Syria

90 % of global chemical weapons stockpile destroyed: OPCW

Nobel peace prize winning organisation OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) has achieved major milestone of destroying 90 per cent of the global chemical weapons stockpile.

OPCW has mentioned that around 65,000 metric tonnes of declared chemical weapons, mostly from US and Russian arsenals of cold war era have been destroyed in a safe manner. It also includes total of 1,300 metric tonnes of chemical weapons removed from Syria in 2014.

The remaining stockpile is underway in phase of destruction and is scheduled to be completed before the end of 2020 and 2023. The weapons stockpiles included caches containing chemicals needed to make deadly nerve agents like Sarin.

About Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

  • OPCW is an intergovernmental organisation, headquatered in Hague, Netherlands.
  • The organisation promotes, administers and verifies the adherence to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC).
  • This convention outlaws the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and their precursors.
  • 190 member-states have signed and ratified this convention including India. Six states- Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea and South Sudan are still outside the CWC.
  • It was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.

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ISIS militants take control of Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants have taken complete control of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. The city is a UNESCO designated World Heritage site and home to some of the world’s most magnificent ancient ruins.

With the seizure of entire ancient city, there are fears that the militants will destroy the ancient ruins as there is no presence of government troops who had entirely withdrawn from the city following an IS advance.

It should be noted that the ancient ruins are situated in a strategically important area on the road between Syria’s capital Damascus and the contested eastern city of Deir al-Zour.

From the oil and gas fields located in Deir al-Zour, Syrian government uses it to generate electricity for areas under its control in the west of the country.

Earlier in March 2015, the militants had demolished several ancient sites that pre-date Islam in Iraq, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites Hatra and Nimrud.

Some facts

  • Ancient ruins of Palmyra dates back to the first and second Century when it was under Roman rule.
  • Palmyra was once a Silk Road hub and one of the cultural centres of the ancient world.
  • The city occupies mythological status in Syria and is home to some of the most beautiful and well-preserved ruins of antiquity, including the Temple of Bel, built in 1st century.

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Syrian journalist Mazen Darwish honoured with UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2015

Syrian journalist and rights activist Mazen Darwish was honoured with UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2015.

He was bestowed with this award by the UN’s Cultural body for recognition of his work carried out in Syria for more than 10 years at great personal sacrifice, harassment, enduring a travel ban, as well as repeated detention and torture.

Presently he has been jailed by the Bashar al-Assad’s regime. He was arrested in February 2012 along with his colleagues Hani Zaitani and Hussein Ghreir at the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression. All of them are accused of promoting terrorist acts.

About Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize

  • Established: 1997
  • Named in honour of a Colombian journalist Guillermo Cano Isaza, who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador, in Bogota in 1986.
  • It is an annual award given by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the occasion of World Press Freedom day.
  • Funded by the Cano Foundation (Colombia) and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (Finland).
  • The award honours a person, an institution or organisation that has made a significant contribution to the promotion of press freedom or defence anywhere in the world.
  • It carries monetary award of US $25,000.

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