News in Brief 21 April 2016 (AM)

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UN launches "World Immunization Week"

Countries are being urged by the UN health agency (WHO) to close the immunization gap and meet global vaccination targets by 2020.

A week long global public health campaign starting on 24 April is expected to raise awareness and increase the level of immunization against vaccine-preventable deaths.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said that last year, polio was eliminated in one country, tetanus in three and rubella in one entire geographical region.

The challenge now, she says, is "to make gains like this the norm".

Furthermore, new vaccines against dengue, Ebola and malaria have the potential to be game-changers in the near future.

Two to 3 million deaths are averted annually thanks to immunization.

However, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if global vaccination coverage were to improve.

Civilians in Benghazi must be free to leave areas of fighting: UN

Warring parties in Benghazi, Libya have been urged to ensure the "safe and immediate" evacuation of civilians trapped in areas affected by fighting.

The call came from the UN special envoy for the country, Martin Kobler, who is also the head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

According to media reports, Benghazi is witnessing some of the worst fighting since the 2011 revolution that saw the ouster of the late Muammar el-Qadhafi.

The wounded must be taken care of and everyone must be treated humanely, in line with international humanitarian law, Mr Kobler noted.

All parties that fail to protect civilians, he said, will be held accountable.

A Government of National Unity was formed after the signing of a peace deal back in December in an effort to end a civil war waged by rival factions since 2014.

People in Nepal vulnerable to food insecurity, a year after earthquake

A large number of people in Nepal remain food insecure a year after the earthquake, the World Food Programme (WFP) has said.

More than 9,000 people died in the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that led to damages estimated at US$ 7 billion.

The agency provided food aid to 2 million people within six weeks of the disaster.

One quarter of people in Nepal live on less than US$1.25 a day, and spend on average, 60 percent of their income on food.

Meanwhile, WFP has continued to support early recovery work by paying people with food or cash to rebuild community infrastructure.

Despite improvements in food security in quake-affected areas, due in part to humanitarian assistance, significant pockets of vulnerability remain.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 2’34″

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