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UN Projects Short Lives in Sierra Leone, DRC & Bissau in 2095, No Word on Myanmar

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 13 -- A UN report projecting Sierra Leone, the Congo and Guinea Bissau to continue to have the lowest life expectancies at birth as far out as 2095 was released on Thursday.

Inner City Press asked John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs how the UN could be so sure these countries, each with a UN mission in it, would still be at the bottom 80Wilmoth years from now. Video here, from Minute 34:45. Inner City Press also asked for comment on the two child policy for Muslims in part of Myanmar.

Wilmoth replied that he hadn't heard of that issue in Myanmar -- it sure SEEMS like population news -- and that he wouldn't want to comment on any policy choice a government would make to manage its population. (That seems to be how the UN operates in Sudan and, say, Sri Lanka.)

On the troubling projections for Africa, Wilmoth told Inner City Press "I would encourage you to focus on the present and next few decades." Then why did the UN include this projections and rankings until 2095 in the report it handed out on Thursday? Can't journalists choose what to focus on from what the UN itself chooses to put in a report?

Footnote: The briefing began with a question on behalf of the UN Correspondents Association, which on June 12 signed off on UN Media Access Guidelines banning media workspace in front of the UN Security Council, and trying to limit the free speech rights of any entity other than UNCA.

  Inner City Press for the new Free UN Coalition for Access thanked Wilmoth for this briefing -- and asserts again, independent journalists can focus on what they choose, and type and work wherever makes most sense. Watch this site.

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