Current Affairs 2017 (July)

July 30: World Day against Trafficking in Persons

The United Nations (UN) World Day against Trafficking in Persons is observed every year on July 30 to raise awareness of the plight of human trafficking victims, and promote and protect their rights.

Human trafficking is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of forced labour, commercial sexual exploitation or sexual slavery for the trafficker or others.

The 2017 theme of the day is “Act to Protect and Assist Trafficked Persons”. It highlights the large mixed migration movements of refugees and migrants. It also puts the spotlight on the significant impact of conflict and natural disasters, as well as the resultant, multiple risks of human trafficking that many people face.

It also seeks to addresses the key issue concerning trafficking responses i.e. most people are never identified as trafficking victims and therefore cannot access most of the assistance or protection provided.

Background

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons by adopting resolution A/RES/68/192 in 2013,. The resolution had declared that the observance of the day is necessary to raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.

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IISER Scientists develop Gelator to remove oil from spills

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), Thiruvananthapuram have developed gelator that can suck up oil and congeal it.

The gelator is hydrophobic material that has property of oleilophilic (oil-loving) and takes up oil when it comes in contact with it. It can be used to recover marine oil spills with a simple, efficient and cost-effective method.

Key Facts

The gelator is developed using a cheap raw material mannitol and cellulose pulp through a one-step process. In this process the mannitol gets adsorbed on the cellulose fibre through hydrogen bonding. The adsorption process changes the cellulose matrix from being very hydrophilic (water-loving) to hydrophobic (water repelling).

The property of gelator to self-assemble to form micro fibres makes congealing of oil possible and the oil loses its fluidity and gets trapped within the entangled fibrous network to form a rigid gel. Gelation essentially turns the liquid oil into semi-solid and this allows congealed oil to be simply scooped out using a scoop or a sieve.

During the studies, it was found that the gelator was able to absorb and congeal 16 times its own weight of oil. Even, the absorbed oil can be recovered by applying pressure or fractionated by a simple distillation process.

Applications: Gelator can also serve as a more efficient, quick and cost-effective way for absorption of crude oil from the sea following marine spill. Unlike other alternatives, the gelator can be easily applied over oil-water mixture and no solvent is needed for spraying it thus making it environment friendly.

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