News in Brief 18 November 2015 (AM)

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Relatives of missing persons from Sri Lanka's 26-year long civil war hold their pictures during a meeting in the capital Colombo. Photo: IRIN/Amantha Perera

Sri Lanka urged to step up support to families of the disappeared

Authorities in Sri Lanka are being urged to adopt "urgent and profound measures" to address the rights of families of thousands of people who were disappeared during decades of conflict in the country.

The appeal was made by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances which has concluded a 10-day visit to the island nation.

A 2014 report by the Working Group revealed more than 12,500 cases of enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka; the second highest number of such incidences worldwide.

The experts noted what they described as "an almost complete lack of accountability and decisive and sustained efforts to search for the truth," coupled with a lack of support programmes for relatives.

However, they have welcomed commitments by Sri Lanka's new government to begin steps to ensure truth, justice and reparation for the victims and to prevent disappearances in the future.

Food aid for thousands in eastern Ukraine

Food aid is being distributed to approximately 7,000 people in hospitals and schools in conflict-affected areas in eastern Ukraine, the World Food Programme (WFP) has announced.

WFP said distributions to these institutions will ensure people have sufficient nutritious food to stay healthy.

Government forces and separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine have been fighting for more than a year, which has forced more than one million citizens from their homes.

The UN agency and its partners plan to reach 575,000 people by the end of the year.

Japan donates ambulances for displaced in Iraq

Twenty ambulances donated by Japan will support a UN project that provides emergency medical services to displaced people and refugees in three provinces in Iraq.

The fully-equipped paramedic ambulances were handed over during a ceremony this week at a camp for internally displaced people in the Kurdistan Region.

Conflict has displaced more than three million Iraqis, nearly 30 per cent of who are in the Kurdistan Region.

Most of the 250,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq also live there.

That information comes from the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) which supports the implementation of peacebuilding, humanitarian and development projects worldwide.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2'27"

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