Young People are Key to a Nicotine-free Future: Five Steps to Stop them Smoking

Tobacco use is one of the leading causes of premature death and disability worldwide: warns WHO ahead of World No Tobacco Day

Credit: Bigstock

By External Source
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, May 31 2020 – Tobacco use kills more than 8 million people each year. Most adult smokers start smoking before the age of 20. This implies that if one can get through adolescence without smoking, the likelihood of being a smoker in adulthood is greatly reduced.

Preventing young people from becoming addicted to tobacco and related products is therefore key to a smoke-free future.

With the advent of novel tobacco products and the tobacco industry falsely marketing them as less harmful than their combustible counterparts, the adage “prevention is better than cure” has never been more important for governments to heed if we are to achieve a smoke-free future.

Here are five things that governments need to do to ensure that a smoke-free future is realised.

1. Raise taxes on tobacco products

Tobacco taxation is one of the most effective population-based strategies for decreasing tobacco consumption. On average, a 10% increase in the price of cigarettes reduces demand for cigarettes by between 4% and 6% for the general adult population.

Because they lack disposable income and have a limited smoking history, young people are more responsive to price increases than their adult counterparts. Young people’s price responsiveness is also explained by the fact that they are also more likely to smoke if their peers smoke. This suggests that an increase in tobacco taxes also indirectly reduces youth smoking by decreasing smoking among their peers.

2. Introduce 100% smoke-free environments

Smoke-free policies reduce opportunities to smoke and erode societal acceptance of smoking. Most countries have some form of smoke-free policy in place. But there are still many public spaces where smoking happens. Many of these places are frequented by young people – or example, smoking sections in nightclubs and bars – contributing to the idea that smoking is acceptable and “normal”.

Research from the United States shows that creating smoke-free spaces reduces youth smoking uptake and the likelihood of youth progressing from experimental to established smokers. In the United Kingdom, smoke-free places have been linked to a reduction in regular smoking among teenagers, and research from Australia finds that smoke-free policies were directly related to a drop in youth smoking prevalence between 1990 and 2015. By adopting 100% smoke-free policies governments can denormalise smoking and turn youth away from tobacco and related products.

3. Adopt plain packaging and graphic health warnings

The tobacco industry uses sleek and attractive designs to market its dangerous products to young people. All tobacco products should therefore be subject to plain packaging and graphic health warnings so that their attractive packaging designs do not lead youth to underestimate the harm of using these products. Currently 125 countries require graphic images on the packaging of tobacco products. Countries like South Africa that rely on a text warning message are far behind the curve. Plain packaging on tobacco products has been adopted in 13 countries to date and, in January 2020, Israel became the first country to apply plain packaging to e-cigarettes.

4. Outlaw tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship

Traditional advertising and promotion of tobacco products has been banned in most parts of the world. But the tobacco industry has developed novel ways of keeping its products in the public eye.

Some common strategies used by the industry to target youth include hiring “influencers” to promote tobacco and nicotine products on social media, sponsoring events, and launching new flavours that are appealing to youth, such as bubble gum and cotton candy, which encourages young people to underestimate the potential harm of using them. Evidence also shows how the tobacco industry uses point-of-sale marketing to target children by encouraging vendors to position tobacco and related products near sweets, snacks and cooldrinks, especially in outlets close to schools.

Governments need to outlaw these tactics and impose hefty fines on tobacco companies that make any attempt to circumvent the law.

5. Educate young people

Given that tobacco kills half of its long-term users, the tobacco industry needs to get young people addicted to its products to ensure its survival. Young people need to be made aware of this. Governments should launch counter-advertising campaigns that educate young people on the tactics employed by the industry to target them so that they do not fall prey to them.The Conversation

Sam Filby, Research Officer, Research on the Economics of Excisable Products,, University of Cape Town and Corné van Walbeek, Professor at the School of Economics and Principal Investigator of the Economics of Tobacco Control Project, University of Cape Town

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Elimination of Leprosy

Traveling man: the Goodwill Ambassador shares a joke with two residents of a leprosarium in Krantau, Uzbekistan during a visit in 2013.

By External Source
May 29 2020 (IPS-Partners)

Warm greetings from Sasakawa Health Foundation in Tokyo.

The 100th Issue of the WHO Goodwill Ambassador’s Newsletter has been published. Read special interviews with the Goodwill Ambassador and the UN Special Rapporteur on leprosy, and check out the Timeline of all that has happened since the first issue.

My Journey Continues

I started this newsletter in April 2003 to share information about the fight against leprosy. This marks the 100th issue. Over the years I have reported my views on leprosy elimination and activities taking place around the world. As I write, we are in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. I commend the tireless efforts of medical personnel and hope the outbreak will be contained as quickly as possible.

As Goodwill Ambassador I have visited some 100 countries and attach particular importance to three points: 1) going to see the situation for myself, listening directly to what people have to say and clarifying what the issues are; 2) making use of newspapers, TV, radio, social and other media to communicate correct information about the disease to people around the world; and 3) meeting with presidents and prime ministers to persuade them to actively tackle leprosy.

My motto is “knowledge and practice go together.” While I respect the insights and information contained in reports, I believe there is no substitute for checking the situation in the field with my own eyes as this represents a more direct route to finding real solutions. Therefore, I have made a point of traveling to remote areas where experts have not been in the belief that my words will be more persuasive and catch people’s attention.

Yohei Sasakawa visits Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2003 to raise leprosy as human rights issue, the start of repeated visits to Geneva.

In my lifetime I have met with 458 current and former presidents and prime ministers to explain about leprosy and request their cooperation. That number runs into thousands if I add ministers, deputy ministers and governors. Compared to diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS, there are far fewer cases of leprosy. Unless you regularly engage with the person at the top, chances are the budget for the leprosy program will be cut.

What has left a lasting impression on me are my encounters with persons affected by leprosy who have found the strength to overcome the challenges they face. All over the world I have met individuals existing in unimaginably desperate circumstances, abandoned by their families and living on their own for many years. For some, there has been no other recourse but to begging to survive.

But in India, Indonesia, Brazil, Ethiopia and many other countries, persons affected by leprosy are making their voices heard and becoming increasingly organized. What they have to say carries more weight and is more persuasive than if I were to make 1,000 speeches. The role they have to play in advancing our efforts against the disease is particularly important.

Global Forum of People’s Organizations on Hansen’s Disease, Manila, Philippines in 2019. Participants underscore that Hansen’s disease is not just a health issue but at an issue of human rights.

As Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, I have worked with governments over the years to achieve the numerical target that was set by the WHO of eliminating leprosy as a public health problem, where elimination was defined as a prevalence rate of less than one case per 10,000 population. But achieving ‘elimination’ did not equate to no more leprosy. Elimination was a milestone.

In recent years, “Zero Leprosy” has been put forward as the goal. Many people have asked me if this is possible. My answer is that it doesn’t matter where the goal is; what is important is to keep heading toward it. No matter how long the tunnel, if you keep going you will eventually see the light at the end. Everyone just needs to continue their efforts.

My dream is for an inclusive society in which not only persons affected by leprosy but also persons with disabilities, minorities and other vulnerable groups suffering from social discrimination all have a place.

Hence this journey I am embarked on will continue. I do not know if the goal of zero leprosy and zero discrimination will be achieved in my lifetime, but I believe it will be realized one day and so I will continue to do my best to help us get there.

— Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador

(This is an extended version of the Goodwill Ambassador’s Message appearing in the print edition of Issue #100 of the newsletter.)


My Journey Continues

Special Interview I:
Our Goal Is Not Yet in Sight, Yohei Sasakawa, Goodwill Ambassador

Reviewing developments in leprosy over the course of 100 issues of the newsletter

Special Interview II:
Encouraging Signs, Alice Cruz, UN Special Rapporteur on leprosy

Leprosy and COVID-19

COVID-19 – UN Urges World Leaders to Act Now to Avert ‘Unimaginable Devastation’

COVID-19 has resulted in hunger and famine at historic proportions, with some 60 million people pushed into extreme poverty and half the global workforce -- 1.6 billion people -- left without work, and $8.5 trillion in global output lost. The setback in attaining the sustainable development goals (SDGs) has been tremendous and unless global leaders act now, the devastation will be unimaginable. Credit: Priyanka Borpujari/IPS

COVID-19 has resulted in hunger and famine at historic proportions, with some 60 million people pushed into extreme poverty and half the global workforce — 1.6 billion people — left without work, and $8.5 trillion in global output lost. The setback in attaining the sustainable development goals (SDGs) has been tremendous and unless global leaders act now, the devastation will be unimaginable. Credit: Priyanka Borpujari/IPS

By Samira Sadeque
UNITED NATIONS, May 29 2020 – Unless global leaders act now, the COVID-19 pandemic will cause unimaginable suffering and devastation around the world, the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres said yesterday, May 28. He painted a picture of hunger and famine at historic proportions, with some 60 million people pushed into extreme poverty and half the global workforce — 1.6 billion people — left without work, and $8.5 trillion in global output lost. 

Guterres was speaking at an online event as world leaders and economists gathered at a high-level meeting to call for global solidarity and an acute focus on the interest of developing countries in the next steps for reviving the declining global economy. 

The talk, which focused on generating solutions to the development emergency resulting from the global pandemic, was co-convened by the U.N. Secretary-General, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

All three leaders highlighted the need to keep the concerns of developing and underdeveloped countries as a priority in the decision-making process. 

Guterres laid out six key areas of focus that need to be addressed going forward: 

  • enhance global liquidity;
  • preventing debt crises; 
  • engaging with private creditors on joint debt relief efforts; 
  • global financial systems and sustainable development goals; 
  • putting an end to illicit financial flows; and 
  • rebuilding in improved manners.

“Many developing and even middle-income countries are highly vulnerable and already in debt distress – or will soon become so, due to the global recession,” Guterres said, adding that alleviating debt should be considered for middle-income countries in addition to Least Developed Countries.  

The Secretary-General further lauded the preparedness shown by the Caribbean and Pacific islands’ “early and decisive action” that ensured them protection from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Holness highlighted the need for a “large-scale, comprehensive multilateral effort” to address the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are determined to support countries, particularly those most in need,” Holness said. “Our goal is to not only relieve the hardship they are currently experiencing, but to enable them to recover better.”

Trudeau echoed the same thoughts, and echoed the notion that keeping intact the economies of developed countries are beneficial for developing countries who may depend on them. 

“Our citizens need to have confidence in international institutions that leave no one behind and are capable of overcoming global challenges,” Trudeau said. “We know that jobs and businesses in each of our countries depend on the health and stability of economies elsewhere.”

David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group, pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown of developed economies will result in poverty for 60 million people, highlighting issues such as reduced incomes for migrant workers and a drop in remittance flows. 

“Wide spillover from the pandemic and the shutdown in advanced economies hit the poor and vulnerable, women, children, and healthcare workers hardest, deepening the inequality from the lack of development and making the health crisis even worse.” 

He announced a “milestone” they reached last week, having approved their emergency health operations which is now running in over 100 developing countries embedded in this programme and framework for finance.

Going forward, he said, the team is taking up new support programmes that “in coming weeks will help developing countries overcome the pandemic and reclaim focus on growth and sustainable development”. 

Dr Donald Kaberuka, Special Envoy from the African Union, who also spoke at a panel afterwards, warned against the world resorting to an individualistic approach as they reel from the economic collapse of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“After the global financial crisis, every country went back to address their own problems. Global solidarity declined very quickly,” Kaberuka said. “We can’t afford to let this happen this time.”

Holness further announced that the next step will bring together the government, international financial institutions and other key actors, to play their role: to create a plan based on the issues discussed at the high-level meeting, to report back to their co-conveners three times over the course of the rest of the year. 


An Appeal to UN’s Budget Committee: It’s no Time to Cut Back on Child Protection

To overcome the already anticipated risks to the UN’s ability to monitor, report and respond to violations in face of COVID-19, donors and Member States should pay particular attention to ensuring that UN missions have adequately resourced stand-alone Child Protection functions.

UNICEF installation on the North Lawn at the UN Headquarters in New York highlights the grave scale of child deaths in armed conflicts during 2018. Credit: UN News/Elizabeth Scaffidi

By Dragica Mikavica
NEW YORK, May 29 2020 – On February 26 this year, 15 South Sudanese children were released from armed groups and handed over to civilian child protection actors, including UNICEF and UNMISS, UN’s peacekeeping operation in South Sudan, who were able to facilitate the children’s safe return to their families.

Just a few months earlier, MONUSCO’s Child Protection team had secured the release of 62 children, also from armed groups, in the restive South Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

These types of releases only happen due to UN teams’ proactive advocacy and dialogue with all parties to the conflict around the delicate issue of protecting children recruited, used or deprived of their liberty, which requires specialized skills, consistent presence and sustained engagement.

The ongoing worldwide pandemic complicates the already sensitive process of removal of children from armed groups and other parties to the conflict, which already requires trained professionals and dedicated resources to ensure their children’s safety and well-being.

For instance, temporary transit centers for released children need to be properly equipped and sanitized to protect staff and children from infections – and all that in areas where already securing running water and functioning sanitation facilities is a major challenge.

Fortunately, for the most part, UN peacekeeping operations are equipped with dedicated child protection staff including Senior Child Protection Advisers and Child Protection Officers.

Many of these staff are deemed essential during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns, but these specialized posts are in constant jeopardy from being reduced or cut down by UN Member States.

The process of cutting happens far away from the peacekeeping operations themselves. It happens in the UN’s budget committee in New York every June.


While often being the only entry point with armed groups and the communities themselves, these civilian child protection staff on- and off- UN compounds must be equipped with basic materials and technology, including internet connectivity, SIM cards and cell phones, to ensure the implementation of the mandate bestowed upon them by the Security Council.

Credit: United Nations


This year, before the usual bargaining process over missions’ Child Protection budgets and staffing occurs, the COVID-19 emergency should serve as a reminder to Member States of why this should not happen under any, especially these, circumstances.

In their race to cut costs and reduce budgets in UN peacekeeping missions over the last five years, United States and China have been known to negotiate over bulk dollar amounts and the more controversial themes like gender, human rights and protection.

What is less known is that for instance, Child Protection sections occupy .03 percent of most mission budgets where these mandates exist, so the savings are minuscule while the political cost to children is high.

For more than 20 years, the Security Council has been mandating UN peacekeeping operations with a specialized child protection mandate to be jointly implemented by UN civilian, military and police peacekeepers.

The core of the mandate has been documentation of the grave violations against children and dialogue with armed groups for the purposes of ending and preventing these violations.

Advocates and supportive countries already fear the impact that a severe restriction of movement due to COVID-19 may have on the UN’s ability to monitor and report on violations, as well as on the Child Protection staff’s capacity to carry on their outreach to armed groups.

This creates an urgent imperative for Member States to provide Child Protection teams in peacekeeping operations with sufficient human and financial resources to overcome these restrictions.

COVID-19 emergency further complicates the process of reintegrating children and child protection actors need to be equipped for accepting future releases of children, making resources even more indispensable.

The child protection staff are currently relying almost exclusively on technology to conduct remote monitoring of the violations and needed advocacy with parties to the conflict.

While often being the only entry point with armed groups and the communities themselves, these civilian child protection staff on- and off- UN compounds must be equipped with basic materials and technology, including internet connectivity, SIM cards and cell phones, to ensure the implementation of the mandate bestowed upon them by the Security Council.

Next month, Secretary-General António Guterres will present his 2020 report on children and armed conflict to the UN Security Council, noting violations across 20 country situations for calendar year 2019.

To overcome the already anticipated risks to the UN’s ability to monitor, report and respond to violations in face of COVID-19, donors and Member States should pay particular attention to ensuring that UN missions have adequately resourced stand-alone Child Protection functions.

Otherwise, the Secretary-General’s 2021 annual report on grave violations of children’s rights next year is poised to be slim and the UN Security Council stands a chance of losing track of the picture of what is happening to children in war-affected countries.

This monitoring forms the basis of the UN’s ability to hold perpetrators to account, for example through its action plans signed with parties to conflict to end and prevent grave violations.

Now is the time to boost, not reduce, this capacity if governments are serious about protecting children in conflict.


*Dragica Mikavica is Senior Advocacy Adviser, Save the Children. She has spent the last six years advocating rights of children, affected by conflict, through the UN, and is currently working for Save the Children in New York. She grew up in Bosnia during its civil war, in the early 1990s.


COVID19 and Its Impact on Pacific Island States

Regional efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 have so far proven successful. Image Credit: Pacific Community

By William W. Ellis
TORONTO, May 29 2020 – By now, the impact of COVID19 on our daily lives has been well documented, especially in advanced economies. Anxiety about the future continues to grow everywhere. Much of the corporate news coverage we consume has focused on the toll this pandemic will take on mainland countries. Often neglected, however, is the unique position Pacific Island States find themselves in.

Globally, there are close to 6 million confirmed cases of COVID19. According to the Pacific Community (SPC), there are 292 cases of the virus across its membership – a truly small number, considering Papua New Guinea’s population of 8.6 million people. Indeed, many of the SPC’s members are seemingly untouched by the global pandemic – as of May 6th, for example, American Samoa had no cases of the virus at all.

Despite the current picture, the Pacific Islands share unique challenges. Small in size, geographically remote, vulnerable to extreme environmental shock, and limited in economies of scale, these islands could be devastated by COVID19.

Over 80% of Papua New Guinea’s population, for example, reside in rural regions where health care infrastructure is limited. Clinics frequently run out of supplies and 4,000 nurses recently went on strike due to a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). In the outer islands and in rural villages across the Pacific, basic services and access to intensive care or fully equipped hospitals is impossible. As reported in The Guardian, Vanuatu only has two ventilators for a population of 300,000 people. Only a few Pacific nations can test effectively for COVID19 and processing samples through Australia, New Zealand or the United States may delay results.

Infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases are also a worrisome factor – the Pacific has the world’s highest levels of Type 2 diabetes and suffer from exceptionally high levels of obesity. These chronic conditions tend to place people in death’s path when exposed to the virus.

Samoan nurses on duty during national measles outbreak. Credit: Pacific Community

Furthermore, Pacific Island culture revolves around large extended families, exacerbating the risk of community transmission. Social isolation may have worked in large, industrial nations, but is exceedingly difficult to implement in the Pacific diaspora. And the U.N. recently warned that misinformation about the virus could be another deadly risk for these people. A high-profile malpractice scandal in 2018 destroyed public trust in the Samoan health care system, contributing to low vaccination rates during a 2019 measles outbreak. The mistrust was also stoked by anti-vaccination misinformation campaigners overseas.

The economic impact of this global crisis is already being felt in the Pacific as well. Reliant on the export of commodities to shuttered buyers overseas, some countries face massive challenges as demand crashes. Travel and tourism – a principal economic driver – have come to a screeching halt, and countries like Fiji and Vanuatu could see their GDP fall by almost 50%. Unemployment figures are likely to be staggering as well, as close to 40% of the latter’s workforce is dependent on tourism.

Dr. Stuart Minchin, Director-General SPC. Credit: Pacific Community

There is a silver lining to all these issues. According to Dr. Stuart Minchin, Director General of the Pacific Community (SPC), the region is no stranger to disasters and challenges, having endured cyclones and the recent measles epidemic. In a recent interview he suggested that the community has “very good regional mechanisms in place to help countries deal with these issues, and more importantly to recover from these issues when they occur.”

The SPC is the principal scientific and technical organization in the Pacific region. An international development organization, owned and governed by its 26 country and territory members, the SPC’s mission is to work for the well-being of Pacific people through effective and innovative application of science and knowledge, guided by a deep understanding of Pacific Island contexts and cultures.

Working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the region, the SPC has been supporting countries through this global crisis. In Dr. Minchin’s words, “with this invisible enemy we’re facing, we’re only as strong as our weakest link, so we have to work together as a region to make sure we can tackle this crisis together.”

“It is important to recognize that this crisis is not going to be over quickly. The health emergency may pass, but there will likely be an economic impact on local economies in the region over quite an extensive period of time. It is therefore really important that we help the countries and territories plan for that.

It is not going to reduce the importance of anything SPC does. In fact, the importance of the work that we do is going to be heightened because the countries will have to deal with challenges in terms of food security, access to water and sanitation, education, livelihoods and the continuing impacts of climate change. There are going to be risks around social and human rights issues as well, so we really need to be focused on how we help countries face these potential crises.”

The approach taken by the SPC reflects the Pacific region’s familial culture and fortitude. So far, the region has warded off the virus by imposing strict quarantines and taking advantage of their isolation from the rest of the world. For example, the Marshall Islands was one of the first countries in the world to impose a travel ban in January. And whilst Samoa’s health system is still strained in the aftermath of the measles outbreak, it has been a clear influence on the region, prompting swift reaction to the threat of COVID19.

As Dr. Minchin has said, “Pacific Countries have done a wonderful job in acting quickly and decisively to protect us but making a difference on how we act and interact every day is in our hands.”



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FXCM Group Reports Monthly Execution Data

LONDON and SYDNEY, Australia and JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, May 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — FXCM Group, LLC (“FXCM Group” or "FXCM"), a leading international provider of online foreign exchange trading, CFD trading, cryptocurrencies and related services, today released execution data for April 2020. To view execution data including historical spreads, execution speeds and historical price improvement data click here:–fxcm/execution–transparency/.

April 2020 All Instruments Highlights:

  • 55.9% of orders executed at price1
  • 32.1% of orders executed with positive slippage2
  • 12.0% of orders executed with negative slippage3
  • Average execution speed 26 milliseconds4

Highlighted Instruments April 2020:

Instrument Active Trader
Average Spread5
Active Trader
Effective Spread6
At Price Orders Positive Slippage Negative Slippage
XAU/USD 11.8 14.2 54.0% 32.0% 14.0%
SPX500 0.6 0.6 53.5% 29.6% 16.9%
NAS100 2.2 1.0 39.1% 37.5% 23.3%
EUR/USD 0.4 0.2 59.3% 32.3% 8.4%
GBP/USD 1.2 0.8 44.3% 46.7% 9.0%
AUD/USD 0.6 0.3 47.9% 44.4% 7.7%

For more information and to open a live account, traders can contact an FXCM specialist 24 hours a day, 5 days a week.

*These highlights come from orders that executed through FXCM Group from 1 April 2020, to 30 April 2020. Data excludes certain types of non–direct clients.

1Percentage of executed client trades# in April 2020, which were executed at the price clients requested.
2Percentage of executed client trades# in April 2020, which were executed at a more favorable price than the price clients requested.
3Percentage of executed client trades# in April 2020, which were executed at a less favorable price than the price clients requested.
4This defines the amount of time between when we receive the order until execution. This excludes internet latency and post trade booking.
5This data is compiled forex and CFD trading data from FXCM's Active Traders for 1 April 2020, to 30 April 2020. The data reflects average spreads made available to FXCM clients during all trading hours.
6This data is compiled forex and CFD trading data from FXCM's Active Traders for 1 April 2020, to 30 April 2020. The data reflects the spread at which trades were executed by FXCM clients during all trading hours.
#Client trades here cover stop, limit, "at market", and entry orders. Certain non–direct clients are excluded from the data. Limit and limit entry orders would only execute at the requested price or better and cannot receive negative slippage. Price improvements are subject to available liquidity.

About FXCM:
FXCM is a leading provider of online foreign exchange (FX) trading, CFD trading, and related services. Founded in 1999, the company's mission is to provide global traders with access to the world's largest and most liquid market by offering innovative trading tools, hiring excellent trading educators, meeting strict financial standards and striving for the best online trading experience in the market. Clients have the advantage of mobile trading, one–click order execution and trading from real–time charts. In addition, FXCM offers educational courses on FX trading and provides trading tools, proprietary data and premium resources. FXCM Pro provides retail brokers, small hedge funds and emerging market banks access to wholesale execution and liquidity, while providing high and medium frequency funds access to prime brokerage services via FXCM Prime. FXCM is a Leucadia Company.

Trading Forex/CFDs on margin carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for all investors. Leverage can work against you. The products are intended for retail, professional and eligible counterparty clients. Retail clients who maintain account(s) with Forex Capital Markets Limited (“FXCM LTD”), could sustain a total loss of deposited funds but are not subject to subsequent payment obligations beyond the deposited funds but professional clients and eligible counterparty clients could sustain losses in excess of deposits. Prior to trading any products offered by Forex Capital Markets Limited, inclusive of all EU branches, FXCM Australia Pty. Limited, FXCM South Africa (PTY) Ltd, any affiliates of aforementioned firms, or other firms within the FXCM group of companies [collectively the “FXCM Group”], carefully consider your financial situation and experience level. If you decide to trade products offered by FXCM Australia Pty. Limited ("FXCM AU") (AFSL 309763), you must read and understand the Financial Services Guide, Product Disclosure Statement, and Terms of Business. Our FX and CFD prices are set by us, are not made on an Exchange and are not governed under the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act. The FXCM Group may provide general commentary, which is not intended as investment advice and must not be construed as such. Seek advice from a separate financial advisor. The FXCM Group assumes no liability for errors, inaccuracies or omissions; does not warrant the accuracy, completeness of information, text, graphics, links or other items contained within these materials. Read and understand the Terms and Conditions on the FXCM Group's websites prior to taking further action.

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Reproductive Rights of Women and Girls Under Lockdown

Protest against anti-abortion law in Opole, Poland. Credit: Iga Lubczańska.

By External Source
BEIRUT / GENEVA, May 28 2020 – Health systems around the world are prioritising health care services and equipment to treat people diagnosed with Covid-19, which means that many procedures deemed to be elective and non-essential are being suspended or simply not provided. Abortion, for instance, has been categorised as a non-essential health service by some States, while others have removed certain restrictions to accessing abortion.

To find out more about the current state of women and girls’ reproductive rights, and how activists are responding, CRIN spoke with Paola Salwan Daher, the Senior Global Advocacy Advisor at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Some countries are trying to impose restrictions on access to abortion, including the US and Poland. Can you tell us more about these measures, and how is the Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners responding?

The Covid-19 response has created a lot of violations of sexual and reproductive health rights, including in the US where we are seeing a lot of bills being pushed to try to restrict abortions. States like Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio, Idaho and others have decided that abortion is a non-essential health service. That is something that we are challenging in court.

In the majority of cases courts have sided with us, but it has happened that courts haven’t. We continue pushing against these restrictions because we are talking about States that already have very shaky access to abortion with very limited options for women and very few clinics that have remained open.

In Europe, Poland is using the pandemic to further a very conservative agenda and is instrumentalising the crisis to cut down on women’s rights. Our partners there have raised the alarm because the parliament was set to discuss two harmful bills: one of them was looking at removing a ground to access abortion, another is looking at criminalising providers of sexual reproductive rights services.

Online advocacy is an issue in Poland because it was the mass mobilisation of women in the streets that was able to stop the bills previously. There’s a reason why the government is reactivating these bills now, as it’s not possible for women to be present on the streets.


Has it been happening elsewhere?

We know that there were instances of hospitals in Sao Paolo, Brazil that are not categorising abortions as an essential medical service. It’s also happening in other countries but it’s been less documented than cases in the US and Poland.

You also have very unhelpful speeches made by people in power like the President of El Salvador who decided to reiterate that he is against abortion while commenting on the crisis. Another example is the Pope coming out and stating that he wants to protect the world from war and abortion. Surely they have other priorities they should be focusing on instead of policing women’s bodies.

There are also good examples where States are saying that abortion is an essential health service. In France, activists have been able to push the goverment to extend the [time] limit to access medical abortion, extending it from seven to nine weeks in response to the delay in accessing services because of how the health system is overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases. In the UK, they are also facilitating access to medical abortion via tele-medicine.


In your opinion, why is abortion seen as a non-essential procedure?

Where there have been attempts at taking off abortion from the list of essential services, it has been done mainly in places where abortion access was already restricted and the Covid-19 crisis provided an excellent political opportunity to further restrict access. Drugs used for medical abortion are listed as essential medicines by the World Health Organization (WHO), [which] reiterated the message contained in the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), that every woman has the recognised human right to decide freely and responsibly, without coercion and violence, the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. Access to legal and safe abortion is essential for the realisation of these rights. Not recognising the essential character of access to abortion care is to go against international human rights law and WHO guidance.


How is the Covid-19 pandemic impacting other areas of your work? And how were you able to respond?

We are also seeing violations of the right to maternal health care. Under the pretext of the Covid-19 response, some hospitals are denying women birth partners despite [the] WHO’s recommendation that there are better maternal health and infant health outcomes when women have the ability to have a partner [present] when they are giving birth. We have successfully pushed the United Nations’ Special Procedures to issue a statement speaking to these issues.

We have also seen instances of scheduling unnecessary c-sections, sometimes going against the wishes of the person, or discharging women earlier than they would normally, saying it’s a measure to avoid contamination. It’s a very fine balance between the excuses given of wanting to protect women and infants and punishing women and curtailing their rights. What we really should be interrogating is the state of health systems and why they are built in a way that countries cannot respond to a pandemic without curtailing women’s rights.


Have you seen anything specific to girls?

No, not that I have heard of. The issue with girls is that whenever there’s a restrictive legal framework with respect to abortion, for them it’s even worse. Even when the abortion law for women isn’t very restrictive, for girls there are always additional barriers because of their age, like third party authorisation, which contravenes legal obligations of States under human rights law. One of the recommendations that came out of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s General Comment on children’s rights during adolescence is that States should include a presumption of legal capacity of adolescents to access sexual reproductive services.


We don’t often hear about reproductive rights explicitly in terms of children’s rights. Why might that be?

Human rights standards are very clear on the right to sexual and reproductive health being applicable to both women and girls (see the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights General Comment 22). Also as per the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment 20, “The risk of death and disease during the adolescent years is real, including from preventable causes such as childbirth, unsafe abortions, road traffic accidents, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, interpersonal injuries, mental ill health and suicide, all of which are associated with certain behaviours and require cross-sectoral collaboration.”

Girls have sexual and reproductive rights because they are sexual beings that will have sex, might want to get pregnant, but also might be at a higher risk of violence, rape and sexual abuse, that would require access to sexual and reproductive information and services.

The reason why some are reluctant to recognise girls’ reproductive rights is because of pervasive stereotypes that cast girls as non-sexual persons, or who at least shouldn’t be having sex. These stereotypes are deeply harmful and refuse to take into account girls’ agency, right to bodily autonomy, as well as the need for accountability when girls’ sexual and reproductive rights are violated.


Even though the answer to this question may be evident, can you explain why governments are trying to restrict women and girl’s access to reproductive rights?

It’s this willingness to control women’s bodies. Reproductive justice and women’s right to bodily autonomy is one of the foundations of women’s equality. When a woman is able to decide for herself how many children she wants to have – if [any] at all – and the spacing of these children and with whom she wants to have them, it puts her at the same level as a man.

She will then want the same rights, which is a problem for the establishment. It’s social control over women to make sure that we are continuing to provide free reproductive labour, we continue to be the primary caregiver of children, thus limiting our ability to take up more of a productive role and more community and political roles. The rise of fundamentalism and of populism and the conservative idea that women and their bodies need to be controlled along with gender stereotypes are the root causes of restrictions to reproductive rights.


Do you believe that governments will increase these regressive proposals/measures?

In times of crisis it’s women and marginalised groups that are the worst hit and primary target of restrictive policies. It might very well be that we see an increase of the backlash that we have been witnessing on women’s rights for the past couple of years because of the crisis. It’s also an opportunity for women and marginalised groups because the workers on the frontlines are disproportionately women. Reproductive health work is the kind of work that is holding societies together.

We’re not in need of bankers, we’re not in need of people in advertising right now, we are actually in need of people who provide care work and health work. These people are disproportionately women and I see a window of opportunity for women and marginalised groups to organise and mobilise because they’re the worst hit. I see a window of opportunity to ask for changes.


Sabine Saliba is Regional Advisor for the Middle East and North Africa at CRIN – Child Rights International Network and is based in Lebanon.  

Triple Emergencies of COVID-19, Flooding & Locusts Makes Somalia Susceptible to Human Trafficking

Head of the Department for the Fight Against Smuggling and Human Trafficking, Abdiwakil Abdullahi Mohamud told IPS that pointed out that it was not possible to control all Somalia's borders as they had limited resources available. Credit: Shafi’i Mohyaddin Abokar/IPS

Head of the Department for the Fight Against Smuggling and Human Trafficking, Abdiwakil Abdullahi Mohamud told IPS that pointed out that it was not possible to control all Somalia’s borders as they had limited resources available. Credit: Shafi’i Mohyaddin Abokar/IPS

By Shafi’i Mohyaddin Abokar
MOGADISHU, May 28 2020 – While simultaneously suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, flooding and a locust crisis, Somalia, could well see a rise in the number of people who are susceptible to human trafficking.

According to the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the rainy season in Gu resulted in twice the average rainfall, causing floods across this East African nation, affecting almost a million people and displacing over 400,000 people. 

“As more people find themselves in vulnerable circumstances as a result of displacement from floods, drought and conflict, it is assumed that some of them are likely to seek “greener pastures” it is anticipated that in this state of vulnerability they could become susceptible to human trafficking and exploitation,” Isaac Munyae, Programme Manager for Migrant Protection and Assistance at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Somalia, told IPS over email.

This Horn of Africa nation is considered a source, transit and destination country for trafficking in the region and each year a unknown number of migrants pass through the country’s borders. According to Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) officials, trafficking has been rampant in the country for decades.

“Many Somalis are trafficked across the borders and are often moving along the southern and northern routes through Sudan, South Sudan and Kenya. On the other hand there are some Somalis  and a lot of Ethiopians travelling to Yemen along the eastern route that pass through Somalia and also fall prey to exploitation,” Munyae said.

The IOM added that the COVID-19 outbreak — Somalia has some 1,711 confirmed cases as of May 27 — “poses an additional challenge in an already fragile context where it may further hinder access to basic services, leaving the population highly vulnerable”. 

• According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, the country has some 2.6 million displaced people. 

Since the start of this year, more than 220,000 Somalis were internally displaced because of drought and climate-related disasters, including 137,000 due to conflict.

• And in March and April, more than 50,000 people were forced to flee their homes as operations against the Islamic insurgent group, Al Shabab, resumed in Lower Shabelle.

With continued political and food insecurity, and the second-longest coastline in Africa after Madagascar (3,333 kilometres) which is difficult to patrol, the U.N.-backed FGS said it is doing its utmost to end human trafficking. 

“Somalia has a very long coastline and as I am speaking to you, we don’t have the capacity to control all of it, but our police maritime unit who have close cooperation with other forces in the country are always engaged in routine operations using speed boats, but to fully control such a long coastline needs much capacity than we currently have,” the head of the Department for the Fight Against Smuggling and Human Trafficking, Abdiwakil Abdullahi Mohamud, told IPS.

Mohamud and Somali parliament member Mohamed Ibrahim Abdi both lamented the lack of an existing human trafficking law.

“Human trafficking is a big problem which must be tackled, but I can confirm that Somali parliament hasn’t yet a human trafficking law. We recognise the importance of a law, but right now there is nothing on the table, I hope we will get the law in place in the future, I cannot say when,” Abdi, told IPS.

However, the federal state of Puntland has a human trafficking act in place, which requires enforcement. While in the breakaway region of Somaliland, “a referral mechanisms for supporting victims of human trafficking was developed and adopted this year,” said Munyae. 

In December, the FGS and IOM signed a cooperation agreement where “IOM proposes to work with the government in establishment of appropriate legal frameworks and referral mechanisms in collaboration with other UN and I/NGO partners,” Munyae told IPS.

There are no official figures of trafficking in Somalia.

  • According to Mixed Migration Centre, in May 2019 there was an increase of 41 percent of the number of people migrating from Somalia to Yemen.
  • Those migrants were from Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. The center said that in April 2019 alone some 18,904 Somali and Ethiopian migrants were recorded to have arrived in Yemen.

Mohamud said his department developed a close cooperation with the Department of Immigration and has so far been able to end the trafficking of people through airports and sea ports.

However, he pointed out that it was not possible to control all land borders as they had limited resources available.

According to Mohamud, his department prevented thousands of young Somali men and women from being trafficked out of the country since it was established three years ago. But he is mindful that people previously saved from trafficking could once again become susceptible.

“We do not have the financial capacity to create jobs for them, but we teach them some skills and we then hand them over to their families. That is what we are able to do for them at the moment,” he said, adding that high unemployment meant young Somalis were vulnerable to human traffickers.

  • According to a figure released by the International Labour Organisation in 2019, the youth unemployment rate in Somalia was 24.89 percent.

Munyae added that additional factors that resulted in susceptibility to human trafficking included, “poverty as a result of loss in livelihoods caused by displacements for whatever reason, family pressures, social factors such as child marriages and forced labour and customary practices and lack of appropriate legal frameworks for protecting the rights of mobile population”.

However, Muna Hassan Mohamed, the chairlady of Somali Youth Cluster, believes that many youth are risking their lives in the hands of human traffickers as they are promised dual nationality.

“Of course, the unemployment and insecurity are very big problems that we can’t deny, but the main factor that drives young Somalis to be exploited by human traffickers is what I can call [the passports].

“When I say passports, I mean European, American, Canadian or Australian passports, because if you are a citizen of any of these countries, then it is easier for you to be an MP, a minister or get a well-paid job in Somalia,” she told IPS, adding that most Somali parliament members, government ministers, general directors and other key staffers are all dual citizens.

“Almost every well-paid job in Somali government’s institutions has been taken by Somalis with foreign passports, while international NGO’s in the country do not have an equal opportunity policy when employing Somali nationals,” she said explaining that those Somalis with dual citizenship were paid more than locals. 

Meanwhile, Omar Ahmed Tahriib-diid, who irregularly migrated to Europe in 2014, wants to spare others the hardships he faced.

Tahriib-diid, who now lives in the relatively peaceful Puntland State northeast of Somalia, said he decided to return to his native region.

“Every day I witnessed people dying of hunger or being tortured to death by the cruel human traffickers. We always hear in the news that migrants drowned at sea, but the underreported thing is that many more die even before reaching the sea,” Tahriib-diid told IPS of what he experienced when he left the country, travelling through Sudan and Libya.

“In Sudan they dealt with us well, but I can say that there was a widespread brutality in Libya which I can describe as a hell on earth,” he said.

Eventually, he made his way to Germany where he tried for an entire year and had been unable to get a job. Upon his return to Somalia, he landed a job as the regional coordinator for Sanaag region at the Ministry of Justice in Puntland State.

Now he remains engaged in awareness programmes and “succeeded to prevent many young people from risking their lives. Some of them are now running their own business or secured jobs through my awareness campaigns with the help from the government”.

** Additional reporting by Nalisha Adams in Bonn.

This is part of a series of features from across the globe on human trafficking. IPS coverage is supported by the Airways Aviation Group.

The Global Sustainability Network ( GSN ) is pursuing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 8 with a special emphasis on Goal 8.7 which ‘takes immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms’.

The origins of the GSN come from the endeavours of the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders signed on 2 December 2014. Religious leaders of various faiths, gathered to work together “to defend the dignity and freedom of the human being against the extreme forms of the globalisation of indifference, such us exploitation, forced labour, prostitution, human trafficking” and so forth.


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IITA banana research paper in Wiley’s Plant Pathology journal among the most downloaded

George Mahuku, IITA plant pathologist and lead author of the paper.

By External Source
May 28 2020 (IPS-Partners)

A paper published by a team led by scientists from IITA was among the top 10% most downloaded of all papers published between January 2018 and December 2019 in Wiley’s Plant Pathology journal.

The research team received the news in a congratulatory message and an online certificate from the Journal. Part of the message stated: “We are excited to share that your research, published in Plant Pathology, is among the top 10% most downloaded papers! What it means: Among work published between January 2018 and December 2019, yours received some of the most downloads in the 12 months following online publication. Your research generated immediate impact and helped to raise the visibility of Plant Pathology.”

The open-source paper, “Sources of resistance in Musa to Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacearum, the causal agent of banana xanthomonas wilt” published on 17 September 2018, announced a breakthrough in the search for banana varieties that are resistant to the lethal bacterial banana wilt disease. It proved wrong the belief that all banana varieties in the Great Lakes region are susceptible to the condition and provided hope in the banana breeding efforts for varieties resistant to the disease—one of the most effective ways to control the disease.

Victor Manyong, the IITA hub director, congratulated the team, noting that this was an indication of the quality of science generated by the team and the potential impact of the work to address the challenges facing agriculture productivity for smallholder banana farmers in the region.

The findings of the paper are significant for smallholder farmers in the Great Lakes region of Africa where banana is an important food and staple crop as its production has been greatly affected by the bacterial banana wilt disease.

The bacterial banana wilt disease, which is regarded as the most devastating disease of banana in the region, is transmitted by insect vectors, contaminated garden tools, and infected planting material. The disease, which causes premature ripening and rotting of the fruits, wilting, and eventually death of the plant, has drastically affected the production of highland cooking banana in the region and the food and income of millions of farmers.

“This is exciting news for the team. We are extremely pleased with the recognition”, says George Mahuku, the IITA plant pathologist based at IITA Tanzania and lead scientist for the work.

“As a follow-up to this work, we are now screening a population made from one of the resistant varieties ‘Monyet’ and a susceptible variety ‘Kokopo’ to identify biological markers (quantitative trait loci – QTL) of genes associated with resistance. This information will be used to develop protocols for the rapid transfer of resistance genes to susceptible but farmer-preferred cultivars. We are also continuing with screening other banana types to identify more sources of resistance,” Mahuku said.

Other researchers in the team are drawn from the Centre of the Region Haná for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research, Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic, the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute at the University of Pretoria, South Africa as well as IITA banana researchers based in Uganda and Arusha.

The research was funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB).

Memo from a Multi-Millionaire: Covid-19 Proves Business Case for Taxing the Rich

Health workers applause back to the public applauding them. Madrid, Spain, 22 March 2020. Credit: Burak Akbulut

By Djaffar Shalchi
COPENHAGEN, May 28 2020 – For the past few decades, many big corporations and very wealthy individuals have operated according to the myth that they are “self-made”, that their success owed nothing to anyone else.

From that narrative has come the notion that they are entitled and able to cut themselves off from others, contributing as little as possible in taxes and workers’ wages.

But now that the myth has run into the fact of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s clear that none of us are independent; that we are, in fact, interdependent.

I am a one of those who gets highlighted as a self-made man. I am told that I fit the storyline: I am an immigrant son of a single mother from Iran; while my mum cleaned in hotels, I studied hard, worked hard, and went on to be a successful entrepreneur. I rose to be a multimillionaire – the American Dream, except in Denmark!

It has always been obvious to me, however, that I have not risen all by my own efforts: that I am not a self-made man, that the welfare state made me. Without the creche care and schooling and health care I received, I could not have flourished; and without Denmark’s strong public services, neither could my business.

That’s why, in real life, contrary to the Hollywood tale, kids are more likely to achieve the American dream in Denmark than in America. That’s why I recognise that it is my responsibility to help others rise, by giving back – not only as a philanthropist, but also, and preferably, as a taxpayer.

That’s why I am helping to lead an international campaign – Move Humanity – that is demanding that governments increase taxes on people like me.

A number of governments have shared that pressure from the richest individuals is a major obstacle in the way of key inequality-reducing reforms. Studies show that the super-rich have been avoiding as much as 30% of their tax liability. Poor countries have been losing $170 billion of tax revenues every year as a result of tax dodging.

Djaffar Shalchi. Credit: Move Humanity

Many corporations and wealthy individuals have lobbied against higher taxes, arguing that they would be anti-business. But, as we have seen, the fact is that tax is not anti-business, pandemics are anti-business.

A small number of plutocrats are profiteering in this crisis in obscene ways and appear to be planning for dystopia. But most businesses are ultimately threatened by the combination of health collapse, economic collapse, systems collapse and trust collapse that Covid-19 has wrought.

Progressive taxation – from corporate profits, and from personal income and wealth – is the only sustainable way to fund the public services and infrastructure on which restoration depends.

Public health, stability and trust are the platforms on which business viability stands. To do what is right is also to do what is practical.

It is time for millionaires to back redistribution. Over 175 millionaires signed the open letter launched at Davos in January 2020, “Millionaires against Pitchforks”, that called for higher taxes on people like themselves.

But these 175 were seen as outliers. Now, after the Covid-19 crisis, that could change, and must change.

The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted just how much society depends on frontline workers, these no longer hidden heroes. It has also highlighted, in the Financial Times’s words, that “radical reforms — reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades — will need to be put on the table. Governments will have to accept a more active role in the economy. Redistribution will again be on the agenda.”

It is no surprise that countries which value public goods and the active role of the state like Denmark, Germany and South Korea, are holding up more strongly to the Covid-19 crisis than the more laissez-faire US and UK, or that, in India, Kerala is holding up more strongly than the states in the north of the country.

Across the world now, politicians of many stripes, economists of almost all stripes, and ordinary people of every stripe increasingly recognise the essential role of government action, funded by progressive taxation.

Experts say a 1% wealth tax on the world’s top 1% could bring in over $1.6 trillion.

Tackling inequality is central to restore consumer demand, strengthen human capital, ensure collective health security and prevent societal breakdown. If we allow inequality to rise any higher, we will all be in danger – of an even more intensified economic crisis and of violent instability.

For the rich to hide in bunkers, offends others’ dignity and their own, and is no way to truly thrive. Even before Covid-19, a multimillionaire whom I visited in Brazil could, when he looked out of his window, see only metal bars, as if he was caged in.

From my window in Denmark, the view is of flowers. As is noted in The Spirit Level, and in the yearly World Happiness Report, more equal societies are safer, healthier, happier, and more stable. They have longer-running growth, and higher social mobility. And they are much better able to cope with crises.

The Covid-19 pandemic is revealing not only how unjust the world’s inequalities are, but also how these inequalities have been rooted in a fallacy that denied the reality of our interdependence.

The difference between clinging to individualized and inward-looking approaches, and unleashing the power of collective action from the local to global, will be millions of lives saved and billions of lives improved.

Higher taxes on very wealthy few, and on the biggest corporations, are crucial to restoring trust and to funding the common services we all need to thrive. Through this we can put the world back in business, and reconnect business with the world. It’s worth every penny. Even millionaires should back it.

*This piece was co-authored with Ben Phillips, an advisor to governments and international institutions on how to tackle inequality.