News in Brief 01 April 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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The UN health agency WHO has warned repeatedly about possible Ebola flare-ups. Photo: WHO/M.Winkler

Hundreds vaccinated amid Ebola flare-up in Guinea

In Guinea, hundreds of people have been vaccinated with an experimental Ebola jab in an effort to deal with a flare-up of the deadly disease.

So far, seven people have died in what is the first re-emergence of the disease since the original outbreak was declared over in the West African state at the end of last year.

On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the VSV-EBOV vaccine has proved "highly effective" in preventing Ebola infection in a previous trial by Guinean authorities.

The jab has also been used before in Sierra Leone to contain the return of the disease.

More than 1,000 contacts have been identified and placed under medical observation in Guinea's southern prefectures of Nzérékoré and Macenta.

WHO's Tarik Jasarevic said that periodic flare-ups are to be expected:

"We know that virus persists in certain survivors up to one year and therefore we have to be ready to keep our capacity ready on the ground to be ready to respond to any possible flare-ups."

The development follows the WHO announcement that the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone poses no current international threat.

Date set for new round of Yemen peace talks

Fresh talks to end fighting in Yemen are to begin in Kuwait later this month, it's been announced.

Starting on the 18 April, the discussions are to be led by Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the United Nations Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen.

According to the UN, more than 3,000 civilians have been killed in the last year by conflict between forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and Houthi opponents.

Here's Ahmad Fawzi, communications chief at the United Nations in Geneva, with more details from the Special Envoy:

"The talks aim to reach a comprehensive agreement which will end the war and allow the resumption of inclusive political dialogue in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and other relevant Security Council resolutions."

Ahead of the talks, parties to the conflict have agreed to a nationwide cessation of hostilities beginning at midnight on the 10 April.

Key sticking points include the withdrawal of militias, the handover of heavy weapons to the state and the resumption of inclusive political dialogue, in addition to the creation of a special committee for prisoners and detainees.

Refugee agency issues "public warning" on Greek facilities

In Greece, concern is mounting over deteriorating conditions for refugees, including those held in detention centres, days before a returns deal between the European Union and Turkey comes into effect.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) rioting has been reported on the island of Chios, while people on Lesvos are sleeping in the open where and food distribution is described as "insufficient".

Now UNHCR has issued a public warning, saying that the situation has to change rapidly.

Here's the agency's spokesperson, Melissa Fleming:

"Nobody is starving or freezing to death, but the conditions are not at par with the standards that we think should be put in place. We're issuing this public warning right now and hoping for rapid change."

More than 50,000 refugees and migrants are stuck in Greece, which has been compelled to host people, because of closed European borders to the north.

Around 5,000 people are still on the Greek islands, where detention centres have been set up pending a decision on deportation, according to the EU-Turkey agreement.

Since the start of the year, more than 150,000 people have crossed to Greece from Turkey, according to UN-partner agency the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 3'28"

 

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