News in Brief 11 January 2017(PM)

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New arrivals at Khazer camp, a safe haven for over 6,000 Iraqis who have fled the fighting in Mosul, just 45 kilometres away. Photo: WFP/Alexandra Murdoch

"Military progress" in Mosul slowed by civilians-first policy of Iraqis

"Military progress" in the battle to retake Mosul from ISIL terrorist forces in Iraq has been slowed down by an Iraqi military decision to protect civilians as much as possible.

That's according to Lise Grande, the UN 's humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, who said the security forces deserved "enormous credit" for trying to minimize the loss of life during their advance.

With most of the eastern part of Mosul now back in government hands, she said there were still around 750,000 civilians trapped in densely populated neighbourhoods in the west.

Ms Grande described the Mosul campaign as one of the largest urban battles since the Second World War, and described how the decision to make humanitarian concerns paramount was affecting the fighting.

"It's slowed down military progress.  If they were using the heavy artillery strikes, if there was a disregard for human life, you would see that probably there would have been much faster advancement. But the fact that the Iraqi security forces said our main aim is to make sure that civilians survive, has been exceptional and very remarkable and something that from the humanitarian side we feel the Iraqi government and security forces deserve enormous credit for."

Aid efforts continue as 150,000 receive assistance around Aleppo

Around 150,000 people from formerly-besieged eastern Aleppo have received "life-saving assistance" the UN said on Wednesday.

That figure includes those who have been displaced or returned to the area since it was recaptured by Syrian government forces and their allies last month.

Here's spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

"More than 36,000 of them were evacuated to the western countryside of Aleppo and Idlib governorate and more than 111,000 people to different areas in Aleppo city, including more than 50,000 in formerly besieged neighbourhoods. The UN and our national and international humanitarian partners continue efforts to scale up our response in Aleppo to do all we can to ensure that the people of Aleppo receive the aid they need."

The UN says it's still "very concerned" about the humanitarian and water supply crisis in the Wadi Barada area, near Damascus.

Around 5.5 million people continue to be without running water in and around the capital due to fighting in the area, home to the main water supply, and around 15,000 have been displaced by fighting there.

The UN has begun a campaign to raise awareness on safe water practices and safe water sources to prevent diseases, which remains the main concern.

"Urgent actions must be taken" to alleviate suffering in Yemen

"Urgent actions must be taken" to alleviate suffering in Yemen, said the UN envoy to the country on Wednesday, following a three-day visit to the Saudi capital as part of an effort to restart peace talks.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the humanitarian situation in Yemen remained dire, and he called on the government and international community to use the opportunity of a fresh injection of local currency to resume full salary payments for civil servants.

"In addition to mobilizing forces to improve the economic situation" said the Special Envoy, the UN was "working with the Yemeni parties and the states in the region to ensure a rapid restoration of the cessation of hostilities" to find a lasting political solution.

Conflict escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition joined government forces in fighting Houthi rebels for control of the country.

Fourteen million people are going hungry in Yemen, and around 10,000 have died since 2014.

Priyanka Shankar, United Nations.



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