News in Brief 09 August 2016 (PM)

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A girl carrying jerrycans of water, walks past a pile of debris on a street in Aleppo, Syria. UNICEF/Romenzi

Aleppo: Humanitarians "ready to roll" provided they have access

Two million people "living in fear of besiegement" in Aleppo, Syria, are counting on the international community to end their suffering, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator said on Tuesday.

Stephen O'Brien was speaking to journalists following a closed-door briefing to the Security Council on what he called "the horrific humanitarian situation" in the city.

The UN humanitarian chief said he asked ambassadors "to do everything they can" to facilitate access to the population.

Mr O'Brien said he told them that UN agencies and their partners are "ready to roll" into Aleppo provided they have safe access.

"I reminded the Security Council that the United Nations agencies and our partners remain ready to assist the civilian population across Aleppo. We have supplies ready to roll: food rations, hospital supplies, ambulances, fuel for generators, water supplies and more.  We will continue to use all available routes and mechanisms to do this, including cross-line and cross-border operations from Turkey. We can deliver these within 24-48 hours if we have safe access."

Also on Tuesday:

Syrian ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja'afari organized a press conference at UN Headquarters where several members of an organization called the US Peace Council criticized the involvement of the United States and its allies in the Syrian crisis.

UN chief welcomes timetable for Somalia elections

Upcoming elections in Somalia are "an important milestone" in the country's journey towards democracy.

That's the message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who on Tuesday welcomed the announcement of a timetable for the process.

Somalis will go to the polls between 24 September and 10 October to choose a new federal Parliament.

They will vote on a new President by 30 October.

Mr Ban said he trusts the timetable will be adhered to.

"The Secretary-General emphasizes the importance of Somalia’s 2016 electoral process being conducted in a transparent, credible and inclusive manner, and in a climate of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms," according to a statement issued by his Spokesman.

Praise for Indonesia's new visa-free policy

Indonesia's decision to grant visa-free entry to travellers from 169 countries has drawn praise from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

The measure aims to attract international tourism by simplifying travel procedures.

UNWTO described it as a "cutting edge" policy in line with research that shows improved visa facilitation could generate up to US$12 billion in south-east Asian countries.

The new visa policy is valid for a maximum of 30 days and there is no restriction on the number of visits per year.

However, it is non-extendable and cannot be converted to any other permit to stay.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2’34″

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