Riot police block protesters at UN climate talks

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South African riot police on Friday blocked hundreds of protesters, mostly women farmers, from entering UN climate talks in Durban, according to an AFP photographer on the scene.

The demonstrators attempted to break through barriers surrounding the conference centre where some 15,000 diplomats, experts and NGOs are trying to breathe life into international negotiations tasked with fighting the threat of climate change.

About 50 police in full riot gear prevented the surging crowd from entering the venue, the photographer said.

The protesters fell back quickly, and there were no arrests or injuries, according to a policeman at the scene.

The women farmers from 10 countries across southern Africa converged on Durban to testify on how climate change had disrupted their livelihoods due to erratic weather, including more severe storms and blistering heatwaves.

Many wore green-on-black T-shirts reading "Rural Women Assembly," and carried banners, including one that said: "Women are the Guardians of Seed, Life and Earth."

Non-governmental organisations and local grassroots groups have announced a protest march under the banner of "climate justice" for Saturday, and said they expect a turnout of several thousand people.

The 12-day, 194-nation talks, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) enter a high-level phase next week with the arrival of ministers, and end on December 9.

© 2011 AFP

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