News in Brief 03 January 2017 (AM)

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Humanitarian partners in Somalia scaling up response to displaced people after violence broke out in Gaalkacyo on 7 October 2016. Photo: OCHA/Guled Isse

Somalia mission chief welcomes moves towards peace in Gaalkacyo

A renewed commitment by two regional leaders in Somalia to achieve peace in the city of Gaalkacyo has been welcomed by the senior UN official in the country.

Michael Keating, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), described it as "a critical step to allow a process to resolve underlying issues that are causing the conflict and to build lasting peace."

His comments follow a meeting between the regional Presidents of Puntland and Galmudug state held in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, on Monday.

The two leaders have agreed to three main points aimed at producing a cessation of hostilities in Gaalkacyo, which is located on the border of their two states.

They have also agreed to meet in the city later this month to support the implementation of the commitments, according to a statement from the UN mission.

Concern over rise in HIV prevalence in Libya

Lack of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs in Libya resulted in the deaths of 10 adolescents last year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

ARVs are the medicines used to treat HIV.

The UN agency reports that prevalence of the virus has been on the rise in Libya since the start of hostilities more than five years ago.

A WHO assessment of the country's health system has found a general collapse in services, including stalled drug procurement and distribution.

As a result, patients have been forced to cut down their drug regimens which has led to ARV drug resistance, leaving them with advanced stages of the disease and increased mortality rates.

WHO said there were more than 6,300 registered HIV patients in Libya in 2016.

The agency has provided a three-month shipment of ARV drugs for 450 patients in Benghazi.

It has also launched a US$1.2 million appeal to ensure a regular supply of the drugs for one year.

Millions in Damascus still without water

Some five and a half million people in the Syrian capital of Damascus continue to be without water, the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, has reported.

The situation is due to fighting in an area where much of the city's water supply originates.

OCHA said the UN has rehabilitated and equipped several wells in and around Damascus which have been the sole source of water for the entire city since 22 December.

The UN also expressed concern over how lack of water could lead to waterborne diseases, particularly among children.

Priyanka Shankar, United Nations

Duration:2’37″

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