News in Brief 17 December 2015 (AM)

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Soldiers from the Burundian armed forces in the Musaga neighbourhood of the capital Bujumbura. Photo: Phil Moore/IRIN

"Robust action" needed to avert civil war in Burundi

"Robust action" is needed by the international community to avert civil war in Burundi the UN human rights chief has warned.

At least 400 people have been killed in political violence in the Great Lakes country since April.

Some may have been summarily executed.

220,000 Burundians have fled and are now refugees in neighbouring countries.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein is the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"Burundi is at bursting point, on the very cusp of a civil war. The time for piecemeal responses and fiddling around the edges is over. The situation in Burundi demands a robust, decisive response from the international community."

Zeid was speaking at a special Human Rights Council session on Burundi held in Geneva.

More than 16 million babies born into conflict in 2105

More than 16 million babies were born in conflict zones in 2015 according to figures released by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The agency says the figure represents one in eight of all births worldwide.

Many mothers in conflict zones are in danger of giving birth without medical help and in unsanitary conditions.

And UNICEF adds that children born in conflict areas, are more likely to die before they reach their fifth birthdays and to experience extreme stress, which can affect their long-term emotional and cognitive development.

Policy makers urged to focus on supporting smallholder farmers

The world's smallholder farmers manage just 12 per cent of all agricultural land, yet they produce more than 80 per cent of the world's food the UN trade and development agency UNCTAD has said.

In its Commodities and Development Report 2015  UNCTAD says policy makers need to focus more on smallholders in order to realize their full business potential.

It is estimated that more than 90 per cent of the 570 million farms worldwide are managed by an individual or a family and that mostly they rely on family labour.

About 2.5 billion people globally depend on agricultural production systems for their livelihoods.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations.

Duration: 2’21″

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