News in Brief 18 April 2016 (PM)

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MINUSCA peacekeepers on patrol in the Central African Republic. Photo: MINUSCA

Death of UN peacekeeper in CAR condemned

A UN peacekeeper has succumbed to his wounds after being shot by unknown assailants in the Central African Republic on Monday.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the killing of the soldier, who had been sent to the town of Rafai to investigate an attack on a nearby village, allegedly by elements of the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group.

He called on the newly-elected government to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Meanwhile, the UN continues to investigate incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse in Kemo district.

UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric has more.

"Each report is being assessed and treated with the utmost seriousness, whether it is linked to UN or non-UN forces. As the investigation process moves forward, the Mission expects the number of potential victims to fluctuate – through testimonies being cross-checked and facts being ascertained."

The incidents allegedly took place between 2014 and 2015 and involved troops from the previous African Union-led mission, the UN Peacekeeping Mission and the French Sangaris operation.

The incidents were first reported to the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, which received information on sexual exploitation and abuse involving 98 women and girls.

Yemen peace talks delayed

The UN-brokered peace talks on Yemen which were due to begin on Monday have been delayed, the UN special envoy to the country has confirmed.

The aim of the talks is to reach a comprehensive peace agreement to end the civil war and allow for the resumption of inclusive political dialogue.

Heavy fighting has been cited in media reports, as one of the reasons for the delay.

The warring parties had initially agreed on a nationwide cessation of hostilities to begin at midnight, on 10 April.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the Secretary General's Special Envoy for Yemen, called on the delegations to show good faith and join the talks.

"Women are ashamed" and stigmatized by sexual violence in Mali

Victims of conflict-related sexual violence in Mali feel ashamed to come forward and are stigmatized because of their ordeal.

That's the view of Zainab Bangura, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, after making her first visit to the West African country.

A military coup d'état, renewed fighting between government forces and Tuareg rebels, and the seizure of the north in 2012 have led to years of instability.

Ms Bangura said the government needed to take action to improve the security and justice system, adding that there were two main problems with identifying the full extent of sexual violence in the Mali conflict.

"The insecurity makes it extremely difficult for people to collect the evidence. The second other important issue is that because of the stigma associated with it, especially in a country like Mali which is very traditional, women are ashamed and afraid to come out and say this thing has happened to them."

She met with several high ranking cabinet ministers, victims associations and representatives of armed groups during her visit, and said that some religious leaders had pledged to speak out against conflict-related violence.

Major UN airlift of aid planned to Ecuador

The UN Refugee Agency, UNICEF, says it is preparing for a "major airlift of aid within the next 48 hours to help those displaced by the earthquake in Ecuador.

The first plane bound for the capital Quito will leave UNCHR's logistical hub in Denmark as soon as preparations are complete.

It will carry core items including 900 tents, plastic sheets, 15,000 sleeping mats, and heavy-duty mosquito nets.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 3'10"

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