News in Brief 18 October 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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Most Syrians left in Aleppo are too poor to leave and live in the carcasses of apartment blocks. Photo: Tom Westcott/IRIN

Aleppo truce "must come from all warring parties for aid to get in"

A joint Russia and Syrian government call for a temporary halt to the violence in Aleppo does not mean that aid deliveries can resume to the war-torn Syrian city, the UN said Tuesday.

For that to happen, all weapons must fall silent and further assurances must be given, according to UN humanitarian coordinating agency OCHA.

Some 275,000 people are believed to be trapped in the east of the rebel-held part of the city which has been under siege for months.

Here's OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke:

"The UN reiterates that assurances must be provided by all parties to allow safe, unimpeded humanitarian access so that critical humanitarian assistance can be provided to the area and the sick and the wounded can be evacuated.  The UN and our partners remain ready to proceed with urgent medical evacuations and provide urgent life-saving assistance when all security assurances are provided.  The UN has a plan to evacuate the sick and wounded from eastern Aleppo, but has not been involved in any negotiations concerning the specific elements of the 17 October announcement related to the movement of civilians out of eastern Aleppo."

Speaking in Geneva, Mr Laerke stressed that the UN had not been involved in the Russian-Syrian truce plan, which is set to come into effect on Thursday.

And he said that a 48-hour pause was needed to do anything "meaningful", namely get aid into Aleppo and evacuate the sick and wounded.

Return to families is a "new ordeal" for Chibok girls: UNICEF

The return to their families and communities is "the beginning of a new ordeal" for the Nigerian girls abducted by Boko Haram rebels in Chibok town, a spokesperson for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has said.

Twenty-one of the 200 girls kidnapped by the Islamic militants two years ago, were released last week.

The former captives will face a "long and difficult process" to rebuild their lives after the terrible trauma they have suffered, noted spokesperson Christophe Boulierac.

"Returning to their families and communities is the beginning of a new ordeal for the girls. As the sexual violence they have suffered often results in stigmatization. People are also often afraid the girls have been indoctrinated by Boko Haram and that they pose a threat to their communities. And that children born as a result of the sexual violence are at an even greater risk of rejection, abandonment and violence."

UNICEF is also calling for the release of all the women, girls and children held by the militants.

Italy "overwhelmed" by record numbers of child arrivals

Record numbers of unaccompanied children arriving in Italy have left the country "overwhelmed".

That's according to UNICEF, which said that in the first nine months of 2016, 20,000 youngsters arrived in Italy by boat, three and a half thousand more than for the whole of last year.

Every child has real needs, the agency says, including three babies born in Italy this week.

Here's UNICEF spokesperson Sarah Crowe:

"We're seeing the Italian child protection system is rather overwhelmed and unable to cope … and it's all going extremely slowly…all too often these children go unnoticed…fall through the cracks and continue their journey into Europe unprotected."

In a disturbing new trend, UNICEF notes that more than nine in 10 children who reached Italy this year travelled alone, up from around seven in 10 in 2015.

Most have come from west Africa, although an increasing number started out from Egypt.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3'33"

 

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