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Syria ‘massacre’ goes on as UN urges ceasefire vote

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The deadly bombardment of eastern Ghouta in Syria is said to have killed at least 13 more civilians early on Thursday, ahead of a potential UN vote on a 30-day ceasefire.

“The rocket fire hasn’t stopped this morning. Around 200 ground-to-ground rockets struck Douma alone,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the UK-based group The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The UN said on Wednesday that at least 346 people had been killed and hundreds more wounded since President Assad’s forces stepped up their offensive at the start of the month.

At least 92 people died in just one 13-hour period on Monday, the UN added, with Secretary General Antonio Guterres calling it “hell on Earth” and urging an immediate suspension of “all war activities”.

A child waits to be treated at a make-shift hospital in Kafr Batna in eastern Ghouta
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A child waits to be treated at a make-shift hospital in Kafr Batna in eastern Ghouta

On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel added to the international outcry, calling the situation a “massacre”.

She said the Syrian regime was “fighting not against terrorists, but against its own people, the killing of children, the destruction of hospitals, all this is a massacre which needs to be condemned”.

Around 400,000 people are living under siege in eastern Ghouta, near the capital Damascus, with shellfire, rockets, airstrikes and barrel bombs pounding the area and crippling food shortages.

:: 10,538 Syrian refugees have relocated to the UK


A smoke plume rises following an airstrike in Ghouta



Video:
Bombardment ‘like doomsday’ – Gouta resident

Terrified residents have been seeking refuge in basements, but many have not been able to escape and footage has shown adults and children pulled out of rubble after attacks.

The Syrian government insists that it is fighting terrorists who are also attacking Damascus – and that it does not intentionally attack civilians.

A UN vote on a 30-day ceasefire in the whole of Syria could take place on Thursday, after Sweden and Kuwait tabled a proposed resolution.

It would allow food, aid and medical evacuations from eastern Ghouta and other areas.

UN Syrian envoy Staffan de Mistura said he hoped the resolution would be passed but admitted it was an “uphill” struggle.


Eastern Ghouta has been under heavy bombardment for several days by Assad and his allies, causing hundreds of deaths and injuries.



Video:
White Helmets save Ghouta’s children

However, the resolution would not exempt attacks on extremists from IS, the Nusra Front or al Qaeda – groups the Syrian regime says it is fighting.

Russia – Syria’s key military ally in the civil war – has said it is not directly involved in Ghouta attacks and called the ceasefire proposal unrealistic.

It could yet veto the proposal and its ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, has instead called for a Security Council meeting.

“That’s a long and complex process to achieve. Cessations cannot be established by putting a word in the resolution,” said Mr Nebenzia.




Video:
Syrian airstrike hits rebel-held suburb

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has also said the “terrorists are responsible” for the bloodshed in eastern Ghouta.

The bomardment has drawn parallels with attacks on eastern Aleppo, which claimed thousands of civilian lives as the regime’s relentless attacks ground down rebel resistance.

Syria’s complex seven-year civil war has claimed more than 340,000 lives, forced millions to flee their homes and left cities in ruins.

Figures show the UK has taken in more than 10,000 Syrian refugees from countries around the conflict zone since 2014.

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<a href='https://www.skysports.com/olympics/live-blog'>Tokyo Olympics Day 6: Quiet start for Team GB on medals front – as world pole vault champ forced out due to COVID</a>

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<a href='https://www.skysports.com/olympics/live-blog'>Tokyo Olympics Day 6: Quiet start for Team GB on medals front – as world pole vault champ forced out due to COVID</a>

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New Zealand is best placed to survive a global collapse of society, study suggests | World News

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New Zealand is the country most likely to survive a collapse of global civilisation, researchers have said.

A study has suggested a combination of ecological destruction, limited resources and population growth could trigger a worldwide breakdown “within few decades”, with climate change making things worse.

A “very likely” collapse would be characterised by the disintegration of supply chains, international agreements and global financial structures, according to researchers at the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University.

Wind turbines at Whitelee Windfarm in East Renfrewshire
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Researchers said the UK could increase its use of wind turbines to secure its future

They said problems could spread quickly because of how connected and economically dependant countries are on one another.

Five countries were identified as best placed to maintain civilisation within their own borders: New Zealand, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia.

All of them are islands or island continents which have fewer extremes in temperatures and varied amounts of rainfall due to their proximity to oceans.

Researchers said this makes them most likely to have relatively stable conditions in the future, despite the effects of climate change – which is expected to hit subtropics and tropics the hardest.

New Zealand’s ability to produce geothermal and hydroelectric energy, its abundant agricultural land and its low population would allow it to survive relatively unscathed.

Although the UK has generally fertile soils and varied agricultural output, it does not have as much agricultural land available because of its population density, raising questions about future self-sufficiency.

Britain’s reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy was considered to be a risk as power sources could be “rendered at least partly inoperable” if global supply chains collapse.

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Researchers said this could be mitigated by the nation’s manufacturing capabilities.

Meeting the large population’s energy demands through renewables alone would require very extensive infrastructure, they said, but the UK could increase its resilience by harnessing more energy from wind and water bodies like lagoons or barrages in the Severn Estuary.

Professor Aled Jones, Director of the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University, said “significant changes are possible in the coming years and decades”.

He said: “The impact of climate change, including increased frequency and intensity of drought and flooding, extreme temperatures, and greater population movement, could dictate the severity of these changes.”

Researchers identified pandemics as another risk to societal stability, citing the United Nations’ warning that future pandemics could be even more severe than COVID-19.

Twenty countries were analysed in the report.

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Boris Johnson urges world leaders to dig deep to boost children’s education across globe | Politics News

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Boris Johnson is urging world leaders to dip into their pockets to boost children’s education across the globe and help avoid a “legacy of wasted talent” as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The prime minister will host a summit in London on Thursday with the aim of fundraising among governments, business and charities for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

The GPE aims to raise $5bn (£3.6bn) over the next five years in order to get 175 million more children into education around the world.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta at Chequers, the country house of the serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in Buckinghamshire. Picture date: Wednesday July 28, 2021.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will close Thursday’s summit

Ahead of the Summit, Mr Johnson said: “We have a fight on our hands to ensure COVID-19 does not scupper the life chances of millions of children, leaving a lasting legacy of wasted talent.

“Too many children around the world – girls in particular – were already out of school before the pandemic.

“Enabling them to learn and reach their full potential is the single greatest thing we can do to recover from this crisis and build better, greener and fairer societies.

“Today I am urging governments, businesses and philanthropists to invest in the future by fully funding the transformative work of the Global Partnership for Education.”

Girls are feared to be particularly at risk of never returning to school once they have left, with 132 million girls around the world already estimated to be out of school even before the impact of the COVID pandemic.

Thursday’s summit is being jointly hosted with Kenya and will be opened by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and his Kenyan counterpart, Raychelle Omamo.

The prime minister and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who held bilateral talks at Chequers on Wednesday, will close the summit, along with Australia’s former prime minister Julia Gillard, who is the GPE’s chair.

World leaders, businesses, UN agencies, charities and youth leaders will join the summit both virtually and in person.

The UK last month pledged £430m to the GPE at the G7 Summit in Cornwall.

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