News in Brief 12 April 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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WFP airdropped enough food for 2,000 people into the besieged town on Tuesday. Photo: WFP

Air drops continue to besieged Syrian town

For the second time in two days, the World Food Programme (WFP) has successfully air-dropped food to the besieged Syrian city of Deir ez-Zour.

A total of 26 pallets carrying basic food items for 2,000 people for one month were dropped on Tuesday over the cut-off eastern city, which is in the hands of ISIL extremists.

No aid has reached the inhabitants for two years, according to WFP spokesperson Bettina Luescher:

"This morning we conducted another successful air drop over Deir-ez-Zour in Syria. This is following Sunday's successful first air drop this month. We dropped off rice, chickpeas and beans… enough for 2, 000 people for one month."

High-altitude parachutes were once again used for the latest air-drop and all the aid landed in the drop zone, WFP said.

Some 4,500 people have now been provided with badly needed basic food items.

But there are around 200,000 in the Deir ez-Zour region, and reaching all of them will take “a long time”, WFP said.

Concern at Venezuela court's rejection of amnesty bill

In Venezuela, a decision by the country's Supreme Court to throw out a key bill offering amnesty and national reconciliation has been criticised by the UN's human rights office.

The bill, which was approved by Venezuela's National Assembly in late March, was rejected on Monday by the Constitutional Chamber of Venezuela's Supreme Court.

Here's Ravina Shamdasani, OHCHR spokesperson:

"It's a very, very disappointing development. We had been asked to analyse this law…and what we found is that it's largely in conformity with international human rights law…it would not be permitted for crimes committed by law enforcement officials, for example. This amnesty would only have applied to people who were in prison for politically motivated 'crimes'… which essentially amount to expression of their fundamental human rights, freedom of expression…so for us it was a great move towards dialogue and reconciliation."

Last year, UN Human Rights experts stressed the need for deep reform of country's judiciary to guarantee its independence from the government and any political groups.

Include victims in Colombia peace talks: UNHCR

Refugees and people displaced by 50 years of conflict in Colombia should also be involved in peace talks.

That's the opinion of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) which has welcomed the recent announcement of the start of formal talks between the Government and the ELN (National Liberation Army), an armed group in the country.

UNHCR is calling on the negotiators to give "special attention" to the rights of victims, especially internally displaced people and refugees.

The agency said it hopes victims will have access to the negotiating parties, as happened during talks between the Government and FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), another armed group.

Five decades of armed conflict in the South American country has displaced some 6.7 million people, making Colombia the world's second biggest displacement situation in the world, behind Syria.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 2'58"



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