News in Brief 07 December 2015 (PM)

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A local farmer feeding her chickens, Lugansk, Donbass region, Ukraine. Photo: FAO/Alexey Filippov

UN mission condemns deadly shelling of village in Afghanistan

Parties to the conflict in Afghanistan, including pro-Government forces, are being urged by the United Nations to stop firing explosive weapons in civilian areas.

This follows the recent deaths of nine people, four of them boys, after the Afghan National Army fired a shell into a village in Wardak province in the central eastern region of the country.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has condemned the incident, which occurred on Friday, noting that the country's President has assigned a delegation to investigate it.

The mission has released a statement calling on the Government to ensure an independent, impartial and transparent investigation and that those responsible will be held accountable.

Farm families feeling impact of Ukraine conflict

More than a year of fighting in eastern Ukraine has created a "bleak" situation for some 230,000 farming families, a study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) finds.

The conflict has caused a sharp rise in food, fuel, transport, seed, fertilizer and other agricultural and household needs.

As a result, families are being forced to skip meals, sell their household goods and vehicles, and kill their livestock, among other coping strategies.

FAO has begun distributing potato seed, animal feed and live chickens to farm households.

The agency plans to scale up its operations to reach even more families.

Better support and protection for human rights defenders

Countries are being encouraged to better support and protect human rights defenders and to be vigilant against laws that criminalize their activities.

The call comes from UN human rights expert, Michel Forst.

This Thursday, 10 December, is Human Rights Day and Mr Forst is urging the public to recognise the important role of these activists who he described as heroes that deserve our unequivocal support.

He said they are "'Gandhis' and 'Mandelas,' 'Rosa Parks' and 'Malalas,'" but also ordinary individuals, lawyers, community leaders, journalists, unionists and environmentalists, among others.

Human Rights Day will be celebrated at UN Headquarters in New York with events focused on the relationship between human rights and peace, security and development.

A wreath-laying ceremony will also be held at Four Freedoms Park located on an island opposite the UN complex.

The park's name is derived from a speech given by former United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Second World War in which he listed the four freedoms as freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2’47″

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