With the addition of 1.39 million square miles of marine protected areas (MPAs) in December, 5 percent of the world's oceans are now protected, and the establishment of five "mega MPAs" off the coasts of Chile, Palau, Hawaii, the Pitcairn Islands, and St. Helena raises the percentage of globally protected seas to 12.7 percent. Additionally, a campaign was announced at the December meeting of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to create secure MPAs in vulnerable areas of Antarctica over the next three years.
A new UN report released in December warns that the number of species affected by marine debris has increased from 663 to 817 in just four years. Three-quarters of all marine debris--the most common being food wrappers, bottle caps, straws, grocery bags, beverage bottles, and cigarette butts--are endangering fish, seabirds, marine mammals, and reptiles mostly through ingestion and entanglement. The report warns that the marine debris poses a threat to human health as well and is costing countries billions of dollars each year.
With security having improved in sections of Nigeria, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Nigerian government, and several nongovernmental organizations have recently concluded a major campaign to vaccinate 4.7 million children against a measles outbreak in three of the most afflicted regions. There were approximately 25,000 cases of measles (most of them children under the age of ten) and over one hundred deaths due to the disease in Nigeria in 2016. However, many children residing in still unsecured areas have yet to be immunized.
Despite signed pledges by both sides in the conflict in South Sudan to end recruitment of children by the armed forces, new figures released at the end of last year showed 1,300 children were conscripted as child soldiers in 2016, bringing the total since 2013 to more than 17,000. According to UNICEF, in the past three years more than 2,342 children have been killed or maimed, 3,090 have been abducted, and 1,130 sexually assaulted. In addition there have been 303 attacks on or military use of schools and hospitals.
An Internet petition calling on the British government to cancel Donald Trump's impending state visit surpassed 1.5 million signatures within days of him announcing his new immigration policy targeting Muslims. The petition states that his offensive human rights policies and "well-documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualify him from being received...