News in Brief 11 March 2016 (PM)

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A young boy sits in front of a destroyed building in Homs, Syria. Photo: WFP/Abeer Etefa

"Frail glimmers of hope" in Syria five years into the conflict

There have been signs of momentum and "fragile glimmers of hope" in the past few weeks in Syria, the heads of UN humanitarian agencies have said.

Fewer bombs are falling, humanitarian access has opened up in some places and negotiators from all sides are gearing up to meet and talk in Geneva on Monday.

Aid workers have managed to reach over 6 million people since the beginning of this year, with regular aid and recent deliveries to besieged towns.

UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric has more.

"However, until all parties to this conflict stop attacking civilians, schools, markets and hospitals, the humanitarian agencies will continue to press them on their obligations and hold them to account. Medical supplies and equipment are still being removed at checkpoints: this is unacceptable. They called once more for parties to the conflict to fully open up safe, unimpeded access to everyone. And they called on all parties for the political talks to bring real peace and an end to the suffering in Syria".

It's been five years since the start of a conflict that has left more than 250,000 people dead and displaced over half the population.

Saving Syria's cultural heritage from destruction, looting

In an effort to preserve what is left of Syria's cultural heritage, the UN has joined efforts with French and Swiss heritage and archaeology professionals.

Syria has six World Heritage Sites, a UN list of outstanding natural or man-made areas deserving special protection, most of which have been raided and robbed by armed groups.

The UN cultural organization, UNESCO, has been tasked since 2011 with helping to counter major threats facing the country's antiquities, artefacts and art collections.

Given that the evacuation of Syria's cultural heritage and its preservation has been blocked by the lack of resources, the new initiative will provide the necessary tools and equipment to carry out this mission, the agency said.

Safe exit urged for trapped families in Benghazi fighting

A ceasefire is needed for the safe exit of families trapped in the fighting in the Libyan town of Benghazi, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the country has urged.

People stuck in the area are facing electricity cuts, while food and medical supplies are scarce.

Ali Al-Za'tari urged the warring parties to allow for humanitarian truces in order to facilitate the work of aid agencies on the ground.

Meanwhile, the UN political mission in Libya, UNSMIL, says that negotiating parties in Tunis have reaffirmed their commitment to uphold a peace deal signed last year in Morocco.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 2’33″

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