World News in Brief: World News in Brief: Warmest January on record, Sudan diplomacy push, catching childhood cancer early

World News in Brief: World News in Brief: Warmest January on record, Sudan diplomacy push, catching childhood cancer early

In the battle to slow global warming, January was the hottest month on record according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on Thursday.

Global precipitation reached a near record-high in January on the heels of a record wet December.

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Large portions of North America, Asia and Australia were wetter than average while much of southern Africa and South America were drier than normal.

The record-breaking trend seen for much of 2023 has rolled into 2024. For the eighth month in a row, new heat records have been set.

At the same time, sea surface temperatures have been at a record high now for 10 consecutive months.

Need for action ‘never clearer'

The UN climate change body, which hosts the annual COP conference, UNFCC, tweeted that based on Thursday’s figures, “the urgency for climate action has never been clearer.”

“It is time to act”, declared UNFCCC, and for countries to put their climate plans into motion which align with keeping global warming below the 1.5°C limit outlined in the Paris Agreement nearly a decade ago.

This new data comes from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service and the Japan Meteorological Agency.

They are four of the six international datasets feeding into WMO’s State of the Climate reports. 

That report is due out next month. But, so far, the agency has already confirmed that 2023 was by far the warmest year on record due to human-induced climate change and a warming El Niño weather pattern.

Sudan: UN envoy leads ‘renewed engagement’ to end fighting

The Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Sudan is leading a “renewed engagement” by the UN to try and end the brutal fighting between Government forces and the rival RSF militia.

Ramtane Lamamra is working hard to “strengthen multilateral coordination around political and mediation efforts, working in support of and in close partnership with African and other regional and international partners”, said UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, briefing reporters in New York on Thursday.

He said a worsening situation on the ground “necessitates enhanced efforts to bring an end to the current conflict”.

The clashes, which began last April, have left more than 25 million people dependent on humanitarian assistance with close to eight million driven from their homes, including 1.6 million who have fled across Sudan’s borders.

Abyei is a disputed area on the border of Sudan and South Sudan.
UN Photo/Stuart Price
Abyei is a disputed area on the border of Sudan and South Sudan.

Mr. Lamamra has undertaken an extensive diplomatic tour of key capitals in the Horn of Africa region, in Europe and in the Gulf in a bid to “relaunch a credible political process”.

Abyei unrest

The UN peacekeeping mission, UNISFA, in the disputed Abyei region, said on Thursday “enhanced levels” of patrolling are continuing as intercommunal tensions persist, Mr. Dujarric added.

Peacekeepers responded to gunfire between two groups on Wednesday in Rumamier in southern Abyei.

Two civilians were reportedly killed during the hostilities and in response, the mission patrolled and maintained a presence in the area to protect civilians.

UNISFA is also continuing to engage with stakeholders to calm tensions and provide longer-term security, the UN Spokesperson added.

International Childhood Cancer Day: Parental role vital

On this International Childhood Cancer Day, the UN health agency, WHO, said parents alongside family doctors and paediatricians play a vital role in early detection.

Globally, more than 1,000 children are diagnosed with cancer every day. Recent medical advances have boosted chances of survival in high-income countries, where more than 80 per cent of children diagnosed will survive.

But, only about 20 per cent of kids diagnosed will survive in some low and middle-income countries.

To change that, WHO launched the Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer in 2018. Its main goal is to reduce that survival gap by 2030. 

It aims to ensure that at least 60 per cent of children with cancer worldwide will survive their diagnosis.

WHO said reaching this goal hinges on strengthening health systems so that primary health providers – including parents – can spot the early signs of childhood cancer.

Referral systems which can provide specialized care are another important factor, the agency said.

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