News in Brief 31 August 2016 (PM)

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Lise Grande. Photo: © UNICEF/PHAZOU

Concern over possible child recruitment, mass graves in Iraq

Reports that displaced children in Iraq are being recruited by armed groups are deeply worrying, a senior UN official in the country has said.

The reports indicate that boys in one displacement camp are being transported to areas near the frontlines, possibly to join groups fighting against ISIL extremists, according to UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq Lise Grande.

She also expressed concern over the discovery of mass graves in areas formerly controlled by ISIL, which is also known as Daesh.

Ms Grande's comments came in a statement issued on Wednesday in which she previewed that scores of civilians will also be at risk with the likely start of an operation to retake the city of Mosul from the extremist group.

A US$284 million humanitarian appeal to prepare for the Mosul operation is less than 20 per cent funded.

Migrant arrivals in Italy reach 12,000 in three days

The number of migrants who have been rescued from the Mediterranean Sea since Sunday has now risen to more than 12,000, according to UN partner agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Calm seas are believed to have prompted the latest rush to Europe from North Africa.

Unconfirmed reports also indicate that food shortages in Libyan detention centres for migrants may also have played their part.

Here's IOM's Joel Millman:

"Our people in Rome, IOM Italy, tell us that yesterday, Tuesday, a total of 3,850 migrants were rescued at sea. Since Sunday, the number of migrants and refugees rescued in the Channel of Sicily has totalled right around 12,000."

IOM reports that those rescued at sea come mainly from West Africa and the Horn of Africa, with Nigerian nationals far and away the most common migrants arriving in Italy in 2016.

Latest data shows that more than 3,100 people have died making the Mediterranean Sea crossing so far this year, out of some 270,000 arrivals.

Torture prevention experts back to visiting Ukraine

Three international human rights experts will return to Ukraine next week to examine developments related to torture prevention and ill treatment.

The members of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT) will be resuming a visit which they had to suspend in May after being unable to access some detention sites under the authority of the Secret Service.

The SPT said the visit is back on track following "positive talks" with the government.

In addition to meeting with authorities, the delegation will visit prisons, police stations, psychiatric institutions, residential care facilities and other places where people may be detained.

The experts will send a report to the Ukrainian Government following the visit, which will include observations from the suspended mission in May.

They said the report will remain confidential "unless the Ukrainian authorities decide to make it public."

Agency constructing new logistics base in Gaza

The groundwork has been laid for the establishment of the largest logistics base in the Gaza Strip for the UN agency that assists Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

The compound will serve as the agency's main warehouse for storing food and non-items, in addition to being used as a maintenance workshop and fuel station for its operations in southern Gaza.

UNRWA said the logistics base will employ 200 personnel, some of whom will be hired through the agency's Job Creation Programme.

The construction is being financed through a US$10 million donation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Fund for Development.

It is expected to be completed in September 2017.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 3’42″

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