World Ocean Day is celebrated every 8 June as a reminder of how integral our seas are to life on Earth.
A United Nations initiative, Oceans Day was first declared in 1992 following the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, also known as the Earth Summit, which led to important climate change goals.
In 2008, 8 June was officially designated as World Ocean Day, with a different theme each year.
What is World Ocean Day?
The day is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the benefits humans get from the ocean and our individual and collective duty to use its resources sustainably.
It is also a chance to celebrate and appreciate what the ocean provides, from the oxygen we breathe to the inspiration it provides artists.
Why does World Ocean Day matter?
Oceans cover more than 70% of the planet, produce at least 50% of the world’s oxygen, are home to most of the Earth’s biodiversity and are the main source of protein for more than a billion people.
They also absorb about 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans – a buffer for the detrimental impacts of global warming.
The UN hopes World Ocean Day will help inform the public of human actions on the ocean and develop a worldwide movement to protect it and unite the world in sustainably managing the oceans.
What is this year’s theme and what are they hoping to achieve?
The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods is 2021’s World Ocean Day theme.
By 2030, an estimated 40 million people will be employed by ocean-based industries.
But the UN says we are taking more from the ocean than can be replenished, with 90% of big fish populations currently depleted and 50% of coral reefs destroyed.
It says a new balance must be created, “rooted in true understanding of the ocean and how humanity relates to it”.
The aim of the day is to build a connection to the ocean that is “inclusive, innovative and informed by lessons from the past”.
Why is this year particularly important?
It is vital to help protect the ocean every day, but this World Ocean Day comes in the year that the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development begins.
From 2021 to 2030, efforts are being made to use our current knowledge of the oceans better to help politicians and decision-makers choose the best options to save oceans and measure the possible consequences of policies.
The decade is also aimed at supporting a sustainable Blue Economy, sharing the responsibility of protecting oceans and at bolstering scientific research and technologies.
It is all part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all UN members to end poverty and other deprivations, reduce inequality, spur economic growth, tackle climate change and preserve our oceans and resources.
Who can get involved?
Science centres, research institutes, governments, NGOs, businesses and communities all around the world are planning local and global events involving millions of people.
But you do not have to be part of a group to get involved.
World Ocean Day is happening virtually for the second year in a row, thanks to the pandemic, meaning anyone can sign up to hear talks.
Last year, 350,000 people watched the programme, while 60 million people were talking about it on social media.
There will be a wide range of more than 40 people talking, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, actor and environmentalist Gael Garcia Bernal, PhD marine biology student Nicole Yamase, ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau, actor and oceans activist Sam Waterstone and Marisa Drew, chief sustainability officer at Credit Suisse.
Events start at 10am EST (3pm UK time) and will end with a virtual Concert for the Ocean from 4.10pm EST (9pm UK time).
You can sign up for the events here.
Sky News has launched the first daily prime time news show dedicated to climate change.
The Daily Climate Show is broadcast at 6.30pm and 9.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.
Hosted by Anna Jones, it follows Sky News correspondents as they investigate how global warming is changing our landscape and how we all live our lives.
Netanyahu says human rights groups are turning a blind eye to alleged rapes by Hamas
Benjamin Netanyahu has accused human rights groups of turning a blind eye to rapes that Israel says were committed by Hamas during the 7 October massacre.
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, the Israeli prime minister accused the international community of playing down the attacks and even ignoring them.
He said he expects “all civilised leaders, governments, nations to speak up against this atrocity”.
“I say to the women’s rights organisations, to the human rights organisations, you’ve heard of the rape of Israeli women, horrible atrocities, sexual mutilation – where the hell are you?” Netanyahu told a news conference on Tuesday, speaking in English to emphasise his point.
US President Joe Biden called the reports of sexual violence “appalling” and urged the world to condemn “horrific accounts of unimaginable cruelty”.
Speaking at a campaign fundraiser in Boston, he called on the world to condemn the acts by Hamas “without equivocation” and “without exception”.
He also stressed that “Hamas’s refusal to release the remaining young women” is what ended a temporary truce and hostage agreement that the US helped broker.
Israel’s justice ministry says “victims were tortured, physically abused, raped, burned alive, and dismembered” however Hamas has rejected all allegations that its gunmen committed sexual assault.
‘Widespread’ sexual violence
A human rights group has reported that rape and sexual violence were “widespread” during Hamas’ 7 October attack on Israel.
A group named Physicians for Human Rights in Israel, which has a long record of advocating for Palestinian civilians in Gaza, published an initial assessment in November.
“What we know for sure is that it was more than just one case and it was widespread, in that this happened in more than one location and more than a handful of times,” Hadas Ziv, policy and ethics director for the organisation, said on Tuesday.
“It is becoming more apparent that the violence perpetrated against women, men and children also included widespread sexual and gender-based crimes.
“What we don’t know and what the police are investigating is whether it was ordered to be done and whether it was systematic.”
While investigators are still trying to determine the scope of the sexual assaults, many witnesses of the atrocities have spoken out, with some giving harrowing details of terrorists raping, mutilating and murdering women.
A man hiding in a pit during the assault on a music festival said he heard someone nearby screaming she was being raped.
An army reservist who was tasked with identifying those killed said some of the women were found wearing only bloodied underwear.
Others said they found women semi-naked, bound, eviscerated, stripped, bruised, shot in the head or torched.
Hamas and other Gaza militant groups killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and took more than 240 hostages that day.
Two months after the attack on farming communities and army posts in southern Israel, police are still trying to put together the pieces.
In the immediate aftermath, priority was given to identifying bodies, not to preserving evidence.
Police say they’re combing through 60,000 videos seized from the body cameras of Hamas attackers, from social media and from security cameras as well as 1,000 testimonies to bring the perpetrators to justice.
It has been difficult finding rape survivors, with many victims killed by their attackers.
Last month, Israel’s police chief presented to the international news media videotaped testimony of a rape witness at the music festival.
Her face blurred, she said she watched militants gang-rape a woman as she lay on the ground.
The woman in the video described watching the militants as she pretended to be dead.
“I couldn’t understand what I saw,” she said.
‘Absolutely concerned’ about sexual violence against hostages
At the Shura military base where victims are being identified, Shari Mendes, a member of the army reserve unit that deals with the identification and religious burial preparation of female soldiers, said some of the women’s bodies came in with little clothing.
“Often women came in in just their underwear,” she said.
“Sometimes we had people who – we just had a torso, okay – or they were very decomposed or they were mutilated.
“I saw very bloody genitals on women.”
Based on open-source information and interviews, the Physicians for Human Rights in Israel report documents incidents at the music festival, homes around the Gaza Strip and an Israeli military base, all attacked by Hamas.
On Tuesday, Mr Netanyahu and members of his war cabinet held a meeting with recently released hostages and family members of hostages still held in Gaza.
Some of those former hostages shared testimonies of sexual abuse during their time in Gaza, participants said.
Separately, a doctor who treated some of the 110 released hostages said that at least 10 men and women among those freed were sexually assaulted or abused, but did not provide further details.
According to the Israeli military, 138 hostages, including 15 women, are still held by Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza.
Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, a military spokesman, said the army is “absolutely” concerned about sexual violence against female hostages.
Echoing these concerns earlier this week, US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said: “It seems that one of the reasons they (Hamas) don’t want to turn women over that they’ve been holding hostage – and the reason this pause fell apart – is that they don’t want these women to be able to talk about what happened to them during their time in custody.”
The effect Israel’s war in Gaza is having on civilians is ‘brutal to see’
Israel said its troops have entered Gaza’s second-largest city, while intensive bombardment has sent streams of ambulances and cars racing to hospitals with wounded and dead Palestinians. Here, Sky News’ chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay looks at the effects of a bloody new phase of the war.
It’s hard to believe but it’s actually getting worse in Gaza as every hour passes. The latest pictures from inside hospitals and on the streets are quite extraordinary.
Israel says it’s clearing out the north and the south of the strip in two simultaneous operations to take down Hamas.
But the effect their campaign is having on the civilian population is brutal to see.
Hospitals are overwhelmed, they ran out of beds long ago, now they’re running out of space on the floors as they struggle to keep men, women, and a lot of children alive.
The pictures from our team inside Gaza show medical staff struggling to deal with the sheer volume of injuries that pass through their doors in a near-constant stream.
In the north of Gaza people are crammed into the compound of the Kamal Adwan Hospital, seeking safety.
Beyond the walls, they film as the sounds of huge explosions reverberate through the tents of the displaced.
On the street, people out looking for supplies start running as fighting breaks out a short distance away. They too start heading to the hospital desperate to get inside for the protection they hope it will afford them.
One woman, holding her sleeping little boy, his face a mess of cuts after their street was hit by an Israeli bomb, told the team she had only just arrived at the hospital. Her son will be two years old in two days.
She couldn’t stay at her home anymore.
“Everyone left, they were continuously shelling us last night, we had just arrived and were about to go to sleep, then everything started,” she said.
“People were hit all around us, everything was destroyed. Look at what happened to him, this child. What has this child done? Is he carrying any weapons?”
Outside the hospital, a man covered in dust was asked why he was staying at the hospital.
“Because we cannot find anything to protect us, that is why. We only have our God to protect us before anything,” he said.
“We are saying we do not need anything, all we want is to live with our family, children and our loved ones and also the whole world to live in peace and safety, no one listens to us, no one hears us, no Arabs, no foreigners, no one. What do they want from us?”
Other pictures from inside Gaza show desperate scenes of chaos.
At the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis in the south of the strip, they’re treating people on the floor – it’s covered in blood.
Children, men, women; the young and old. Injured from airstrikes on homes and schools. In many cases they lie on the floor, clinging on to life.
One of the injured, a small boy, is holding onto a purple sweet.
He’s being treated on the floor, and he’s alone.
There really isn’t much that can be done for these patients. It’s not hopeless only because the staff keep going regardless of the odds of keeping many of them alive.
Incredibly the situation is actually getting worse. It’s hard to imagine. But it is.
The United States among other nations has told Israel too many civilians are being injured and killed in their campaign against Hamas.
Israel says it’s moving into the next phase of its campaign, and that its fight against Hamas continues.
The people of Gaza are stuck in the middle of a brutal war.
Bus plunges into a ravine killing 16 in the Philippines
At least 16 people have been killed and another 12 injured after a bus plunged into a ravine in a mountain village in the Philippines..
Eight of the wounded in the accident, which happened on Tuesday afternoon in Hamtic town in Antique province, were in critical condition at a local hospital, officials said.
The bus, which came from the nearby Iloilo province, was manoeuvring along the road when the driver lost control, smashed onto a concrete railing then fell into the ravine.
“The driver was repeatedly sounding his horn because he had apparently lost control of the bus before it plummeted into the ravine,” Ronniel Pabustan, an Antique provincial crisis responder, said.
Dozens of rescuers, including police, army and provincial emergency responders, worked to free the victims.
Using stretchers and ropes, they brought the victims up the ravine in a rescue that dragged late into the night, according to Mr Pabustan.
“It’s so tragic and painful because this happened close to Christmas,” he said, adding that among the dead were a baby and the driver.
The search for victims ended overnight but provincial officials urged village leaders to alert emergency personnel if they find any more victims in the site of the accident, a thickly wooded area in the bottom of the ravine.
Fatal road accidents are common in the Philippines due to weak enforcement of traffic laws, dilapidated vehicles and dangerous road conditions, including inadequate safety signs and barriers on mountain roads and in far-flung provinces.
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