News in Brief 04 January 2016 (PM)

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Stéphane Dujarric. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

UN chief calls for "constructive engagement" between Iran and Saudis

Saudi Arabia and Iran should resolve their differences through "constructive engagement" following the breakdown of diplomatic relations.

That's the message relayed to the foreign ministers of both countries, by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday.

Protests in Iran over the execution of a prominent Shia cleric by Saudi Arabia, led the Saudis to demand that Iranian diplomats leave the Kingdom within two days.

Other countries in the region have also broken off diplomatic ties with Iran.

Here's UN spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

"The Secretary-General urged both foreign ministers to avoid any action that could further exacerbate the situation between the two countries and in the region as a whole. He stressed the importance of continued, constructive engagement by both countries in the interests of the region and beyond."

Uruguay assumes presidency of key UN body

Uruguay has assumed the presidency of the key UN body responsible for international security.

The small Latin American country will hold the presidency of the Security Council for the month of January.

This is Uruguay's first month of its current two-year term as an elected council member. The other new members are Egypt, Japan, Senegal and Ukraine.

Attacks on Sunni mosques in Iraq, condemned by UN envoy

Attacks on three Sunni mosques in the Iraqi province of Babylon, have been condemned as an attempt to "stoke sectarian tensions."

The UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, Ján Kubiš, said that the attacks, in the wake of the execution of Sheikh Nimr in Saudi Arabia, would only "serve ultimately the interests" of the terrorist group, ISIL.

He added that political forces in the country, along with media outlets, needed to put national unity first and not over-react.

He urged security forces to prevent any further attempts to incite violence.

Humanitarian need triples in Ethiopia during past 12 months

Humanitarian needs in Ethiopia have tripled since the beginning of 2015, according to latest reports.

The World Food Programme said that the huge increase in humanitarian demand was due to severe drought in some regions, exacerbated by the strongest El Nino effect in decades.

The El Nino weather phenomenon has led to successive harvest failures and widespread livestock deaths.

At least 7.6 million people are expected to need support during 2016.

WFP said that, so far, it has only 5 per cent of the resources it needs for the first six months of the year.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’14″

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