News in Brief 18 May 2016 (AM)

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The life cycle of a mosquito: An egg can develop into an adult mosquito within 7 to 10 days. The elimination of breeding sites is crucial to reducing the population of mosquitoes that transmit dengue disease, zika or chikungunya. Photo:PAHO

Zika likely to spread in Europe during summer months

There is a "low to moderate" risk that the Zika virus will spread to Europe during the next few months, according to the latest assessment from the World Health Organization (WHO).

So far, in Latin America, nine countries have reported infections among pregnant women due to the mosquito-borne virus, which has been linked to serious birth defects.

WHO's regional director for Europe, Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, said that countries which faced even a moderate risk of a Zika outbreak, needed to "strengthen national capacities".

She said the risk varied from country to country, but scientific research showed it was greater where Aedes mosquitoes are present, which is the case in 18 European states.

UN calls on Israeli authorities to prevent destruction of humanitarian aid

The destruction of seven homes and building materials given to Palestine refugee families as part of an aid package has been condemned by the UN.

The homes were demolished by Israeli authorities on 16 May, leaving nearly 50 people without shelter, including 22 children, said Robert Piper, UN Coordinator for humanitarian aid in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The materials were part of an aid package for Palestinian Bedouin families provided by the UN Humanitarian Pooled Fund, earlier this year.

"Despite the obligation on Israel under international law to facilitate rapid and unimpeded" relief to those in need, said Mr Piper, aid to "vulnerable communities…is increasingly under attack" he added.

Severe damage to World Heritage Site in Syria, deplored by UN

Severe damage has been caused to an historic church in the so-called Ancient Villages of Northern Syria, possibly due to an airstrike.

That's according to the UN Cultural Organization, UNESCO, which condemned the partial destruction of the church of Saint Simeon, which is part of an official World Heritage Site.

UNESCO said it had seen photographs and reports showing "extensive damage" to the Byzantine-era church.

Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, said that the Syrian civil war was "causing incalculable human suffering and loss" together with the destruction of "unique cultural heritage".

"Its protection" she added, "is therefore an integral part of wider efforts to end violence…and move to peace."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2'00"

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