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Sep 1, 2015

This year’s El Nino weather pattern could be strongest on record – experts

GENEVA, Sept 1 (Reuters) – The current El Nino weather
phenomenon is expected peak between October and January and
could turn into one of the strongest on record, experts from the
World Meteorological Organization said at a news conference on
Tuesday.

Climate models and experts suggest surface waters in the
east-central Pacific Ocean are likely to be more than 2 degrees
hotter than average, potentially making this El Nino one of the
strongest ever.

Aug 28, 2015

Mediterranean refugee and migrant numbers pass 300,000 in 2015

GENEVA (Reuters) – The number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe has passed 300,000 this year, up from 219,000 in the whole of 2014, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday.

More than 2,500 people have died making the crossing this year, not including about 200 who are feared to have drowned off Libya on Thursday. That compares with 3,500 who died or went missing in the Mediterranean in 2014.

Aug 4, 2015

U.N. envoy to Yemen says warring parties increasingly open to peace plan

GENEVA (Reuters) – The U.N. envoy to Yemen believes his plan to end a four-month conflict that has triggered a humanitarian crisis in Yemen is increasingly gaining acceptance among the warring parties, a U.N. spokesman said on Tuesday.

U.N.-led talks in June between northern Houthi rebel fighters and supporters of the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi failed to end the war, in which the United Nations says nearly 2,000 civilians have been killed.

Jul 31, 2015

U.S. wins WTO ruling on Chinese speciality steel tariffs

GENEVA (Reuters) – China failed to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling that found its tariffs on a type of speciality steel products breached global trade rules, a WTO panel said in a ruling on Friday.

The ruling noted, however, that China had stopped applying the tariffs in April, while the WTO hearings were going on, more than four and a half years after the United States first complained.

Jul 31, 2015

After Ebola criticisms, WHO plans for 4-month epidemic response

GENEVA, July 31 (Reuters) – The World Health Organization is
creating a “blueprint” to improve the medical response to major
outbreaks of diseases, after it was accused of reacting too
slowly to West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, it said on Friday.

“The goal is to reduce the time from recognition of an
outbreak to the availability of new medical tools to four months
or less,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan told a news
conference in Geneva.

Jul 31, 2015

Vaccine success holds hope for end to deadly scourge of Ebola

LONDON/GENEVA, July 31 (Reuters) – The world is on the verge
of being able to protect humans against Ebola, the World Health
Organization said on Friday, as a trial in Guinea found a
vaccine to have been 100 percent effective.

Initial results from the trial, which tested Merck
and NewLink Genetics’ VSV-ZEBOV vaccine on some 4,000
people who had been in close contact with a confirmed Ebola
case, showed complete protection after 10 days.

Jul 29, 2015

U.N. panel questions Iraq over use of torture

GENEVA (Reuters) – Iraqi officials were challenged on Wednesday to name a single person the country had jailed for torture by a U.N. committee investigating suspected human rights abuses in a justice system that had “gone astray”.

“Is there anyone in Iraq in prison, sentenced for torturing another human being? Is there one person? Five? Ten?” the chairman of the U.N. Committee against Torture Claudio Grossman asked the Iraqi delegation.

Jul 27, 2015

People like Blatter deserve Nobel prize, Putin tells Swiss TV

GENEVA (Reuters) – FIFA boss Sepp Blatter deserves a Nobel Prize for his stewardship of soccer’s governing body, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview aired by Swiss broadcaster RTS on Monday.

On Saturday, at a meeting with Putin in St Petersburg, Blatter said that FIFA, facing a major bribery scandal, had passed a resolution offering full support for holding the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Jul 27, 2015

U.N. hopes to boost aid to Aden as Yemen frontline moves north

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations hopes to massively scale up aid to Aden now that fighting has all but stopped in the Yemeni port city, the U.N. official in charge of humanitarian aid to Yemen said after a weekend trip to the city.

Johannes van der Klaauw said he saw bodies lying in the street and whole districts damaged or destroyed, but the battle between the Houthi militia and local fighters backed by a Saudi-led air campaign had moved north.

Jul 24, 2015

WTO members try to seal trillion-dollar IT trade deal

GENEVA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – World Trade Organization (WTO) members met in Geneva on Friday trying to finalise a deal to cut tariffs on $1 trillion of information technology products from video games to medical equipment.

The United States said a deal had been struck, but WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo postponed a press conference at which he and the talks’ chairman, European Union Ambassador Angelos Pangratis, had been due to announce the agreement.