News in Brief 02 December 2016 (PM)

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Worsening drought conditions have left hundreds of thousands of Somalis facing severe food and water shortages. Photo: OCHA Somalia

Somalia drought "extremely worrying," UN aid official warns

Humanitarians are racing against time to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of Somalis who are facing severe drought and water shortages, a senior UN official has warned.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the country, Peter de Clercq, explained that a prolonged drought in Puntland and Somaliland, located in the north, has deepened and spread to southern and central regions of the country.

He said aid groups are "stretched" and require additional resources to meet the growing needs.

Mr de Clercq appealed for international support to address the crisis, which he described as "extremely worrying," adding that it could rapidly deteriorate unless action is taken.

Overall, more than 40 per cent of Somalis, roughly five million people, do not have sufficient food, he said.

Meanwhile, a US$885 million appeal launched this year is less than half funded.

Health agency concerned over 73 newborn deaths in Libya

The deaths of 73 newborns in southern Libya over a two-month period this year has sparked the concern of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Libya has been plagued by conflict and instability since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi five years ago and WHO said the babies died due to the country's deteriorating health system.

WHO Representative in Libya Dr Syed Jaffar Hussain said their deaths could easily have been prevented if the health system were able to provide proper services, such as antenatal care.

Twenty-two of the newborns died due to intra-uterine complications while 18 suffered birth asphyxia, or being unable to breathe.

Twenty more deaths were the result of premature labour or neonatal sepsis, caused by infection, while the remaining babies succumbed to congenital anomalies, also known as birth defects.

All of the deaths occurred between July and August of this year.

SDGs at risk of becoming "empty promises"

Global efforts to eliminate extreme poverty, tackle injustice and protect the environment will remain "empty promises" unless governments honour their political and financial commitments to development.

The warning comes from UN human rights experts who stress that without renewed commitment and finance, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will not be reached by their target date of 2030.

World leaders agreed the 17 SDGs at a UN summit in 2015.

In a statement issued on Friday, the experts said the goals "will remain empty promises without proper political and financial commitment, regulation, management, and related safeguards."

They said the benefits of development have not been fairly distributed, with millions worldwide still lacking basic rights, for example to food, water, sanitation, health, education and housing.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2’57″

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