News in Brief 23 September 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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A food aid operation in Syria coordinated by UN agency OCHA. Photo: OCHA

Aid effort will continue "by all means" to Syria

Efforts to deliver humanitarian supplies in Syria will continue "by all means" available where access is possible despite the ongoing violence, the UN said Friday.

On Thursday, 23 trucks delivered enough aid for 35,000 people in Moadamiyet Al Sham, according to agency spokesperson Jens Laerke.

"The situation is grim. There are a lot of people who need aid and who are not getting it, that is the bottom line. We are trying to deliver as much as we possibly can through all kinds of all modalities; . cross-border deliveries, cross-line deliveries, air bridges, air drops and other kinds of regular programme to beneficiaries where we have easier access."

The last time the Damascus suburb town received help was on the 24 July.

Other places continue to be cut off, including Eastern Aleppo, where up to 275,000 people need help.

In total in Syria nearly 5.5 million people require food and medicines in so-called hard-to-reach and besieged areas.

Alarm over spike in Yemen civilian casualties

In Yemen, the suspension of peace talks has led to a sharp increase in civilian casualties, the UN Human Rights Office has warned.

According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), 180 people were killed and another 268 injured in August; that's a 40 per cent jump in victims from the previous month.

OHCHR spokesperson Cécile Pouilly expressed concern at the increased number of attacks against protected civilian areas, such as schools and medical centres, markets, places of worship and people's homes.

"The most recent incident took place two days ago, on Wednesday, 21 September, when an airstrike hit a residential area in the town of Hudaydah, killing 26 civilians, including seven children, and injuring 24 others, among them two children. The death toll could be much higher, as our team continues to collect information."

Yemen, which is one of the world's poorest countries, has been split by fighting between government and opposition forces which escalated in March last year.

Warning over Burundi exodus impact on neighbouring countries

Ongoing insecurity and human rights violations in Burundi have forced more than 300,000 people to seek shelter in neighbouring countries, which are struggling to cope with the influx.

The warning, from UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, comes 18 months after a political crisis erupted in the central African nation, linked to President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term in office.

William Spindler from UNHCR said that more than 20,000 people fled the country in July and August alone:

"We expect the number of arrivals will continue to rise in the remaining months of this year, but fear that neighbouring Tanzan ia, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and aid agencies such as UNHCR will struggle to continue providing adequate shelter, protection and life-saving services."

Fear of extrajudicial killings, abduction, torture and persecution are reportedly behind people's decision to flee Muyinga, Makamba, Cankuzo, Kirundo and Ruyigi.

Once in their new host countries, the refugees are finding that conditions are dire, UNHCR says.

It's issued a reminder that most of the new arrivals are women and children and in need of help from the international community.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3'40"


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