June 22, 2024

Deadly India floods and Tibet avalanche, message from COP28 head, and a landmark caste discrimination bill vetoed in the US.

As the war between Hamas and Israeli forces enters a second day and dominates the headlines, here are four other stories from around the world you may have missed:

Death toll in India’s Sikkim floods rises to 77

The death toll in floods that hit India’s northeastern state of Sikkim has risen to 77, while over 100 others are missing. Violent torrents struck Sikkim on Wednesday after a high-altitude glacial lake suddenly burst.

Police in Jalpaiguri district, situated in the neighbouring West Bengal state, said 48 bodies were recovered on Sunday, including of eight Indian army personnel stationed in Sikkim, a state on the remote frontiers of Nepal and China with a sizeable military presence.

Thousands of people remain stranded in relief camps as bad weather delays airlift rescues. Along with destroying major infrastructure, the floods also damaged more than 1,200 houses, according to officials.

Two killed by avalanche on Shishapangma in Tibet

More than 50 climbers were climbing up the summit of Shishapangma in Tibet when an avalanche crashed into them, killing an American mountaineer and her Nepali guide, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday.

Two avalanches hit the slopes of Shishapangma, the world’s 14th tallest peak, at elevations of 7,600 metres and 8,000 metres on Saturday, killing the American climber Anna Gutu and her Nepali guide Mingmar Sherpa.

Another American climber, Gina Marie Rzucidlo, and her Nepali guide, Tenjen Sherpa, were missing, Xinhua said.

Climbers from around the world were pushing up the summit in what is a popular month for mountaineering in the Himalayas with eased monsoon rains making the conditions more stable.

California governor vetoes caste discrimination bill

California was just about to become the first US state to explicitly outlaw caste-based discrimination – until Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed the bill late on Saturday.

Last month, California’s senate passed a bill that added caste as a form of protected ancestry under state civil rights law, as well as education and housing codes. Newsom called the bill “unnecessary” since the state already prohibits discrimination based on various characteristics such as colour, ancestry and national origin.

“Because discrimination based on caste is already prohibited under these existing categories, this bill is unnecessary,” he said in a statement.

The debate around the bill has divided the Indian American community, with rights and social justice groups backing it as the most significant victory in combatting casteism in America. Proponents of the bill launched a hunger strike in early September pushing for the law’s passage.

A United Nations report in 2016 said at least 250 million people worldwide still face caste discrimination in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Pacific regions, as well as in various diaspora communities. Caste systems are found among Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Muslims and Sikhs in South Asia.

Thenmozhi Soundararajan, executive director of Equality Labs, the Oakland-based Dalit rights group that has been leading the movement to end caste discrimination in the US, said she still viewed the moment as a victory for caste-oppressed people who have “organised and built amazing power and awareness on this issue”.

COP28 chief calls for better adaptation to climate change

Sultan al-Jaber, the president-designate of COP28 to be held in the United Arab Emirates later this year, on Sunday said adaptation must be “front and centre” of the climate agenda.

“We live in a region of extreme heat, water scarcity and food insecurity. We are also suffering harsh climate impacts, from droughts to the devastating floods of Derna,” Jaber said, speaking at the MENA Climate Week in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh.

“To deliver for our region we must put adaptation front and centre of the climate agenda.”

Jaber also called on governments to abandon “fantasies” of hastily sideling existing energy infrastructure in pursuit of climate goals.

“We cannot unplug the energy system of today before we build the new system of tomorrow. It is simply not practical or possible,” he said.

COP28 is scheduled to take place in the UAE between November 30 and December 12.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *