News in Brief 21 April 2016 (PM)

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A farmer collects food ration for his family. An estimated 12 million Yemenis are food insecure. Photo: WFP

Yemen peace talks start in Kuwait

Peace talks aimed at ending the violence in Yemen started Thursday in Kuwait, the UN has confirmed.

Government forces and Houthi rebels had agreed to a truce on 10 April.

The negotiations were initially scheduled for Monday, but the Houthi representatives cited heavy fighting on the ground as the reason for their delay.

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric has the details.

"The UN-mediated talks will seek to develop agreements which will restore security and peace in the country, strengthen state institutions and help speed up economic recovery. Although serious violations have been seen of the cessation of hostilities, the levels of military violence have significantly diminished, along with the number of civilian deaths."

The UN special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said that if "all parties engaged in good faith, the path to peace might be difficult, but it is clearly in reach".

The conflict in Yemen has led to the death of more than 6,400 people and has forced over 2.7 million to flee their homes.

Urgent need for aid workers to access besieged Yarmouk

Palestinian residents in the Yarmouk neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria are living in dire conditions following fierce fighting between armed groups on 6 April, a UN spokesperson has said.

Although there's been a lull in fighting in the past three days, aid workers still do not have access to Yarmouk or its three neighbouring areas, says Chris Gunness of UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

The agency is seeking to resume critical food distribution and mobile health services and is concerned about reported lack of fresh water in the area.

In February, UNRWA said that Yarmouk had been taken over by terrorist group ISIL, also known as Daesh.

UN appoints global water monitoring panel

Ten heads of state and government have been appointed to sit on a High-Level Panel on water by the UN chief and the World Bank Group President.

Ban Ki-moon and Jim Yong Kim made the announcement on Thursday.

The Panel, launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos last January, aims to mobilize effective action to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

The Panel members will serve for two years.

Globally, more than 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation and at least 663 million do not have access to safe drinking water.

Experts project that the world may face a 40 per cent shortfall in water availability by 2030 due to the effects of climate change.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 2’27″

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