News in Brief 16 March 2016 (PM)

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Yemeni women collect food vouchers in presence of WFP Representative and Country Director, Purnima Kashyap (right). Photo: WFP/Fares Khoailed

Food voucher scheme launched in war-torn Yemen

A food voucher scheme was launched in Yemen on Wednesday in an effort to reach a million food-insecure civilians across the country by the end of 2016.

The World Food Programme (WFP) initiative will begin by assisting 120,000 people living in the capital, Sana'a.

Each voucher provides a family of six with a one-month supply of food.

A bloody civil war between government forces and mainly Houthi rebels has left more than 6,000 dead.

An airstrike that hit a market on Tuesday in the Hajjah province of Yemen killing and wounding scores of civilians, was condemned by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

It's the second major incident of this kind in just over two weeks.

The Secretary-General underscored "the necessity" for all parties in the year-long conflict to fully respect their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights laws.

Lebanon faces a "toxic mix" of challenges says senior UN official

Lebanon faces a "toxic mix" of political, economic and security challenges that threaten to undermine it as a functioning country.

That's the stern warning from UN Special Coordinator to the country, Sigrid Kaag, briefing journalists at UN headquarters on Wednesday.

She was in New York to brief the Security Council.

She said that the fact that it had been nearly 22 months since Lebanon had a president, was adding to pressures on multiple fronts.

"There is a steady but demonstrable erosion of institutions of state. This is very important when you look at Lebanon as a country that is still a pluralistic society, diverse, democratic, it is one of our last jewels in the Middle East that is really dealing with so many other issues including extreme violence and constant conflict. So we need the institutions of Lebanon to work."

Hollywood star and UN ambassador visits refugees stranded in Greece

Hollywood star and UN Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie-Pitt highlighted the humanitarian plight of refugees in Greece during a visit on Wednesday.

The day before she was in Lebanon, to focus on more than one million Syrians who have found refuge there.

During her visit to Greece, on behalf of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, she expressed her appreciation for the support that the country has shown to refugees and asylum seekers.

Meeting refugee families, she highlighted the need to provide adequate reception facilities and protection for the most vulnerable, together with the growing challenges facing the UN's emergency response to the on-going crisis.

Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency has announced that one million refugees have arrived in Greece since the beginning of 2015.

Unique Mongolian weather pattern could spell disaster for livestock

UN humanitarian agencies are warning about the potentially devastating effect on Mongolia of a local weather phenomenon known as dzud.

Almost US$2.5 million has been released from the UN's Central Emergency Relief Fund to help agencies in the central Asian country scale up their response.

Here’s UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

"Around 60 per cent of Mongolia has been impacted by dzud or near-dzud conditions since December 2015. For those of you who may not know, like I did not know, dzud is a cyclical slow-onset disaster unique to Mongolia, consisting of a summer drought followed by a harsh winter, where temperatures can plunge to – 50° C, and a spring season where the shortage of pasture and water leads to large-scale death of livestock."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 3’00″

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