News in Brief 09 August 2016 (AM)

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A poultry farmer feeds her chicken in Nigeria. Efforts to ensure food security must also go hand-in-hand with addressing gender inequity, the UN says. FAO/Pius Ekpei

Urgent appeal for agricultural support in north-eastern Nigeria

Funding is urgently needed to provide farming support for 385,000 people in north-eastern Nigeria, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Tuesday.

The UN agency reports that food insecurity is "rampant" in the region and it is appealing for US$10 million to help people displaced by conflict and the local communities that are hosting them.

The funds will be used to supply seeds, fertilizers and irrigation equipment for the upcoming dry season.

FAO is also preparing a response plan for the main agricultural season when it says even more resources will be required.

Uphold death penalty moratorium in Maldives

Authorities in the Maldives are being urged by the UN Human Rights High Commissioner to uphold a long-standing moratorium on the death penalty.

Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein described recent developments to resume executions there as "deeply regrettable."

He noted that since 1954, the Maldives had commuted death sentences to life imprisonment.

However, he said in November, the High Court ruled that the President "may no longer exercise this power for the offence of intentional murder if all the heirs of the victim demand the death penalty."

Furthermore, in June, the country amended capital punishment regulations to allow for hanging and the use of lethal injections.

Zeid said 17 people are currently on death row in the Maldives, and some of their cases raise "serious" concerns over due process.

Praise for UNRWA staff in Syria

Syria-based staff of the UN agency that assists Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, have been lauded for their "extraordinary contributions" and sacrifices amid the country's ongoing conflict.

The praise comes from UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl who concluded a three-day visit to Syria on Monday.

Mr Krähenbühl heard a wide range of safety and protection concerns, according to an UNRWA statement.

He also met with senior Syrian officials, including the Foreign Minister, the Social Affairs Minister and the head of the General Administration for Palestine Arab Refugees.

The UNRWA chief called for greater protection for Palestine refugees and to facilitate agency access to those most in need.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2’49″

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