News in Brief 20 January 2016 (PM)

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Children play a game at a UNICEF- supported child friendly space in Charsadda district, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan. Photo: UNICEF/Marta Ramoneda

"No justification" for Pakistan school attacks

A terrorist attack which killed at least 19 people at a university in Pakistan has been condemned by the UN Secretary-General.

Armed militants stormed the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, a city in the north-west of the country, on Wednesday.

In a statement, Ban Ki-moon called for the perpetrators to be swiftly brought to justice.

He recalled that just over a year had passed since Pakistan had been rocked by an attack on a school near the city of Peshawar where more than 150 people were killed, mostly children.

Mr Ban reaffirmed that attacks against students, teachers or schools can never be justified.

The Secretary-General called for "proportionate and necessary measures" to be taken to ensure adequate protection for schools located in conflict areas and other insecure places.

Reduction in UN force in Cote d'Ivoire

The United Nations Security Council has voted to reduce the number of peacekeepers serving at the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), in line with the continued downsizing of the mission.

Council members on Wednesday adopted a resolution that will decrease the force from around 5,400 to 4,000 by the end of March.

UNOCI was established in 2004 to oversee implementation of a peace agreement following the end of civil war two years earlier.

Over the years, its mandate has been extended and adjusted, including in the wake of a political crisis stemming from the 2010 presidential elections.

The resolution welcomed the "considerable and continued progress" Côte d'Ivoire has made in the areas of reconciliation, stability, security, justice and economic recovery.

However, it recognized that "some fragility remains."

Partnership seeks to help one million subsistence farmers access markets

A consortium of public and private sector organizations will help more than one million of the world's poorest farmers to connect to global markets.

The partners, who include the UN World Food Programme (WFP) as well as the German multinational company, Bayer, have signed an agreement at the World Economic Forum, currently underway in Davos, Switzerland.

Through their support, smallholder farmers in 25 developing countries will make the shift from subsistence farming to market-oriented agriculture.

They will have access to quality seeds, insurance and financing, and a predictable market.

Farmers will also receive assistance with obtaining fair harvest contracts prior to the planting season, in addition to training and other support.

The initiative was introduced late last year and is already operating in three African countries, including Rwanda, where 20,000 farmers have obtained contracts to sell maize to a local buyer.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2’52"

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