News in Brief 2 December 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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No child under five from Aleppo has known life free from conflict. Photo: Tom Westcott/IRIN

Shelter at capacity for Aleppo's embattled displaced

Shelter for thousands of people fleeing fierce fighting in the Syrian city of Aleppo has reached capacity and there are fears that buildings housing refugees could collapse as they are heavily damaged, the UN said on Friday.

The warning from the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, comes amid reports that more than 31,000 people have fled to non-rebel held areas in recent days as the government-led offensive continues in eastern Aleppo.

Here's UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards:

"As needs arise in the east of course we're still unable to reach people there…The crunch on housing, on shelter, is really becoming far more acute with each passing day."

A quarter of a million people are still in need of urgent humanitarian help in eastern Aleppo, according to the UN.

The possibility of delivering aid to them via so-called humanitarian corridors is dependent on the agreement of all warring parties, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

 Cyprus leaders announce talks to resume

Talks to decide the future of Cyprus are to start again after it was announced that the leaders of the divided island are committed to reaching "a comprehensive settlement as soon as possible".

That's according to UN Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, who's been coordinating discussions between Greek Cypriot leader, Nicos Anastasiades, and Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci.

Talks between the two ended in Switzerland in November, without agreement on issues including how much of the island should be administered by its Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities.

In a statement, the UN Envoy said that both leaders had agreed to meet in Geneva in January next year, where they intend to present "their respective maps" indicating future territorial adjustments.

Mr Eide added that in the meantime, they had decided to "immediately re-engage" on "all outstanding" issues on the island, which has been split since post-independence communal strife in the 1960s and 1970s.

Anyone fleeing war should be treated as a refugee, says UNHCR

A bid to encourage all governments to recognise anyone fleeing war and violence as a refugee has been launched by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

The appeal comes amid record displacement from conflict, estimated at 65.3 million people.

Refugees make up around a third of this total, and most have been displaced within their own country.

The 1951 Refugee Convention has always included refugees from war, but it is applied inconsistently around the world, says UNHCR's Vannina Maestracci:

"There are discrepancies when it comes to countries and refugee eligibility, and some countries don't consider people fleeing armed violence as potential refugees."

In releasing new guidelines on dealing with people fleeing conflict, UNHCR says it's hoping for a consistent standard of international protection for all those who need it.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 2’57″

 

 

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