News in Brief 02 March 2016 (AM)Listen /
Iraq urged to upgrade maternal health services
Only one-third of hospitals in Iraq meet international standards on emergency obstetric and neonatal care.
That's according to a report launched on Wednesday which also finds that no health centres in the country abide by the international norms.
The study was published by Iraq's Ministry of Health and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
As two-thirds of all deliveries take place in these facilities, the report recommends that the government and international partners "act instantly" to upgrade these services.
Other recommendations include strengthening the health information system and addressing issues related to the production and distribution of medicines.
Japan supports displaced Pakistanis, Afghan refugees
A US$16 million contribution from Japan will support people who have returned to the semi-autonomous region in northwest Pakistan as well as Afghan refugees in the country.
The region borders Afghanistan and has seen fighting between government forces and insurgents.
Part of the funding will go towards helping the local government in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) handle the return process.
Ongoing security operations there have displaced more than 700,000 people, according to information from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
UNHCR is one of four UN agencies that is receiving funding. It will provide protection assistance and support to the returnees in addition to education and vocational training opportunities for Afghan refugee youth.
Pakistan has hosted Afghan refugees over the past 35 years.
Some 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees are currently in the country.
UNICEF: Syria ceasefire shows "possibility of peace"
The ceasefire in Syria offers "the possibility of peace" to the country's people, the head of the UN children's agency, UNICEF, has said.
Anthony Lake this week completed a visit to Syria where ongoing fighting has resulted in more than 250,000 deaths and generated the largest displacement crisis globally.
The ceasefire began on Saturday and Mr Lake said everywhere he went, people spoke of peace.
UN-brokered negotiations aimed at ending the Syrian conflict will resume next week.
Dianne Penn, United Nations.