News in Brief 29 January 2016 (AM)

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Staffan de Mistura. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré.

UN-brokered peace talks to end the war in Syria get underway

UN-brokered peace talks to try and end Syria's brutal civil war have got underway in Geneva.

The so-called proximity talks are scheduled to last six months, and will involve the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, leading separate talks with negotiating teams from the Syrian government and opposition groups.

The envoy's first meeting is taking place with Syria's UN ambassador, who is leading the government delegation.

Mr de Mistura is then due to hold meetings with other participants later on Friday.

This is the third round of peace talks to take place in Switzerland under UN auspices, and according to press reports, some leading opposition groups have said they will not take part until the government puts a stop to bombing and besieging of civilian areas.

Around 2,000 refugees a day arriving in Europe so far this year

Around 2,000 refugees and migrants are continuing to arrive in Europe every day.

That daily average is equivalent to the total number of arrivals for the whole of January, just two years ago, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

IOM estimates that 55,528 people have crossed the Mediterranean hoping for a new life in Europe, during the first 28 days of the year.

Last year a total of one million arrived by sea, mainly from war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, according to UN Refugee Agency figures.

More than 240 refugees trying to make the crossing so far during 2016, have died or are missing.

Tens of thousands flee their homes in Eastern DRC

Tens of thousands of civilians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have fled their homes in the east of the country following fresh waves of violence the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said.

Since November, Mai Mai militias and other armed groups have displaced large numbers of people, with UNHCR reporting that 15,000 have sought refuge in their camps alone.

The agency said it was "urgently important" for authorities in the DRC to address the uptick in violence in the eastern North Kivu Province and provide more government support for the displaced.

UNHCR added that civilians were being deliberately targeted on the basis of ethnicity, as the clashes intensify.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'56"

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