News in Brief 07 January 2016 (AM)

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A family flees an active conflict neighbourhood in eastern Ghouta, Syria, using a cart to carry their belongings. Photo: UNICEF/Amer Al Shami

Syria approves UN access to starving civilians, but for some it's too late

The government of Syria said on Thursday it would approve UN access to three towns where there are "credible reports" of people dying from starvation.

Since late October, UN agencies have been trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged town of Madaya, but numerous requests have been denied.

In a joint statement, the UN Humanitarian coordinators in Syria and the region, called for immediate "unimpeded access" saying that around 400,000 people living in besieged cities around the country need urgent food and medical aid.

The statement cites one example of a 53-year-old man who reportedly starved to death on Tuesday in Madaya, while his family of five continue to suffer severe malnutrition.

A further 42,000 people in the town are under threat of starvation.

The Syrian government gave approval for the UN to access Madaya, Foah and Kefraya, "in the coming days."

Asylum seekers deserved a "safe and dignified" life, says new refugee chief

Asylum-seekers forced to live in exile, deserve a "safe and dignified" life.

That's according to the new UN Refugee Agency chief, Filippo Grandi, giving his first press conference at agency headquarters in Geneva.

He said one of his first priorities would be for UNHCR to remain the promoter of protection of refugees. He explained what that meant.

"That refugees get asylum when they seek it in the proper way, but also that when they are living in exile and they do receive asylum, that that life that they lead, hopefully for a short period of time but sometimes unfortunately for protracted periods of time, that that life is safe and dignified."

Weak growth in emerging markets likely to dampen 2016 growth overall

Weak economic growth in emerging markets will be a drag on overall growth during 2016, but activity should still pick up.

That's according to the World Bank's January 2016 Global Economic Prospects.

The report indicates that simultaneous weakness across emerging markets is a real concern for achieving global goals in terms of reducing poverty. But nonetheless, overall growth is still forecast to reach 2.9 per cent, compared with 2.4% last year.

Developing countries are still likely to grow at the rate of 4.8% in 2016.

Ayhan Kose is director of Development Prospects at the World Bank.

"This forecast depends on a wide range of factors. They depend on a bottoming-out of declining commodity prices, they depend on the advanced economies growing more solidly, and they also depend on China's ability to continue its gradual transition to a more consumption and services-based growth model."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2'23"

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