News in Brief 26 January 2016 (PM)

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Mosquito prevention and control in Salto, Uruguay. Photo: PAHO

Pan-American health teams mobilize to fight Zika virus

Pan-American health teams from the World Health Organization (WHO) are being mobilized to help the continent deal with the potentially devastating effects of the Zika virus.

The virus is spread through mosquitoes and experts are increasingly concerned that it is responsible for a growing number of birth defects affecting babies in more than 20 countries.

On Monday, the Central American country of El Salvador, advised all women to delay getting pregnant until 2018.

Thousands of children have been born in Brazil with under-developed heads and brains, due to a condition called microcephaly.

Here's UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

"The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) is mobilizing teams of international experts to help member countries prepare for outbreaks of the mosquito-borne virus that growing evidence suggests may be linked to microcephaly in new-borns."

Invitations go out for official signing of historic climate change deal

World leaders have been officially invited to attend the signing ceremony of the historic climate change deal reached last month in Paris.

More than 190 countries agreed to act together in an effort to keep global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels.

The signing will take place at UN headquarters in New York, on the earliest possible date according to the agreement, which is April 22.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the invitations saying that leaders' participation could "facilitate the early entry into force" of the Paris deal.

Broad condemnation of DPRK nuclear test as disarmament conference opens

North Korea's claim to have tested a Hydrogen bomb earlier this month has been met with broad condemnation by countries attending the 2016 Conference on Disarmament.

The annual conference opened in Geneva with a statement from the UN Secretary-General, who said that the nuclear test carried out by the North Koreans "undermined international non-proliferation efforts".

He added that it was a "stark reminder" of the need to codify a binding international law banning nuclear tests.

He also called on the international community to accelerate the reduction of existing nuclear weapons stockpiles.

Holocaust "a terrible scar on the human conscience" says UN rights chief

The Holocaust against the Jews and other ethnic groups during World War Two will "forever remain a terrible scar on the human conscience."

The words of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein, speaking on the eve of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory, of the Victims of the Holocaust, on Wednesday.

Zeid said that the extermination of people in concentration camps and killing centres should never be forgotten, and contained a vital lesson for today.

He said everyone should reflect on the need to continue to "combat racism and religious or ethnic intolerance in every form."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2'23"

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