News in Brief 15 November 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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Children in Dekoa, Central African Republic (CAR). Photo: MINUSCA

Central African Republic "still one of most dangerous places on earth"

The Central African Republic's recovery is continuing slowly, but the country remains one of the most dangerous places on earth for children, UNICEF has announced.

Latest data from the UN agency indicates that ongoing insecurity – including renewed violence in October – has left 850,000 people either displaced within the country or refugees beyond its borders.

More than half of that number are children.

Youngsters are particularly at risk from disease, exploitation and abuse in the country, where one in three is out of school and malnutrition affects four in 10 under-five years-old.

The UN Children's Fund also warns that up to 10,000 children may have been recruited by armed groups too.

UNICEF is calling for the international community to back an aid package for the country worth US$3 billion which puts children first, by prioritizing basic services such as health and education.

Syria food shortages leave seven million "without their next meal"

Seven million people in Syria do not know where their next meal is coming from, as food production hits new lows, the UN said on Tuesday.

And as the country's war drags on well into its sixth year, data shows that the country's farmers are harvesting less than half the amount of wheat than before the crisis.

The warning comes from the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in their latest Crop and Food Security Assessment for Syria.

Here's WFP's Bettina Luescher:

"The rising prices and just things like fertilizer and seeds are not readily available in many places means that many farmers have no option often but to abandon their fields and production if they don't get immediate support."

Food is still readily available in the Syrian capital Damascus, according to WFP, but elsewhere the situation is very different.

In Aleppo, the UN reported last week that final rations were being handed out in the besieged eastern part of the city.

Appeal to Malaysian authorities to respect demonstrators' rights

In Malaysia, authorities and demonstrators should "stay calm and exercise restraint" ahead of a contentious anti-government rally due to be held at the weekend.

That appeal from the UN Human Rights Office, OHCHR, follows reports that organizers of the planned protest in the country's capital, Kuala Lumpur, have been threatened and clashed with opponents.

Pro-democracy group Bersih, a coalition of non-governmental organizations, says it is determined to go ahead with the event.

It's calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak and electoral reform.

Here's the UN's Ravina Shamdasani:

"We urge the Malaysian Government to abide by its international human rights obligations to protect the rights of all Malaysians to gather peacefully and to express their opinions, and to investigate the reports of harassment and intimidation."

According to the UN's Human Rights Office, police have reportedly told Malaysians not to take part in the rally, on the grounds that the organizers have not met all the conditions under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’12″

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