News in Brief 04 January 2016 (AM)

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

UN chief "deeply dismayed" by execution of 47 in Saudi Arabia

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply dismayed" by the recent execution of 47 people in Saudi Arabia, that has provoked a major diplomatic storm in the Middle East.

Mr Ban said that the executions, which included that of the prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, raised "serious concerns over the nature of the charges" and what he called "the fairness of the process."

The UN chief also called for "calm and restraint" in the region, in reaction to the execution of Sheikh Nimr, and called on leaders to avoid exacerbating sectarian tensions.

Saudi Arabia is a majority Sunni country, and several of its allies have taken diplomatic measures against the Shiite-led government of Iran, which condemned the execution of Sheikh Nimr.

Independent UN expert resigns human rights post in Palestinian Territories

An independent expert has resigned his post monitoring human rights in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, after the Israeli government repeatedly failed to grant him access.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories, Makarim Wibisono, submitted his resignation on Monday, to the President of the Human Rights Council.

He said his "efforts to help improve the lives of Palestinian victims of violations under the Israeli occupation" had been frustrated "every step of the way."

Road ahead is "challenging" says new refugee agency chief

The road ahead for the world's on-going refugee crisis is "challenging".

That's according to the new head of the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, who takes up his post officially on Friday.

Filippo Grandi arrived at the agency's headquarters in Geneva to begin work on Monday, and said that that the combination of multiple conflicts, "growing xenophobia" and the funding gap, was "very dangerous" for UNHCR's efforts.

He hoped that world leaders would now pursue solutions to the multiple crises afflicting the world's homeless and displaced, with "renewed determination."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'45"

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