News in Brief 29 January 2016 (PM)

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Staffan de Mistura. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Syria peace talks underway in Switzerland

Talks aimed at ending Syria's five-year long civil war have got underway at the United Nations in the Swiss city of Geneva.

The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is leading the so-called proximity talks which are scheduled to last six months.

On Friday he met Syrian government representatives.

Speaking to reporters after those initial meetings, Mr de Mistura said he hoped to meet members of the Syrian opposition platform, known as the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) as early as Sunday.

"I have good reason to believe that they are actually considering this very seriously. And therefore to be in a position, probably on Sunday to actually start discussions with them in order to be able to proceed with the intra-Syria talks."

This is the third round of peace talks to take place in Geneva under UN auspices.

Legacy of slavery remains a "serious challenge" in the US

The legacy of slavery in the United States remains a "serious challenge" a United Nations expert panel has said at the end of its second official visit to the country.

The experts found that recent police killings and the trauma they create are reminiscent of the "racial terror and lynching" of the past.

They added that impunity for state violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis in the US and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

UN chief "concerned" about health of Palestinian hunger-strike prisoner

The UN chief has said he is "concerned" about the health of a Palestinian man detained by the Israeli authorities who has been on hunger-strike for two months.

Palestinian journalist, Mohammed al-Qiq started refusing to eat on November 25th of last year in protest against what Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called "the arbitrary nature of his detention."

The UN Spokesperson is Stéphane Dujarric.

"The UN on the ground is closely following the overall situation of Palestinian detainees and reiterates its long-standing position that all those detained, Palestinian or Israeli, should be charged or released without delay."

"Indefinite" election delay could plunge Haiti into chaos: Security Council

An "indefinite" delay in holding fresh elections could plunge Haiti into chaos, the UN Security Council has warned.

In a statement issued on Friday, Council members urged Haitian politicians to come to an agreement on holding a final round of presidential and parliamentary elections by the constitutional deadline of February 7.

Without a fresh date, Haiti's ability to address its "security, economic and social challenges" could be seriously undermined, the statement said.

Matthew Wells, United Nations

Duration: 2’16″


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