News in Brief 18 April 2016 (AM)

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Source: UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations Cartographic Section (The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations)

Hundreds dead, thousands injured in Ecuador earthquake

Ecuador has declared a state of emergency following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake , the strongest to hit the South American country in decades, according to the UN Children' Fund.

The death toll stands at 246 so far with more than 2,500 people injured, the agency says.

The quake hit the country's central coast, affecting six provinces.

On Monday, UNICEF emergency supplies began to reach the affected areas, including the distribution of 20,000 water purification tablets to Pedernales, the area worst affected by the earthquake.

The agency says it will need $1 million to meet the immediate needs of the quake-affected children.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement earlier commending the authorities in Ecuador for their rescue efforts adding that the United Nations stood ready to provide additional support.

Violent incidents block Afghan kids' access to education, healthcare: UN

Violent incidents such as death threats, assaults on health care personnel and forced school closures by warring parties in Afghanistan are severely limiting children's access to healthcare and education.

That's according to a new report by the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) released on Monday.

Covering a three-year period starting January 2013, the report documented 257 incidents in 2015 alone, an increase of 182 per cent compared to 2014.

Other incidents documented include letters prohibiting school attendance, particularly against girls; extortion and other harmful acts such as detonating explosive devices near schools and clinics.

Nicholas Haysom, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, called the findings "deeply troubling" and urged all parties to take measures to protect education and health services in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, a UNAMA report found that 600 civilians were killed and 1,343 were wounded in the first three months of 2016.

Children made up one third of civilian casualties, the report adds.

UN rights chief disturbed by "terrible accounts" of torture in Burundi

The UN human rights chief has warned of a sharp increase in the use of torture and ill-treatment in Burundi by government security forces.

Some 595 people have been ill-treated or tortured in Burundi prisons since 2015, while this year alone, 345 new cases have been recorded by human rights observers on the ground.

These acts took place mainly at the time of arrest, upon arrival or during detention, especially in facilities run by intelligence officials, the police and, to a lesser extent, the army.

Many detainees visited by the UN team had "fresh wounds on their bodies, some were unable to walk without assistance after being beaten with belts, iron rods or sharp objects, or burned", said Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.

Zeid also voiced concerns about worrying reports of the existence of illegal detention facilities, both in Bujumbura and in the countryside.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 3’06″

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