News in Brief 26 February 2016 (PM)

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A woman holds a small child, while others who have fled their homes amid the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis stand behind her, on a rainy day near the town of Gevgelija, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, on the border with Greece. Photo: UNICEF/Tomislav Georgiev

"Great concern" expressed by UN chief over European border closures

Border restrictions being imposed by some European countries in the Balkans region are a source of "great concern", according to the UN Secretary General.

Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that measures that are being taken in an effort to stem the flow of refugees from countries such as Syria and Iraq, are not in line with the 1951 Refugee Convention.

He singled out Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, adding that the restrictions were making conditions hard on Greece, as the flow of migrants and refugees continues unabated.

Here’s UN spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric:

"The Secretary-General is fully aware of the pressure felt by many European countries. However, he calls on all countries to keep their borders open, and to act in a spirit of responsibility sharing and solidarity, including through expanding legal pathways to access asylum."

"Informal dialogue" meetings scheduled for candidates seeking top UN job

"Informal dialogue" meetings between candidates for the top job at the United Nations and Member States, will be held in mid-April.

It's the first time that the process to select the next Secretary-General has been conducted with this degree of openness.

That's according to the President of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, who outlined the timetable at a press conference on Friday.

Mr Lykketoft said that six candidates had been nominated so far by member countries, and they would all be invited to present a "short vision statement" in advance of the informal meetings, due to take place between April 12, and April 14.

The statements will be made available to the public, and the meetings are due to be webcast.

The General Assembly President has taken a lead from Member States in an effort to increase "transparency and inclusivity" in the selection of a new UN chief, who will take office in 2017.

Harassment of civil rights campaigners in DRC, "shrinks" democracy

The continuing harassment of civil society organizations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is contributing to an overall "shrinking" of "democratic space," said the UN human rights chief on Friday.

A spokesperson for Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, pointed to the two-year prison sentences handed down this week for six members of the youth movement LUCHA, or Struggle for Change.

The jail terms have been widely viewed as a bid to prevent the six from taking part in a so called "ghost town" day of protest in the DRC.

The national protest event was organized by opposition parties and civil society organizations, and the UN estimates that at least 45 people were arrested by police and intelligence forces in various locations around the country.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’19″

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