News in Brief 03 February 2016 (AM)

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Residents walk along the main road of Nikishino village in eastern Ukraine. Photo: UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

Safe passage urged for civilians across Ukraine front line

Humanitarian organizations in Ukraine are urging the government there to ensure safe and unhindered passage for civilians crossing frontlines in the Donetsk region.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces and separatist rebels has led to the death of up to 10,000 people since April 2014.

A ceasefire is now largely being observed.

The UN humanitarian office in the country said that thousands of civilians face difficulties every day crossing the so-called "contact line".

Mostly elderly and vulnerable, they are often forced to queue for hours, in the cold, to access medicines and food, to receive their savings and pensions, and to see their relatives.

Restrictions are also in place for people living in areas under government control close to the front line.

Worldwide access to pain relief drugs urged by narcotics board

Worldwide access to pain relief drugs has been urged by the UN-backed International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

In a report published on Wednesday, the Board says that three out of four people, globally that's 5.5 billion, have only limited or no access to pain relief.

That's despite the fact that enough raw materials for those drugs are produced to fully cover demand.

It adds that around 92 per cent of morphine used worldwide is consumed by only 17 per cent of the global population.

Gang violence "exploding" in El Salvador

Gang violence is "exploding" in El Salvador and is driving thousands of people to flee the Central American country, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said.

The agency says following the collapse of a truce in 2014 between the Salvadoran Government and the “maras,” as the street gangs are known, the murder rate has risen to 104 people for every 100,000.

That's the highest rate since the country’s bloody civil war came to an end in 1992.

According to UNHCR figures, asylum applications in Guatemala from Salvadoran nationals nearly doubled between 2013 and 2014.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations

Duration: 2’09″

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