News in Brief 28 October 2016 (AM)

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A boy carrying his belongings in a large cloth bag over his shoulder is among people walking on railway tracks to cross from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia into Serbia. Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2015-2203/Georgiev (file photo)

Italian lawmakers urged to pass bill supporting refugee children: UNICEF

Italian lawmakers have been urged by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), to pass a "historic" bill which would strengthen support and protection for a record number of unaccompanied refugee and migrant children.

At least 20,000 of them, together with those separated from their families, have arrived in Italy this year alone, according to UNICEF.

Near-daily cases of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean show that the passage of the bill through the Italian parliament "cannot come a moment too soon" for children risking their lives, the UN agency said.

Here's Spokesperson Christophe Boulierac, at a press conference in Geneva on Friday morning.

"This draft bill is the first comprehensive act on reception and protection of unaccompanied children in Italy, and the basic principles of the bill are fully aligned with actions recommended by UNICEF to protect refugee and migrant children."

Call for Kenya to "build on the momentum" of commuting death sentences

The decision by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to commute all death sentences was welcomed by the UN Human Rights Office on Friday.

The East African country's leader removed nearly 3,000 male convicts from death row, along with 92 women.

Their sentences have been commuted to life imprisonment.

Spokesperson for OHCHR in Geneva, Ravina Shamdasani, said that Kenya had not implemented a death penalty sentence since 1987, and welcomed President Kenyatta's announcement this week.

"We hope that Kenya will build on the momentum created by Monday's mass commutation and work towards establishing an official moratorium on the death penalty, aiming at its full abolition for all crimes."

Lives of millions in southern Africa at risk due to drought, warns UN envoy

Southern Africa's worst drought in 35 years, has created life-threatening conditions for vulnerable women and children across the region, according to the UN Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate.

Speaking in Mozambique on Friday, Macharia Kamau, said that more than 60 million people had been affected by the weather pattern El Niño, with 40 million of those living across southern Africa.

He said that around 600,000 were children, which was adding a "very worrying dimension" to how the most vulnerable were going to deal with food shortages and insecurity caused by the drought.

"Children are indeed the most vulnerable, the ones we are looking for to secure the future of many of these countries moving forward. And it's no exaggeration to say that for many of these children, and for some of the women; especially lactating mothers and the elderly; the next few months might literally be months when they are looking at survival straight in the face."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’31″

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UN Radio Daily News Programme
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