News in Brief 04 March 2016 (PM)

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivers a keynote address at an event on "Peace and Security in the Sahel: Tackling the root causes of instability", held in Nouakchott, Mauritania. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Sahel countries should focus on root causes of instability

Countries in the Sahel region of Africa need to focus on the root causes of instability.

That's what the UN Secretary-General told reporters in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania after meeting with the country's president, Mohamed Abdel Aziz.

Around 24 million people need aid in the Sahel largely as a result of conflict.

Here's the UN chief, Ban Ki-moon speaking to reporters in French.

He said he and the president had discussed  their shared concern about the volatile security situation in the Sahel. And he added, that countries should also focus on the root causes of instability: poverty, unemployment, weak governance, social exclusion, discrimination and impunity for human rights violations.

Civilian casualties continue to mount in Yemen

Civilian casualties continue to mount in Yemen, the UN human rights office, OHCHR has said.

During February, a total of at least 168 civilians were killed and around 190 injured.

OHCHR said some 100 of those causalities were caused by coalition airstrikes hitting the capital, Sana'a.

Forces loyal to the nation’s President backed by a Saudi-led coalition continue to battle Houthi rebels for control in several parts of the country.

Spokesperson Rupert Colville said OHCHR was investigating the illegal use of cluster bombs in one incident.

"There have also been worrying allegations, which we are still working to verify, that Coalition forces dropped cluster bombs on a mountainous area to the south of the Amran cement factory, where a military unit loyal to the Houthis appears to have been the target."

Civilian infrastructure continued to be destroyed or damaged throughout February, with both parties targeting protected civilian sites.

Appeal launched to deal with "terrible trail of destruction" in Fiji

A US$38.6 million appeal has been launched by the UN following what it has called the "terrible trail of destruction" left by Cyclone Winston in Fiji.

The category 5 cyclone, the most devastating on record in the Southern Hemisphere, struck the Pacific island nation during the night of 20 February this year.

Forty people died and a further 350,000 were affected in some way.

Some 54,000 people continue to shelter in evacuation centres.

The money, if raised, will be put towards various needs, including education, health, infrastructure and agriculture.

Assassination of Honduran indigenous rights defender condemned

The assassination on Thursday of a well-known indigenous rights defender in Honduras, has been condemned by the UN human rights office.

Berta Cáceres was coordinator of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras.

She was awarded the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize for the key role she played in the struggle against a controversial dam project.

According to local sources, several unknown assailants broke into her brother’s home in the city of La Esperanza, in the western province of Intibuca, and killed her.

Here's OHCHR's Rupert Colville again

"We welcome the announcement that the police have already started an investigation. However, we are also disturbed by the fact Ms Cáceres was assassinated despite the fact that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had asked the Honduran authorities to provide her with special protection, given the numerous threats she had received."

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations.

Duration: 3'33″

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