World Health Day; South Sudan; U.S.; Bahrain

World Health Day: United Nations top officials today stressed the importance of providing adequate health services to older citizens and called on countries to commit resources to help their aging populations lead a healthy and active life.

According to WHO, in the middle of the last century there were 14 million people in the world aged 80 years or older. However, by 2050, there will be almost 400 million people in this age group – with 100 million of them in China alone. Within the next five years, for the first time in history, the population of people aged 65 and older will outnumber children under the age of five.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message to mark World Health Day, noted that the greatest health threat for older people in all countries is now overwhelmingly from non-communicable diseases, with heart disease and strokes the biggest killers, and visual impairment and dementia the biggest causes of disability. He underlined that in low-income countries in particular, the incidence of non-communicable diseases is two to three times greater than in high-income countries.

South Sudan:
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) today urged South Sudanese security forces to ensure human rights are respected as the civilian disarmament process takes place in the country’s Jonglei state. While the disarmament process has largely been peaceful and orderly, there have been reports of human rights violations in a number of disarmament locations, UNMISS said in a news release.

UNMISS stated that the reports indicate that the human rights violations seem to be individual and random cases rather than systematic, but stressed that conducting the disarmament process in a peaceful manner is vital to end the cycle of violence in Jonglei. “This is even more important now that the process moves into a more challenging phase,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to South Sudan, Hilde F. Johnson.

Human Rights chief on Trayvon Martin case:
UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay has called for an “immediate investigation” into the circumstances surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen who was shot dead by a volunteer neighborhood watchman in Florida.

Ms Pillay made the comments about the controversial case at a press conference in Barbados, as she wrapped up a three-day visit to the Caribbean island nation. “As High Commissioner for Human Rights, I call for an immediate investigation,” she said. “Justice must be done for the victim. It’s not just this individual case. It calls into question the delivery of justice in all situations like this.”

Neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic, fatally shot 17-year-old Martin inside a gated community in the Florida town of Sanford on February 26. Mr Zimmerman has said he acted in self-defense after Martin punched him in the nose, knocked him down and slammed his head into the ground. The case has unleashed a national uproar over race relations and the right to self-defense in the United States.

The head of the UN agency tasked with promoting and defending the freedom of the press today called for an investigation into the killing of a citizen journalist in Bahrain during a civilian demonstration.

Ahmed Ismael Hassan AlSamadi, 22, was shot on 31 March while filming the crackdown of security forces on a demonstration in the village of Salmabad, southwest of the capital of Bahrain, Manama.

“The basic human right of freedom of expression and the freedom of journalists and citizen journalists to cover events are essential for any society that wants to uphold the principles of democracy and rule of law,” said the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova.