News in Brief 24 March 2016 (PM)

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The Security Council. UN File Photo/Evan Schneider

Somalia: Security Council extends UN mission mandate

The mandate of the UN's operation in Somalia, UNSOM, has been extended through March 2017 following a unanimous vote in the Security Council on Thursday.

Council members said the one-year extension underscores the importance of the mission's support to the political process, including the holding of elections this August.

UNSOM was established in June 2013 and works to create an environment for stabilization and peacebuilding.

The Security Council also encouraged the mission to enhance its interaction across Somali civil society to ensure that the views of women, youth, and business and religious leaders, are incorporated in the various political processes.

International Day celebrates heritage and culture of Africa and diaspora

Vibrant music, bold art, rich foods and inspiring literature are some of the ways the dynamic culture and traditions of Africa continue to enrich life in countries that were part of the Transatlantic slave trade.

That observation was made by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a message for the day that honours the memory of the millions of Africans who were forcibly removed from the continent over hundreds of years.

The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is celebrated on 25 March.

Mr Ban pointed out that in addition to culture, people of the African diaspora have also contributed to medicine, science, government and general leadership in society.

While calling for a celebration of this legacy, the Secretary-General also called for a renewal of resolve to fight against racism.

Sesame Street Muppets join fight against Zika

Two furry friends are helping the World Health Organization (WHO) protect children in Latin America and the Caribbean from the Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitos.

Sesame Street muppets Elmo and Raya star in two public service announcements recorded for WHO's regional office, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

They share tips on how children can avoid mosquito bites by, for example, wearing long sleeves and using repellent.

Children also learn not to let standing water accumulate and to empty and cover water bowls and basins: all measures which help eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitos.

The 30-second messages are being produced in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

The Zika virus has been reported in 33 countries in the Americas. WHO said there is a strong link between infection and certain birth malformations and neurological disorders.

It is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito and symptoms include mild fever, skin rash, and headache and joint pain.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2’46″

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