News in Brief 05 August 2016 (AM)

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Luhansk resident Petro (left) talks to a UNHCR staff member during a mission to the region in eastern Ukraine. Photo: UNHCR/Daria Volkova

Aid convoys reach areas of eastern Ukraine for first time in five months

For the first time in five months, aid convoys have reached conflict-affected non-government controlled areas of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Two separate convoys of 25 trucks delivered vitally-needed construction materials for thousands of people whose homes have been damaged or destroyed since fighting between government forces and separatist rebels began in 2014.

More than 9,000 people have died in eastern Ukraine since conflict began.

UNHCR said that the convoy, which arrived on Friday, carried cement, bricks, roofing material and tarpaulins.

Here's UNHCR's William Spindler:

"Despite the ceasefire agreed in 2015, the security situation in eastern Ukraine remains tense and volatile. Flare-ups of hostilities continue to lead to daily casualties among civilians and the destruction of homes. UNHCR estimates that some 10,000 houses in non-government controlled areas of Luhansk have been damaged as a result of the conflict."

€50 million contribution to fight Boko Haram welcomed by UN chief

A €50 million contribution from the European Union (EU) to help countries in the Lake Chad Basin fight the terrorist group Boko Haram, has been welcomed by the UN chief, Ban Ki-moon.

In a statement, the Secretary-General praised the EU's support for the Multi-National Joint Task Force, or MNJTF, which is an initiative of countries in the Lake Chad region, together with Benin.

Mr Ban said the task force had made "significant progress" combatting the terrorist threat, and he welcomed the enhanced cooperation and the "sacrifices made in the fight" against Boko Haram, which is based in north-east Nigeria.

He reiterated his call on MNJTF states to ensure that their efforts were in "full compliance with their obligations" under international human rights, and humanitarian law.

South Sudanese children suffering alarming rates of malnutrition

Children in rural areas of South Sudan are suffering alarming rates of malnutrition, with figures showing a 50 per cent increase compared with last year.

That's according to Christophe Boulierac of the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, briefing journalists in Geneva on Friday.

"In a nutshell, the situation as you know is catastrophic in South Sudan, and it is even more catastrophic for children. We are responding now with our partners in South Sudan to a growing food insecurity emergency that is affecting children in both rural and urban areas. Since the beginning of the year, we have treated 120,000 children under five-years-old for severe malnutrition."

That figure, he said, was50 per cent more than the same period last year, and more than 150 per cent higher than 2014.

Renewed fighting since early July between military factions loyal to the President and former First Vice President, has magnified the humanitarian and health crisis facing all areas of South Sudan.

Mr Boulierac said that given the scale of the crisis, UNICEF was now increasing its target number of children in need of support from 166,000 to 250,000 this year.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2'27"

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