News in Brief 15 September 2015 (PM)

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Children play with hand puppets at Ahlam Al-Tofoola kindergarten, in the city of Tartous, Syria. Photo: UNICEF/David Youngmeyer

Over two million children in Syria unable to attend school

More than two million children in war-torn Syria will not be able to attend school this year, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

UNICEF said another 400,000 are at risk of dropping out due to conflict, violence and displacement.

As the conflict in Syria enters its fifth year, the crisis continues to wipe out years of achievements, with some children never having been inside a classroom.

Five thousand schools across the country have been destroyed, damaged or converted to shelters or for military use.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) says that critical funding shortages have forced it to halve the level of assistance provided to almost 1.3 million vulnerable Syrian refugees in the region.

Argentine appointed to head Syria chemical weapons panel

Virginia Gamba of Argentina has been appointed by the UN Secretary-General to lead an independent panel that will investigate who is responsible for the use of banned chemical weapons in Syria.

Ms Gamba is currently the director of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and has provided key support to previous UN probes into gas attacks in Syria.

She will head a one-year joint investigation by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) which was authorized last week by the 15 UN Security Council members.

Bulgarian musician designated UNESCO artist for peace

Bulgarian musician Theodosii Spassov has been appointed an "artist for peace" by the UN cultural agency, UNESCO.

The renowned composer and virtuoso player of the kaval, a traditional wooden flute, will be given his new title at a ceremony in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, on Wednesday.

In announcing the appointment, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova praised Mr Spassov's unique music style and commitment to raise public awareness about music as a force to enhance dialogue among different cultures.

Veronica Reeves, United Nations.

Duration: 1'50"

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