News in Brief 26 October 2016 (PM)

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Results of Cuba Resolution. UN Photo : Screengrab from UN Video

US abstains for first time on General Assembly Cuba resolution

The United States has abstained for the first time on a General Assembly resolution calling for an end to the US economic embargo on Cuba.

The US embargo has been in place for more than 50 years, and for the 24 years that the resolution has come before Member States, the US has voted against it.

Relations between Cuba and the US began to normalize in 2014, but the US Congress has resisted calls from the administration of Barack Obama to lift the embargo.

US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said that the decision not to vote against the resolution should be viewed as one more step towards restoring full diplomatic relations between the two countries.

According to news reports, Cuba's Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, described the abstention as a "positive step for the future."

Access to areas hit by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti "is improving"

Humanitarian access to the areas of Haiti worst-hit by Hurricane Matthew "is improving" according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

However, a $US120 million flash appeal to help the victims of the hurricane is "critically under-funded" with less than a third of the required amount raised so far.

Matthew tore across the country earlier this month, leaving 1.4 million in need of food assistance, killing 50 per cent of all livestock, and wiping out crops in many areas.

Here's UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

"The International Organisation for Migration has sent 34 truckloads – that represents 150 metric tonnes of supplies – to Jeremie and Les Cayes. Some 28,000 families have already benefitted from the assistance with another 13,000 families to receive critical supplies in the coming days."

145 children released by armed groups in South Sudan

A total of 145 children have been released by armed groups in South Sudan, according to the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF.

UNICEF says it's the largest number of child-conscripts freed since 1,775 were released last year, in the Greater Pibor area of the war-torn east African country.

The children freed on Wednesday were being held and forced to join the ranks of South Sudanese opposition forces, and the so-called Cobra Faction.

They were formally disarmed and provided with civilian clothes according to UNICEF, and then registered for an official reintegration programme.

UNICEF's representative in the country, Mahimbo Mdoe, said that he hoped the release "would be followed by many others, so that the 16,000 children, who are still in armed forces and armed groups, will be able to return to their families."

Priyanka Shankar, United Nations.

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