News in Brief 29 December 2016 (AM)

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UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, addresses the press on the situation in Syria (Aleppo). UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

Nationwide ceasefire in Syria welcomed by UN Special Envoy

A nationwide ceasefire between the Syrian government and rebel groups has been welcomed by the UN Special Envoy for the country.

The truce is expected to come into effect at midnight on Friday, 30 December.

Staffan de Mistura expressed hope that the implementation of the agreement will save lives and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid across Syria.

The UN-backed intra-Syrian negotiations are expected to resume on 8 February 2017.

These developments should help make the upcoming talks "inclusive and productive," de Mistura said.

Four million residents of Damascus in Syria have no water: UN

The UN humanitarian agency in Syria has expressed alarm that four million people living in the capital city of Damascus and surrounding areas have been cut off from the main water supply for the past two weeks.

Two primary sources of drinking water which provide clean and safe water for 70 percent of the population in and around Damascus are not functioning, the agency says.

Ain al-Fijah is a spring which supplies water to all of Damascus and the Wadi Barada source is located in a rebel-held valley outside of the city.

The two have been damaged by "deliberate targeting," including intense airstrikes and shelling.

The authorities have taken measure to ration the water to address its scarcity.

The city residents have started to buy water from private vendors, where prices and water quality are unregulated.

The UN is concerned that the lack of water could lead to waterborne diseases, particularly among children.

Close to 15 million people throughout Syria are in need of water assistance and households spend up to 25 percent of their income to meet their daily water needs.

UN in Iraq condemns abduction of journalist

The abduction of an Iraqi journalist has been condemned by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

Afrah Shawqi was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen from her home on Monday night, after she wrote an article about armed groups in Iraq acting with impunity.

UNAMI considers this incident as a serious attack on freedom of expression in the country.

The agency has called on the people who kidnapped Ms Shawqi to release her as soon as possible.

Authorities have also been alerted to investigate the matter and bring those responsible to justice.

Andita Listyarini, United Nations.

Duration: 2’21″

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