News in Brief 16 November 2015 (PM)

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A child and an elderly man stand on the roof of a building damaged when Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu in March 2015. File Photo: UNICEF/Vlad Sokhin

El Niño to strengthen

This year's El Niño weather system ranks among the three strongest in the past half century and is expected to strengthen in the coming months, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has reported.

WMO Secretary General Michel Jarreau has welcomed "unprecedented" coordination by meteorological services worldwide in responding to the climatic phenomenon which has caused drought and flooding in parts of Africa.

He also highlighted progress in predicting its onset and development.

"And this is done through the networks coordinated by WMO. At the national level, it's the national meteorological services playing a key role, and they have provided to their own governments, to their own decision makers, to their own public, information that can be used to be better prepared. And that translates not only in saving lives, which is essential, but, in addition, to minimize the economic impact of the El Niño and the disruption.

The UN agency is holding an international El Niño conference in New York this week.

Human rights experts alarmed at escalation of violence in Middle East

Two UN human rights experts have expressed grave concern over continuing violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel which has led to the death of more than 90 people since October.

Thousands of others have been injured.

The experts, known as Special Rapporteurs, report on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory and on the issue of summary executions.

Their call for an end to the violence by all sides comes in the aftermath of the alleged shooting death of a Palestinian by the Israeli forces during an undercover arrest operation at a hospital last week.

 London conference to raise funds for Syria humanitarian efforts

A conference to raise funds to support all those affected by the Syrian conflict has been described by the UN as "a critical opportunity" to remind the world of the ongoing crisis.

Leaders from the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the United Nations, are convening the event in February in London.

The Syrian conflict has been raging since March 2011 and has displaced more than 13.5 million people inside the country and sent another 4.2 million to seek refuge in nearby nations.

A statement from the conference organizers shows that current funding has not even reached last year's levels: US$3.4 billion against an appeal of US$8.4 billion.

Stephen O'Brien, head of the UN humanitarian affairs office (OCHA), described the appeals as "alarmingly underfunded."

The conference will also address longer term needs of those affected by the crisis, for example through job creation or providing educational opportunities.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2’54″

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