News in Brief 24 March 2016 (AM)

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre left) arrives in Beirut, Lebanon. He is flanked by Sigrid Kaag (left), UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon; and Wafic Rhaime, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants of Lebanon. UN Photo/Mark Garten

UN chief in Lebanon

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Lebanon this Thursday, the start of a five-day visit to the Middle East, including stops in Jordan and Tunisia.

The UN chief is accompanied by the President of the World Bank, Dr Jim Yong Kim, and their visit to the region comes ahead of a major meeting on Syrian refugees to be held in Geneva on Wednesday.

In Lebanon, the two officials and the President of the Islamic Development Bank, Dr Ahmed Mohamed Ali Al-Madani, will meet with the Parliament Speaker, the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister, among others.

Their itinerary also includes visits to communities hosting Syrian and Palestinian refugees.

Lebanon, which has a population of around five million people, is hosting more than one million Syrians who have escaped the conflict in their homeland.

Some 450,000 Palestinian refugees are also living there.

Mr Ban will also visit the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) which is located in Naqoura, in the south of the country.

Yemen: Security Council welcomes upcoming talks

The announcement of an upcoming cessation of hostilities in Yemen has been welcomed by the UN Security Council.

The pause in fighting will begin at midnight on 10 April, one week before the start of the latest round of peace talks aimed at ending a year of fighting between forces loyal to the President and rebels known as Houthis.

The Security Council has issued a statement welcoming the commitment of all sides to both the agreement to temporarily stop fighting and the negotiations, set to start on 18 April in Kuwait.

Members also urged the warring parties to "immediately reduce violence and refrain from any action that could lead to increased tensions, in order to pave the way for a cessation of hostilities."

End to Yemen conflict "can't come soon enough," says UN aid chief

Also welcoming the announcement is the UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator.

Stephen O'Brien said an end to the violence in Yemen "can't come soon enough" for civilians caught in the fighting.

He said the conflict has forced nearly 2.5 million Yemenis–or one-tenth of the population–to flee their homes.

Meanwhile, UN agencies and their partners continue to try and reach people affected by the fighting.

Mr O' Brien said despite the dangerous environment and a funding shortage, aid agencies delivered food for nearly three million people during February.

Janie Cangelosi, United Nations.

Duration: 2’05″

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