Italy’s Finmeccanica builds UN’s first drone

A UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has launched the organization's first drone, an unmanned aircraft, made by a subsidiary of Italian aerospace and defence firm Finmeccanica.

Italy's Finmeccanica builds UN's first drone
The UN's first drone was made by Italian company Selex ES. Photo: UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti

The drone, made by Selex ES, was unveiled in the eastern city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday.

It will be used by the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the country, MONUSCO, to fly over the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The region has been wracked by conflict between government troops and armed groups, such as M23, since 1996.

“One can observe the movements of the armed groups, movements of populations and can even see the arms carried by people on the ground, and it is also possible to see people in forested areas,” said Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz, MONUSCO force commander.

Data from the drone will be combined with information gathered by UN staff on the ground, he added.

Selex ES was awarded the three-year contract in July, the company said, which could be extended for a further two years.

Watch a video of the UN’s first drone: 

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UN rights panel urges Italy to ensure access to safe abortions

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has urged Italy to ensure women have access to free and safe abortion services amid concerns over the high number of doctors who refuse to provide terminations.

UN rights panel urges Italy to ensure access to safe abortions
Protesters during a demonstration in Italy in 2008 to protect the country's abortion law. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The committee on Tuesday said it was “concerned for the difficulty of access to legal abortions” and therefore “the significant number of back-street abortions”.

The panel urged the government to “adopt necessary measures to guarantee the free and timely access to legal abortion services”.

Some 70 percent of doctors in Italy refuse to terminate pregnancies, saying it goes against their Christian conscience.

The UN panel’s call comes a month after a Rome hospital caused an outcry after hiring two specialist abortion doctors due to the high number of conscientious objectors, 78 percent of which are in the Lazio region.

Lazio’s regional governor, Nicola Zingaretti, had planned for the two doctors to be hired at Rome’s San Camillio hospital – one of the largest in the capital – where they would be tasked specifically with carrying out abortions.

Meanwhile, women who have illegal abortions face fines of between €5,000 and €10,000, which were introduced last year.

Read more: Anger as Italy fines women up to €10k for secret abortions

The new fines replaced a 'symbolic' fine of €51, which had been given to women who obtained an illegal abortion, and was aimed at encouraging them to denounce doctors who performed it as well as encourage them to use the state healthcare system in case any complications arose.

Abortion has been legal in Italy since 1978. Women are entitled to terminate a pregnancy within the first three months. After 90 days, abortions are only allowed if the foetus is badly harmed or the mother's life is at risk.