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5,00,000 children affected by escalating violence in Libya; First US female astronaut Jerrie Cobb


Story 1: 5,00,000 children affected by escalating violence in Libya: UN

United Nations (UN) released a statement on April 18, 2019 that said around 5,00,000 children are affected by violence across western Libya. UN statement said that children trapped in conflict areas are at risk of running out of food and losing access to medical care. Unable to leave these areas, they cannot safely seek protection or assistance.

Calling the escalation in fighting the worst in years, Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, issued a statement reminding all of Libya’s warring parties that they are obliged “to protect children at all times in full compliance with international law”.

Key Highlights

  • In Tripoli 1,22,088 students can’t access their schools. The ongoing hostilities has disrupted education in nine municipalities in the Libyan capital.
  • Teaching teams are unable to access schools in affected areas. Children should not bear the brunt of armed conflicts.
  • Nearly 1,800 children are among the civilians who need urgently to be evacuated from frontline fighting, as the raging violence has already displaced 7,300 others, the two UN officials said.
  • Moreover, around 500,000 children are estimated to be affected by violence across the country’s west.
  • Killing, injuring and recruiting children, and attacks on education, medical and water facilities are all grave violations of children’s rights and must cease immediately”, they stated – reminding that in line with Security Council resolution 2427, prevention measures must be put in place to better protect children.
  • Libya has suffered through more than seven years of persistent conflict that has left at least 8,20,000 people, including some 250,000 children, in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
  • Fore and Gamba reminded all warring parties in Libya of their obligations to protect children under international law, and urged humanitarian access to all children in need.

Libya Crisis

Libya has been torn by violence and political instability since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was toppled and killed by rebels in 2011. The crisis was triggered by the Arab Spring protests, a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions that spread across the Middle East in late 2010. The protests led to a civil war, which invited intervention from a multinational coalition led by NATO forces to protect civilians against attacks by the government’s forces.

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Story 2: First female astronaut candidate of USA Jerrie Cobb dies

NASA’s first female astronaut candidate, pilot Jerrie Cobb, has recently died. Cobb died in Florida at age 88 last month. News of her death came on April 18, 2019 from journalist Miles O’Brien, serving as a family spokesman.

In year 1961, Cobb became the first woman to pass astronaut testing. Altogether, 13 women passed the arduous physical testing and became known as the Mercury 13. But NASA already had its Mercury 7 astronauts, all jet test pilots and all military men. None of the Mercury 13 ever reached space, despite Cobb’s testimony in 1962 before a Congressional panel.

About Jerrie Cobb

  • Jerrie Cobb (March 5, 1931 to March 18, 2019) was an American aviator. She was also part of the “Mercury 13,” a group of women selected to undergo physiological screening tests at the same time as the original Mercury Seven astronauts, as part of a private, non-NASA program.
  • By age 19, Cobb was teaching men to fly. At 21, she was delivering military fighters and four-engine bombers to foreign Air Forces worldwide.
  • When she became the first woman to fly in the Paris Air Show, the world’s largest air exposition, her fellow airmen named her Pilot of the Year and awarded her the Amelia Earhart Gold Medal of Achievement.
  • Cobb served for decades as a humanitarian aid pilot in the Amazon jungle. She emerged in 1998 to make another pitch for space, as NASA prepared to launch John Glenn on shuttle Discovery at age 77. Cobb argued unsuccessfully that the research should include an older woman.

What was Mercury 13?

The Mercury 13 were thirteen American women who, as part of a privately funded program, underwent the same physiological screening tests as the astronauts selected by NASA on April 9, 1959 for Project Mercury. The term was coined in 1995 by Hollywood producer James Cross as a comparison to the Mercury Seven name given to the selected male astronauts; however, the Mercury 13 were not part of NASA’s astronaut program, never flew in space and never met as a group.

In the 1960s some of the women lobbied the White House and Congress for inclusion of women in the astronaut program, even appearing before a congressional committee. All 13 members were, Myrtle Cagle, Jerrie Cobb, Janet Dietrich, Marion Dietrich, Wally Funk, Sarah Gorelick (later Ratley), Jane “Janey” Briggs, Jean Hixson, Rhea Woltman, Gene Nora Stumbough (later Jessen), Irene Leverton, Jerri Sloan (later Truhill) and Bernice Steadman. Jane Hart was the oldest candidate, at 41, and mother of eight. Wally Funk, was the youngest, at 23. Marion and Janet Dietrich were twin sisters.



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