'évaluer les
risques sur la santé de la population locale. De son côté, Michel Girin, directeur du Centre de
documentation de recherche et d'expérimentation sur les pollutions accidentelles des eaux
(Cedre) à Brest, se veut rassurant. Il rappelle que d'autres pollutions se sont produites en
Méditerranée où des dizaines de milliers de tonnes de pétrole se sont déversées. Elles ont toutes
été traitées, causant des dommages économiques et écologiques importants, mais localisés et

Anchorage Daily News:UA professor to aid in Lebanon oil spill

Don Hunter

RICK STEINER: He sees a similarity to problems posed by the Selendang Ayu.
Aug. 12--A University of Alaska professor is headed for the Middle East today to help the
government of Lebanon respond to a major fuel spill caused by Israeli bombing of a power
plant last month.

Rick Steiner, a conservation specialist with the university's Marine Advisory Program, said
Lebanon's Ministry of the Environment and other regional organizations asked him to assist. He
will fly first to Amman, Jordan, and then to Beirut on a Jordanian relief flight.

The mid-July airstrike on the power plant at Jiyeh, about 20 miles south of Beirut, ruptured
large fuel tanks and caused a spill estimated to be between 3 million and 4.5 million gallons,
according to various news organizations. The oil reached the Mediterranean and drifted north,
coating beaches along Lebanon and reaching waters off Syria. It may continue on and threaten

The ongoing conflict in the region between Israel and Hezbollah has prevented attempts to
contain or recover the oil.

Satellite images he's seen suggest the spill could affect 100 miles of shoreline, or more, Steiner
said. He's been told the goop is a foot deep on some beaches.

The fuel is similar to that spilled in the waters off Unalaska by the Selendang Ayu in December
2004, he said.

"It could still be pumped if we could get some pumps in," he said.

"The big problem is, we can't get any response into the area until hostilities subside," he added.
"That could be any day now, or weeks from now. There's a lot of labor there, people willing to
get out on the beaches (and clean up) ... but there's still the huge security risk."

The oiled beaches are nesting areas for green sea turtles, an endangered species, according to an
online National Geographic news service, which also reported that Lebanese environmental
groups say the spill threatens commercially important bluefin tuna spawning areas.

The United Nations Environment Programme and regional organizations are trying to mount a
response and get experts and cleanup crews to the area, but those efforts are just now getting
under way after weeks of delay caused by the conflict.

The university is not paying for his travel or his salary on the mission to Lebanon, said Steiner,
who also served as chief technical adviser to Pakistan's minister of environment during a tanker
spill there in 2003-2004.

The Exxon Valdez spill is estimated at 11 million gallons. The Selendang Ayu lost about
335,000 gallons of fuel when it drifted aground and broke up off Unalaska Island.

Berliner Zeitung: Die natürlichen Wasserreiniger
Kerstin Viering
Seit es Tankerunfälle gibt, vermehren sich Öl fressende Bakterien im Meer. Künftig will man
ihre Dienste gezielt nutzen
Auch wenn sich Experten zurzeit kein genaues Bild von der Lage machen können - in Einem
sind sie sich sicher: Bei dem Ölteppich vor der Küste Libanons handelt es sich um die größte
Ölpest im Mittelmeer seit Jahrzehnten.
Die schwarze Flut stammt aus einem Kraftwerk in Dschije, etwa dreißig Kilometer südlich der
libanesischen Hauptstadt Beirut. Zwischen dem 13. und dem 15. Juli hat das israelische Militär
die Anlage bombardiert. Dabei wurden Tanks beschädigt, aus denen nach Angaben des
libanesischen Umweltministeriums bis zu 30 000 Tonnen Öl ins Meer geflossen sind. Es
handelt sich um mittleres Schweröl vom Typ IFO 150, eine besonders zähe, klebrige und giftige
Ölsorte, die nur schwer zu beseitigen ist.
Die Menge stellt selbst Katastrophen wie die Havarie des Tankers Haven in den Schatten, der
1991 mit 143 000 Tonnen Rohöl an Bord im Hafen von Genua in Brand geriet und sank.
Damals verbrannte der größte Teil der Ladung, nur etwa 10 000 Tonnen flossen ins Wasser. Die
genügten allerdings schon, um zahlreiche Strände in Italien und Frankreich zu verschmutzen.
Das Ausmaß der Katastrophe im Libanon analysiert das UN-Umweltprogramm Unep auf
Satellitenbildern. Demnach hat der zwischen 10 und 30 Kilometer breite Ölteppich bereits etwa
140 Kilometer der libanesischen Küste verschmutzt. Derzeit breitet er sich mit der
vorherrschenden Strömung nach Norden in syrische Gewässer aus; auch Zypern und die Türkei
sind bedroht. Inzwischen konnte die Unep zwei Mitarbeiter nach Syrien schicken, die von dort
aus detailliertere Informationen liefern sollen. An eine Beseitigung des Öls sei unter den
gegebenen Umständen nicht zu denken, heißt es bei der Unep.
Die schwarze Flut kann etlichen Meerestieren zum Verhängnis werden, befürchtet Annette
Spangenberg von der Umweltstiftung Euronatur in Radolfzell am Bodensee (siehe Kasten). Und
Stephan Lutter vom World Wide Fund for Nature hofft, dass bald mit der Ölbeseitigung
begonnen werden kann: "Jeder weitere Tag verschlimmert die Situation für Mensch und Natur."

Während die Experten zusehen müssen, wie das Öl sich ausbreitet, fängt die Natur an, das Meer
zu reinigen. Einige Bakterien können sich von dem schwarzen Brennstoff ernähren. Erst
kürzlich haben Wissenschaftler aus dem Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung (HZI) in
Braunschweig gemeinsam mit Kollegen aus Bielefeld, Italien und Spanien das Erbgut eines
solchen Erdölfressers namens Alcanivorax borkumensis entschlüsselt. Der Einzeller gehört zu
den effektivsten lebenden Wasserreinigern, und kommt auch im Mittelmeer vor.
"Solche Bakterien gibt es wahrscheinlich schon seit Millionen von Jahren", sagt Manfred Braun
vom HZI. Allerdings war das Nahrungsangebot für die hoch spezialisierten Organismen früher
eher dürftig. Sie fristeten ihr Leben nur an den Stellen, an denen am Meeresboden von Natur
aus Öl austritt. Das hat sich geändert: Inzwischen leiten Menschen - versehentlich oder
beabsichtigt - im Jahr etwa 1,3 Millionen Tonnen Öl ins Meer. Der Tisch für die Bakterien ist
reich gedeckt.
In sauberem Meerwasser schwimmen normalerweise nur wenige Erdölfresser. Sie können ohne
den schwarzen Brennstoff zwar überleben, sich aber nicht vermehren. Sobald Öl ins Meer
strömt, vermehren sie sich explosionsartig und beginnen das Öl abzubauen.
Aber selbst die gefräßigsten Mikroorganismen sind mit der Ölmenge überfordert, die bei großen
Katastrophen frei gesetzt wird. Die HZI-Wissenschaftler wollen die mikroskopischen
Wasserreiniger nun dazu bringen, effektiver zu arbeiten. Das jetzt entschlüsselte Genom soll
ihnen helfen, den Prozess des Erdölabbaus besser zu verstehen. "Wir wollen herausfinden, unter
welchen Bedingungen der Vorgang am besten funktioniert", sagt Braun. Zum Beispiel sei es
denkbar, die Einzeller mit Nährstoffen wie Stickstoff und Phosphor zu füttern, die sie zusätzlich
zu ihren Ölmahlzeiten brauchen.
Vor allem aber wollen die Forscher die Vermehrung der Bakterien beschleunigen. "Das Fernziel
ist, sie bei Ölkatastrophen gezielt ins Wasser zu werfen", sagt Braun. Zusammen mit
Wissenschaftlern vom Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung versuchen die
HZI-Forscher, die Ölfresser für einen solchen Einsatz fit zu machen. Gesucht wird etwa ein
gutes Trägermaterial, auf das man die Bakterien aufbringen kann, um sie dann vom Flugzeug
aus versprühen zu können.
Es wird allerdings wohl noch ein paar Jahre dauern, bis die neue Methode einsatzreif ist. Die
schwarze Flut vor den Küsten Libanons und Syriens muss derweil mit Maschinen bekämpft
werden. "Die Ölbeseitigung würde viel zu lange dauern, wenn wir sie den natürlichen Prozessen
überlassen würden", sagt Ulrike Windhövel vom Havariekommando in Cuxhaven. Diese
Einrichtung haben der Bund und die deutschen Küstenländer gemeinsam gegründet, um das
Vorgehen bei Ölkatastrophen zu koordinieren. Ein Team wartet zurzeit darauf, dass ein
Waffenstillstand den Einsatz im Mittelmeer ermöglicht.

Angola Press: Malaysian envoy urges quick resolution of Middle East conflict
The Malaysian High Commissioner to Kenya, Selwyn Das Friday called on the international
community to quicken the peaceful resolution of the raging Middle East conflict.

He told journalists that Lebanon and Israel, which had been fighting over the past one month,
must agree to negotiate and resolve the conflict.

According to him, "goodwill, understanding and tolerance must be given a chance" if the
conflict that has killed more than 700 people is to be resolved.

The UN is currently seized by the crisis.

In another development, Das, who is also his country`s permanent representative to the Nairobi-
based UNEP and UN HABITAT, called for the expansion of trade between Africa and

He said that through economic cooperation Kenya and other African countries could learn from
Malaysia`s experience, noting that the balance of trade between Malaysia and Africa was in the
Asian country`s favour.

People's Weekly World: Lebanon: Israeli attacks ruin environment
Environmentalists Against War report that Israeli air strikes two weeks ago destroyed five oil
holding tanks at a power plant near Beirut, plus barriers intended to keep loose oil from running
into the Mediterranean. Their web site reported Aug. 2 that an estimated 110,000 barrels of oil
have washed up on beaches and rocks along 55 miles of Lebanese coastline. Sea-borne oil is
expected to reach Syria, Cyprus, Turkey and eventually Greece.

Continuing Israeli air bombardments have put clean-up efforts on hold. UN environmental
specialist Achim Steiner told reporters, ―The longer the spill is left untreated, the harder it will
be to clean up.‖

Lebanon, much praised for efforts to protect the environment, now faces long-term damage to
its fishery and tourist industries. According to environment minister Yaacoub Sarraf, ―Our
whole marine ecosystem facing the Lebanese shoreline is [probably] dead. … What is at stake
today is all marine life in the eastern Mediterranean.‖

Reuters: Caviar, oil targeted by Caspian protection plan
By Alister Doyle
11 Aug 2006
 [appears on Scientific American, ABC News, Indepdendent Online (South Africa), Alarab
Online, ...]

OSLO, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Caviar lovers may benefit from a five-nation deal entering into force
from Saturday meant to clean up the badly polluted Caspian Sea.
The Caspian Convention -- grouping Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan --
is the first legally binding document on any subject adopted by the five shoreline states with
widely differing political systems.
The accord mirrors existing deals for the Mediterranean or Baltic seas and aims to stop
pollution, protect wildlife, monitor the environment and work out joint responses to any
emergencies. It formally goes into force on Aug. 12.
"The Caspian Sea's fragile environment is extremely vulnerable to the region's current boom in
oil and gas exploration," said Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme

"Climate extremes and economic and political challenges also put pressure on the Caspian's
natural resources," he said in a statement. Environmentalists say the deal, which lacks enough
financing, is a belated start.
Caspian sturgeon, the fish whose black caviar eggs are one of the world's most expensive
delicacies, are close to extinction because of decades of overfishing, dams that block access to
spawning grounds and pollution.
"This is a first step in a very fragile area that is in desperate need of protection," said David
Santillo, a senior scientist at the Greenpeace environmental group. "The convention will need
some kind of teeth to impose sanctions."
Regional oil output reached 1.9 million barrels per day in 2004 and reserves of oil in the region
rival those of the United States, UNEP said. Many oil majors such as Exxon Mobil <XOM.N>
and BP <BP.L> have stakes in the Caspian fields.
The slightly salty sea covers 370,886 sq km (143,200 sq mile) and is sometimes called the
world's biggest lake.
Santillo said the fate of sturgeon and Caspian seals -- the only seal species in a landlocked lake
or sea outside Russia's Lake Baikal -- would symbolise whether the convention worked.
Countries aim to cut pollution -- toxic and radioactive wastes, agricultural run-off, sewage and
leaks from oil extraction and refining. About 11 million people live around the Caspian shores.
Among other goals is trying to understand changes in sea levels, perhaps linked to earthquakes
or sediment shifts.
The Caspian dropped 4 metres (13 ft) from 1880 to 1977 before an abrupt reversal in 1977
flooded coasts and caused billions of dollars in damage, UNEP said.

Associated Press: Is an Armament Sickening U.S. Soldiers?

It takes at least 10 minutes and a large glass of orange juice to wash down all the pills morphine,
methadone, a muscle relaxant, an antidepressant, a stool softener. Viagra for sexual dysfunction.
Valium for his nerves.

Four hours later, Herbert Reed will swallow another 15 mg of morphine to cut the pain
clenching every part of his body. He will do it twice more before the day is done.

Since he left a bombed-out train depot in Iraq, his gums bleed. There is more blood in his urine,
and still more in his stool. Bright light hurts his eyes. A tumor has been removed from his
thyroid. Rashes erupt everywhere, itching so badly they seem to live inside his skin. Migraines
cleave his skull. His joints ache, grating like door hinges in need of oil.

There is something massively wrong with Herbert Reed, though no one is sure what it is. He
believes he knows the cause, but he cannot convince anyone caring for him that the military's
new favorite weapon has made him terrifyingly sick.

In the sprawling bureaucracy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, he has many caretakers.
An internist, a neurologist, a pain-management specialist, a psychologist, an orthopedic surgeon
and a dermatologist. He cannot function without his stupefying arsenal of medications, but they
exact a high price.

"I'm just a zombie walking around," he says.

Reed believes depleted uranium has contaminated him and his life. He now walks point in a
vitriolic war over the Pentagon's arsenal of it thousands of shells and hundreds of tanks coated
with the metal that is radioactive, chemically toxic, and nearly twice as dense as lead.

A shell coated with depleted uranium pierces a tank like a hot knife through butter, exploding
on impact into a charring inferno. As tank armor, it repels artillery assaults. It also leaves behind
a fine radioactive dust with a half-life of 4.5 billion years.

Depleted uranium is the garbage left from producing enriched uranium for nuclear weapons and
energy plants. It is 60 percent as radioactive as natural uranium. The U.S. has an estimated 1.5
billion pounds of it, sitting in hazardous waste storage sites across the country. Meaning it is
plentiful and cheap as well as highly effective.

Reed says he unknowingly breathed DU dust while living with his unit in Samawah, Iraq. He
was med-evaced out in July 2003, nearly unable to walk because of lightning-strike pains from
herniated discs in his spine. Then began a strange series of symptoms he'd never experienced in
his previously healthy life.

At Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C, he ran into a buddy from his unit.
And another, and another, and in the tedium of hospital life between doctor visits and the
dispensing of meds, they began to talk.

"We all had migraines. We all felt sick," Reed says. "The doctors said, 'It's all in your head.' "

Then the medic from their unit showed up. He too, was suffering. That made eight sick soldiers
from the 442nd Military Police, an Army National Guard unit made up of mostly cops and
correctional officers from the New York area.

But the medic knew something the others didn't.

Dutch marines had taken over the abandoned train depot dubbed Camp Smitty, which was
surrounded by tank skeletons, unexploded ordnance and shell casings. They'd brought radiation-
detection devices. The readings were so hot, the Dutch set up camp in the middle of the desert
rather than live in the station ruins.

"We got on the Internet," Reed said, "and we started researching depleted uranium."

Then they contacted The New York Daily News, which paid for sophisticated urine tests
available only overseas.

Then they hired a lawyer.

Reed, Gerard Matthew, Raymond Ramos, Hector Vega, Augustin Matos, Anthony Yonnone,
Jerry Ojeda and Anthony Phillip all have depleted uranium in their urine, according to tests
done in December 2003, while they bounced for months between Walter Reed and New Jersey's
Fort Dix medical center, seeking relief that never came.

The analyses were done in Germany, by a Frankfurt professor who developed a depleted
uranium test with Randall Parrish, a professor of isotope geology at the University of Leicester

in Britain.

The veterans, using their positive results as evidence, have sued the U.S. Army, claiming
officials knew the hazards of depleted uranium, but concealed the risks.

The Department of Defense says depleted uranium is powerful and safe, and not that

Four of the highest-registering samples from Frankfurt were sent to the VA. Those results were
negative, Reed said. "Their test just isn't as sophisticated," he said. "And when we first asked to
be tested, they told us there wasn't one. They've lied to us all along."

The VA's testing methodology is safe and accurate, the agency says. More than 2,100 soldiers
from the current war have asked to be tested; only 8 had DU in their urine, the VA said.

The term depleted uranium is linguistically radioactive. Simply uttering the words can prompt a
reaction akin to preaching atheism at tent revival. Heads shake, eyes roll, opinions are yelled
from all sides.

"The Department of Defense takes the position that you can eat it for breakfast and it poses no
threat at all," said Steve Robinson of the National Gulf War Resource Center, which helps
veterans with various problems, including navigating the labyrinth of VA health care. "Then
you have far-left groups that ... declare it a crime against humanity."

Several countries use it as weaponry, including Britain, which fired it during the 2003 Iraq

An estimated 286 tons of DU munitions were fired by the U.S. in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991. An
estimated 130 tons were shot toppling Saddam Hussein.

Depleted uranium can enter the human body by inhalation, the most dangerous method; by
ingesting contaminated food or eating with contaminated hands; by getting dust or debris in an
open wound, or by being struck by shrapnel, which often is not removed because doing so
would be more dangerous than leaving it.

Inhaled, it can lodge in the lungs. As with imbedded shrapnel, this is doubly dangerous not only
are the particles themselves physically destructive, they emit radiation.

A moderate voice on the divisive DU spectrum belongs to Dan Fahey, a doctoral student at the
University of California at Berkeley, who has studied the issue for years and also served in the
Gulf War before leaving the military as a conscientious objector.

"I've been working on this since '93 and I've just given up hope," he said. "I've spoken to
successive federal committees and elected officials ... who then side with the Pentagon. Nothing

At the other end are a collection of conspiracy-theorists and Internet proselytizers who say using
such weapons constitutes genocide. Two of the most vocal opponents recently suggested that a
depleted-uranium missile, not a hijacked jetliner, struck the Pentagon in 2001.

"The bottom line is it's more hazardous than the Pentagon admits," Fahey said, "but it's not as
hazardous as the hard-line activist groups say it is. And there's a real dearth of information
about how DU affects humans."

There are several studies on how it affects animals, though their results are not, of course,
directly applicable to humans. Military research on mice shows that depleted uranium can enter
the bloodstream and come to rest in bones, the brain, kidneys and lymph nodes. Other research
in rats shows that DU can result in cancerous tumors and genetic mutations, and pass from
mother to unborn child, resulting in birth defects.

Iraqi doctors reported significant increases in birth defects and childhood cancers after the 1991

Iraqi authorities "found that uranium, which affected the blood cells, had a serious impact on
health: The number of cases of leukemia had increased considerably, as had the incidence of
fetal deformities," the U.N. reported.

Depleted uranium can also contaminate soil and water, and coat buildings with radioactive dust,
which can by carried by wind and sandstorms.

In 2005, the U.N. Environmental Program identified 311 polluted sites in Iraq. Cleaning them
will take at least $40 million and several years, the agency said. Nothing can start until the
fighting stops.

Fifteen years after it was first used in battle, there is only one U.S. government study
monitoring veterans exposed to depleted uranium.

Number of soldiers in the survey: 32. Number of soldiers in both Iraq wars: more than 900,000.

The study group's size is controversial far too small, say experts including Fahey and so are the
findings of the voluntary, Baltimore-based study.

It has found "no clinically significant" health effects from depleted uranium exposure in the
study subjects, according to its researchers.

Critics say the VA has downplayed participants' health problems, including not reporting one
soldier who developed cancer, and another who developed a bone tumor.

So for now, depleted uranium falls into the quagmire of Gulf War Syndrome, from which no
treatment has emerged despite the government's spending of at least $300 million.

About 30 percent of the 700,000 men and women who served in the first Gulf War still suffer a
baffling array of symptoms very similar to those reported by Reed's unit.

Depleted uranium has long been suspected as a possible contributor to Gulf War Syndrome, and
in the mid-90s, veterans helped push the military into tracking soldiers exposed to it.

But for all their efforts, what they got in the end was a questionnaire dispensed to homeward-
bound soldiers asking about mental health, nightmares, losing control, exposure to dangerous
and radioactive chemicals.

But, the veterans persisted, how would soldiers know they'd been exposed? Radiation is
invisible, tasteless, and has no smell. And what exhausted, homesick, war-addled soldier would
check a box that would only send him or her to a military medical center to be poked and
prodded and questioned and tested?

It will take years to determine how depleted uranium affected soldiers from this war. After
Vietnam, veterans, in numbers that grew with the passage of time, complained of joint aches,
night sweats, bloody feces, migraine headaches, unexplained rashes and violent behavior; some
developed cancers.

It took more than 25 years for the Pentagon to acknowledge that Agent Orange a corrosive
defoliant used to melt the jungles of Vietnam and flush out the enemy was linked to those

It took 40 years for the military to compensate sick World War II vets exposed to massive blasts
of radiation during tests of the atomic bomb.

In 2002, Congress voted to not let that happen again.

It established the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses comprised of
scientists, physicians and veterans advocates. It reports to the secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Its mandate is to judge all research and all efforts to treat Gulf War Syndrome patients against a
single standard: Have sick soldiers been made better?

The answer, according to the committee, is no.

"Regrettably, after four years of operation neither the Committee nor (the) VA can report
progress toward this goal," stated its December 2005 report. "Research has not produced
effective treatments for these conditions nor shown that existing treatments are significantly

And so time marches on, as do soldiers going to, and returning from, the deserts of Iraq.

Herbert Reed is an imposing man, broad shouldered and tall. He strides into the VA Medical
Center in the Bronx with the presence of a cop or a soldier. Since the Vietnam War, he has been

His hair is perfect, his shirt spotless, his jeans sharply creased. But there is something wrong, a
niggling imperfection made more noticeable by a bearing so disciplined. It is a limp more like a
hitch in his get-along.

It is the only sign, albeit a tiny one, that he is extremely sick.

Even sleep offers no release. He dreams of gunfire and bombs and soldiers who scream for help.
No matter how hard he tries, he never gets there in time.

At 54, he is a veteran of two wars and a 20-year veteran of the New York Police Department,
where he last served as an assistant warden at the Riker's Island prison.

He was in perfect health, he says, before being deployed to Iraq.

According to military guidelines, he should have heard the words depleted uranium long before
he ended up at Walter Reed. He should have been trained about its dangers, and how to avoid
prolonged exposure to its toxicity and radioactivity. He says he didn't get anything of the kind.
Neither did other reservists and National Guard soldiers called up for the current war, according
to veterans' groups.

Reed and the seven brothers from his unit hate what has happened to them, and they speak of it
at public seminars and in politicians' offices. It is something no VA doctor can explain;
something that leaves them feeling like so many spent shell rounds, kicked to the side of battle.

But for every outspoken soldier like them, there are silent veterans like Raphael Naboa, an
Army artillery scout who served 11 months in the northern Sunni Triangle, only to come home
and fall apart.

Some days he feels fine. "Some days I can't get out of bed," he said from his home in Colorado.

Now 29, he's had growths removed from his brain. He has suffered a small stroke one morning
he was shaving, having put down the razor to rinse his face. In that moment, he blacked out and
pitched over.

"Just as quickly as I lost consciousness, I regained it," he said. "Except I couldn't move the right
side of my body."

After about 15 minutes, the paralysis ebbed.

He has mentioned depleted uranium to his VA doctors, who say he suffers from a series of
"non-related conditions." He knows he was exposed to DU.

"A lot of guys went trophy-hunting, grabbing bayonets, helmets, stuff that was in the vehicles
that were destroyed by depleted uranium. My guys were rooting around in it. I was trying to get
them out of the vehicles."

No one in the military talked to him about depleted uranium, he said. His knowledge, like
Reed's, is self-taught from the Internet.

Unlike Reed, he has not gone to war over it. He doesn't feel up to the fight. There is no known
cure for what ails him, and so no possible victory in battle.

He'd really just like to feel normal again. And he knows of others who feel the same.

"I was an artillery scout, these are folks who are in pretty good shape. Your Rangers, your
Special Forces guys, they're in as good as shape as a professional athlete.

"Then we come back and we're all sick."

They feel like men who once were warriors and now are old before their time, with no hope for
relief from a multitude of miseries that has no name.


The Star (Malaysia): Living dead of Rantau Abang
THE living dead – that is the acceptable way to describe the leatherback turtles in Rantau
Abang, Terengganu, for now.
In conservation terminology, a population that has dwindled to the point of being incapable of
regeneration is essentially living out its final years. This is characterised by continual
reproductive activities of the few remaining adult animals. Hence, the term the ―living dead‖.
The newest round of dispute over the state of the leatherback turtles arose from a United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) declaration that the beleaguered leatherback of
Terengganu was ―effectively extinct‖ which was met with an immediate rebuttal from the Turtle
and Marine Ecosystem Centre (Tumec) – the national agency mandated to save the turtle – that
the turtles were still laying eggs and technically not extinct yet.
To date, there have been five nestings by two leatherback turtles documented this season on the
beaches of Dungun, Terengganu. Their exact locations are being kept secret.
While agreeing that the population of leatherback turtles, which nest in a few beaches in the
world, is on the decline, Tumec director Kamaruddin Ibrahim insisted that it was not extinct but
merely critically-endangered.
―I follow the IUCN (World Conservation Union) definition. Critically-endangered is one
category before extinction,‖ he said.
It may be a case of semantics perhaps, but the fact remains that the majestic leatherback
nestings that spawned a turtle-watching tourism industry from the 1960s right up to the 1980s
will go down as a sad chapter in the nation‘s environmental history.
In Rantau Abang, the statistics reveal the tragic fact that nestings have dwindled from the
thousands in the 1960s to a meagre average of 30 per season since 2000; a drastic 90%
reduction in around two decades.
The eggs laid since 2001 did not produce any hatchlings because they were not fertilised by a
male turtle. Scientists predict that for every one thousand hatchlings produced, only one will
reach adulthood to sustain the population.
However, Kamaruddin and his staff in Tumec are not prepared to give up. This season, the team
has divided all five nests recovered so far into three clutches: two clutches are being incubated
in two separate hatcheries and one clutch is buried in the beach.
Turtle scientist Prof Dr Chan Eng Heng of the University College of Science and Technology
Malaysia (Kustem) cautioned that the effectiveness of captive-breeding and augmenting
projects that were implemented elsewhere is questionable. Many scientists have criticised such
projects as a waste of public funds.

El Universal (Mexico): Científicos investigan el deshielo en el Ártico

Julio Godoy*

La expedición, patrocinada por el PNUMA, tiene el propósito de identificar los efectos del
cambio climático y prever con más precisión sus consecuencias

PARÍS.- Durante los próximos dos años, un equipo de científicos a bordo de la goleta francesa
Tara navegarán por los hielos del océano Ártico para estudiar las consecuencias del cambio
climático en los hielos polares.
El Tara zarpó el 11 de julio del nororiental puerto francés de Lorient hacia el mar del Norte.
Tras escalas en Oslo y en la septentrional terminal rusa de Murmansk, el navío hizo su última
parada continental en el puerto siberiano de Tiksi, a unos mil 600 kilómetros del Polo Norte.
Su tripulación está compuesta por 15 expertos en ecología, fauna y flora ártica, marinos y
personal médico.
"Nuestro propósito es identificar lo más precisamente posible los cambios climáticos que
ocurren actualmente en los glaciares, la atmósfera y el océano en el Polo Norte, como
consecuencia del calentamiento de la atmósfera, para mejorar la capacidad científica de simular
cambios futuros", dijo a Tierramérica Etienne Burgeois, propietario del navío Tara y codirector
de la expedición en marcha.
"Nuestras investigaciones permitirán evaluar exactamente los diferentes impactos que el
deshielo en el océano Ártico tendrá sobre el ambiente del polo y, como consecuencia de ello, en
todo el hemisferio norte", añadió Burgeois.
La expedición, Arctic-Damocles, forma parte del cuarto Año Polar Internacional, que, bajo el
patrocinio del Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA), desde
marzo de 2007 coordinará estudios internacionales multidisciplinarios en oceanografía polar,
sociología, economía y ecología.
El año polar celebrará 125 años del primer acontecimiento de esa naturaleza, que tuvo lugar en
1882-1883 por iniciativa de Karl Weyprecht, marino y explorador austriaco .
La odisea del Tara hacia el océano Ártico también forma parte del programa europeo de
investigación polar Damocles, centrado en la investigación del deshielo en el Polo Norte.
Burgeois dijo a Tierramérica: "La observación vía satélite del Polo Norte ha permitido
establecer un deshielo del Ártico de entre 8 y 10% durante el verano en los últimos 30 años".
Observaciones hechas por submarinos de EU a fines de la década pasada sugieren una
disminución de 40% del espesor de los glaciares en el mismo periodo, añadió Burgeois.
"Estos cambios en el océano Ártico proporcionan una indicación precoz de las futuras
consecuencias climáticas y sociales del efecto invernadero", afirmó Burgeois.
Si el deshielo del océano Ártico continúa a este ritmo, en algunas décadas sus glaciares
desaparecerán durante el verano, provocando graves desórdenes climáticos y ambientales,
incluyendo un ascenso dramático del nivel del mar y la probable desaparición de miles de

Para estudiar estos fenómenos, el Tara está dotado del equipo electrónico más moderno
disponible, que permitirá recolectar y analizar pruebas de hielo, aire y agua durante los dos
próximos años. El navío, con una enorme plancha de vela hecha de aluminio, dispone de
turbinas de viento para generar energía limpia y puede almacenar hasta 200 toneladas de equipo,
material médico y alimentos.
Pese al deshielo del Polo Norte, en invierno el Ártico se congela. Esto hará que el Tara quede
atrapado por el hielo, debiendo seguir, por meses, las corrientes naturales de la región.
Durante los dos inviernos a pasar en el hielo, el navío se convertirá en una plataforma de
observación y de investigación sobre las degradaciones del ambiente Ártico. Será visitado
regularmente por científicos y equipo médico, y estará en contacto regular con los centros de
coordinación del PNUMA, Damocles y otros programas científicos europeos.
De acuerdo con Achim Steiner, director ejecutivo del PNUMA, "la expedición del Tara
permitirá comprender los cambios climáticos que ocurren en la región ártica y diseminar el
mensaje de que tales fenómenos en las regiones polares interesan a toda la raza humana".
El Tara, velero hecho para dejarse arrastrar por corrientes marinas, perteneció al legendario
marino neocelandés Robert Blake. Con el nombre Seamaster, sirvió a Blake, representante
especial de la ONU asesinado por piratas en diciembre de 2001 en una expedición en la
En 2003, tras la trágica muerte de Blake, Burgeois, apasionado marino de 45 años, adquirió el
buque para utilizarlo en expediciones científicas. Durante el verano austral de 2005, por
ejemplo, Burgeois pasó varias semanas en la Antártida, junto con el renombrado fotógrafo
brasileño Sebastião Salgado, en el Tara.
Esta vez, a Burgeois lo acompañan, entre otros, el marino y activista francés Bernard Buigues,
de 51 años -que organizó numerosas expediciones al Polo Norte y Siberia en casi dos décadas- y
Christian de Marliave, de 53 años, autor de varios libros sobre la ecología del océano Ártico y
de la Antártida, y considerado uno de los más importantes especialistas en las regiones polares.
El jefe de la expedición es el neozelandés Grant Redvers, doctor en Ciencias Ambientales de 33
años, quien, pese a su juventud, posee una larga experiencia en exploraciones marinas
científicas, tanto en su país de origen como en la Antártida, en la Patagonia y en Georgia del
Otros miembros de la tripulación científica del Tara son los ambientalistas marinos Hervé Le
Goff, de Damocles, Sergey Pisarev, del Instituto Ruso de Oceanología, y la periodista rusa
Svetlana Murashkina.


Le Monde: Est-il trop tard; pour les singes?
Catherine Vincent et Miles Hyman

Faut-il imaginer une " Déclaration des droits du singe " ? Ou les inscrire au Patrimoine mondial
de l'humanité ? Avec les derniers grands primates disparaîtrait la piste expliquant la naissance
de l'homme sauver Faut-il imaginer une " Déclaration des droits du singe " ? Ou les inscrire au
Patrimoine mondial de l'humanité ? Avec les derniers grands primates disparaîtrait la piste

expliquant la naissance de l'homme

Il est minuit moins une pour les grands singes " : la formule, attribuée à Klaus Toepfer,
directeur exécutif du Programme des Nations unies pour l'environnement (PNUE), est à peine
excessive. Le 9 septembre 2005, à Kinshasa (République démocratique du Congo), 24 pays
membres de l'ONU s'associaient pour faire une annonce dramatique et sans précédent : si rien
n'est tenté par la communauté internationale, d'ici à 2015, tous les grands singes anthropoïdes
auront disparu de la nature avant 2050.

Grand instigateur de ce cri d'alarme, le Grasp : Great Apes Survival Project, ou Projet pour la
survie des grands singes. Mise en oeuvre en 2001 par le PNUE et l'Unesco, cette instance s'est
donné pour mission " l'élaboration et l'application d'une stratégie mondiale pour la survie de
toutes les populations de grands singes dans leurs écosystèmes dynamiques, évolutifs et naturels
". Défi immédiat : " Ecarter la menace d'extinction imminente à laquelle doivent faire face la
plupart des populations. " Défi à long terme : " Conserver dans leurs habitats naturels les
populations sauvages viables (...), et veiller à ce que, lorsqu'il y a des interactions entre elles et
des populations humaines, ces interactions soient positives de part et d'autre et durables. "

Une grand-messe de plus, pleine de bonnes intentions et non suivie d'effets ? Il est trop tôt pour
le savoir. Mais les experts se mobilisent. En mai 2005 s'est ainsi tenu à Brazzaville (Congo) un
atelier de travail, réunissant les meilleurs d'entre eux au niveau mondial, afin de définir un plan
d'action régional pour la conservation des chimpanzés et des gorilles en Afrique centrale. Douze
sites prioritaires ont été identifiés, soit au total plus de 150 000 km2 dans lesquels pourraient
être protégés non seulement chimpanzés et gorilles, mais aussi toutes les autres espèces
partageant ces habitats.

Une priorité a été dégagée : améliorer les mesures de recensement des populations. Mais le nerf
de la guerre reste à trouver : au bas mot, 25 millions de dollars pour les seules actions urgentes
(inventaire, lutte contre le virus Ebola et le braconnage, sensibilisation et éducation des
villageois). En attendant, les grands singes continueront de voir leurs effectifs naturels
diminuer. Et les zoos, de plus en plus, deviendront leur ultime refuge.

Indispensables parcs zoologiques ! Autrefois prédateurs d'animaux, les voilà devenus
conservateurs. Dépositaires d'une mémoire vivante qui, un jour peut-être, permettra de repeupler
la planète. En Europe comme aux Etats-Unis, nombre d'entre eux ont déjà investi cette nouvelle
mission. Dans le cas d'une espèce ne subsistant dans la nature qu'en un seul endroit, comme les
bonobos ou les orangs-outans, ils permettent d'éviter le pire : les animaux en captivité étant
répartis dans plusieurs parcs, les catastrophes naturelles et les contaminations ne les atteindront
jamais tous en même temps. Et leurs locataires, lorsqu'il s'agit de bons établissements, ne sont
pas forcément plus malheureux que dans leur habitat naturel en cours de désintégration.

" Les zoos sont des lieux où les animaux ne rencontrent aucun problème majeur, hormis l'ennui
pour certaines espèces. Quand ils se reproduisent, leurs petits grandissent et grossissent,
surveillés quasiment 24 heures sur 24 par des soigneurs ", précise Pierre Gay, directeur des zoos
de Doué-la-Fontaine (Anjou) et des Sables-d'Olonne (Vendée). Des prisonniers " heureux " qui
sont là, aussi, pour dire aux visiteurs que leurs congénères en liberté sont menacés. Et pour
lesquels sont désormais mis en oeuvre des plans d'élevages internationaux qui permettent de
connaître les effectifs en captivité, de programmer les naissances et d'organiser régulièrement
des échanges, évitant la consanguinité.

En Europe, sous l'égide de l'EAZA (Association européenne des zoos et aquariums), plus de
150 espèces sont ainsi protégées et surveillées de près. Mais leur comportement n'en reste pas
toujours naturel pour autant. Et moins encore lorsqu'il s'agit d'espèces évoluées comme les
grands singes, que le contact répété avec l'homme ne peut laisser indifférents.

" L'histoire individuelle d'un animal en captivité n'est pas la même que dans son habitat naturel,
et elle peut se transmettre d'une génération à l'autre ", souligne la vétérinaire Marie-Claude
Bompsel. Professeur au Muséum national d'histoire naturelle, elle raconte la triste histoire de
Lingga, un bébé femelle orang-outan dont on va bientôt fêter, à la ménagerie du Jardin des
plantes de Paris, le premier anniversaire. Depuis qu'elle l'a mise au monde, sa mère, Wattana,
s'en désintéresse complètement, et ce sont les soigneurs de la ménagerie qui ont dû, jour après
jour, la toiletter et la nourrir.

Si Wattana, dont Lingga est le premier - et sans doute le dernier - enfant, se conduit en mère
dénaturée, c'est qu'elle a elle-même connu une enfance malheureuse. Orpheline dès son plus
jeune âge, elle a elle aussi été élevée " à la main ", et n'a pas bénéficié d'exemple familial pour
apprendre son métier de parent. Devenue grande, Lingga fera-t-elle mieux que sa mère ? "
Lorsque les grands singes sont élevés par les hommes, ils s'humanisent ", constate Marie-Claude
Bompsel, " et cela ne leur rend pas forcément service ".

Pour éviter ce risque, et pour que les zoos ne deviennent pas, d'ici quelques décennies, le seul
habitat dans lequel survivront nos cousins anthropoïdes, que faut-il espérer ? Sans doute une
autre façon de concevoir les rapports entre l'homme et les espèces dites " inférieures ". Une
réflexion plus approfondie sur les droits des animaux, dont plusieurs juristes et philosophes
s'accordent à penser qu'ils constitueront le prochain grand combat moral.

Des droits, mais lesquels ? Pour Peter Singer, les choses sont claires. Connu pour son
engagement extrême en faveur de la condition animale, ce philosophe australien est en effet à
l'initiative de la Déclaration sur les grands singes anthropoïdes (Great Apes Project), dont les
signataires réclament, pour ces " doubles troublants de nous-mêmes ", des droits s'apparentant
aux droits de l'homme.

Ce courant se réfère notamment au philosophe du XVIIIe siècle Jeremy Bentham, grande source
d'inspiration du mouvement en faveur des droits des animaux, qui écrivait en 1789, peu après
que les colonies françaises eurent accordé à leurs esclaves noirs des droits fondamentaux : " Le
jour viendra peut-être où le reste des animaux de la Création obtiendra ces droits. " Une
revendication que la philosophe française Elisabeth de Fontenay, qui n'a pas hésité à signer, en
2004, l'appel du Grasp pour sauver les grands singes, juge " contre-performante parce
qu'exorbitante ".

" D'abord, les droits de l'homme sont loin d'être un acquis, ils ne cessent d'être bafoués, et sans
que les démocraties occidentales s'en préoccupent effectivement ", souligne-t-elle. " Ensuite, il
ne faut pas être scientiste, et faire découler le droit des dernières avancées du savoir. Sur le plan
de la théorie, l'évolution fait de l'homme une espèce parmi les autres. Sur celui de la pratique
historique, l'homme n'est pas une espèce, mais un genre dont on a un jour et, en principe du
moins, à jamais, déclaré les droits. Il y a là une fondamentale différence de registre. "

Auteur d'un monumental ouvrage sur l'animal (Le Silence des bêtes, Ed. Fayard, 1998),
Elisabeth de Fontenay n'en prône pas moins " l'élaboration urgente et contraignante d'un droit
spécifique des grands singes : qu'on empêche leur massacre, qu'on réduise au minimum le

nombre de ceux que l'on soumet à l'expérimentation ". Un acquis qui pourrait ultérieurement
bénéficier à d'autres animaux, " dont on déterminerait, au cas par cas, les besoins et donc les
droits spécifiques ".

Parler de culture et de morale pour les grands singes, évoquer leurs droits : tout cela aurait fait
frémir nos penseurs cartésiens il y a seulement trente ans. L'Occident n'est pas le Japon, où
primate se dit o-saru-san : monsieur le singe. Mais l'éthologie s'est renforcée, les découvertes se
sont accumulées, les frontières se sont brouillées. Et les mentalités, insensiblement, se sont
modifiées. Un changement de sensibilité à laquelle les scientifiques eux-mêmes commencent à
consentir, devenant moins soucieux d'éviter l'anthropomorphisme. Plus permissifs face à ce qui
sépare, ou plutôt ne sépare pas, l'animalité de l'humanité.

Penser les grands singes comme des personnes ? Psychologue et philosophe à l'université de
Liège, Vinciane Despret s'interroge sur cette évolution, qui rend aujourd'hui la chose possible.
Elle remarque que chimpanzés, gorilles et orangs-outans, de plus en plus souvent portraitisés
par les photographes, y ont gagné un visage, un regard. Et elle fait le pari que les singes eux-
mêmes y sont pour quelque chose.

" Si les animaux ont réussi à mobiliser des chercheurs dans une aventure qui leur a conféré une
autre identité ", estime-t-elle, c'est qu'ils se sont activement engagés

dans la relation avec eux. Car " les animaux interrogés dans une relation chargée
émotionnellement n'ont pas du tout la même chose à dire que dans des recherches qui exigent de
bannir toute affectivité ". Or ce sont précisément ces relations émotionnelles qui ont été
longtemps et systématiquement reléguées " au statut d'anecdotes ou à l'anthropomorphisme de
ceux qui les interrogeaient ". Un changement de perspective qui ne concerne pas seulement les
grands singes, mais qui prend pour nos proches cousins une ampleur particulière. Avec l'aide
efficace des généticiens qui, plus que jamais, mettent en lumière notre proximité généalogique.

Survolons une dernière fois le grand arbre de l'évolution, où cinq espèces, l'homme mis à part,
se partagent le statut de " grands singes ". Les plus petits, les gibbons, sont aussi, au plan
génétique, les plus éloignés de nous. L'orang-outan prend ensuite la tangente, puis le gorille,
tandis que l'ancêtre commun du chimpanzé, du bonobo et de l'australopithèque poursuit sa
route. Quand les deux lignées (chimpanzé et bonobo d'un côté, australopithèque de l'autre) se
séparent à leur tour, elles garderont en commun onze chromosomes et la majeure partie de leurs
gènes, soit 99 % de leur bagage héréditaire. L'homme, on ne le rappellera jamais assez, ne
descend pas du singe : il est assis juste à côté de lui. Ce qui, au passage, envoie au panier ces
vieilles illustrations à caractère scientifique sur lesquelles le quadrumane, se redressant et
perdant progressivement ses poils, devenait l'homme préhistorique, puis l'homme moderne.

Question annexe : à quelle date s'est produite la divergence entre ce qui allait donner d'une part
le chimpanzé, d'autre part l'homme ? Il y a 7 à 6,5 millions d'années, répondaient jusqu'alors les
paléoanthropologues sur la foi des fossiles. Faux, rétorquent aujourd'hui les généticiens. Publiés
dans la revue Nature du 18 mai 2006 par une équipe du Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT), les résultats d'une analyse de grande ampleur menée sur le génome de l'homme, du
chimpanzé, du gorille, de l'orang-outan et du macaque rajeunissent en effet considérablement la
date de la séparation entre ces deux rameaux de l'évolution et la situent entre 6,3 et 5,4 millions

Plus stupéfiant encore, cette étude semble indiquer que ce processus de spéciation a été long et

complexe : après avoir divergé une première fois, les deux espèces anthropoïdes se sont sans
doute retrouvées et hybridées entre elles, avant que chacune, définitivement cette fois, ne
reprenne son chemin.

L e sang de notre ancêtre, mêlé à celui de l'ancêtre des grands singes actuels ? L'hypothèse
demande à être confirmée, et la génétique, si elle précise souvent les données de la
paléontologie, ne fournit pas toujours des datations fiables. Il n'empêche : à l'aube du troisième
millénaire, il nous faut bien admettre que l'homme et le chimpanzé ont une longue et intime
histoire commune. Quel contraste avec le XVIIe siècle, époque à laquelle les premiers
spécimens de singes anthropoïdes étaient ramenés en Europe pour y être étudiés ! Affirmer une
parenté entre eux et nous relevait alors de l'hérésie pure et simple. Pour s'y être risqué, le prêtre
et philosophe italien Giulio Cesare Vanini fut brûlé vif, à Toulouse, en 1619.

Voici donc la dernière frontière, celle de la spéciation, celle que l'on avait encore la prétention
de croire confortable, qui commence elle aussi à s'estomper ! On le sait désormais : avec moins
de 1 % de différences entre le chimpanzé, le bonobo et l'homme, ce n'est pas au niveau de la
génétique que se joue la spécificité humaine. Le propre de l'homme s'inscrit dans notre culture
et dans notre histoire, faite de noblesses et de hontes. Faudra-t-il, au rang de ces dernières,
endosser la responsabilité d'avoir laissé disparaître à jamais, et en toute conscience, nos frères
les singes ?

The Jamaica Observer: Linking sport with the environment
Paul Burrowes
International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Dr Pál Schmitt yesterday kicked off a two-day
regional seminar on sport and the environment at the Courtleigh Hotel, searching for ways to
develop sport in a cleaner, safer world.
Dr Schmitt, chairman of the IOC Commission for culture and Olympic education, spoke to
representatives from almost 20 countries in the region: "We have committed ourselves to ensure
that the Olympic movement and the world of sport conduct sport and leisure activities in a more
environmentally sustainable manner."
A Hungarian with an economics degree and a doctorate in philosophy and physical education,
Dr Schmitt said the IOC had taken "many steps to achieve many of our goals and this regional
seminar will allow us to analyse exactly what has been done and what can still be achieved
regionally and locally".
President of the World Olympians Association and Hungarian ambassador to Switzerland, Dr
Schmitt said the seminar would "awake the sports community to the needs of protecting the
environment, provide basic guidelines as to how to address environment issues. and encourage
cooperation for the medium- and long-term development of self-sustained environmental
programmes in each national Olympic committee".
According to Dr Schmitt, who speaks five languages, including German, French and Spanish,
the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), regional national environment agencies,
local authorities and public utilities representatives, non-government organisations and other
related sectors have had inputs in the sport and environment regional seminars.

He said the seminar provided a unique opportunity for key stakeholders of the world of sport
and environment protection "to discuss what priorities are to be addressed, to enable an
environment of sound development of sport for a better, cleaner, and safer world".
In the wake of regional seminars in Torino, Italy, three years ago, and Nairobi, Kenya, last year,
Dr Schmitt said the seminar would provide the forum for exchanging views "on what has been
done so far in sport and environment", as the processing of clean water, the sourcing of energy
or other national resources have a "crucial impact on society and can create tension between
Meanwhile, governor general, Professor Kenneth Hall, who also spoke at the launch of the
seminar yesterday, has called for both sport and environment to be used to promote
Professor Hall, who holds a doctor of philosophy degree in History from Queens University in
Ontario, Canada, noted that "sport and sporting activities would be meaningless in a decaying
"The environment is important to us because we simply do not have the luxury of large land
masses as some other countries do. in our case most of the areas have already been populated.
There is no hinterland for us to go, the only way we can go is out," said Hall, who was Pro
Vice-Chancellor and principal of the University of the West Indies before becoming governor-
"A relationship with the environment provides us with living, a kind of living that, given our
vulnerability in so many areas and our limited resources, we have to depend on the environment
as the lifeblood of these countries and that is through tourism and so on.
"But it is the idea of sport creating an awareness of the environment that I find fascinating," said
the governor- general, because sport was one of those activities that dominate Jamaica and the
Caribbean life publicly and privately.
He cited as an example the World Cup Cricket 2007 where Jamaica and the Caribbean would
have to "organise", "provide the right environment", "provide the right kind of facilities in the
right environment", "make provisions for an invasion or welcoming outside delegates all of
which will place significant constraints on the environment, on our facilities and that this now
has to be coordinated", he explained.
Topics at the seminar include: Sport and Sustainable Development; National Olympic
Committees acting for Sport and Environment; a film about Sport and Nature; IOC Guide to
Sport, Environment and Sustainable Development; and the Framework for Environmental
Management in Jamaica.
Countries represented, apart from host Jamaica, are: Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas,
Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, The Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana,
Haiti, Netherland Antilles, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad &
Tobago, and the United States of America.

Berliner Zeitung: Der Teufel ist aus Kohlenstoff
Josef Reichholf

Tim Flannery beschreibt die Katastrophe der Klimaerwärmung und sucht das Heil in der
Was es für das Leben auf der Erde bedeutet, wenn wir so weiter machen, erläutert uns der
Australier Tim Flannery wortgewaltig auf 350 Seiten. "Faktisch war das Jahr 1986 das Jahr, in
dem die Menschheit die Tragkapazität der Erde erreicht hatte, und seitdem leben wir vom
ökologischen Äquivalent eines Negativhaushalts, der nur deswegen noch funktioniert, weil wir
unsere Kapitalbasis plündern."- "Im Jahr 1961 gab es noch Spielraum. In jener scheinbar fernen
Zeit gab es nur drei Milliarden Menschen, und sie verbrauchten nur die Hälfte der
Gesamtressourcen, die unser globales Ökosystem nachhaltig zur Verfügung stellen konnte."
Und: "Seit dem Beginn der Industriellen Revolution ist es auf unserem Planeten zu einer
globalen Erwärmung um 0,63 Grad Celsius gekommen."
Ein Dreiviertelgrad spürt natürlich niemand. Doch Gaia, das von Tim Flannery hoch geschätzte
Super-Lebewesen Erde, wird sich dies nicht bieten lassen. Flannery nennt den Teufel beim
Namen. Er ist schwarz und wir bestehen, abgesehen vom Wasser, zum größten Teil aus ihm.
Der Teufel ist der Kohlenstoff. Er wird die strahlend blaue Gaia schwarz einfärben. An ihm
wird die Erde zugrunde gehen.
Dabei hatte ihn Gaia schon seit vielen Millionen Jahren gut im Griff - im Kalkstein gebunden,
in riesigen Kohlelagern, in Erdöl und Erdgas gespeichert - und ihn über die Lebewesen in einen
ordentlichen Kreislauf gezwungen. Nur zu einem Drittel eines Promilles darf er als
Kohlendioxid in der Luft vorkommen. Dass alle grünen Pflanzen dieses Gas zum Leben
brauchen wie wir den Sauerstoff, wird von Flannery allerdings geflissentlich übergangen. Das
würde seine Argumentation stören, zumindest aber verkomplizieren. Denn als Oberteufel der
Treibhausgase muss der Kohlenstoff stets anklagbar sein.
Dabei ist die Sachlage längst klar: Die Menschheit verbrennt mehr Kohlenstoff, als die Pflanzen
in Form von Kohlendioxid wieder aufnehmen und in Biomasse umwandeln können. Und weil
die Menschheit wächst, weil immer mehr Energie benötigt wird, geht die Schere immer weiter
auseinander. Das hätte sich in wenigen Seiten darlegen lassen. Flannery braucht aber zehnmal
mehr, um das Bekannte weiter zu beweisen. Erst die letzten rund 100 Seiten werden
aufschlussreich, bis dahin wirken die weit verstreuten biologischen Details, über die sich
trefflich streiten ließe oder die einfach so nicht stimmen, eher zermürbend, und worauf Flannery
hinaus will, schimmert mehr durch, als dass es klar formuliert wurde.
Zwar tut die massive Anklage der USA und seines heimatlichen Australiens zunächst richtig
gut. Aber sie zeigt auch, dass unser bisheriges Vorgehen zur Rettung des Klimas nutzlos bleiben
wird. Während der Energieverbrauch in Europa deutlich zurückgeht, steigt er in den vom Kioto-
Protokoll freigestellten, riesigen Volkswirtschaften von China, Indien, Brasilien und anderen
Schwellenländern massiv. Chinas Zuwachs eines Jahres überstieg die gesamte Einsparung
Deutschlands der letzten 15 Jahre.
Die eigentlichen Entwicklungsländer hüllt Flannery in Watte. Dabei hatte das
Umweltprogramm der Vereinten Nationen (UNEP) schon zu Beginn der 1990er Jahre darauf
hingewiesen, dass durch das Abbrennen von Wäldern und Savannen in den Tropen und
Subtropen jährlich mit rund 500 Millionen Tonnen Steinkohleeinheiten (SKE) mehr Energie
ungenutzt in die Atmosphäre gejagt wird als Deutschland insgesamt verbraucht (420 Mio.
Tonnen SKE). Hunderttausende von Quadratkilometern Tropenwald wurden in den letzten drei
Jahrzehnten niedergemacht und in Viehweiden oder Sojafelder umgewandelt - zum Export von
Futtermitteln für Stallvieh. Methan stieg deswegen als Treibhausgas doppelt so stark wie
Kohlendioxid an. Rinder und Schafe setzen es frei und auch die Termiten, die sich auf dem

tropischen und subtropischen Weideland in Massen ausbreiten. Doch der "arme Süden" ist gut,
der "reiche Norden" aber der große Böse, der für seine Sünden büßen muss. Das ist bekanntlich
die "politisch korrekte" Sicht. Richtig ist sie deshalb nicht, denn für ordentliche Bilanzen
werden alle wesentlichen Größen benötigt. So wird das, was Deutschland nicht mehr produziert
(und damit Energie spart), in China mit Kohleverbrennung erzeugt. Dafür dürfen hier die
Millionen Arbeitslosen ihr Kohlendioxid ausatmen.
Flannery behandelt viel Richtiges und Umstrittenes, wie die Windkraft oder die Kraft-Wärme-
Kopplung. Völlig unabhängig vom Weltklima ist klar, dass wir vom Öl zu abhängig sind. Ob
deswegen die Kohle mit verdammt werden soll, sehen die Australier als Hauptexporteure dieses
"Teufelszeugs" mehrheitlich anders. Vielleicht sollten wir in Deutschland mit unseren riesigen
Kohlevorräten auch bedenken, dass sie Reserven sind, die wir haben und mit denen wir sinnvoll
umgehen können.
Schließlich zieht Flannery seinen Trumpf - vorsichtig, denn Vorsicht ist im Jahr 2006, zwei
Jahrzehnte nach Tschernobyl, geboten. Sein Trumpf ist die Kernenergie. Beiläufig erfahren wir
von ihm: "China will in den nächsten 20 Jahren zwei neue Atomreaktoren pro Jahr in Auftrag
geben, was in globaler Hinsicht höchst wünschenswert ist, denn 80 Prozent des chinesischen
Stroms werden momentan aus Kohle erzeugt. In Indien, Russland, Japan und Kanada sind
ebenfalls Reaktoren in Bau, Genehmigungen für 37 weitere liegen in Brasilien, im Iran, in
Indien, Pakistan, Südkorea, Finnland und Japan vor." Und wer hat das Uran? Australien!
Flannery darf wohl trotz der Schelte, die er seinen Landsleuten erteilt, wieder heimreisen.

The Gulf Daily News (Bahrain): Role of UN in spotlight
THE role of the United Nations in ending Israeli aggression against Lebanon was highlighted
yesterday at a meeting with the Press as part of relationship and confidence building measures.
The meeting, held at the UN House in Hoora, also covered mechanisms within the UN to
prevent such crises and the role of its organisations in the political, social and humanitarian
The UN currently has four main operations in Bahrain - the UN Development Programme
(UNDP), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Industrial Development Organisation
(UNIDO) and the UN Information Centre (UNIC).
Other UN funds, agencies and organisations are represented by the UN resident co-ordinator
Sayed Aqa.
UN representatives gave a brief introduction on the UN, including the way it works, its local
and global bodies.
The meeting was held as part of a new programme of participation initiated by the UN in
Bahrain earlier this year.


Le Monde Diplomatique: Fair trade and fair tourism
By Anne Vigna

Ecotourism was supposed to be the alternative to concreting the coasts, building theme parks
and otherwise exploiting the Central American environment to profit the rich and service
tourists. But has it actually delivered any benefits to the rest of the local population?
El Mirador, buried deep in the tropical forests of northern Guatemala and known only to local
communities and a few archaeologists, is believed by some specialists to be the cradle of Mayan
civilisation. It consists of 26 settlements dating from the pre-classical period, 1,000-1,800 years
older than such other major Mayan sites as Palenque, Copan or Tikal. It has the tallest pyramids
ever built in Central America, 147 metres high. The site lies within the Maya Biosphere Reserve
(MBR), the largest protected area in Central America.
An archaeologist from the United States, Richard Hansen, realised that it could be a gold mine:
―We have here a unique combination of tropical forest and archaeological sites of inestimable
importance, which adds up to an enormous potential for tourism for Guatemala.‖ He proposed
the development of a tourist complex that would bring in enough money to restore the site, stop
archaeological looting and preserve natural resources, and the El Mirador project was born.
Described as ecotourism, it won the support of the Guatemalan president, Oscar Berger, and a
long list of institutions, all insisting their only interest was in the preservation of the reserve (1).
But the expected arrival of 120,000 tourists a year in this protected area has divided
communities that were previously united. It means privatising part of Guatemala‘s heritage in
the name of ill-defined scientific objectives and vague ideas of development through
The press began to promote El Mirador as a boon for the Guatemalan economy and a step
towards saving the planet, before any details about the project, or any assessment of its
environmental impact, had been published. Questions as basic as how to get water to the site
remained unanswered; archaeological teams currently have water flown in by helicopter, but
what would happened if the hoped-for number of tourists arrived? Hansen has not answered
questions about practicalities. He is insistent that action be taken to exploit the area: ―The
wealth of the MBR must be preserved. Local communities are responsible for its deterioration.‖
The local community that Hansen so harshly dismisses is a member of Acofop (the Association
of Forest Communities in Petén), which won a prize at the 2002 Earth Summit in Johannesburg
for managing 500,000 hectares of the MBR according to all the sustainability criteria of the
Forest Stewardship Council (2). ―There is no way Acofop can be held responsible for the
deforestation of the MBR,‖ said Ileana Valenzuela of Petén Actions and Propositions. ―Mr
Hansen knows full well that the forest is being destroyed by oil companies, private logging and
drug smuggling. Now tourism is going to mean a whole lot more movement and activity in one
of the areas of the reserve that, thanks to Acofop, is still intact.‖
The El Mirador project has had to present revised, greener plans because there were outraged
reactions to its original proposals. Where there were to be roads and an airport, there will now
be a railway and a helicopter pad. There is every chance that tourist buses and forestry trucks
will eventually reach the area, since the Mundo Maya organisation plans to build tourist routes
in the region. Mundo Maya is part of the Puebla-Panama plan to create infrastructure for
economic development from Puebla state in Mexico to Panama (3). It brings together the Inter-
American Development Bank and the tourism ministries of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras,
Salvador and Belize, with a mandate to develop green tourism that will benefit local
populations. Just how green and beneficial its projects are is open to question.

Its current priority is to ―facilitate tourists‘ movements between Mayan sites and create the
necessary infrastructure for tourism‖. It wants to build roads between Palenque and Tulum in
Mexico, Tikal in Guatemala and Copan in Honduras. These would cross an unspoilt part of the
MBR, close to El Mirador. This does not accord with the 2002 Galapagos Declaration‘s pledges
to ―promote the development of sustainable tourism for the benefit of local communities while
fully respecting the environment‖ (4).
                                          Nature sells
Central America has realised that nature sells. With the notable exception of Costa Rica, which
has a proper conservation policy, the region is doing its best to sell nature as hard as possible.
The word ―ecotourism‖ all too often means only that nature is part of the attraction and does not
necessarily mean that local people have been involved in planning and running projects, nor that
measures have been taken to reduce environmental impact. The formula is the same as it has
always been: private investors seek out virgin places to develop and countries provide the raw
materials. Every government dreams of developing a great tourism project in its time in office.
In Mexico, where 142 projects out of a planned 260 are steadily concreting over the coastline to
increase the country‘s beach supply, former president Vicente Fox backed a disastrous project
as soon as he took office in 2001. The plan is to exploit the ―world‘s last aquarium‖ in Baja
California, an area of unique marine diversity which is the breeding ground for the grey whale
and the whale shark. Around the 244 islands in the Gulf of California live 891 species of fish,
695 species of aquatic plants, nearly 40% of the world‘s marine mammals and a third of all
cetaceans. The area is highly sensitive to chemical pollution and noise pollution. Yet the Mar de
Cortès project intends to attract US yachts, building 24 marinas with a capacity of 50,000
private vessels. It hopes to attract 5 million tourists by 2014.
Private investors in the area are unrestricted. One venture, Paraiso del Mar (part of the Mar de
Cortès scheme), began without carrying out a proper environmental impact study and without
the requisite permits. It covers 500 hectares and includes 1,500 villas, 2,000 hotel rooms, two
golf courses, a shopping mall, an amusement park and two private hospitals. The total
investment is estimated at $900m. The islands have supposedly been under the protection of the
Mexican state since 1978, but recent investment activity there (building roads without
authorisation, destroying mangroves) prompted Unesco to intervene and designate the area as a
world heritage site. Neither Narciso Agundez, the state governor, nor Victor Castro Cosio,
mayor of the city of La Paz on the Baja California peninsula, attended the official designation
ceremony on 23 August 2005. Both had been present at the inauguration of Paraiso del Mar.
The designation has little more than symbolic value. ―Unesco cannot regulate anything in the
face of tourism,‖ said Gonzalo Haffter, a consultant for the organisation. He explained that it
can only intervene if a sovereign government asks it to do so. However, a network of local
associations, Ciudadanos Preocupados AC, has filed lawsuits against the private developments,
citing ―impact studies that fail to take into account the whales and the mangroves‖. According
to the network: ―The social context has been ignored and local development is bottom of their
list of priorities.‖
                                    The coyotes of tourism
Honduras is also planning ecotourism along a beautiful stretch of Caribbean coastline on the
edge of the Jeanette Kawas national park. Since 1880 the area has been home to the Garifunas,
an ethnic group of mixed Amerindian and African descent. Honduras has already sold its
islands to North Americans for diving (on Roatán you speak English and pay in dollars) and its
farmland to the US firm United Fruit, known as Chiquita Brands Company since 1990, for

pineapple production. Now the government in Tegucigalpa has turned its attention to this
coconut-fringed coastline.
In the name of ―national interest‖, the Honduras tourism institute seized 300 acres of coast
without compensating the Garifunas. In 2004 it sold the strip for $19m to a private company
formed to develop the area into the Micos beach and golf resort. The name is offensive: ―Micos
means monkey in our language, but there have never been any monkeys around here,‖ said Alex
Podilla, who heads an organisation to promote Garifuna culture. ―So we Garifunas are supposed
to be their monkeys on the beach.‖ Besides the golf course, marina and conference centre, the
main attraction will be the national park, where the promoters claim ― a number of activities‖
will be on offer, without further details. They add: ―Garifuna music and dance have a lot of
appeal.‖ There are suspicions that the promoters may be selling sex: table dancing is the
mainstay of sex tourism in Central America.
In all these projects - El Mirador, Mar de Cortès and Micos Beach - nature is being exploited
and sold, just as the magnificent bay of Acapulco was 40 years ago. The methods have hardly
changed: authorities are corrupted, information kept secret, derisory sums (if any) are paid for
land, and social and ecological consequences are systematically ignored. The people employing
those methods have barely changed: promoters and investors, known as the ―coyotes of
tourism‖ for their determination to pay so little for land, now prowl for the last surviving gems.
This is a long way from the ethical commitments made in the Quebec Declaration in May 2002
by the World Tourism Organisation and nation-states, and even further from what eco-tourism
ought to mean. ―Ecotourism‖ is too often used to suggest that conservation objectives will be
reached more quickly by fast privatisation than they could be with normal tourism development
practices. Some projects include environmental improvements, but demand guarantees on land
ownership that squeeze out local people.
Local communities lose their livelihoods through the loss of their land, fishing rights or source
of water. Federal areas such as beaches, riverbanks and forests end up in private hands. These
projects reserve the last whales, the last ceibas (the ceiba tree is a symbol of the Mayan world
view and of Guatemala) or the Garifunas lagoon for the rich, who have contributed the most to
their destruction. People now expect to have to pay big money for the experience of little
enclaves of nature as it once was.
                                   Projects designed to help
Surprisingly, there has not been much protest about misleading applications of the term
ecotourism. It still has a good image and is expanding. Some international development
agencies view it as a panacea. In Central America, many UN agencies (5) and funding
bodies (6) have projects in the pipeline genuinely designed to help local people. Most are geared
towards communities or indigenous groups living in environments that are protected by national
or international legislation, such as Unesco‘s biosphere reserves or the Mesoamerican biological
corridor. The organisations say that this policy helps to create a local economy, to promote
professional training and to raise awareness among local people of the wealth of their own
natural and cultural surroundings. This seems a near perfect recipe for maximising an area‘s
heritage without destroying it.
In the 1990s even such organisations as the IDB or the NGO Conservation International
(criticised for some policies they promoted in the region) funded small tourism ventures that
were totally community-run and allowed local people genuinely to preserve the area with
tourism revenues.

For Diego Masera, head of American tourism at the UN Environment Programme: ―The
participation of the community is the driving force of the conservation process and no tourism
initiative should be carried out without the population.‖ Governments often see things the other
way. When a project is devised and run by local people, they tend to grow more aware of the
value of their natural resources and become better organised. So they are less easy to con into
selling their land at knock-down prices or allowing their nearest spring or waterfall to be
In Chiapas state, in Mexico, the federal and regional authorities have promoted ecotourism
ventures that do not follow the communitarian model, but are based around private, family-run
facilities. The local government promotes ecotourism as ―the solution to Chiapas‘s economic
problems‖, but has lately funded some of the worst ecotourism projects in Mexico. According to
Maxime Kieffer, a tourism consultant who has been investigating the situation: ―Local residents
were not consulted during the preparatory phases; they were presented with the business and the
concrete bungalows all ready-made, with no measures taken to limit pollution. The managers
are not trained, there is no collective management, no local development project, not even any
thought about how to dispose of the rubbish.‖
More worrying are the methods used when communities refuse to accept a development on their
land. In the Roberto Barrios autonomous Zapatista community, the local council reported
several incidents of intimidation by public officials and private investors to try to persuade
people to allow an ecotourism development near their waterfalls.
The European Union funded projects in Chiapas via its Prodesis programme. With the state
government of Pablo Salazar as a partner, the EU supports tourist developments that do not help
improve the environment and often run directly counter to the fundamental principles of eco-
tourism. In the Lacandon community of Lacanjà Chansayab, each family runs a private
business, with no collaboration (7). They admit that they only wear their traditional clothes
because trainers sent by the tourism ministry insisted that tourists would prefer to see them so
                                Kingdom of nature and peace
To read the promotional leaflets, Chiapas is a kingdom of nature and peace. The green of
ecotourism is expected to obscure the uniforms of the soldiers who have not left the state since
1994, when the Zapatista uprising began. The Chiapas marketing is clever and may well
succeed. Employees at the tourism ministry‘s local office in Tuxtla Gutierrez freely admit that
many developments do not respect the principles of ecotourism, but that the government has
decided to use the label in all its promotional literature.
France effectively approved this false image by co-chairing the second international forum on
fair tourism in Chiapas in March 2006. Salazar greeted Fox of Baja California as ―the great
founder of fair tourism‖. Jean-Louis Dieux, governor of France‘s Provence-Alpes-Côte d‘Azur
region, praised Chiapas‘s tourist initiatives, calling the state a pioneer and a future model for
fair tourism. The state government‘s vision was far from being shared by all the participants in
the forum. As the meeting‘s organisers lapped up the accolades, delegates from Africa and Asia
presented them with an open letter complaining that they ―had not spoken to any local people‖
when visiting potential tourist areas.
Civil society groups and academics have realised that it is vital to save ecotourism‘s name, so
that the term retains meaning. At the forum and elsewhere, many insisted on the need to
maintain it as a standard, since until recently it has been seen as the most effective way of
making tourism fair and helpful instead of unjust and destructive.

A fair tourism label should guarantee that the initiative is helping to preserve rather than spoil
the area, that it is being run by local people, and that a percentage of its profits is being
reinvested in public services. In France, members of the Association for Equitable and Just
Tourism have asked Fair Trade Labelling Organisations International (FLO) (8), which
certificates fair trade produce, to certify travel agents. At present commercial agents may bandy
terms like ―responsible tourism‖ for good publicity, but most have little more than a basic code
of conduct.
However, certification is onerous and costly. ―The certification costs price small operators out,‖
said Ernest Cañada of the Spanish NGO, Action for Responsible Tourism. In Mexico, it costs
around $2,500 a year for a coffee company to be officially certified as fair trade. Cañada said
that ―when it labels coffee made by multinationals like Nestlé, McDonald‘s or Carrefour as fair
trade, FLO is going down a different route. As far as we are concerned, it makes no sense to
start approving ecotourism projects that hotel chains have in the pipeline if those companies
continue to violate workers‘ rights in their other activities.‖
If labelling ecotourism ventures is not to fall into the same trap as fair trade consumer goods,
the cost of certification must not be borne by the venture. Otherwise, smaller businesses, which
constitute the majority of genuine ecotourism ventures, will not be able to afford it. More
importantly, no certificate that guarantees that a tourist development is fairly, sustainably and
responsibly run should be available to major tour companies whose activities, taken as a whole,
are exploitative and harmful.
With or without certification, ecotourism must stop deceiving tourists. It is not an all-purpose
solution that will work anywhere: you cannot protect the peoples who live near sites of
archaeological interest or in tropical forests by turning them all into tour guides. The state
government of Chiapas is playing a dangerous game by expecting so much, so quickly, from
such poorly defined ecotourism. Fair trade has not resolved the crisis in local coffee markets
and nominal ecotourism won‘t eradicate poverty either.

                                   Other Environment News

Libération: Marée noire sur les côtes libanaises
Par Isabelle DELLERBA
14 août 2006
Des réservoirs de pétrole bombardés se déversent dans la mer.
Postés sur des rochers, en contrebas de la corniche qui borde le littoral beyrouthin, des pêcheurs,
les pieds dans l'eau, attendent patiemment que des poissons viennent mordre à l'hameçon. Au
même moment, dans le centre ville de la capitale, le ministère de l'Environnement livre les
dernières données sur la marée noire polluant Beyrouth ainsi que 150 km de côtes libanaises et
syriennes : «Type de pétrole : carburant lourd contenant des substances comme le benzène,
classé comme cancérogène de classe 1. Risques pour la santé : problèmes dermatologiques,
endocriniens, de respiration, pertes immunologiques et cancers. Quantité de carburant écoulé
dans la Méditerranée : 10 000 à 15 000 tonnes minimum. Origines de la pollution : le
bombardement par l'aviation israélienne des réservoirs de la centrale électrique de Jiyé, à 30
km au sud de Beyrouth, le 13 juillet 2006.»
«C'est l'un des plus grands drames environnementaux que le Liban et la région aient vécu dans
l'histoire», dit Yacoub Sarraf, ministre de l'Environnement. «Il s'avère que la quantité de
pétrole déversée est comparable à celle du naufrage de l' Erika en France en 1999. Mais, pour
l' Erika , des mesures avaient été prises immédiatement, alors qu'ici la situation ne permet pas
que nous commencions le travail de nettoyage maritime.» Selon Peter Uragh, l'un des trois
experts envoyés cette semaine à Beyrouth par la Commission européenne : «La pollution est
sévère mais elle peut être contenue. Le seul problème, c'est le manque d'équipement. Tant que
nous n'aurons pas le matériel nécessaire pour intervenir, la marée noire continuera à se
propager sur le littoral méditerranéen.»
Pourtant, des pays, comme le Koweït, ont déjà offert d'apporter une assistance technique. Mais
ils n'ont pu, jusqu'à présent, envoyer que deux camions, chargés de tapis absorbants et autres
dispersants chimiques le Liban étant soumis à un blocus maritime, aérien et terrestre quasi-
total, l'acheminement de toute aide est extrêmement compliqué , et ce matériel dort aujourd'hui
dans des hangars. L'accès aux zones polluées est tout simplement trop dangereux.


Environment News Service: Lebanon Running Out of Fuel, Food, Water, Aid Agencies
The UN World Food Programme appealed again today for a halt to the month-long hostilities
by both Israel and Hezbollah to allow the delivery of urgently needed relief assistance. Food,
fresh water and fuel are running perilously low in Lebanon.
"Our aid operation is like a patient starved of oxygen – facing paralysis, verging on death – if
we can‘t open up our vital supply lines to help an estimated 100,000 people stranded south of
the Litani river," said Zlatan Milisic, World Food Programme, WFP, emergency coordinator in
"We are all the more worried, because we have been given to understand that there is no point
in WFP even applying for concurrence to go to Tyre, one of the areas of highest concern,"
Milisic said.

"While we have succeeded in reaching over 150,000 people in Lebanon as a whole, this week
we have been unable to send any aid convoys south of Sidon," said Milisic.
Stressing that Israeli civilians and ordinary Lebanese are the "biggest losers" in the conflict, the
UN's top emergency official called it a "disgrace" that Hezbollah and Israel are preventing
humanitarian supplies from getting through to more than 100,000 people in the devastated south
of the country.
Speaking in Geneva, Jan Egeland said there are over 200,000 people throughout Lebanon who
humanitarian workers have been unable to reach because of the escalating violence. "Civilians
were supposed to be spared and in this conflict they are not," he said.
"We have not had any access for several days to the besieged population of southern Lebanon.
It is a disgrace really, because the parties to the conflict, the Hezbollah and the Israelis, could
give us access in a heartbeat and then we could help 120,000 people in southern Lebanon," he
told a press conference Thursday.
Egeland said the lack of fuel is the single most worrisome humanitarian crisis at the moment.
Four hospitals in the south have already run out of fuel, and the nation‘s electric grid will stop
working if no more supplies came in, he warned.
Describing the fuel shortages in Lebanon as "becoming dramatic and threatening to paralyze all
lifeline systems," the UN World Health Organization, WHO, is supporting the national
authorities and working with other agencies to provide safe drinking water, vaccines and other
essentials to the rapidly increasing number of displaced people.
WHO has purchased enough fuel to meet the needs of hospitals in the south for 10 days, and is
ready to deliver it but still the security situation makes delivery extremely difficult.
WHO continues to urge all sides to allow safe passage of humanitarian relief, including fuel.
Without it, hospitals will not be able to perform life-saving operations, keep vaccines cold, or
run incubators for newborns. Hospitals report that diminishing fuel supplies are a major
concern, and that oxygen and food for patients and staff are in short supply.
In an effort to prevent disease outbreaks, displaced children who fled to Beirut are receiving
vaccines. The Lebanese Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, along with the WHO and
UNICEF, launched a measles and polio vaccination campaign Wednesday in Sanayeh Park,
which is home to some 1,000 people who have been displaced by the fighting in southern
Lebanon and the southern suburbs of Beirut.
The campaign targets children living in areas such as the park, as well as those living in schools
and institutions. More than 150 vaccination teams from local NGOs and the Lebanese Red
Cross will canvas the city this week.
"With thousands of children displaced by the fighting and living in cramped and crowded
conditions, the risk of an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease such as measles is greatly
increased." says WHO Representative for Lebanon Dr. Jaouad Mahjour.
The health agencies hope to reach 100,000 children across the country in the coming weeks.
More than 900,000 Lebanese have been forced to flee their homes because of the fighting and
the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Wednesday that 500,000 are
sheltering in and around Beirut "moving from one part of the city to another as the bombing

Few people remain in southern Lebanese villages and many of those who initially moved to
southern cities have now fled further north to escape the fighting.
A combination of 70 bridges destroyed and the denial of "concurrence on safety" by the Israeli
Defense Force for aid convoys is crippling WFP‘s efforts, on behalf of the entire humanitarian
community, to organize overland transport of relief items, including food for the one-quarter of
the Lebanese population displaced from their homes.
Despite the enormous difficulties, UN humanitarian agencies continue to do what they can. A
spokesman in New York said 15 trucks carrying relief items traveled from Beirut to the town of
Baalbek Thursday, but he confirmed that another convoy was unable to go to Nabitiyeh in the
south after failing to get clearance from the Israeli Defense Forces.
Egelund said the increased killings of aid workers worldwide and lack of humanitarian access to
vulnerable people, especially in conflict areas like Lebanon, Darfur and Sri Lanka, have made
the past month one of the "worst ever."
Highlighting the deaths of aid workers in Lebanon, Egelund said it is one of the worst places in
the world in terms of getting aid to those most in need.
Despite the immense challenges, the World Food Programme has succeeded in bringing some
aid to Beirut by air. A Portuguese Air Force C-130 Hercules, flew four rotations for WFP from
the UN Humanitarian Depot in Brindisi to Beirut airport last weekend, and this week, a French
military C-160 aircraft has begun flights from Cyprus carrying emergency assistance on behalf
of WFP.
Two ships are also expected in Beirut port over the coming days with food and other supplies. A
WFP-chartered Greek vessel, the Anamcara, will dock in Larnaca on Saturday with a cargo of
WFP high energy biscuits and supplies for World Vision and Caritas.
Another ship, the Kazim Genic, is sailing from Mersin, Turkey, and carrying 2,750 metric tons
of wheat flour, pasta and pulses. Both are due in Beirut over the weekend.
Thomas Keusters, WFP Head of Logistics in Lebanon, said, "We need to open as many supply
routes into the country as possible in order to widen our options."
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is working "very intensely" with Security Council members
and key leaders to push for a resolution to the conflict.
A spokesman for Annan issued a statement in New York Thursday saying the diplomacy is
taking place "both here and in capitals."
In the statement, Annan repeated his long-standing call for an end to hostilities, saying, "The
fighting must stop to save civilians on both sides from the nightmare they have endured for the
past four weeks."
Libération: Oléoducs caducs
Par Damien DUBUC
12 août 2006
Plutôt que d'investir dans l'entretien des pipelines, les compagnies laissent se multiplier les
fuites de brut.
Impossible d'échapper au télescopage des chiffres. British Petroleum (BP) a engrangé 12,9
milliards de dollars de bénéfices au premier semestre 2006 ; en mars, 1 million de litres de brut

se déversaient par une faille de l'oléoduc de Prudhoe Bay, en Alaska, mal entretenu. Une
nouvelle fuite, plus petite, a conduit la compagnie pétrolière à interrompre sa production
dimanche dernier (celle de la partie occidentale du champ est encore autorisée). Rien de bien
nouveau sous le soleil et la neige d'Alaska. Dès 1999, des employés locaux de BP soulignaient
(dans un courrier que s'est procuré l'AFP) que «les réductions d'effectifs alors en cours auraient
des conséquences en matière de sécurité». Explorer les canalisations grâce à des robots coûte
cher jusqu'à 6 000 dollars le kilomètre , et les pertes financières dues aux fuites ne pèsent pas
suffisamment pour justifier, aux yeux des compagnies, des travaux de maintenance
Poreux. Consultant pétrolier, Stéphane Sainson écrit actuellement un ouvrage sur l'auscultation
des pipelines. Il se souvient avoir vu un oléoduc poreux en Corée et ne s'étonne pas outre
mesure des fuites. «Chez les exploitants, c'est un peu la jungle, ils vont au meilleur
prix», assure-t-il avant de préciser : «Bien sûr, les compagnies ont une épée de Damoclès au-
dessus de la tête parce que remplacer des portions de pipe coûte des millions. Sur les petits
champs de production, ceux dont l'exploitation ne sera pas longue, les investissements ont été
faibles, et, pour les grands champs, ce sont des problèmes de maintenance quand le réseau
vieillit.» Plus prudent, Jean-François Gruson, directeur adjoint des études économiques de
l'Institut français du pétrole (IFP), explique que «les pétroliers recherchent un bon rapport
qualité-prix». En clair, leurs dépenses permettent de limiter la casse, pas de tendre vers le
«risque zéro».
Morts. Résultat : depuis 2004, les installations de la compagnie mexicaine Pemex ont connu au
moins 12 accidents et fait plusieurs morts. En Indonésie, la production était de 900 000 barils
par jour au mois de juillet, son niveau le plus bas depuis trente-cinq ans, en raison de problèmes
techniques et d'opérations de maintenance. Et les tuyaux de Prudhoe Bay n'ont pas été sondés
depuis 1992 pour des traces de corrosion.
Max Martin, spécialiste de la corrosion, connaît bien l'oléoduc d'Alaska pour avoir participé à sa
conception. Il met en avant le vieillissement des installations, exploitées depuis 1977, mais
conçues pour durer vingt-cinq ans au maximum. Pour lui, promis juré, «il n'y a pas de
problèmes sur la plupart des pipelines, qui sont excessivement contrôlés». Il ne veut pas croire
aux estimations de Greenpeace, pour qui, en Sibérie, «les fuites quotidiennes correspondent à
une marée noire de l' Erika par jour». La bagatelle de 8 millions de tonnes par an.
Prudence. Les rares chiffres disponibles pour l'Europe incitent à la prudence. Selon les données
du ministère de l'Ecologie, 34 accidents sur des canalisations transportant des hydrocarbures ont
été recensés ces quinze dernières années en France. L'association Concawe compile, elle, les
statistiques fournies par des compagnies exploitant des oléoducs en Europe (plus de 36 000
km). En 2003, 10 fuites ont été recensées, quand la moyenne est de 12,7 depuis trente ans. Entre
1999 et 2003, 11 des 51 incidents étaient dûs à la corrosion, 29 à des éléments extérieurs. La
hausse des cours aidant, chaque goutte de brut devient précieuse, et les compagnies pourraient à
l'avenir juger plus intéressant d'entretenir les oléoducs.

Nouvel Observateur: Calvados: extension des zones interdites à la pêche aux coquillages
CAEN (AP) -- En raison de la présence de l'algue toxique Dinophysis, la zone d'interdiction de
pêche aux coquillages qui concernait le littoral de Ouistreham à Honfleur depuis le 4 août
dernier a été étendue jeudi aux plages du Calvados et aux eaux littorales situées entre l'estuaire
de la Seulles (Courseulles-sur-Mer) et l'estuaire de la Seine (Honfleur), a-t-on appris auprès de
la préfecture.
Par arrêté préfectoral, il est interdit de pêcher les coquillages filtreurs (moules, huîtres) et
fouisseurs (coques, flions, tellines ou donax, couteaux, palourdes...). Cette interdiction concerne

le ramassage, la pêche, le transport et la commercialisation de ces coquillages qui, dans la zone
considérée, présentent un risque élevé de contamination par une algue toxique.
Des concentrations très élevées de Dinophysis ont été mesurées par le réseau de surveillance
phytoplanctonique de la station IFREMER de Port-en-Bessin. La toxine du Dinophysis a des
effets gastriques et intestinaux sérieux, notamment sous forme de diarrhées aiguës, et n'est pas
détruite par la cuisson.
En cas de troubles intestinaux, vertiges ou sensations particulières, après consommation de
coquillages, il est recommandé de consulter rapidement un médecin ou un pharmacien.
Pour des raisons de santé publique, cette interdiction demeurera effective jusqu'aux dispositions
contraires résultant de l'analyse de prélèvements nouveaux. Cette mesure s'applique tant à la
pêche professionnelle des coquillages qu'à la pêche de loisir.
A l'approche des grandes marées du 8 au 15 août, il est rappelé aux pêcheurs à pied de loisir que
cette interdiction doit impérativement être respectée.
Le Figaro: Un incendie détruit 140 hectares de forêt dans le Var

Un feu a brûlé 140 hectares de forêt dans le Var samedi, mobilisant environ 600 pompiers
et nécessitant l'évacuation de 2.000 résidents d'un camping.

140 hectares de forêt varoise sont partis en fumée samedi. Mobilisant environ 600 pompiers et
nécessitant l'évacuation de 2.000 résidents d'un camping, le feu s'est déclaré vers 11h15 sur la
commune des Arcs et a progressé rapidement, malgré l'utilisation de onze avions bombardiers
d'eau et de deux hélicoptères.

La progression des flammes vers Le Muy a entraîné l'évacuation préventive d'environ 2.000
résidents qui occupaient des mobile-home dans un camping proche. «Mais la zone n'a jamais été
directement menacée», a précisé le capitaine Souza, officier de communication du Service
départemental d'incendie et de secours du Var.

«Le feu est à peu près maîtrisé», a déclaré vers 16h le directeur de cabinet du préfet du Var, qui
a précisé que les campeurs pourront regagner leurs bungalows en fin d'après-midi. Il a précisé
que les moyens aériens ne dépendant pas du département avaient été «retirés pour donner la
priorité à des feux naissants dans la Drôme et les Alpes-de-Haute-Provence».

La sortie Le Muy de l'autoroute A7 a également été coupée pendant environ deux heures avant
d'être rouverte à la circulation. Vers 15h30, les 600 pompiers mobilisés avaient «contenu»
l'incendie et tentaient d'encercler les flammes pour noyer les lisières et stopper sa progression.

TF1: Pyrénées-Orientales : des dizaines d'hectares partent en fumée
Plusieurs incendies ont détruit vendredi des dizaines d'hectares de forêts et de broussailles sur
divers sites des Pyrénées-Orientales, notamment en périphérie de Perpignan.

Les incendies ne faiblissent pas dans les Pyrénées-Orientales. Vendredi, plusieurs des dizaines
d'hectares de forêts et de broussailles ont été ravagés par les flammes sur divers sites, et
notamment en périphérie de Perpignan, selon les pompiers.
Un premier foyer a embrasé vendredi vers 13H00 dix hectares d'un massif forestier de chênes
verts près de Rasiguères, dans le massif des Fenouillèdes. Près de 200 pompiers, appuyés par
sept avions bombardiers d'eau, dont trois Canadair, sont intervenus pour éteindre le feu, qui a
été maîtrisé en fin d'après-midi.
Aux portes de Perpignan
Deux autres incendies ont par ailleurs touché des communes proches de Perpignan. Une
centaine de pompiers sont intervenus sur le premier, à Canohès, au sud-ouest de Perpignan,
avec l'aide de quatre avions qui ont procédé à plusieurs largages. En fin de journée, on indiquait
que les pompiers étaient "en situation favorable" pour contrôler le feu.
Le second incendie a débuté dans le courant de l'après-midi à Pia, au nord de Perpignan, et a
parcouru une dizaine d'hectares de broussailles. Une cinquantaine de pompiers sont intervenus
avec l'appui d'un hélicoptère pour tenter de circonscrire le sinistre. "Nous sommes en bonne
voie pour le contrôler", a indiqué en fin d'après-midi le commandant Fabien Soubiran, du
Centre opérationnel départemental d'incendie et de secours (Codis).
Vendredi matin, un autre incendie avait détruit 300 hectares de garrigue dans une zone
montagneuse proche d'Opoul, limitrophe de l'Aude.
Dans le Sud de l' Ardèche, 65 hectares de landes ont été ravagés par un incendie qui s'était
déclenché jeudi soir près de la commune de Mayres. Le feu a été maîtrisé vendredi après-midi
mais 150 pompiers sont toujours sur place pour surveiller la zone.

La Razon (España): Más de 60.000 hectáreas calcinadas en ocho días, las mismas que en
todo 2005
C. Trujillo / D. Ruipérez
- Expertos y ecologistas afirman que en los dos últimos años se ha duplicado la superficie
quemada respecto a la media de los 15 anteriores - «Todos los agostos hay 700 incendios
semanales, pero antes se sabían apagar», dice un ingeniero forestal
Madrid- A las tres de la tarde de ayer la Xunta informaba de que había 103 incendios, 54 de
ellos activos. A esa misma hora, Emilio Pérez Touriño, su presidente, afirmaba, optimista, que
«la situación ha mejorado»; que el 91 por ciento de los fuegos estaba controlado. En otro
comunicado, el Gobierno gallego aseguraba que no había estimación de hectáreas quemadas. Su
consejería de Medio Rural aseveraba, a los pocos minutos: «Ya van decenas de miles. Pueden
ser dos decenas, cuatro u ocho». Narbona habló de sólo 5.000. Touriño elevó hasta 10.000. Y
los expertos y ecologistas, a sábado día 12, -sólo ocho días después de que comenzase la
oledada de incendios- hablan ya de 60.000. Las informaciones son dispares; las cifras no
cuadran tras una semana de «psicosis incendiaria». «No podemos hacer cálculos hasta que no se
extingan las llamas», dicen fuentes gubernamentales gallegas. «Yo he oído 40.000, por lo
menos», farfullan, con la boca pequeña, desde el gabinete de Prensa de Medio Ambiente.
  Galicia arde. Sus cuatro provincias han sufrido la embestida de las llamas. Más virulentas han
sido en La Coruña y Pontevedra. La plataforma ecologista Adena alertaba anteayer con un dato:

se triplica o cuadruplica la superficie quemada en Guadalajara el año pasado. Esto significa que,
si en Guadalajara ardió un área equiparable a 12.000 campos de fútbol, en Galicia ya se han
quemado, como mínimo, 60.000 estadios. Tal hipótesis -fundada en una serie de cálculos en los
que se tienen en cuenta el número de incendios que se producen cada día y el tiempo de
extinción, entre otras cosas- es sustentada por Greenpeace. «Parece claro que si en agosto del
año pasado se quemaron 33.000 hectáreas, esta semana ha ardido el doble de superficie»,
asegura Miguel Ángel Soto, responsable de la campaña de bosques. Ingenieros forestales
gallegos suscriben la estimación: «Van, tirando por lo bajo, 60.000 hectáreas en una semana. Es
decir, más que en todo el último año en Galicia», dice Andrés Novo, profesor de Ingeniería
Forestal de la Universidad de Vigo y secretario general de «Silvanus», una asociación dedicada
al cultivo y al estudio de los bosques. Se muestra tajante en su valoración: «Todos los años en
agosto hay una media de 700 incendios semanales, igual que ahora. Que no nos digan que lo
extraordinario este año es el elevado número de incendios porque es mentira. Y que, por favor
no intenten contarnos que es que este año los fuegos son provocados, porque siempre ha sido
así. El problema es la falta de efectividad de la Xunta. Esta administración es incompetente y no
sabe como manejar un servicio de extinción».
  10.000 incendios. Novo que, por su trabajo, conoce a la perfección el monte gallego y maneja
una serie de estadísticas de los últimos años habla, sin titubeo, de 60.000 hectáreas quemadas.
«Desde 1991 hasta 2004 había alrededor de 10.000 incendios al año en nuestra comunidad. Y la
superficie media quemada era de 30.000, con las variaciones, claro está, de cada año. El año
pasado, en el que BNG y PSOE llegaron al Gobierno e hicieron frente a la campaña de
incendios de agosto, las hectáreas quemadas ascendieron a 57.000», afirma.
  ¿Pero, cuál es el problema? Si hay el mismo número de incendios, ¿por qué se están
quemando más hectáreas? El ingeniero forestal afirma que la respuesta está en la maniobra de la
Xunta de desmontar toda la cúpula directiva y toda la organización del servicio de defensa
contra incendios. «Un servicio -asevera- que ha funcionado a la perfección en los últimos 15
años». La Xunta, según Novo, ha reducido el número de efectivos y carece de planificación y de
mando. «Antes, el servicio de extinción tenía un objetivo: acabar con el incendio ante de que
quemase tres hectáreas -una, si era en zona arbolada-. Al final, se consiguió que sólo el dos por
ciento de los fuegos que se producían en Galicia superaban las 25 hectáreas. «Ahora, en los
fuegos que comenzaron hace una semana, hay algunos que han arrasado hasta 12 kilómetros.
Vamos, que debe haber algunos que hayan quemado casi 2.000 hectáreas».
  Otra de las diferencias que cita este ingeniero es que en Galicia, en años anteriores no se
recurrió nunca a decretar el nivel 1, con peligro para la población, y este año muchos han sido
de este nivel o incluso del superior -2- con intervención del Ejército. «Lo importante en la
extinción es el principio, atajar el incendio desde el inicio, pero esto ha fallado. Por poner un
ejemplo, he de decir que un día de marzo de hace unos años se declararon casi 50 focos en una
misma jornada. En 24 horas estaban apagados. Y, ahora, la Xunta no es capaz de acabar con el
centenar de incendios en una semana. Se les han descontrolado. «El fracaso no es una palabra
que contemplen», apostilla. «Ellos prefieren vender la heroicidad de la sociedad gallega, que
pelea contra el fuego. Y eso es su fracaso, porque no han sabido acabar con él; no han sabido
frenarlo. La realidad es que han pasado siete, ocho días, y se ha quemado lo mismo que el año
pasado. Y el doble de lo que, habitualmente, se quemaba», concluye.
  Fiebre incendiaria cada 5 años. Por otra parte, sumidos en plena oleada de incendios,
Greenpeace ha llegado a la conclusión que, si se revisan las estadísticas de incendios en Galicia
durante los últimos 15 años el fenómeno que devasta los montes gallegos estos días se repite no
es nuevo y se la misma periodicidad. Cada lustro, una avalancha de incendios en un periodo
corto de tiempo desborda a todas las políticas antiincendios establecidas Por ejemplo, en abril
de 1995, la comunidad registraba 600 incendios en apenas tres días. Entre el 25 y el 30 de
agosto de ese mismo año se contabilizaron un millar. «Estamos en uno de esos ciclos -añade

Miguel Ángel Soto- que siempre presentan las mismas características: se inician en el momento
justo, cuando las condiciones meteorológicas son más favorables a la expansión de las llamas.
Hay un ―chupinazo‖ incendiario, un desencadenante, y al momento, los focos se cuentan por
centenares cada día. Salen los pirómanos, el que quiere limpiar la finca o vengarse del vecino».
  Al cierre de esta edición, de acuerdo con datos de la Xunta, en Galicia se registraba un total de
164 incendios, de los que 71 permanecían activos y otros 93 controlados. Por provincias, La
Coruña es la sufrió más complicaciones, pese a que se lograron controlar o extinguir el 71 por
ciento de los fuegos. Así, a las 20:00 horas había 14 fuegos activos y 35 extinguidos o
controlados, y los más graves se registraron en los municipios de Santiago, Abegondo, Pobra do
Caramiñal y Cée, donde los vecinos tuvieron que ser desalojados.
The Times (London): Go-ahead for dam that will drown history
By Suna Erdem
Critics predict an archeological and human disaster because of £840m Turkish dam
TURKEY is to go ahead with the construction of a dam on the Tigris river despite claims that it
will displace tens of thousands of people and flood a 12,000-year-old city.
Critics also say that the €1.2 billion (£840 million) Ilisu Dam will severely restrict the flow of
water through Syria and on to Iraq at the risk of provoking another conflict in the troubled
But Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, said that the development would create
thousands of jobs and bring prosperity to the impoverished, largely Kurdish region in the
The project, which was shelved four years ago when Balfour Beatty, the British construction
company, withdrew because of protests from environmentalists, would also play a key role in
generating electricity to plug Turkey‘s burgeoning energy gap, he said.
―On the one side you have the increasing demand for energy and a bright future for Turkey; on
the other, you have history, culture and an inheritance that belongs to all humanity,‖ he said.
―We have to find a solution. We have to make peace between the two sides.‖
The Government has set aside €25 million to relocate the ancient structures of the city of
Hasankeyf, which will be flooded. These include the Ulu Mosque, a cemetery with tombstones
dating back to Byzantium, a 15th-century mausoleum encrusted with tiles, and the remains of an
Artukid bridge. But archaeologists and campaigners dismiss the plan, saying that untold ancient
treasures in the surrounding area, which has yet to be excavated, will be lost. It promises much,
they say, given that Hasankeyf alone bears evidence of Assyrian, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk
Turk, Persian and Ottoman habitation and is believed to be among the oldest continuously
inhabited places in the world.
―The artefacts in Batman‘s Hasankeyf district cannot be relocated. If you try to move those
artefacts without reinforcing them they will collapse,‖ said Professor Abdulselam Ulucam, the
head of excavations at Hasankeyf.
Maggie Ronayne, an archaeologist at the National University of Ireland, Galway, who has
worked in the region since 1999, said: ―This dam is a weapon of cultural mass destruction, not

only because of the large number of monuments there, but also because of the living culture, the
The Ilisu plant, which will generate 3.8 billion kilowatt- hours of electricity a year, is part of the
ambitious Southeastern Anatolian Project (GAP) to develop the southeast and east. Dormant
since investors withdrew in 2001, it got a reprieve after a Turkish-led consortium which
included German, Swiss and Austrian companies, was found to take it over. Estimates of the
number of people who will be made homeless begin at 50,000. Even if they are compensated
and given new homes, they will add to the problem of resettlement in a region that has been
badly destabilised by the 20-year-old Kurdish insurgency and military tactics aimed at fighting
the rebels. Thousands of Kurds say that they are still unable to resettle in villages they had to
evacuate in the 1990s.
The World Bank has refused to finance the Ilisu Dam because of these and other environmental
concerns. It is also worried about the potential for conflict if Syria and Iraq become belligerent
about the amount of water siphoned off by Turkey from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
BBC: EU warns Poland over environment
Poland could face legal action and EU penalties for failing to "adequately protect" its natural
habitats, a European Commission official has said.
EC biodiversity expert Agata Zdanowicz said Poland had so far failed to comply with the EU's
Natura 2000 programme, describing the situation as "serious".
The Commission started an "infringement procedure" against Poland in April.
This could lead to a court case and the blocking of EU funds for projects in Poland's
environmentally fragile areas.
Natura 2000 is an EU-wide programme to safeguard the 25-nation bloc's most important
wildlife areas and species.

'Repair programme'
Half of Europe's mammal species, one-third of reptile, amphibian and fish species, as well as
one-third of plant species are threatened with extinction, according to the World Wildlife Fund
Poland is home to rare species such as bison, wolves, bears and eagles living in river valleys,
wetlands and forests.
The Commission rejected Poland's proposals on Natura 2000 earlier this year, describing them
as "significantly insufficient".
The proposals did not comply with the EU's Birds and Habitats directives, Ms Zdanowicz,
policy officer at the EC's nature and biodiversity unit, told the BBC News website.
Poland designated 72 sites as special protection areas under the Birds directive, but Ms
Zdanowicz said the Commission was pushing for 140 such sites.
She said the situation was particularly "serious" with the implementation of the Habitats
directive, which protects plant and animal species other than birds.

She said Warsaw had so far failed to "adequately protect" some 85% of such sites.
In April, the Commission launched the infringement procedure against Poland by sending it a
written warning.
Poland formally responded in July, and Ms Zdanowicz said EC experts were currently analysing
the amended proposals.
Both the EC and Polish officials are refusing to elaborate on the content of the new proposals,
but Ms Zdanowicz said the EC could take the case to court if it deemed the plan to be
Polish Environment Ministry spokesman Slawomir Mazurek told the BBC News website that
"some mistakes" had been made during the development of Natura 2000 for Poland.
"Some areas have been appointed without a detailed knowledge of what is in them. Local
governments do not agree on many of those areas," Mr Mazurek said.
He added that the ministry submitted to the EC what he described as "a repair programme".

Conservation row
Last week, Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski reignited the row by hinting at a possible
downsizing of the programme.
"Natura 2000 has expanded so much that it is practically impossible to build anything," he said.
His statement drew criticism from environmentalists, who said Poland needed to take urgent
steps to protect its environment.
Natura 2000 protects 18% of land in the 15 countries that formed the EU before the expansion
in 2004.
The size and number of protected sites is currently being negotiated for each of the 10 new
member states.
The Commission has already warned 13 EU states over non-compliance with the bloc's
environmental directives.

BBC/The Green Room: Clean coal can plug UK's energy gap
Mike Farley
The UK Government must embrace clean coal technology or the nation's lights will go out,
argues Mitsui Babcock's Mike Farley in this week's Green Room. While the recent energy
review set out a strategy for the long term, Mr Farley says urgent action is needed to bridge a
looming "energy gap".
The UK Government must be applauded for courageously taking steps to reduce emissions in its
energy review - it is certainly a huge step in the right direction.
However, it offers little room for optimism in the short-term. By failing to act on the immediate
supply and pricing issues it is failing to deliver on a number of objectives that it set itself.

Demand for energy is rising, yet the nation now faces a 20 GW power shortage by 2016. A
large proportion of our current supply is gradually being shut down in the next 10 years as old
power plants are retired. At the same time demand is expected to increase.
Unless we do something the threat of power cuts will grow and grow every year, destabilising
energy prices.
The big omission in the energy review is that it overlooks last winter's shock gas prices and
supply problems. As a result, the review's plan of action focuses on the long-term at the expense
of the short-term energy gap and supply issue.
It is worrying to see the government taking a "fingers crossed" approach with electricity
supplies until 2019 when the first of the possible new nuclear plants would become operational.
If we don't fill some of that gap then we will have more of the very problems that the energy
review was supposed to prevent. If the UK is to avoid the gap, we need to ensure a large
number of new or replacement clean coal power plants will soon be operational. To fill a 20
GW deficit we need to build at least 2 GW of plant each year, for 10 years.
Clean Coal is the perfect complement to nuclear, gas and renewables, ensuring we don't put all
our eggs in one basket.
Gas prices are rising; nuclear is for the long-term and while wind farms are clean they only
provide energy on an intermittent basis. So why does the energy review still leave uncertainty
about whether clean coal has full government commitment?

Fuelling the future
Clean coal technologies include methods to improve efficiency and methods of carbon dioxide
"capture and storage", where the gas is stored underground. Simply improving the efficiency of
coal-fired generation can reduce emissions by up to 40% if you also include biomass co-firing,
and the capture and storage option would trap 90% of carbon dioxide emissions.
Ministers should be encouraging the owners of Britain's existing coal plants to clean up their
act. It should not be delaying decisions on incentives for carbon capture and storage technology.
While Germany has interpreted the Europe-wide Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to
encourage the investment in clean coal, the UK just keeps postponing decisions.
Coal is something we have in abundance. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA),
proven coal reserves worldwide are equivalent to almost 200 years of production at current rates
and exceed those of oil (36-44 years) and gas (66 years) by a wide margin. Coal can be
stockpiled safely and its supply increased quickly whenever it is needed.

Example setting
The Clean Coal Task Group, a cross-industry initiative, would like to see the government
maintaining the present number of coal-fired power stations in the UK, progressively converting
them to clean technology, and setting a green example for the rest of the world to follow.
The technology would not only ensure the UK has a reliable source of electricity and make a
massive contribution towards cutting emissions, but it will also help secure the future for
thousands of people currently employed in coal mining and coal-fired power stations across the

Adopting clean coal to fill the immediate energy gap would also help us set the right example
internationally and encourages the meeting of emissions targets globally. Countries such as
China, India and the US produce more than 30 times more carbon emissions than the UK and
must be encouraged to clean up their coal powered plants.
Clean coal technology is the best solution for the short-term if we are to avoid overdependence
on imported gas. It can reliably close the UK's immediate energy gap, within a diverse
generation portfolio that secures energy supply.
Because coal can be stockpiled, prices remain stable. Indeed, they have remained relatively
stable for decades. Clean coal provides the means to achieve the objectives set out in the energy
The energy review is just the first step. The government must take serious action now, or the
lights will go out.
Mike Farley is director of Technology Policy Liaison at the energy services company Mitsui
Babcock, and chairman of the TUC/DTI/Defra Clean Coal Task Group
The opinions expressed in this article are Mike Farley's personal views

The Guardian (UK): Canadian uranium company to list in London with £500m price tag
Nick Fletcher
· UrAsia Energy joins Aim as metal prices hit records
· Move prompted by new interest in nuclear power
A Canadian mining business with operations in Kazakhstan plans to become Britain's biggest
listed pure uranium company when it joins the London Stock Exchange next week.
UrAsia Energy, already quoted in Toronto, is expected to have a market capitalisation of around
£500m when it comes to the junior London market Aim on August 21. Philip Shervington, the
chief executive, said a UK listing would increase the company's profile at a time when metal
prices - especially uranium - are close to record levels.
A recent resurgence in interest in nuclear power has led to a shortage of uranium to fuel the
plants. "This is a very good time to get a profile," said Mr Shervington. "We are not raising
money, but this listing gives us the option of seeking extra funds in future. We have very
aggressive production plans, but we have sufficient funds at the moment for our capital
investment programme, including good cash flow from our producing mine in Kazakhstan."
The company floated in Toronto in November and raised around Can$500m (£230m), with
investors tapped for a further Can$140m (£50m) in February. It now has around £64m cash in
the bank.
Apart from raising the company's profile, another reason for coming to London is that around
70% of UrAsia's existing investors come from the UK, brought in as part of the original
Canadian flotation. "They are mainly institutional investors, and we know they would
appreciate access to a London listing," said Mr Shervington. "It is also an opportunity for new
investors - we are a pure uranium play."

The company is the fourth largest quoted pure producer of uranium in the world. It was formed
in late 2004, and has secured seven exploration licences in Kyrgyzstan and three joint venture
mining projects in Kazakhstan. It has proven reserves of 4.5m lbs, probable reserves of 15m,
and 59m of further possible reserves. "We will produce 1.8m lbs of uranium this year, rising to
about 10m by 2013," said Mr Shervington. "One of our projects in Kazakhstan is in production,
the other two are due by the end of 2007."
In Kyrgyzstan, one of the areas where UrAsia has the licence was first used to supply uranium
for Soviet nuclear missiles during the cold war. "It has not been touched for 30 years," said Mr
Shervington, but he believed it could be reopened for production. He dismissed worries over the
difficulties some had experienced operating in the former Soviet Union.
"In Kazakhstan we are in partnership with the state-owned uranium company [KazAtomProm],
and the country is already the third biggest supplier of uranium in the world after Canada and
Australia," he said. "I was the CEO of Energy Resources of Australia, the second biggest
uranium producer in the world, and I have been dealing in Kazakhstan since 1992. I have
always found those dealings to be straightforward. Our investors are confident in our ability to
pull this off."
The timing for the flotation could hardly be better, with demand for uranium likely to continue
rising sharply as new nuclear power plants are given the go-ahead. "There is a real supply and
demand squeeze after 20 years of depressed uranium prices led to insufficient investment", said
Mr Shervington.
"Existing mines supply around 100m lbs a year, while the demand is for 170m at the moment.
The shortfall is filled from [government and commercial] stockpiles but these supplies are
drying up. Two years ago, the price was $10 a pound. Now it is $47, and is predicted to go
higher as the situation tightens between now and 2010. Beyond that, both China and India have
ambitious plans to build more nuclear power plants."
China alone has plans to build as many as 30 by 2020. As well as organic growth, UrAsia also
intends to look for acquisition opportunities around the world.
Uranium was discovered in 1789 by a German chemist, Martin Klaproth, who named the
element in honour of the planet Uranus which had been discovered eight years earlier. Canada is
now the world's biggest supplier, followed by Australia and Kazakhstan. The largest single
deposit is not in Canada, but at the Olympic Dam Mine in South Australia. Mining has proved
controversial: the Jabiluka mine was sited on sacred Aboriginal land in Australia and has been
closed by its operator, Rio Tinto. It also carries the risk of producing airborne radioactive dust.

The Independent (UK): Seven days to green your life
We all know global warming is a fact. And we'd all like to do something to make a difference.
But where to begin? The answer, of course, is in our own homes and daily routines.
Donnachadh McCarthy, one of Britain's leading expert in green living, believes seven days is all
it takes to cast aside the bad habits of a lifetime. Here he explains how to change for the better -
starting tomorrow

1. Transport
Modern lifestyles have given rise to a huge increase in demand for travel, whether it is to work,
to visit relatives or to take holidays. In the 19th century, few people travelled much beyond their
own village or market town. While modern methods of transport have transformed our horizons,
they nearly all come with a high CO2 price. Transport accounts for 25 per cent of CO2 emissions
in the UK, and this figure is steadily rising.
However, by reducing car use, cycling and walking, we can cut our transport emissions
significantly. The really radical step you could take would be to look for a job closer to home.
Every day, millions of people commute to jobs in places from which others have made their
way in the opposite direction to do the same jobs. Would it not make more sense if we worked
in our own communities, instead of wasting our lives commuting?

2. Energy
The energy we use for heating and lighting our homes and offices is a major source of CO2
emissions, with coal, gas and oil power stations emitting 56 million tonnes of the greenhouse
gas every year. While renewable energy sources such as domestic wind turbines, solar panels
and micro-hydro schemes have a role to play in tackling climate change, it is important to
realise that energy efficiency can be seven times more cost effective.
For example, the fashion for installing halogen down-lighters in our homes has led to a
catastrophic increase in the energy used for lighting. Thus it makes sense to first identify how to
cut the amount of energy you are wastefully consuming and then if you have the capital and
suitable property, to invest in renewables to deal with your remaining energy requirements.

3. Water
Climatologists predict that climate chaos could bring extremely heavy bouts of rain, with longer
periods of drought. Southern England is now experiencing one such drought and the upheaval is
causing havoc for the privatised water companies, with drought orders and hosepipe bans in
The companies are easy targets, with their inheritance of leaking Victorian pipe-work built
under roads unable to protect piping from the huge growth in traffic, and needing profits to
justify borrowing to invest in leakage prevention. However, our homes waste 100 per cent of
the rainwater that falls on our roofs and 100 per cent of the "grey water" produced by baths,
showers and washing machines. Cutting water waste would reduce the need for expensive
investment in new capacity by the water companies, which drives up our water bills.
The current system, where rainwater is pumped away from our roofs, and fresh water is
extracted from rivers and aquifers, chemically cleaned and pumped through kilometres of what
will always be leaking pipes, only to be flushed down our loos, is insane. It not only wastes
water, but creates as much CO2 as is produced by four power stations.
By using and re-using your rainwater and grey water, you can start the move to a saner water
system - and even cut your water bills if your home is metered.

4. Waste

UK homes produced 27 million tonnes of domestic waste in 2005. It is predicted to rise another
11 per cent by 2011. Britain's recycling rates have finally started to rise in response to public
and EU pressure but landfill sites, where the bulk of our waste has up to now been dumped, are
rapidly filling up. Instead of developing a decent waste-reduction strategy, the Government has
opted for a quick fix, by increasing the number of incinerators by more than 1,000 per cent. This
will increase CO2 emissions and toxic waste. The imperative for us as individuals is to
dramatically reduce our production of rubbish.

5. Work
In recent years, many of us have learnt how to become more environmentally responsible at
home. Millions of people now recycle their domestic rubbish, 75 per cent of us buy some sort of
organic produce and tens of thousands have installed water butts during the current drought.
However, these practices are often not taken into the workplace, despite the fact that offices
normally consume far more resources, energy and water than most homes. It is now crucial that
people take environmental action at their places of work, having found the confidence to take
action at home.

6. Pollution
One of the gifts of the Industrial Revolution was the extraordinary surge of knowledge in
chemistry. Advances in medical pharmacology transformed the lives of millions of people, but
the release of a vast array of artificial chemicals into the atmosphere has led to the pollution of
even the deepest oceans, threatening the world's fundamental chemistry. Pesticides, according to
the World Health Organisation, poison more than 3 million people worldwide every year and
the number of chemicals in the home, whose combinations have never been tested, is now
startling. Using natural products cuts the number of unnecessary chemicals we and the workers
producing them are exposed to, and reduces the levels of poisons escaping into the environment.

7. Food
Sustainable Energy Action estimates that up to 30 per cent of the country's CO2 emissions are
attributable to food. The planting, harvesting, processing, transport and packaging all consume
vast quantities of energy. As our food markets have globalised, the distance travelled by the
average family meal now regularly exceeds 10,000 miles, where formerly it would have been
less than 10, when most of the world's population lived on subsistence farms. The variety sown
of particular crops such as rice has plummeted as supermarkets only buy the most economic
varieties, endangering the genetic security of our major food crops. The fewer varieties of a
particular crop there are, the more exposed it is to being wiped out by disease. The introduction
of GM crops by the US has further increased the dangers facing food production, with multiple
pesticide immunity already emerging in Canada. You can help markets move towards healthy
food production by buying low-packaged, local, organic foods.
Transport Book your car in for a service today to ensure it is running at top efficiency.
Water Have a shower today and not a bath. A shower uses about 25 litres of water, whereas a
bath uses from 80 litres upwards. Get rid of the power shower if you have one.
Energy Write out a pledge to yourself and date it, resolving never to leave the lights or heating
on in rooms that you are not using. (It costs nothing, but is the most effective way of slashing
your bills.)

Food If you are not vegetarian, go veggie for the week - but buy an organic roast for a special
treat on Sunday. If you are already vegetarian, try having a vegan meal (ie without dairy or egg
products) once a day for the week.
Waste Place a spare plastic shopping bag into your bag before you leave the house today and
enjoy counting the number of bags you are able to refuse as you go shopping through the week.
Work If you work in an air-conditioned office, see if you can use natural ventilation instead by
opening doors and windows that allow a natural air circulation. Alternatively, experiment with
the controls to see what is the highest temperature you are comfortable with. Every degree
lower of cooling uses up to 10 per cent extra energy.
Pollution Start eliminating noxious chemicals from your home, buychemical-free natural
washing-up and laundry liquids from your health store.
Transport If you've already had a holiday, have booked one or are booking it this week and it
includes a flight, buy carbon offset credits which will be used to install renewable energy in
developing countries or to plant trees that will absorb the CO2 emitted. You will be surprised at
how cheap they are.
Water If you do not have a fairly new lavatory, chances are you are wasting water every time
you flush, due to the cistern being too large. Place a filled plastic bottle in the cistern this
morning before going to work, to reduce the number of litres used with every flush. If it still
works perfectly, experiment by adding more. Also, order an Interflush system for your WC.
This flushes only as long as you keep your hand on the handle, and so reduces waste.
Energy Go online and switch to a renewable energy supplier. These companies can supply your
home through the national grid with 100 per cent renewable electricity from installations such
as wind turbines and solar electric panels.
Food Check on website to see if there are any organic box schemes
in your local area and sign up to get your organic fruit and vegetables delivered to your home.
Saves shopping time and ensures your food is pesticide free.
Waste Stop buying disposable products. Using cotton handkerchiefs instead of tissues,
toothbrushes with replaceable heads, kitchen cloths instead of paper-towels, mooncups instead
of tampons or sanitary towels, terry nappies instead of disposable nappies etc can all help slash
the amount of waste going into your rubbish bin every week.
Replaceable head toothbrushes are available from
Work Take a walk around your building and turn off lights and air-conditioning in rooms with
no one in them. Use your computer to make labels asking people to "Please Switch Off When
Leaving" stickers and put them in bathrooms, store-rooms etc.

Pollution Pop in to your local charity shop or go online and buy from organic clothes websites if
shopping for clothes this week. Cotton production accounts for more than a quarter of the
world's pesticide use.
Transport Get your bike out if it is at the back of the garage (or buy one) and use it for all your
journeys under five miles. Having large baskets front and rear makes shopping a doddle and
avoids the hassle of finding that elusive car-parking space.
Water Buy a water butt today. Special offers are currently available online from most local
water companies or from your local hardware store.
Energy Go around your house and see where you lose heat. Keyholes, letter-boxes, window-
frames and doors are common sites where heat escapes. Pop into the DIY centre on the way
home and buy basic insulating materials to block these draughts. Your chimney is another hole
through which heat is lost. Stuff it with reused bubble wrap or buy a chimney-balloon which
seals off 99 per cent of the escaping air. Grants are available for loft and cavity wall insulation.
The Energy Savings Trust website has a postcode search engine that lists energy efficiency
grants available in your local area.
Food Buy real fruit rather than processed fruit juices, whose increased production is leading to
the destruction of forests in developing countries and consumes huge amounts of precious water
in many dry countries.
Waste Switch back to traditional benign methods of cleaning your home. Mix one part organic
vinegar to six parts water in a spray-bottle for an eco-friendly and cheap window-cleaner. Try
out Eco-cloths, which require almost no scouring powder for cleaning sinks and tops. Sodium
bicarbonate is also an excellent all-round kind cleaner around the house.
Work If you have a water fountain at work that uses large plastic bottles or you use bottled
water, ask your facilities manager to change over to a mains-supplied water cooler, which
purifies and cools mains water. They are easily installed almost anywhere as the water supply
can be connected by flexible narrow plastic tubing to wherever the water pipes are.
Pollution Buy a battery charger in your local electrical goods shop today and switch to re-
chargeable batteries. Batteries cause toxic pollution if dumped in landfill sites.
Transport Look up the free car-sharing website and cut your transport
emissions to work by up to 75 per cent by sharing the journey with up to three others.
Water Buy a downpipe diverter to channel your bath, shower and washing machine water (so-
called "grey water") from the drain into watering the garden or washing the car. They cost about

Energy Go around the house, and where you have too many lamps take out the unnecessary
bulbs and replace the others with energy-saving bulbs. Energy saving bulbs can now be bought
that fit candle bulb and halogen bulb fitments. They use up to 80 per cent less energy than
tungsten or halogen bulbs.
Food If you or your family eat fish, resolve to eat less and ensure that you are not buying
species of fish whose stocks are under threat. The website has an excellent
list of over-fished varieties to avoid buying.
Waste Avoid Tetrapaks, which are hard to recycle as they are a mixture of aluminium,
cardboard and plastic. Soya milk packaging can become a thing of the past if you buy a soya
Work Suggest to the purchasing department that you buy recycled paper for photocopying and
marketing materials. Include the fact on your artwork when you have switched.
Pollution IT equipment and mobile phones contain numerous heavy metals and lead to serious
pollution if dumped. Look online to see if you have a local computer recycling service and post
the details where your family or work colleagues can easily find them when needed.
Transport Look at to check your car's CO2 emissions and go to the car
dealer to swap your car for the smallest car compatible with your needs and with the lowest
emissions in its class. Even within the same class, car emissions can vary by up to 40 per cent.
Water A huge amount of water gets wasted when we allow the tap to run, whether brushing our
teeth, shaving, washing vegetables or simply to get the water colder for drinking. Water is
precious, so stop running the tap, put a bottle of tap water in the fridge and capture any run
water in a bowl for other uses around the house.
Energy If your fridge or central-heating boiler is more than 12 years old, it probably needs
replacing as it is consuming too much energy. Ensure that any replacement is A-rated for energy
efficiency. Ensure that you get a fridge that is not too big for your needs. I have visited homes
with three fridges, all of which were half-empty, thus wasting energy 24 hours a day, all year
round. If replacing your boiler, consider including a solar hot water system. has
details of grants for solar hot water systems.
Food Pop down to your local garden centre this Saturday and buy food-producing plants, such
as soft fruit shrubs or herbs. Even if you have no access to a garden, with a window box you can
produce plenty of herbs such as mint, basil and chives, eliminating the need for buying
supermarket packs - and deliciously fresh when you need them.
Waste Organic waste such as vegetable peelings and hedge clippings can make up to a third of
our waste. Check online today to see if your local council supplies subsidised composting bins
or has a community composting scheme for people in flats.
Pollution Do not burn domestic rubbish in your garden, and report people burning rubbish to
your local council's environmental health department.

Transport Instead of using the car today for a family outing, go by train instead. Rural train
stations provide a gateway to a host of wonderful walks, bicycle rides and rural pubs. This is a
great way to relax without having to worry about the traffic or the stress of driving.
Water Look up the Rain Harvesting Association's website for information on
professional rain-harvesting systems. These automated and pump-powered systems can cost
from £2,000-£3,000 although simpler manual systems can be installed for less than £600.
Energy If you have an open gas fire, resolve today never to use it again! They waste up to 85
per cent of the gas used and should be outlawed immediately! Alternatives include wood-
burning stoves, some of which are compatible with smoke- free zones, or flueless gas fires
which are 100 per cent efficient, but suitable only for homes that already have background
central heating.
Food Find out where your local farmers' market is and take the family for a fun Sunday morning
outing. Locally produced food helps the local economy and slashes the amount of food miles
travelled and therefore CO2 emissions.
Waste If you need something new for the house, whether it is curtains, hi-fi or crockery, check
first in your local paper's classifieds section, at car-boot sales or on websites such as eBay.
Buying second-hand eliminates all the CO2 involved in producing new products.
Pollution Stop using any pesticides in your garden. Organic gardening using natural fertilisers
makes your garden less toxic for your family and is good for wildlife. has loads of information on how to go organic.
Transport If you have a diesel engine that takes low-sulphur fuel, visit the
website. My electrician uses up to 30 per cent supermarket vegetable oil in his car. Gordon
Brown, however, insists that you must pay excise duty on this vegetable oil. If you want to be
even greener, use organic vegetable oil.
Water Buy an aerating head for your shower, which reduces water use by mixing air with the
water. Spray-attachments for your taps also reduce water use in bathroom basins.
Energy Visit the Energy Savings Trust website for information on renewable energy and the
grants available. If you have not got the money now to invest, it does no harm to develop
dreams for the future. Buying now helps create a mass market so that they can become
economic for those less well-off.
Food Include as much raw fruit and vegetables as possible in all your meals. More minerals and
vitamins are present in raw food than in cooked food and so are healthier and they cut down
energy used on cooking.

Waste Rather than buying new furniture in the future, resolve today to buy good-quality second-
hand or antique furniture instead.
Work At the staff meeting this morning under "any other business" suggest that your company
gets an eco-audit done to get a list of recommendations on how to make it more eco-friendly.
Pollution Decide today to only use environmentally friendly products in future for any DIY or
decorating. Put the Green Building Store and the organic paint company Ecos Paints websites
on to your computer's list of favourite websites so that you can find them easily when
Donnachadh McCarthy is author of Saving the Planet Without Costing the Earth and is a home
and business eco-auditor. (

Xinhua: Low public acceptance of evolution theory in US
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- After years of debate, about one-third of the U.S.
population does not believe in evolution, a figure that is the highest in the world's developed
countries, a study published Friday on the journal Science said.
   The study, conducted by the researchers at the Michigan State University, found that the U.S.
public is equally divided when it comes to accepting or rejecting the statement "Human beings,
as weknow them, developed from earlier species of animals."
  By comparison, more adults in Japan and the 32 European countries accept the theory of
evolution and in Scandinavian countries up to 80 percent accept the theory, the study said.
  Only adults in Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country, were less likely to accept the
concept of evolution than U.S. adults.
  There were several reasons for the low acceptance in the U.S. public, the researchers said,
adding that the most significant factor was the influence of fundamentalist religions.
  "The total effect of fundamentalist religious beliefs on the attitude toward evolution was
nearly twice as much in the United States," said Jon Miller, a professor at the Michigan State
University who led the study.
   "Individuals who hold a strong belief in a personal God -- and who pray frequently -- were
significantly less likely to view evolution as probably or definitely true than adults with less
conservative religious views," he added.
  In addition, the issue of evolution has become highly politicized in the United States, with the
Republican Party in particular often using it as a test for possible candidates for office.
   "There is no major political party in Europe and Japan that uses opposition to evolution as a
part of its political ambition," Miller said. "In the United States, there are people who think it is
a political advantage to discount evolution."

 In addition, the researchers found that persons with strong pro-life beliefs were significantly
more likely to reject evolution than those with pro-choice views.
  "The total effect of pro-life attitudes on the acceptance of evolution was much greater in the
United States than in the nine European countries surveyed," Miller said.
   A lack of genetic literacy on the part of many American adults also plays a role, the
researchers added.
  For example, only a third of U.S. adults agree that more than half of human genes are
identical to those of mice, and only 38 percent of adults recognize that humans have more than
half of their genes in common with chimpanzees.
   "These results should be troubling for (U.S.) science educators at all levels," the researchers
said, adding that the growing number of adults who are uncertain about these ideas suggests the
current science instruction in the United States is not effective

                          ROWA Media Update 13-14 August 2006

Sohar smelter shows the way in water conservation

OMAN‘S first aluminium smelter, coming up fast in Sohar in the Batinah region, has set an
example in environment conservation with its power plant now producing water for the entire
project via a temporary desalination facility at the Port of Sohar.

Sohar Aluminium said the move was part of its long-term commitment to preserving the

The power plant produces water at a rate of 1,800 cubic metres per day, which is being used for
construction activities such as dust suppression, concreting works, ablution facilities for
workers and fire protection.

The water is drawn from three ministry-approved beach wells and is desalinated using reverse
osmosis membrane technology.

―This desalination plant is in line with Sohar Aluminium‘s commitment to minimise the
extraction of precious ground water for construction purposes,‖ R Krishnan, Acting Area
Construction Manager for the power plant, explained.

The company‘s goal, he said, was to reduce water consumption and maximise the reuse of
process water in both the construction and operation phases of the project.

The desalination facility, supplied by ELGA - Berkefeld, under contract to Alstom Power
Services Arabia, cost an estimated $2.2 million and is a major component of Sohar Aluminium's
water management strategy, developed to ensure the power plant and smelter projects do not
draw from ground water wells in the Batinah area.

―The temporary plant will be in use until August 2007, when the permanent desalination plant is
commissioned, using seawater as feedstock,‖ Brian Purchas, Area Construction Manager -
Power Plant, said.

Sohar Aluminium, with its contractors Bechtel and Alstom Power Services Arabia, has
committed to meet national and international legislation concerning the protection of water
resources from pollution.

The company was formed in September 2004 to construct a world-class greenfield aluminium
smelter in Sohar. The smelter will consist of a single AP35 potline with associated carbon and
casting facilities and gas-fired power plant.

The 250-kiloton smelter is expected to begin operations in mid-2008. In July 2006, Bechtel was
appointed the EPCM contractor of the smelter.

Alstom Power Services Arabia is the turnkey EPC contractor building the $430 million,
1000MW Power Plant on behalf of Sohar Aluminium.

The shareholders of Sohar Aluminium are Oman Oil Company, Abu Dhabi Water and
Electricity Authority (ADWEA), and ALCAN. For the first potline, Oman Oil and ADWEA
each own a 40 per cent share of the company, with ALCAN owning the remaining 20 per cent.

Seminar on water tourism in Salalah

SALALAH — A seminar on water tourism during Salalah Khareef Festival will
commence on Wednesday in the Governorate of Dhofar. The seminar is being organised by the
Omani National Committee for International Hydrological Programme and the Ministry of
Regional Municipalities, Environ-ment and Water Resources.
The seminar aims to highlight the importance of water, during the Khareef season due to the
significant increase in the number of tourists from June-end to September. Water springs are
one of the tourism attractions in Dhofar. During the seminar, a number of working papers will
be presented and debated by Ministries of Regional Municipalities, Environ-ment and Water
Resources, Health, Agriculture and Fisheries, Transport and Communications, Meteoro-logy
Department, Sohar University and Salalah Waste Water Services Company.

The working papers will focus on the significance of water springs as one of the major water
resources in the Sultanate, impact of tourism on water resources and usage, proposed solutions
to develop and utilise water springs to enhance tourism attraction, the role played by different
authorities in this respect. About 360 water springs are found in Dhofar Governorate. Jarzeez,
Arzat, Sahanwat, Aishent, Hamran and Tobrouq are well-known springs in Dhofar.

Seasonal rains or locally known as Khareef is the main recharge source for water reservoir at
the Jabel and the Plain or (Sahal) in Dhofar Governorate. The Khareef season is coupled with
high level of humidity and heavy fog over the hills. The International Hydrolo-gical Programme
(IHP) is part of the (Unesco‘s) national sciences sector which was established 1965-1974. The
Oman National Committee for the IHP was set up in 1977 by the Ministry of Water Resources.
Its membership comprised of 10 governmental bodies.

The committee had been restructured by the ministerial decision 234/2005 issued by Ministries
of Regional Municipalities, Environment and Water Resources, Health, Transport and
Communi-cations, Housing, Electricity and Water, Agriculture and Fisheries, office of the
Minister of the State and Governor of Dhofar, Muscat Munici-palities, OCCI, SQU and PDO.

The aim of the committee is to communicate with international organisations and institutions
through the Omani National Committee for Education, Culture and Sciences to collect updated
technical information and make available assistance of these organisations and Unesco, IHP,
exchange of information and expertise with local, regional and international organisations. —

Saudi Arabia

Petroleum Ministry Sets Global ‘Green’ Forum

RIYADH, 12 August 2006 — The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources announced
yesterday that it would hold the first international conference on sustainable development in the
petroleum industry. The event, titled ―The Mechanism of Clean Development‖, is scheduled for
Sept. 19-21 at the King Faisal Hall at Riyadh‘s Inter-Continental Hotel. Mohammad Salem
Suror Al-Saban, a consultant to Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi, said
the conference aims to address the reconciliation between economic interests and environmental
concerns in a highly polluting industry and resource.

―The Kingdom has made its position clear along this line during the discussions on the United
Nation‘s Memorandum on Environmental Changes,‖ said Al-Saban, who is also the
conference‘s chairman. Al-Saban said the conference serves to allow Saudi executives and
others to take part in the conference and benefit from the different investment opportunities,
―like what has been done in China, India, Brazil and South Africa.‖

He added that the conference aims to outline the efforts of the Kingdom in protecting the
environment. Al-Saban added that the Kingdom encourages the use of available technology
without using ―artificial measures‖ or administrative and financial procedures such as taxes.

Al-Saban didn‘t refer specifically to the ―carbon credit‖ initiative, a proposal to set up a market
that allows countries to buy and sell the right to emit carbon emissions - which would benefit
countries with lower emissions that could sell their surplus quota to countries that pollute more.

Critics of such a scheme have called it an ―artificial‖ means of creating a commodity. Saudi
Arabia would likely be a loser in the carbon credit system considering its enormous
petrochemicals industry. The US, the world‘s largest carbon emitter, is also opposed to this
scheme and has not signed up for the Kyoto Accords out of concern of harming its economy.

Al-Saban said that international cooperation would minimize the negative effect of petroleum
producing countries to the economy. The conference will also discuss the legal aspects of
initiating the investment mechanism in the Kingdom, leading to the guidelines for international
companies to participate in investment opportunities in energy production, water desalination,
and petroleum projects.

On the last day of the conference, an open forum will be held among experts from the members
of the Organization of Oil Producing Countries and the European Union. The public will also
participate to be enlightened on how to benefit from carbon extraction and storage technology in
the petroleum sector and how the latter will increase production.

Distinguished local and foreign speakers will participate in the conference. The Saudi Arabian
General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and the Ministry of Agriculture will present their
respective papers on the occasion. Saudi Aramco and the King Saud University (KSU) will also
participate. Learn more about the conference at


Call for stricter measures to control wild life smuggling

Dubai: Stricter customs regulations need to be applied globally to minimise the illegal export
and import of endangered animals, said the Minister of Environment and Water.

Last year around 200 animals listed as endangered by the Convention on the International Trade
in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) and items were confiscated at points of
entry into the UAE, including six cheetahs, rhino horns, elephant tusks, a leopard skin, a bear
skin, more than 100 turtles, nearly 70 falcons and 73 kilos of caviar.

"Lions and animals like these are a country's assets, they are like gold and can bring more
money into a country through tourism than by selling them off," said Dr Mohammad Saeed Al
Kindi, Minister of Environment and Water.

Tricky situation

He said measures were constantly being taken to improve customs by employing experts and
training staff to recognise certain species that are not allowed into the country without proper

Dr Al Kindi, a CITES officer at the ministry in Dubai, said identifying species can sometimes
be tricky. "Cheetah cubs can find their way into the country as they can be mistaken for kittens,
lions are bit bigger but disguised in a cage with other cats, a smuggler will succeed in bringing
the animals in."

Dr Al Kindi said ivory was often imported into the UAE in the form of chopsticks or small
items, like statues but are all confiscated if found.

Abdullah Ahmad Bin Abdul Aziz, Assistant Deputy Minister for Agricultural Affairs at the
Ministry of Environment and Water, said the animal welfare legislation, which has been in the
pipeline for several years, was nearing completion. "We are in the final drafts of the law."

City planners need to begin 'thinking green'

ABU DHABI - City planners and developers need to start thinking "green" to give an impetus
to more economical and environment-friendly projects providing a safer and healthier
environment for the community, says a top environment official.

''Greener buildings are also known to boost employee morale," Majid Al Mansouri, Secretary
General of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has observed unveiling the third issue
of EAD's quarterly 'Al Dhabi' which focuses on Sustainable Cities and calls for "greener"
thinking when it comes to building and design in the UAE.

The issue features informative articles on the future of building 'green' in the UAE, cleaner
transportation as well as updates on the latest topics in the field of environment. It also explores
the alternative cleaner fuels available out there and their benefits to human health, the
environment and people's finances.

Moreover, reflecting EAD's strong belief in partnerships, Al Dhabi features an interview with
one of the Agency's key partners, the Ministry of Environment and Water.

On why the specific theme of Sustainable Cities was chosen for this issue, Al Mansouri had this
to say: "In the UAE, the majority of the population lives in cities, and today great importance is
beginning to be placed on concepts such as Green Design and Sustainable Building.''

According to EAD, 'Al Dhabi' is just one of the tools by which the Agency can achieve its far
sighted vision, which is carefully framed to strike a crucial balance between economic and
social development as well as environmental considerations.

Adopting a reader-friendly style aimed at all ages and professions, 'Al Dhabi' allows readers to
explore the latest developments in the field of environment without bombarding them with
detailed scientific information.

Al Dhabi's events calendar keeps readers up to date with environment-related conferences and
exhibitions being held in the UAE, the region and abroad.

Information on the EAD's publications as well as its latest projects can also be found, in
addition to a column focusing on the newest law regarding Waste Management within the
Emirate of Abu Dhabi and its significance to the average citizen and stakeholders.

Featured as well are rarely known environmental facts, quizzes for readers to boost their
environmental IQ and a chance for readers to submit their best environmental photographs. In
each issue, the quarterly takes the reader on a journey of an environmental spot in the UAE. In
this issue, the reader is encouraged to venture out of the city and explore Jebel Hafeet.

This bilingual quarterly was named 'Al Dhabi' to signify the Mountain gazelle, locally known as
'Dhabi' which gave the Emirate of Abu Dhabi its name. The name is also intended to reflect the
important consideration this environmental agency gives to the local environment.

The EAD launched the publication back in June 2005 to enhance the community's insight into
the world of environment in the hope that environmental awareness will increase and lead to
more environmental conservation. The first issue was on the theme of Air Quality and the
second introduced the reader to the concept of Sustainable Development.


Offers to help Lebanon clean up severe oil spill hinge on cease-fire

BEIRUT: The Environment Ministry said Friday that although numerous countries and
international agencies have offered to help clean up the Mediterranean's most severe oil spill,
any such efforts first required a true and lasting end to hostilities in Lebanon.

"Many countries have offered to help but on a condition that the security status is back to
normal," Environment Minister Yaacoub Sarraf said during a news conference on Friday.

Israeli air strikes targeted the Jiyye power plant's fuel storage tanks on July 13 and 15, causing
the spillage of between 10,000 and 15,000 tons of fuel oil into the Mediterranean.

Pools of oil have polluted 150 kilometers of the Lebanese coastline and have already reached
Syrian waters north of Lebanon.

Sarraf said his ministry was asking Lebanese to refrain from consuming any and all local
seafood until "proper scientific evidence" could be found to determine the levels of

"The attack on the eastern Mediterranean is exactly like AIDS, we don't know which part of the
ecosystem has been hit but any blow to one part is disastrous," Sarraf added.

The Agriculture Ministry's director general, Ghatass Akl, said initial tests showed that fish
along Lebanon's shores had yet to be contaminated.

"More tests will be performed in coordination with scientific laboratories to carry out periodic
tests, but [the initial tests showed] that eating fish was safe," Akl told The Daily Star in a
telephone interview.

However, officials are concerned that the spilled oil could become a potential source of benzol,
a soluble carcinogenic byproduct that would then contaminate the food chain, according to
Mazen Abboud, the head of the Union of Northern Associations.

Earlier this week, an Italian environmental agency that monitors the Mediterranean Sea said the
spill posed a heightened cancer risk.

In addition, Sarraf said one third of the Lebanese population was breathing toxic fumes as a
result of the days-long fires that erupted after the Israeli attack on the Jiyye power plant.

The cost of a full clean-up operation has been estimated at $150 million and would likely take at
least a year to complete, the minister added.

The United Nations Development Program has offered the Lebanese government $200,000 to
carry out an initial clean-up effort, said Maurice Dewulf, the UNDP deputy representative in

An oil spill response committee at the Environment Ministry has been conducting a technical
assessment of any future clean-up operation.

"We have finished the basic assessment with assistance from the EU and will soon propose a list
of priorities and a list of required equipment," Sarraf said.


Role of UN in spotlight

THE role of the United Nations in ending Israeli aggression against Lebanon was highlighted
yesterday at a meeting with the Press as part of relationship and confidence building measures.

The meeting, held at the UN House in Hoora, also covered mechanisms within the UN to
prevent such crises and the role of its organisations in the political, social and humanitarian

The UN currently has four main operations in Bahrain - the UN Development Programme
(UNDP), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Industrial Development Organisation
(UNIDO) and the UN Information Centre (UNIC).

Other UN funds, agencies and organisations are represented by the UN resident co-ordinator
Sayed Aqa.

UN representatives gave a brief introduction on the UN, including the way it works, its local
and global bodies.

The meeting was held as part of a new programme of participation initiated by the UN in
Bahrain earlier this year.

Focus on UN role in conflicts

United Nations agencies and offices in Bahrain yesterday briefed mediapersons on the UN‘s
role, its structure and its economic, social, political and humanitarian goals.
The Director of the UN Information Centre, Sayed Agha, also highlighted the UN‘s
environment programme. Ahmed Ali Ghesin form the UN was present.
The meeting also discussed the role of the General Assembly and its executive authority.
Agha congratulated Shaikha Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa, on her election as the first Arab
woman to chair the upcoming General Assembly session.
The meeting also discussed means of bolstering cooperation between the UN and the media
considered an essential partner in the development process which is based on global peace and
The discussion focused on the UN role in the conflicts in the Middle East.
Regarding the feelings of the Arab region towards the failure of the UN in solving the conflict
in Lebanon, the UN officials affirmed that the UN‘s Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, had called
for an immediate halt to the violent attacks and all possible help for the victims.
Annan also sent a number of delegates to the region to come up with a peace agreement.
The mediapersons lauded the UN role in the development and humanitarian fields and stressed
the importance of UN reforms.


MTC-VB to raise environmental awareness

The fourth annual MTC-Vodafone Treasure Hunt, originally conceptualised by public-relations
and event-management gurus T&M Eventscom, takes place on December 1. The event will
continue raising public awareness of environmental issues in Bahrain for the third consecutive
year but will be looking this year at another important issue which is industrial pollution.
Last year‘s focus was recycling and a greener Bahrain while in 2004 the theme was ―Driven for
a Better Environment.‖ Zakariya Khonji, public relations and environment media head, the
commission thanked MTC-Vodafone for its continuous support. ―I applaud company for its
initiative in working closely with us towards creating better environmental awareness and the
key role it plays in changing the environmental behaviour of the community. As a leading
mobile-communications company, it exemplifies corporate responsibility.‖
Hala Suleiman, marketing communications manager at MTC-Vodafone (Bahrain), reaffirmed
the company‘s commitment towards its social responsibilities, commented, ―the company has
high ethical standards and recognises the necessity of creating awareness on key environmental
issues and how to preserve the community we live in. As for the treasure-hunt concept, it
symbolises some of the elements of our work values and standards which are teamwork,
innovation and fun, and that is why we have chosen to support it for the third year.‖
Supporting events such as interactive workshops were also conducted leading up to the main
event. Teams will simultaneously be competing to solve clues, leading them along a pre-
determined map route to a wide spectrum of locations while being monitored by traffic police to
ensure they adhere to laws.

Close Dolphin Park call by rights group

A SECOND international animal welfare charity has called for the closure of the Dolphin Park
after an elephant seal was killed there in a fire.

UK-based Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) expressed its concerns about the
treatment of dolphins at the park, which is expected to open following repairs next month.

It follows calls from another UK charity, Marine Connection, last week for the permanent
closure of the park following the fire that broke out on August 4.

"We mirror the concerns raised by Marine Connection," said WDCS member Cathy Williamson
from Chippenham, Wiltshire.

"We are extremely concerned about the poor conditions of the facility, including the tiny
holding pools used to contain the animals and the impact on the surviving animals of the
damage caused by the fire."

Marine Connection captivity officer Adrina Murrell had earlier revealed her plans to write to
British Ambassador Robin Lamb, along with other concerned organisations, in the hope he will
support calls for the park to close.

However, Gulf Dolphin Company assistant general manager Ahmed Mahmoud Abd Al Aal,
who manages the facility, has repeatedly defended the park - saying it was opened with the
permission of the government.

"Hundreds of thousands of people are happy when they visit us," he said. "We respect their
opinion, but (the fire) was an accident."

Falcon eggs trail cold...

MANAMA: A TOP veterinarian yesterday dismissed reports that Bahrain could be among
destinations for 100 peregrine falcon eggs stolen in Scotland. The eggs of the birds, which are
almost extinct in Scotland, can fetch up to £300,000 (BD216,750) and were stolen by gangs
who sell them to Gulf falconers, according to a report in the UK's Sunday Mail.

The report named Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain as possible destinations, but Al Areen
Wildlife Park and Reserve veterinary section head, Mohammed Aladin Ashour, said Bahrain
would not be a good location for breeding the birds.

He said that even the few people who own them in Bahrain take them to other larger countries
to practise the sport of falconry.

"Falcons are trained here, but breeding them requires large areas of land that is not readily
available in Bahrain," he said.

"Falconers in Bahrain usually take their birds to hunting grounds in countries like Pakistan,
Turkmenistan and Iran to practise falconry.

"Breeding falcons is expensive and requires large areas of land, which is not freely available
here. If you released them here they could run into wire fences and other dangers very easily.

"Without large areas of land and the proper facilities, such as towers, baby falcons may never be
able to learn how to fly properly."

He added that authorities are very strict regarding the entry of animals and birds, including
eggs, into the country and that it would be highly unlikely that the birds would be smuggled in.

Mr Ashour added that those who practise falconry are also wealthy enough to be able to afford
the birds through legal means.

A national survey of peregrines in Scotland carried out 15 years ago recorded 625 breeding
pairs, but numbers have reportedly plummeted since.

Zeroeing in on climate

Climate change is hitting the headlines. But how can we separate fact from fiction? Students
from around the world were hard at work last month teasing out the truth and debating possible
solutions with British experts.

The British Council sponsored Yusuf Abdulla Al Mahmeed to represent Bahrain at the four-day
student summit in London‘s Natural History Museum. Over 100 young people from 20
countries attended. Keynote speakers included Sir David King, chief scientific advisor for the
UK government; Quintin Cooper, from BBC who visited Bahrain in January, and Nicky
Gavron, deputy mayor of London.
The climate change project is part of the council‘s global campaign called ZeroCarbonCity to
increase awareness about climate change and the energy challenges cities the world over are


Illegal hunters detainedPublished: Sunday, 13 August, 2006, 11:22 AM Doha Time

SOME Qatari nationals have been nabbed while hunting wild rabbits in the Semasma and
Qashamiyah areas, an official of the Supreme Council for Environment and Natural Reserves,
Jabor al-Atiyyah said in a press note issued yesterday.

Al-Atiyyah said the suspects violated the hunting law No 4 of the year 2002 which bans hunting
of wild animals, birds or reptiles on islands, natural reserves or within the borders of towns and

However, the second article of the same law permit hunting in areas other than stipulated above
from sunrise to sunset. The men were caught red handed at night.

He said that if convicted, they would be sentenced to one year imprisonment or fined QR10,000
or both.



                             UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE
                                     DAILY NEWS

11 August, 2006


The Security Council voted tonight to halt the deadly conflict that has
engulfed Lebanon and northern Israel for the past month, passing a
resolution that calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities followed by
the deployment of Lebanese troops and a significantly expanded United
Nations peacekeeping presence across southern Lebanon as well as the
withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the same area.

In a unanimous vote, conducted after weeks of intensive diplomacy with
Secretary-General Kofi Annan pushing for action, the 15-member Council
called for Hizbollah to stop all attacks immediately and for Israel to
cease ―all offensive military operations.‖

Welcoming the Lebanese Government‘s plan to deploy 15,000 troops across the
south of the country as Israel withdraws behind the Blue Line ―at the
earliest,‖ the Council backed the simultaneous deployment of a UN force
with an enhanced mandate, equipment and scope of operation.

The expanded UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) will be authorized to
have a maximum of 15,000 peacekeepers and its mandate has been extended by
12 months until August next year. The mission will be tasked with
monitoring the cessation of hostilities, helping to ensure humanitarian
access to civilians and the safe return of displaced persons, and
supporting the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy in the south and
enforce their responsibilities under the resolution.

The Council said it reserved the right to make further enhancements to
UNIFIL‘s mandate in a later resolution.

Underlining its desire ―to help secure a permanent ceasefire and a
long-term solution to the conflict,‖ the Council urged Israel and Lebanon
to work towards those goals while respecting several principles, including:

Respect for the Blue Line;

Ensuring the area between the Blue Line and the Litani river in southern Lebanon is free of any
armed personnel and weapons other than those of the Lebanese armed forces and UNIFIL;

and Full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, as well
as resolutions 1559 and 1680, that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon.

The text stressed the importance of not just ending the violence, but the
causes that gave rise to the current crisis, including ―the unconditional
release of the abducted Israeli soldiers.‖

It said the Council, ―mindful of the sensitivity of the issue of
prisoners,‖ encouraged efforts aimed at settling the issue of the hundreds
of Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel.

Council members also emphasized how vital it is that the Lebanese
Government is able to extend its authority across all of the country‘s
territory through the deployment of its armed forces.

The resolution also urged Member States to consider contributing to the
expanded UNIFIL force while calling on the international community to offer
financial and humanitarian aid to the Lebanese people, and to help
displaced persons return safely to the country. The Secretary-General was
asked to develop proposals within the next month on several issues,
including the delineation of Lebanon‘s border and the Shebaa farms area.

More than 1,000 people, nearly all of them civilians, have been killed in
Lebanon and northern Israel, and many more people injured, since fighting
broke out following Hizbollah‘s capture of two Israeli soldiers on 12 July.
As many as a quarter of Lebanon‘s population have been forced to flee their homes.



Welcoming tonight‘s Security Council resolution that calls for an immediate
cessation of hostilities in the Middle East, Secretary-General Kofi Annan
said he believed it could serve as a base to reach ―a sustainable and
lasting ceasefire agreement‖ in the coming days and ultimately to the start
of ―a process to solve the underlying political problems in the region
through political means.‖

In his address to the Council ahead of the vote on the resolution, Mr.
Annan said he would work with the Lebanese and Israeli Governments over the
weekend to determine ―the exact date and time at which the cessation of
hostilities will come into effect.‖

But the Secretary-General also told the 15-member body how ―profoundly
disappointed‖ he was that the Council took so long to agree to such a resolution.

―All members of this Council must be aware that its inability to act sooner
has badly shaken the world‘s faith in its authority and integrity,‖ he said.

In a unanimous vote, conducted after weeks of intensive diplomacy with Mr.
Annan pushing for action, the 15-member Council called for Hizbollah to
stop all attacks immediately and for Israel to cease ―all offensive

military operations.‖

The resolution welcomed the Lebanese Government‘s plan to deploy 15,000 of
its own troops in the country‘s south as Israel withdraws its forces behind
the Blue Line ―at the earliest,‖ while at the same time the size and
mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is significantly

During his speech, Mr. Annan said that too many children have died in the
conflict, and Lebanon‘s economy and infrastructure have been devastated at
a time when its population was ―making real progress towards political
reform and economic recovery.‖

The country‘s attempts to ―cast off the chains of external interference and
domestic strife‖ will require not only constructive cooperation among
Lebanon‘s different groups, but ―mutual goodwill and sustained dialogue‖
with key figures in the region, including the Syrian and Iranian

Voicing ―pride and admiration for the courage‖ of UN Interim Force in
Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeepers, as well as UN humanitarian workers, he
observed that UNIFIL faces a task under the resolution ―perhaps even more
difficult and dangerous than its previous one.

―It must be robust and effective, and ensure that no vacuum is left between
the Israeli withdrawal and the deployment of Lebanese forces,‖ he said,
adding it must be provided with sophisticated military capabilities and
additional troops as soon as possible.

Mr. Annan also called for:

humanitarian convoys and relief workers to be given ―a real guarantee of
safe passage and access to those who need help‖;

a resolution of the Shebaa Farms border dispute in accordance with resolution 1680;

the release of prisoners in the region, ―starting with those who have been taken hostage‖;

potential donors to respond swiftly to requests from Lebanon for financial help;

and the Security Council and the wider international community to tackle the crises in the
Middle East ―not in isolation or bilaterally, but as part of a holistic and comprehensive effort.‖

He also warned Council members not to turn their backs ―on the bloodshed,
suffering and hardship‖ suffered by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the
West Bank, or the danger to Israelis from rockets launched from inside Gaza.

The Lebanese Government said more than 1,000 of its civilians have been
killed and another 3,600 others have been injured, while about a quarter of
the population – or a million people – have been displaced from their

homes. Some 41 Israeli civilians have also died, while many others have had
to flee their homes or seek shelter from rocket attacks.

Lebanon‘s Acting Foreign Minister Tarek Mitri told the Council that while
his country is eager to see a cessation of hostilities, the nature of the
cessation must be the same for both sides. ―The Lebanese are not confident
in [an] Israeli distinction between ‗defensive‘ and ‗offensive.‘ The end to
military operations should be unqualified,‖ he said, adding that ―the
obscenely disproportionate and unjustifiable Israeli retaliation‖ has
already led to the deaths of more than 1,000 Lebanese.

Although Dr. Mitri welcomed the Council‘s acknowledgement of the Shebaa
Farms issue, he said a durable political solution to the crises in the
Middle East cannot ―be implemented as long as Israel continues to occupy
Arab land in Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank and in the Syrian Golan Heights,
and wages war on innocent people in Lebanon and Palestine.‖

Israeli ambassador Dan Gillerman said the resolution represented ―an
opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past and to create a genuine new
reality in our region,‖ citing the prohibition against the supply of
weapons to armed groups in Lebanon and ―a radically different international
force with a mandate and capabilities… to create a new situation in Lebanon
in which the borders will be secure.‖

Stressing, however, that the resolution will not work unless there is
international will to implement it, Mr. Gillerman warned against any
moderation towards those who conduct or support ―the campaign of terror,
motivated by fanatical intent and backed by lethal weapons of destruction,‖
both inside and outside the Middle East.

United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice welcomed the resolution‘s
adoption but said ―now, the hard and urgent work of implementation begins.‖
She urged the Governments of Israel and Lebanon to commit to ending
large-scale violence, adding that ―Hizbollah now faces a clear choice
between war and peace, and the world should help to ensure that the choice
is the right one.‖ The most pressing challenge is to help thousands of
displaced people, she said, pledging the support of the US in this effort.

―Finally, the Security Council of the United Nations is deciding to halt
war in Lebanon and Israel,‖ said the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France,
Philippe Douste-Blazy. ―Finally an end has been to the destruction, to the
thousands of displaced persons, to an economic, humanitarian situation that
is getting more tragic each day.‖ He called on all countries to contribute
to a reinforced UNIFIL, and said France, which is already part of the
Force, is examining the additional supplementary support that it might be
able to provide.

Qatar‘s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani, said
the Security Council should have adopted a resolution calling for an
immediate ceasefire since the first day of the current hostilities. The

resolution, though welcome, ―lacks balance and overlooks the accumulated,
complicated, historical, social and political factors that have culminated
in the current situation in the region.‖ It did not address the destruction
caused by Israel nor its legal and humanitarian responsibility.

He also announced that the League of Arab States would seek to convene a
high-level Security Council meeting in September aimed at adopting a new
resolution to establish a just peace in the region within a set time frame.



The Secretary-General‘s Special Representative for Iraq today condemned ―in
the strongest possible terms‖ yesterday‘s killings at a holy shrine in
Najaf, as well as the recent increase in sectarian violence that has
claimed the lives of hundreds of people throughout the country.

One day after the killings at the Imam Ali Shrine, Ashraf Qazi called on
Iraqi authorities and community leaders to ―preserve the sanctity of places
of worship, to value cultural and educational institutions and protect
public services.‖

Mr. Qazi urged all Iraqis to engage in sustained dialogue based on mutual
respect and tolerance rather than employing violent attacks to achieve their ends.

He also called on political, religious and tribal leaders, as well as
leaders of civil society, to promote tolerance between communities and
national reconciliation.

Mr. Qazi said the UN remained ready to support all efforts aimed at
restoring peace and security in Iraq. Yesterday, the Security Council
renewed the mandate of the UN mission in that country for one year.



The United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution today
condemning ―grave Israeli violations of human rights‖ in Lebanon, called
for all parties to respect the rules of humanitarian law, and decided to
immediately send a high-level team to investigate.

By a vote of 27 in favour, 11 against with four abstentions, today‘s
special session of the Council, which was called to discuss the worsening
conflict, also requested that the inquiry commission report back to the
47-member body by 1 September.

Among others, the Council ―strongly condemns the grave Israeli violations
of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law in
Lebanon…calls upon Israel to observe the principle of proportionality and
refrain from launching any attack that may be expected to cause incidental
loss of civilian life.‖

―[It]…urges all concerned parties to respect the rules of international
humanitarian law, to refrain from violence against the civilian population
and to treat under all circumstances all detained combatants and civilians
in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.‖

The Council also decided to ―urgently establish and immediately dispatch a
high-level inquiry commission comprising eminent experts of human rights
law and international humanitarian law.‖ Among others, the commission will
investigate ―the systematic targeting and killings of civilians by Israel.‖

At the start of the day-long debate, which saw speeches from more than 50
Member States and representatives of regional groups along with
representatives from 14 non-governmental organizations, the top UN rights
official stressed the need for a probe to investigate attacks against
civilians both in Lebanon and northern Israel.

―Civilians must never be the object of a direct intentional attack…And yet,
almost on a daily basis, information from the field indicates an alarming
pattern in the scale and choice of targets by all sides in the conflict,‖
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour told the meeting in

―The deaths of hundreds of civilians in documented and corroborated
incidents, involving either random or targeted attacks on civilian vehicles
or buildings, strongly suggest the indiscriminate use of force,‖ she added,
highlighting both the effect on civilians of Israeli attacks and
Hizbollah‘s indiscriminate shelling of northern Israel.

―There is a clear and urgent need to bring clarity to a situation in which
facts and allegations are now given the same credit but without the benefit
of systematic, independent, thorough and credible scrutiny.‖

She drew attention to the Israeli attack on 30 July in Qana, southern
Lebanon, which killed scores of civilians, including a large number of
children, who had sought shelter there, and also spoke of the ―repeated
allegations of Hizbollah‘s systematic use of civilians as human shields.‖

―The independence, impartiality and objectivity of such an inquiry must be
guaranteed not only by the credibility of the panel members, but also by
the scope and methodology of their mandate…It should address all violations
by all parties, and lay the foundation for possible measures of reparation
and accountability.‖

Ms. Arbour said she was ―particularly concerned‖ about the humanitarian

situation of the population remaining in the south of Lebanon, especially
following the destruction of the last bridge over the Litani River.

―They are in dire need of food, water, and medical assistance, which
humanitarian workers are no longer able to deliver… The plight of displaced
persons in the war zone and of refugees in neighbouring countries is also
of grave concern. Their right to food, to health, to adequate housing, the
right of their children to education must be respected.‖

―Nearly a month from its beginning and worsening by the day, this crisis
demands a firm and meaningful response from this Council,‖ she said, of the
body that was set up to replaced the much-criticized Human Rights

Today‘s special session was called in response to a request from Tunisia on
behalf of the Group of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic
Conference, which was supported in total by 16 Member States.

In a related development, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination this afternoon adopted a statement on Lebanon expressing
concern that the continuation of the conflict ―may intensify racial
discrimination and hatred in the region and the wider world.‖ The Committee
held a debate on the worsening conflict earlier this month.



Warning of deteriorating security conditions in Darfur and the grave
challenges facing relief efforts there, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has
urged the Security Council to work urgently to address the situation in the
war-torn region.

In a letter dated 10 August to the Council President, Ambassador Nana
Effah-Apenteng of Ghana, the Secretary-General noted that there had been an
upsurge in violence in Darfur in recent weeks.

Consequently, civilians were forced to flee an onslaught of indiscriminate
killings, rapes, and abductions while humanitarian organizations were
unable to assist hundreds of thousands of people in need.

The Secretary-General called July ―a harrowing month‖ for relief workers in
the region, citing statistics from the Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) showing 36 reported attacks on aid operations
and nine staff members killed.

―As a result of the fighting and direct targeting of humanitarians, only 50
per cent of civilians affected by the conflict can be reached by
humanitarian organizations,‖ Mr. Annan said, noting that 1.6 million people

were either inaccessible or reachable only by putting the lives of aid
workers directly at risk.

Scores of thousands have been killed and more than 2 million displaced
during the three-year-old Darfur conflict.

Mr. Annan noted there had been some progress in the implementation of the
Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) since its signing in May, though some
deadlines for implementing its key aspects had been missed and several
rebel groups were not yet parties to the agreement.

―Both DPA signatories have violated the ceasefire arrangements, while
non-signatories have violated pre-existing ceasefire obligations,‖ he said.

Against this backdrop, the prospects for international assistance
operations were bleak, he said, noting that the African Union has indicated
that it may not have enough money to keep its 7,000-strong Darfur operation
going until its mandate expires at the end of September.

The possibility of having the UN take the place of the African Mission in
Sudan (AMIS) also remained in doubt, he said, since the Sudanese government
continued to oppose a UN mission in Darfur.

―While the Government maintains its firm opposition to this plan, the
situation on the ground is deteriorating,‖ he said.



A Hizbollah missile struck the headquarters of the United Nations Interim
Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the city of Naqoura last night, lightly
wounding one French soldier and causing extensive material damage to the

In a statement issued from Naqoura, UNIFIL said its headquarters were hit
directly by the Katyusha rocket, but gave no further details about the
incident, which came amid continuing fierce fighting in the region between
members of Hizbollah and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York that Hizbollah
was also responsible for a series of small arms firing assaults on UNIFIL
vehicles and staff, including an attack earlier today on a de-mining team.
He said there were no other casualties in these incidents.

The statement from Naqoura noted that an artillery round from an unknown
source struck 10 metres from a UNIFIL position near the town of Hula,
adding that the mission has protested about all the incidents over the past
24 hours to the Lebanese and Israeli authorities.

After receiving Israeli security clearance earlier today, Mr. Dujarric said
UNIFIL troops escorted a convoy of 180 vehicles containing 350 Lebanese
troops and some civilians northward from the town of Marjayoun, where the
IDF took over the Lebanese Joint Security Force headquarters yesterday. He
said the convoy has since proceeded north without UNIFIL escort.

In other news, UNIFIL said it dispatched a medical and rescue team to the
village of Haris to provide aid to 25 civilians wounded as a result of
intensive shelling there, and later transferred seven people with serious
injuries to Tibnin in preparation for relocation to an area hospital.

The mission warned it may not be able to maintain some of the forward
positions of its Indian battalions in the eastern sector of its operations
in southern Lebanon unless it is able to re-supply those positions today,
as they are facing critical fuel shortages.



Expressing deep sadness over the deadly floods in India, which have killed
over 160 people and affected more than 6 million, United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today the world body was ready to offer
whatever assistance was needed to help the Government deal with the

―The Secretary-General regrets the loss of life due to this tragedy and
extends his condolences to the victims and their families,‖ according to a
statement released in New York, in which Mr. Annan also commended India
authorities for their rapid search and rescue operations.

He also regretted the damage to property caused by the recent floods that
affected the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat and said
that the world body ―stands ready to offer any assistance requested by the
Indian Government to support the national response to this disaster.‖



Nigeria has completed withdrawing its troops from the Bakassi Peninsula,
beginning the next phase in the implementation of the pact signed under
United Nations auspices in June that ensures the border area‘s peaceful
transfer to Cameroon.

The UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) said in a statement issued in Dakar
today that the two countries will use the next meeting of the

Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission to discuss how to delineate their
maritime boundary.

The troop withdrawal follows the signing of the Greentree Agreement in New
York in June in which Nigeria recognized Cameroon‘s sovereignty over the
territory, in accordance with a ruling by the International Court of
Justice (ICJ) in 2002, and agreed to withdraw its forces and

The accord was the culmination of the work of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed
Commission, set up by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to peacefully resolve
the Bakassi dispute and hailed as a dispute-resolution model for other
conflicts in Africa.

The Secretary-General‘s Special Representative for West Africa, Ahmedou
Ould-Abdallah, who described the troop withdrawal as ―a very important step
forward,‖ also told the UN News Centre that the leaders of several other
countries in the region have informed him they would now like to use a
similar model to resolve their border disputes.

Mr. Ould-Abdallah said the UN will have at least a dozen civilian observers
in place to monitor the situation on the Bakassi Peninsula following the
troop withdrawal and to ―give reassurance‖ to locals that there will be no
retribution or revenge taken against them. He said he was also confident
that Cameroon and Nigeria would address the concerns of those locals who
demonstrated last week about the recent changes.

Located on the Gulf of Guinea, the Bakassi Peninsula had been the subject
of intense and sometimes violent disputes between the two countries for
dozens of years when Cameroon referred the matter to the ICJ in 1994.



Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho, one of the world's best known sports
figures, agreed today to use his celebrity status to help the United
Nations fight poverty when he was appointed UN Spokesperson for Sport for
Development and Peace.

After meeting Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Ronaldo Assis de Moreira, or
Ronaldinho as he is known worldwide, told a press conference in New York
that he was ―extremely honoured and excited‖ to lend his support to the
world body‘s peace and development work.

―Sport is a universal language that has no barriers. Football has obviously
provided me with a wonderful life, and I believe it is now my mission to
give something back and to help youth understand that the power of sport
can help them achieve their dreams,‖ he said.

One of Ronaldinho‘s first activities as Spokesperson will be helping
mobilize youth worldwide to tackle poverty in connection with the UN‘s
Global Youth Leadership Summit in New York set to take place from 29 to 31
October, the world body said in a press release.

His appointment was made on behalf of Adolf Ogi, Special Adviser to the
Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, by Djibril Diallo,
Director of the UN New York Office of Sport for Development and Peace 2005.

―Ronaldinho‘s appointment builds on the momentum of the International Year
of Sport and Physical Education 2005 by helping mobilize the world of
soccer and its fans in support of social and economic development, health,
education and peace,‖ Mr. Ogi, former President of Switzerland, said in a
message for today‘s event.

Ronaldinho, who is a midfield player for FC Barcelona and was the
Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Player of
the Year in 2004 and 2005, will be paid a symbolic salary of $1 a year for
his UN work, said Mr. Diallo, adding that the contract will be for two years.

In a related development, Ronaldinho was also honoured today for his
humanitarian contributions by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO),
which is the regional office for the Americas of the World Health
Organization (WHO).

At a ceremony in New York, Ronaldinho received the PAHO ―Champion of
Health‖ award from Deputy Director Dr. Joxel García for his work in
supporting the organization‘s vaccination coverage throughout the Americas,
as well as its programme to reduce youth violence through awareness campaigns.

Ronaldinho also serves as a UN World Food Programme (WFP) Ambassador
Against Hunger.



With more than a thousand people killed in the worsening conflict between
Hizbollah and Israel and around a quarter of Lebanon‘s entire population
forced to flee their homes, the United Nation‘s Children‘s Fund (UNICEF)
today stressed the urgent need to allow humanitarian aid to get through, as
the world body said it was airlifting more emergency supplies into Beirut
but that land convoys were still facing problems.

Listing the growing humanitarian cost of the conflict, UNICEF Executive
Director Ann M. Veneman highlighted its impact on children, noting that
along with those killed and injured ―countless others are living in
extremely precarious conditions which are worsening daily, with limited

access to clean water, food, medicine and hygiene supplies.‖

She pointed out that thousands of families and children critically need
support. ―At present we are unable to reach the majority of them,‖ she
said. ―We call upon the parties to urgently agree to a cessation of
hostilities to allow humanitarian agencies to deliver needed supplies.‖

UNICEF, which is involved in various aspects of emergency work including
supporting an immunization campaign to protect Lebanese children against
measles and polio, is also working to help young people deal with the
deaths, injury and other terrifying events they and their families have

―By keeping families together and organising structured activities we can
go some way towards putting normality back into the lives of these children
and their parents,‖ says UNICEF regional child protection adviser Trish
Hiddleston. ―Children do have an inner resilience in times of crisis – we
have to build on this.‖

Implementing Secretary-General Kofi Annan‘s call for an immediate cessation
of hostilities will be the most effective way to protect these children
from further distress and provide an opportunity for their healing and
recovery, the agency said in a press release.

Also on the humanitarian front, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) has started an airlift from Jordan and Denmark to help rush tonnes
of urgently needed supplies to Lebanon, including medicines from the UN
World Health Organization (WHO), it said in a press release, adding that
the first flight got through on Thursday and a second flight landed in
Beirut this morning.

UNHCR said more flights are being planned and sea routes are also being
used to bring in supplies because the severely damaged roads between the
border with Syria – where the agency has a major supply base – have slowed
up the convoys and made it increasingly difficult to move emergency aid in bulk.

Israeli warnings and air strikes in the densely populated southern suburbs
of Beirut are also creating havoc as people flee to overcrowded areas for
safety and the aid agencies scramble to help, according to UNHCR.

―It is really impossible for thousands of civilians to leave their homes in
a matter of hours and find safety nearby, particularly when the public
centres are already bursting with displaced people,‖ said UNHCR's
representative in Lebanon, Stephane Jaquemet. ―For those who have already
been displaced once and fled to find safety in Beirut, only to be displaced
a second time, is exceptionally tough and frightening,‖ he added.

The UN refugee agency has also started setting up tented camps in Syria to
help deal with around 160,000 Lebanese who have fled to safety there, a UN
spokesman told reporters in New York.

Permission for UN convoys to southern Lebanon continues to be denied by the
Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), the Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today, while noting also that there‘s been
no improvement in the countrywide fuel shortage.

OCHA says that according to the Lebanese Higher Relief Council, 1,056
Lebanese have been killed and 3,600 wounded in the past month of conflict,
while Israel‘s Government reports that 41 Israeli civilians have been killed.

Adding his weight to broader UN calls for an immediate cessation of
hostilities in the Middle East, was the head of the UN Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today who also warned of the
conflict‘s longer-term impact on the young people of the region.

―Moreover, what does the future hold for the youth of the Middle East –
whatever their nationality, affiliation or religion – when their minds risk
being so deeply troubled that they will never be able to learn to talk to
one another or live side by side?‖ Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura asked.



Young people from the far reaches of the globe gathered at United Nations
Headquarters in New York today to discuss measures they can take in
tackling youth poverty at an event to commemorate International Youth Day,
marked each year on 12 August.

―The world‘s young people, now numbering more than 1 billion, are a major
human resource for development and can be key agents of innovation and
positive social change. Yet the scale of youth poverty robs the world of
that potential,‖ UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message on the

With almost half of the world‘s population under 25 years old and surviving
on less than $2 a day, the repercussions of youth poverty are immense.Problems include hunger
and malnutrition, lack of access to education and
basic services, unemployment, increased disease and illness, homelessness
and lack of participation in decision-making, Director of the UN Division
for Social Policy and Development Johan Schölvinck said at the opening of
the event.

International youth studying human rights as well as volunteers from New
York-area YMCAs assembled to discuss poverty issues from their

―I came because I wanted to learn something more about how things work out
in different countries. After my interaction with people from Nepal, people

from Uzbekistan and all the different countries I think people are the same
everywhere. The problems are the same everywhere,‖ Vikas Sharma from India
told the UN News Service.

―I knew poverty existed in the US, but I wasn‘t aware that it was so
similar. In Costa Rica, for example, a big issue a part of poverty there is
the lack of education – there‘s a lack of schools, a lack of money to pay
teachers and that‘s the same thing that we‘re dealing with here (in New
York). Before I went abroad, I wasn‘t aware of how similar our problems
are,‖ Janai Smith told the crowd of young people about her homestay visit
to Costa Rica in 2005.

Community service and education were the poverty solutions highlighted in
discussions. ―Our challenge is clear: we must pay more attention to
education and in particular to the transition from education to employment.
And the ability of youth to find full and productive employment must be a
central objective of national development strategies, including poverty
reduction policies,‖ Mr. Annan wrote.

Many youth agreed with the Secretary-General. Rakhmadjon Sobirov of
Uzbekistan stressed the potential of young people to help foster a better
future in their countries by improving themselves through learning. ―We see
the only way is through education and becoming a specialist in our own
field,‖ he said. ―Whether as a lawyer or economist, everyone has their own
share to contribute.‖



In a bid to help prevent the spread of disease, the lead United Nations
agency managing camps that continue to house thousands of refugees from
last October‘s deadly earthquake in Pakistan has just completed a campaign
to promote better hygiene.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) carried out Operation
Heartbeat over the last two weeks in eight camps near Muzaffarabad, the
provincial capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir and epicentre of the
devastating 8 October quake.

As part of the campaign, UNHCR and its partner, Operation Heartbeat, a
United States-based medical relief organization, distributed UN Population
Fund (UNFPA) hygiene kits containing towels, soap, bandages and liquid
antiseptic. Representatives from the camp population were also trained to
educate their own communities on hygiene and sanitation issues.

―We need to see camp dwellers not simply as the beneficiaries of
humanitarian aid, but as potential contributors to sustainable
development,‖ said Catherine Harding, UNHCR‘s community services officer in


Ms. Harding noted that more than half the curative medical services
provided in the quake zone since last October have been for diseases linked
to poor hygiene and sanitation, making community-based health education essential.

The quake killed more than 73,000 people, injured nearly 70,000 and left
millions homeless. While more than 147,000 people have returned home since
the refugee camps started closing in March of this year, some 31,000 people
continue to live in 56 major camps.



Tens of thousands of Sri Lankans have been forced to flee their homes
because of the escalating violence in the northeast of the country, the
United Nations refugee agency said today as it warned that many more have
probably been displaced but cannot be reached by humanitarian groups
because of the continued fighting.

The news comes as three UN human rights experts condemned a recent wave of
killings across Sri Lanka that has included the execution-style murders of
17 aid workers.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis
told reporters at a briefing in Geneva that more than 50,000 internally
displaced persons (IDPs) have had to take shelter in Trincomalee district,
scene to some of the worst clashes in recent weeks.

She said the number of IDPs has swelled in the past few days, partly
because local authorities have re-established contact with areas previously
in the front line of fierce fighting between Government forces and members
of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). On Tuesday, before
that contact was made, authorities had estimated the number of IDPs at
about 21,000.

UNHCR is dispatching cooking sets, plastic sheeting, hygiene kits and other
items to the affected areas, often in cooperation with local branches of
non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Ms. Pagonis said the relief effort is also focusing on delivering water,
sanitation and medical services to IDPs, especially in Kantale, where
overcrowding has been reported.

But UN agencies remain unable to secure access to some parts of Trincomalee
district, including the towns of Muttur and Seruwila and the division of
Eachchilampattai, where civilians have reportedly become trapped by the fighting.

Ms. Pagonis added that UNHCR is alarmed by reports that as many as 4,000
people have fled further south to Vaharai on the northern border of
neighbouring Batticaloa district.

―We have been unable access the area for the last two weeks, but reports
indicate the situation for IDPs in the division is deteriorating and urgent
assistance is required,‖ she said.

The recent surge of violence has included the killings of 17 workers from
the NGO Action Contre la Faim (Action Against Hunger) on Sunday and the
death of two civilians in a car bombing in the capital, Colombo, on

In a statement issued today, the Secretary-General‘s Special Representative
on human rights defenders Hina Jilani, the Special Rapporteur on
extrajudicial, arbitrary and summary executions, Philip Alston, and the
Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, expressed alarm at
the growing violence, especially the killing of the aid workers.

―The deliberate targeting of humanitarian workers is a serious violation of
the basic principles of international human rights and humanitarian law and
the Declaration of Human Rights,‖ they said.

Calling for an immediate and independent inquiry into the aid workers‘
murder, the three experts welcomed the Sri Lankan Government‘s promise to
conduct such a probe and its request for Australia to send a forensic
expert to assist the investigation.

The experts said the Muslim population in Muttur has suffered
disproportionately in the recent fighting, which has ―created a climate of
fear making life intolerable‖ for locals and imperilled the local water supply.

They urged Colombo and the LTTE ―to immediately halt the violence, the
deliberate targeting of civilians and promptly return to negotiations to
solve this current impasse.‖

Special rapporteurs are unpaid experts serving in an independent personal
capacity who received their mandate from the defunct UN Commission on Human
Rights and who will now report to the recently established and enhanced
Human Rights Council.



The head of the United Nations cultural agency today sounded the alarm
about threatened heritage sites in Israel and Lebanon, calling on both
sides of the current conflict to safeguard properties that are part of
humanity‘s ancestral legacy.

The Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO), Koïchiro Matsuura, singled out the site of Tyre, in
southern Lebanon, which remains cut off after the Israeli Defence Forces
destroyed roads and bridges leading to the city. The agency has previously
launched two urgent appeals, asking the parties to the conflict to spare
the site and its surroundings.

In renewing the appeal, Mr. Matsuura extended the call for protection to
other endangered cultural and historical heritage sites, including Baalbek,
Byblos, Anjar, the Holy Valley and the Forest of the Cedars of God in
Lebanon, as well as the Old City of Acre in Israel.

―All these names – names that stir the imagination – are symbols of the
encounter of religions and cultures that are universally recognized as our
common heritage,‖ he said. ―We must ensure that they survive to be handed
down to future generations, just as previous generations handed them down
to us,‖ said the chief of the Paris-based agency.

While Mr. Matsuura said the more immediate concern is of course ―the men,
women and especially the children who are experiencing the ordeal of fire,
shelling and despair,‖ the world must also protect the area‘s ―cultural
properties of inestimable value.‖

Mr. Matsuura said that as soon as conditions allow, UNESCO will help assess
the condition of these sites and provide expertise for their



The United Nations Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) is working with the
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Organization of American
States (OAS) to help ensure free, timely, universal birth registration for
children in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2015.

Joined by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, newly inaugurated to a second
term, the leaders of the three organizations gathered in Bogota this week
to support the initiative, which aims to grant an official identity to
millions of the region‘s unregistered children who remain largely invisible
in their own countries.

―This partnership seeks to end the economic, political and social exclusion
of undocumented citizens,‖ said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman.
―When children are not registered, they are not counted and included in
statistics. Without reliable statistics, we cannot have reliable programmes
and services for the children who need them most.‖

The alliance will strengthen IDB‘s and UNICEF‘s ongoing efforts to
eliminate barriers that impede registration in Latin America and the
Caribbean through measures such as improving the collection and
dissemination of data relating to birth registration, supporting the
modernization of civil registry systems, and linking birth registration
with other social services.

Although the region exceeds world averages in birth registration, there are
considerable disparities both among and within countries. For example,
while Cuba (99 per cent) and Chile (95 per cent) can boast nearly universal
registration, Haiti (70 per cent) and the Dominican Republic (75 per cent)
are still a long way from achieving that goal.

In the region, it is estimated that more than one in six children who are
born every year go unregistered, UNICEF said, for an overall estimated
total of close to 2 million of the 11 million annual births.

Citizens who lack identity documents have difficulty obtaining employment,
accessing credit, opening a savings account and inheriting property,
according to the agency. Voting and being elected to office may also be
restricted. For children, lack of registration can sentence them to a life
of exclusion and invisibility by creating a barrier to access health,
education and social services, while placing them at greater risk of abuse
and exploitation.



The three officials serving on the United Nations Independent Special
Commission of Inquiry for Timor-Leste today completed the first of two
visits aimed at looking into the violence that exploded in the country
earlier this year, causing dozens of deaths and forcing 15 per cent of the
country‘s entire population to flee their homes.

At a departure news conference, Commission Chairman Paulo Sergio Pinheiro
of Brazil said its aim was to ―to provide an honest, truthful, narrative of
the establishment of the facts‖ of the shootings of April and May and their causes.

The violence broke out after the government dismissed some 600 soldiers who
had been on strike, claiming discrimination in promotions and benefits. A
total of 37 people were killed and an additional 155,000 were forced to
flee their homes and seek shelter in makeshift camps or with host families.

Mr. Pinheiro said the three commissioners – himself, Zelda Holtzman of
South Africa and Ralph Zacklin of Great Britain – would return in September
and complete their report to the Secretary-General Kofi Annan by the first
week in October.

He noted hat the body aims to gather facts. ―We do not have power to summon
individuals, no power to prosecute or to judge anyone,‖ he said, stressing
that the experts did not form a court or a tribunal.

But he added that their recommendations ―will include some measure of
accountability for individuals or institutions for the crisis that erupted
in April and May.‖

During their visit, commissioners met the Timorese President, the Prime
Minister, and the former Prime Minister, leaders of political parties,
military leaders, police authorities, church leaders, the diplomatic
community, the UN country representative and the UN country team and
leaders of other institutions.

The Secretary-General, in a report on Timor-Leste released today,
underscored the importance of ensuring that perpetrators answer for their
crimes. ―Reconciliation must be based on truth, and on the accountability
of those with responsibility for violations of human rights, whether
criminal or political,‖ he said. ―The Independent Special Commission of
Inquiry will, I am confident, offer a good basis for this in relation to
recent events.‖

The report also called on officials of the small country to foster
understanding and get beyond past discord. ―It is time for the Timorese
leadership to rise above both recent conflicts and older divisions, going
back to the 1970s, to enable the Timorese people to look together to a
better future,‖ Mr. Annan said. ―The east-west tensions which have emerged
in the violence may not be deeply rooted, but they have acquired a reality
which now needs to be addressed through the active efforts of the political
and religious leadership if community reconciliation is to be achieved,
especially in Dili.‖

In another development today, the Secretary-General‘s Special
Representative in Timor-Leste, Sukehiro Hasegawa, visited Becora Prison,
east of Dili, to assess the conditions of the detention facilities and the
well-being of the prison inmates.

He said he found that the basic needs of inmates were met but that prison
facilities need improvement.

Mr. Hasegawa‘s visit to Becora Prison followed a period of unrest and
insecurity that has led to an increased number of arrests and detentions
over the last few weeks.

While there, Prison Manager Carlos Sarmento told the UN envoy that there
was a need for further improvement of existing prison facilities. Mr.
Hasegawa agreed that, ―Proper maintenance of detention facilities is vital
to ensure that human dignity and respect for human rights are preserved.‖



As part of ongoing efforts by the United Nations to help Liberia prevent
and fight crime as it consolidates stability, the UN peacekeeping operation
in the country has renovated a police sub-station just outside of the
capital, Monrovia.

At a ceremony Thursday which was attended by senior Liberian officials,
Secretary-General Kofi Annan‘s Special Representative, Alan Doss, hailed
the restoration of the Soul Clinic Police Community Depot restored after
being destroyed by the war.

Mr. Doss also assured residents of the community, located in the
Paynesville suburb, that the UN is committed to working to restore the
effectiveness of the Liberian National Police.

The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has to date trained over 1,800 Liberian
officers and several hundred others are undergoing training.

Mr. Doss the UN aims to properly train and equip 3,500 and deploy them
throughout the country by next year. ―To do that, we need infrastructure,
and this Soul Clinic Police sub-station is part of a bigger programme
funded by our Quick Impact Projects to construct police stations all over
the country,‖ he said.

UNMIL has already committed to constructing 10 police stations in six
counties, of which three had been completed, and that another 12 police
stations in nine counties were under consideration for funding during the
next few months.

Mr. Doss hoped that the Paynesville community ―will not just see this as a
building that the UN has put up and LNP occupies, but see this as a
community center in which they have a great investment, and which they have
a responsibility to help maintain and to help function properly.‖

Also on Thursday, Mr. Doss turned over the Paynesville Community Town Hall,
which contains magistrate courts and was also renovated by UNMIL.



Following devastating floods in eastern Ethiopia, the United Nations World
Food Programme (WFP) is rushing to assess the needs of an estimated 10,000
people left homeless by the disaster, which killed over 200 others.

Once the assessment and registration is complete, survivors will
immediately receive a food ration consisting of cereals, vegetable oil,

vitamin and mineral enriched blended food and salt to last for one month,
the Rome-based agency said in a news release.

―Everyone appreciates the need to move quickly and to help people, many of
whom have nothing but the clothes on their backs, in whatever way we can,‖
said Abnezer Ngowi, WFP Acting Country Director in Ethiopia.

Thousands of people are camped out in temporary shelters as rescue workers
use bulldozers and digging equipment to clear mud and sand dumped in Dire
Dawa town and the surrounding areas after the Dechatu River burst its banks
on Saturday night, the agency said.

Some 220 people are known to have died, although officials say the death
toll is likely to rise because more than 300 people are still reported
missing. The floods swept away houses, vehicles and animals and destroyed
markets and shops.

―We have deployed logistics officers, field monitors and staff from our
offices in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa to assist our UN colleagues and the
local administration in the relief effort,‖ said Mr. Ngowi.

Heavy rainfall in Ethiopia often impacts neighbouring Somalia, and the
agency‘s officials there say they are on standby to help. ―We are
monitoring the situation very closely and are ready with relief assistance
as needed,‖ said Leo van der Velden, WFP‘s Acting Country Director for Somalia.



The United Nations refugee agency, which is currently caring for thousands
of Somalis who fled to Kenya to escape fighting between warlords and the
Union of Islamic Courts, today warned that if violence intensifies, more
will cross the border.

Some 100 Somali refugees are arriving every day at Dadaab in north-east
Kenya ―but UNHCR is concerned that the figure could rise much higher if
hostilities in neighbouring Somalia escalate,‖ Jennifer Pagonis, a
spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters in

―Many of those who have arrived in the past week said they had fled
Mogadishu to escape fighting between the Union of Islamic Courts and a
loose alliance of warlords, who controlled the Somali capital for years.‖
The Union took over the capital in June.

Since the beginning of the year, some 18,000 Somali refugees have arrived
in Dadaab, where three refugee camps already hosted some 134,000 mainly
Somali refugees. ―If the current rate of arrival continues, we can expect

another 12,000 refugees by the end of the year,‖ Ms. Pagonis said.

The refugees who arrive in the semi-arid region of Dadaab are generally in
good health, but many are visibly exhausted from the long trek, according
to UNHCR. One man, who fled Mogadishu after his two brothers were killed in
a gun battle in the capital, said he had been on the road for more than
three weeks, travelling mainly on foot.

Upon arrival in Dadaab, the refugees are received at a registration centre
where UNHCR staff carry out a rapid screening exercise. They then receive
basic household items such as blankets, jerry cans, mats and kitchen
utensils, but Ms. Pagonis said the agency‘s current stocks ―are very limited.‖

There are 227,400 refugees in Kenya, mainly from Somalia and Sudan.



The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is calling for a
thorough investigation into the murders of five Awá indigenous people in
Colombia on Wednesday – a attack which directly followed the agency‘s
appeal to warring parties to leave those groups out of their conflict.

―UNHCR is saddened at the killings and especially shocked that the murders
occurred on World Indigenous Day, when we were drawing attention to the
plight of indigenous people in Colombia,‖ said agency spokesperson Jennifer
Pagonis, calling on the Colombian Government to fulfil its duty to protect
its citizens.

―We are especially concerned at the tragic death of five people who were
registered as displaced and in clear need of state protection,‖ she added.

The killings occurred just in the village of Altaquer in the south-eastern
department of Nariño and followed warnings by UNHCR that same day that
Colombia's indigenous people were facing terrible consequences of the

The murdered five – three men and two women – were registered as forcibly
displaced and were part of a group of some 1,700 Awá who fled their
territory last month to escape fighting between the military and an
irregular armed group. One of those killed was a former governor, or
leader, of the Awá people, and one of the women killed was a teacher who
left behind four orphaned children, Ms. Pagonis said.

According to eyewitnesses, nine armed men conducted a house-to-house search
shortly before dawn, took the five people and shot them. ―The men also went
to the house of the current leader of the Awá people who was in Bogota with
her husband and four-year-old daughter to take part in events organised by

UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies on the occasion of World Indigenous
Day,‖ Ms. Pagonis told reporters at a press briefing in Geneva.

A UNHCR staff member is currently in Altaquer to support the displaced
community following the killings.

On the day the killings occurred, UNHCR had called on all armed groups in
Colombia to leave the indigenous population out of the armed conflict.

―These latest murders add to the urgency of this appeal,‖ said Ms. Pagonis,
noting that indigenous people have increasingly been the victims of
Colombia‘s violence in recent years.

―To make matters worst, when they are forced to displace, they often come
under suspicion of collaborating with the very armed groups they have tried
to escape. More than ever, UNHCR is calling for this persecution of
innocent people, which threatens the very survival of entire groups, to stop.‖


       11 August 2006
       The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today‘s noon briefing by Stéphane
Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
       Good afternoon.
        Earlier this morning, the Secretary-General spoke to some of you to stress his desire to
see a vote on a resolution today regarding the situation inside Lebanon.
       ―Each day the discussions go on,‖ he said, ―the death, the killing and the destruction
continues in the region, and the civilians on both sides continue to suffer‖.
       He stressed that now is the time for decisions.
       And the full transcript, of course, is available upstairs.
       **Security Council
        Earlier this morning, the Security Council members met in closed consultations to discuss
the status of a resolution regarding Lebanon.
        Obviously, we may see further meetings of the Council as the day goes on, but nothing
is on the official schedule. But, no doubt, there will be more.
     And today is also the day where the President of the Security Council, the Permanent
Ambassador of Ghana, hosts the monthly lunch for the Secretary-General and the other Council
       This month, because of safety issues due to lack of space, there will be no press stakeout
outside of the Delegates Dining Room. However, the second floor stakeout outside the Security
Council will be up and running for any of the Ambassadors who wish to speak after the lunch.
       ** Lebanon
        Meanwhile, from the field, at the request of the Government of Lebanon and with the
consent of the Israeli Defense Forces, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon -– UNIFIL -- this
morning successfully escorted a convoy of some 80 vehicles carrying some 350 Lebanese
troops, as well as some 100 vehicles carrying civilians, from the town of Marjayoun. This
comes after the IDF today took over the Lebanese Joint Security Force headquarters in that
       UNIFIL says that convoy, having received Israeli security clearance, is now proceeding
north without UNIFIL escort.
       The peacekeeping Force also reports that one Katyusha rocket from the Hizbollah side
impacted directly inside its Naqoura headquarters yesterday evening, causing extensive material
damage, and lightly wounding one French peacekeeper. Hizbollah is also responsible for a

series of small-arms firing assaults on UNIFIL vehicles and staff, including an attack this
morning on a Chinese UN demining team, though no casualties were suffered.
        Meanwhile, attempts continue to resupply the UNIFIL forward positions of the Indian
battalion in the eastern sector, which are facing critical shortages of fuel. UNIFIL is continuing
those operations. If UNIFIL is not able to resupply these positions today, it may face the
situation where it would be impossible to maintain these positions.
        UNIFIL further reports that it sent a medical and rescue team to the village of Haris in
the central sector this morning, to provide medical assistance to 25 civilians wounded as a result
of intensive shelling. Seven of these, having sustained serious injuries, were relocated to a
UNIFIL position in the area of Tibnin to await further transport to a hospital.
         Also, from our humanitarian colleagues in Lebanon, they report that the UN began an
airlift yesterday, with the first Jordanian Air Force flight from Amman, landing in Beirut with
blankets and mattresses, as well as medicines for the World Health Organization.
      Meanwhile, in Syria, where an estimated 160,000 displaced Lebanese are sheltering, the
UN refugee agency is starting to set up tented camps within summer youth camps in the city of
Homs, to help ease overcrowding.
        And, regarding the UN‘s $154 million humanitarian flash appeal, OCHA says that
nearly $77 million –- less than half –- has so far been committed. And we do have more upstairs
on that.
       **Lebanon/Human Rights
        From Geneva, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, today
addressed the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, as it held a special session on the
situation in Israel and Lebanon.
        The High Commissioner said: ―It is imperative to devote all efforts to an immediate
cessation of hostilities, to save lives, and to ensure justice for the victims and accountability for
violations of human rights and international humanitarian law‖. She reminded the parties to the
conflict of their legal obligations under international law to protect civilians.
        Arbour added that, almost daily, information from the field indicated an alarming pattern
in the scale and choice of targets by all sides in the conflict. The deaths of hundreds of civilians
is documented, and corroborated incidents, involving either random or targeted attacks on
civilian vehicles or buildings, strongly suggest the indiscriminate use of force, she said.
       And her full statement is available upstairs.
       ** Iraq
        From Iraq, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi,
has condemned in the strongest possible terms the heinous killings of Iraqi civilians yesterday
near the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf. Qazi also condemned the recent increase in sectarian
violence, which has claimed hundreds of innocent lives throughout Iraq.

        Qazi renewed his call to all Iraqis to refrain from resolving their differences through
violence. He urged them to engage in sustained dialogue, based on mutual respect and
        He also reiterated his call to Iraq‘s authorities, as well as community leaders, to preserve
the sanctity of places of worship, to value cultural and educational institutions and to protect
public services. Qazi also reaffirmed the UN‘s readiness to support efforts aimed at restoring
peace and security in Iraq. And that press release is available upstairs.
      Also on Iraq, the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB) for the
Development Fund for Iraq issued a statement yesterday afternoon, in the wake of its meeting in
New York in July.
        The Board said it reviewed the latest audit reports, approved the reappointment of the
auditors of the Development Fund and reviewed progress on the special audits of the single-
sourced contracts, using resources of the Development Fund. And we have the full press
release upstairs for those of you who are interested.
         Turning now to the situation in Gaza, regarding the humanitarian situation in Gaza, the
UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reports that its field offices in Gaza is running
critically low on food supplies, as a result of the Karni crossing being closed for containers.
The World Food Programme (WFP) currently only has around one month‘s supply for some
220,000 needy people in Gaza.
       For its part, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is providing drugs and medical
equipment, and rehabilitating maternity wards in hospitals. It is also helping the Palestinian
Ministry of Health manage its ambulances, and supporting NGOs that are handing out female
hygiene kits.
       Meanwhile, UNICEF says it‘s supporting 125 psychosocial counsellors assisting
children in distress.
       ** Darfur
       Turning now to Darfur, the Secretary-General has written to the Security Council,
providing it with an update on major developments in Darfur since his last report in July.
       In his letter, he says there has been some progress in the implementation of the Darfur
Peace Agreement –- although some deadlines relating to the Agreement‘s key aspects have been
         In regard to the African Union force in Darfur, the Secretary-General notes that its
ability to function is in jeopardy, despite a relatively positive response at the Brussels Pledging
Conference in July. The African Union says it may not have enough money to keep its Darfur
operation going until the end of September, when its mandate expires.
        The Secretary-General also says that a preliminary review of the Sudanese
Government‘s plan for restoring stability to Darfur does not indicate a willingness on its part to
agree to a transition to a UN operation in Darfur.

       ** Democratic Republic of the Congo
       And, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the UN representative there,
William Lacy Swing, this morning invited candidates in the presidential election to issue a joint
statement affirming their determination to accept the results of the polls and not seek to
undermine the credibility of the process.
       Swing said that it is crucial that the institutions of the Congolese State be allowed to
function in the spirit of the Global and Inclusive Accord, signed by the Congolese parties in
2003. He urged the Transitional Government to reunite and save itself from collapse, by all
        Meanwhile, the UN Mission in the DRC says the compilation of election results
continues, with 9 per cent of the votes counted. And the Mission says that results from the
capital Kinshasa, which is home to about 12 per cent of the registered voters, may be expected
to be published soon.
        And I have also a press release from the UN Office for West Africa, which focuses on
the withdrawal of the Nigerian troops from the Bakassi peninsula and the transfer of authority.
        And there will be a ceremony on Monday, I believe, chaired by the Chairman of the
follow-up committee, Kieran Prendergast, who you know well. And that will be attended by
representatives of the witness States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United
States. And we do have more from a press release upstairs.
        From East Timor, the three commissioners of the UN Independent Special Commission
of Inquiry for Timor-Leste have completed the first of two visits aimed at looking into the
violent incidents of April and May.
        Speaking to the press earlier today in Dili, the Chairman of the Commission, Paulo
Sergio Pinheiro, said the Commission‘s aim was to ―to provide an honest and truthful narrative
of the establishment of the facts‖ of the shootings of April and May, and their causes.
        Pinheiro said the three Commissioners would return in September and complete their
report to the Secretary-General by the first week of October.
       *UNHCR/Sri Lanka
       Just a couple more items.
       We have upstairs an update from UNHCR on its activities in Sri Lanka and the jump in
reported displaced people in Sri Lanka.
       **Disability Convention
        And, a two-week session that starts on Monday on the Disability Convention. Delegates
and other international leaders will work on finalizing the text of the first ever draft convention
on the rights of persons with disabilities.
       And we have a press kit upstairs on that.

       **Week Ahead
       I know it doesn‘t feel like Friday. It actually is Friday, and we do have the Week Ahead
for you. And, hopefully, we will not be here tomorrow.
       **Press Conference
        And last, but not least, a reminder that, at 1 o‘clock this afternoon, on this very podium,
will be Ronaldinho, for those of you who support the Brazilian soccer team. He will be here to
be unveiled as a new UN Spokesperson for Sport and Development.
       That is it for me.
       **Question and Answers
        Question: The US Secretary of State just came upstairs to see the Secretary-General
saying ―we are looking for a vote today‖. Is the Secretary-General now more involved than
ever in pushing the Member States for…?
        Spokesman: The Secretary-General, his efforts have been the same over the last weeks,
and that is to push the Member States to agree on a resolution that will end the hostilities and
allow for the humanitarian work to start. But, as he said this morning, he emphasized his desire
to see a resolution today. The situation on the ground is tragic. We very much hope the
Member States will come to an agreement today.
       Question: Do you have a readout after…?
      Spokesman: We‘ll see if we can get you something. But, I think you can expect quite a
few meetings today between the Secretary-General and other members of the Council and
permanent representatives. And, of course, they will all be seeing each other over lunch.
       Question: [Inaudible].
        Spokesman: No, that‘s why I said, before you came in, because of the space safety
issue, the stakeout on the second floor will remain open after lunch, and we‘ve told the
delegations that, should they wish to speak, that stakeout is available.
       Question: On Iraq, besides condemning this latest violence, has the UN SRSG made
any other reflection on the increasing violence in Iraq in the last few months?
        Spokesman: Well, you‘ve had this statement, and I think you‘ve seen the human rights
report that the Mission put out a couple of weeks ago, which details that. Yes, Matthew?
      Question: You read out the statement of SRSG Swing in the Congo. It wasn‘t clear to
me. There have now been reports of election officials being arrested there for fraud. I don‘t
know where in the news cycle he stands. Because it seems strange to say…
         Spokesman: You know what, I‘ll stop you, because I don‘t know anything about these
arrests, so I will look into these arrests. I think the message from Mr. Swing was fairly clear, to
make sure that all the candidates stand together in the support of the process. Of course, until
the results are published, it‘s a very tense time on the ground, and it is key that all the major
actors on the political scene support the process and not do anything to undermine its

        Question: Again, I don‘t mean -– obviously things develop, but, at some point, to
continue to say –- there‘s a group of candidates that have put out a statement saying the
international community, including the UN, are complicit in, by silence, with some kind of
irregularities. So, is Mr. Swing saying that anyone that questions the process is not being
         Spokesman: No, I think we need… like in any election, there are mechanisms through
which people can appeal what they see as irregularities through election commissions. We‘ve
seen that in all the elections the UN has helped organize, from Iraq to the Congo and other
places. There are legal mechanisms in place. And what is important is that, if people have
issues with the way the election is being run, that they use those legal mechanisms and not the
street to protest.
       In the back.
        Question: Can you just give us, as much as you know it, an idea of the schedule and
timetable for this luncheon. And, do you know, are there going to be consultations with a view
to a formal meeting, or at what time is the luncheon expected to go?
        Spokesman: The lunch starts usually at about 1:15. I think you can expect it to end, if it
starts on time, to end around 2:30, 2:45. And, then, I think, you know, we‘re all in the same
boat as to what happens this afternoon, in terms of scheduling and logistics. But, we are,
obviously, very keen to see a resolution by the end of today.
        Question: There‘s another resolution on the table, it‘s a Russian resolution. Which one
are they discussing?
        Spokesman: I can‘t speak for the Council members. The Russian resolution was put in
blue last night, but obviously there‘s another resolution out there. But you know, these
discussions are extremely fluid and I think you‘d do best to address those questions to the
Council members. Sylvaine.
      Question: We came late, but do you know, is the Secretary-General meeting with
Condoleezza Rice?
       Spokesman: He met with her at 11:30 and we were in the briefing. It may have already
ended. I don‘t know. But he was meeting with her this morning.
       Question: No readout?
       Spokesman: No, but I think, as I told one of your colleagues, there will be a lot of these
meetings today, focusing on Lebanon, and the Secretary-General will reiterate his message,
which is his desire to see a vote on a resolution today.
      Question: Another question. When will the Secretary-General take the issue of the
Shebaa Farms under his control?
         Spokesman: I think we have to see what the resolution looks like. The broad message
from the Secretary-General is that he wants to see a resolution, one that leads to a cessation of
hostilities. You know, as he said earlier, each day that the discussions go on, the death and the
killing and the destruction continues in the region, and civilians on both sides continue to
suffer. So, it is important for the Secretary-General to see Council members come to an
agreement today.

       Question: What about the ceasefire? Will it be another resolution?
        Spokesman: I‘m not going to go into the details of what will or may not be in the
resolution, but we would like to see an immediate cessation of hostilities.
       Question: This is on the International Advisory and Monitoring Board press release you
have upstairs. It‘s long, but there‘s an issue that‘s arisen in this room before that it doesn‘t
address at all, which is whether oil is now being metered in Iraq. Do you know if Mr.
Halbwachs -– can he tell your Office whether it is or not?
       Spokesman: I will try -– he‘s not in the building, but I‘ll see if I can get you an answer.
        Question: There‘s a speech, or interview, published today in the Nigerian paper with
Ibrahim Gambari. It‘s called the Daily Trust, and it‘s an extensive interview that he gave. I‘m
not sure when he gave it, but it was published today. In it, he calls the veto system a necessary
evil and says, specifically –-you know, the veto in the Security Council –- and says that the veto
shouldn‘t have been used to block Boutros-Ghali‘s second term. So, I‘m kind of wondering, is
it a Secretariat view, is it an Ibrahim Gambari view?
        Spokesman: I‘d have to see the… I don‘t want to comment. I haven‘t seen the
       Question: Did you see the new text?
      Spokesman: You know as well as I do that, all these new things, you see before I do.
Thank you.