News in Brief 31 August 2016 (AM)

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Michael Keating. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Somalia truck bomb attack condemned

A deadly truck bombing on a hotel in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, on Tuesday has been condemned by the senior UN official in the country.

Michael Keating said the incident marked the third time the SYL Hotel has been attacked since early 2015.

The extremist group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack which killed at least 13 people and injured more than 20.

Several government officials and parliament members were holding a meeting at the hotel when the blast occurred but none was among the fatalities.

Concern for human rights activists in Sudan

A group of international human rights experts is urging the authorities in Sudan to drop charges against six people connected with a prominent human rights organization in the capital, Khartoum.

The employees and affiliates of the organization Training and Human Development, or TRACKS, have been detained for the past three months and have yet to face trial.

They face charges that include criminal conspiracy, undermining the constitutional system, waging war against the state, espionage, and terrorism, all of which carry the death penalty.

The human rights experts, known as UN Special Rapporteurs, said the charges appear to be directly linked to the activists' work in defending human rights.

They also expressed concern over what they see as increasing targeting and prosecution of human rights defenders in Sudan.

Afghan children vaccinated against polio

A massive effort is underway in Afghanistan to vaccinate all children under the age of five against polio.

The immunization campaign has been launched by the Ministry of Public Health with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

WHO explained that most cases of polio in the country occur in September and October, putting children at risk of becoming paralysed or dying.

The campaign is being carried out by approximately 65,000 trained frontline health workers.

Teams have also been deployed to border crossings with Pakistan, which hosts more than 1.5 million Afghan refugees.

WHO reports that more than 5,000 Afghans return to their homeland each day.

The three-day campaign began on Monday and a "catch-up day" will be held this Friday to revisit any youngsters who missed out.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2’15″

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