News in Brief 12 January 2017(PM)

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Bada, Kako, 3 years old, and other IDP children in the village of Tagal, Lake Chad region, Chad. Photo: UNICEF/UN028762/Tremeau (file photo)

"Clear need for continued action" over crisis in Lake Chad Basin

There is a "clear need for continued action" to try and end the humanitarian crisis in Africa's Lake Chad Basin where around 10.7 million people are in need of emergency aid, up from nine million six months ago.

That's the view of the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O'Brien, briefing the Security Council on Thursday.

Mr O'Brien said the people of north-east Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad were still suffering violence and economic hardship due to Boko Haram terrorist activity, despite military gains.

Around 2.4 million are currently displaced, the vast majority children, said the UN relief chief.

He added that there had been a "staggering increase" in extreme levels of food insecurity despite a major response by the international community, with levels rising from three million to just over seven million severely food insecure.

"The regional humanitarian crisis that has significantly deepened and broadened with the despicable actions of Boko Haram takes place in an extremely fragile and rapidly changing part of the world, and one that contains many of the elements – poverty, unemployment and the absence of prospects and opportunities for youth – conducive to both violent extremism and protracted humanitarian need. There is a clear need for continued action and attention from the international community and indeed this Security Council."

UN seeks reassurances from South Sudan over new force deployment

A senior South Sudanese minister said on Thursday that his government would not go back on commitments to allow the deployment of a Regional Protection Force.

The Acting Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Mustapha Soumaré, met the Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Martin Lumoro, and requested clarification on several press reports indicating that the South Sudanese government was backtracking over the force.

The 4,000-strong deployment mandated by the UN Security Council is designed to bolster the existing UN peacekeeping force to help restore order after intense fighting broke out last July between rival forces around the capital Juba.

Here's UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

"The Minister confirmed to Mr Soumaré that the government's position on the subject remained unchanged, and that in line with the relevant Security Council resolutions the government would continue to facilitate the deployment of the regional force."

Besieged areas of Syria still "serious concern" despite cessation of hostilities

Besieged areas of Syria remain out of bounds to UN aid convoys despite the fact that a cessation of hostilities following the recapture of Aleppo by government forces is largely holding.

That's according to UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura who said on Thursday that he was seriously concerned about the fate of people trapped in the towns of Madaya and Zabadani, where some residents starved to death last year.

Both are still besieged by Syrian government forces but the envoy said he was also concerned about the fate of residents, and a fleet of buses and their drivers, stuck in the towns of Kefraya and Foah, which are besieged by the armed opposition.

The bus drivers transported civilians from Aleppo to the towns, and the envoy called on opposition groups to let them leave.

Mr de Mistura said that picture evidence from all the besieged towns suggested that supplies of food and other essential items were running low.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2'59"

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