News in Brief 13 January 2017 (PM)

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UNICEF-supported trucks queue to fill their tanks with water from a group of wells rehabilitated and equipped by the UN agency, Damascus, Syria. UNICEF/UN048100/Al-Asadi

Agreement reportedly reached on restoring Damascus water supply

Agreement has been reached, according to  reports, on restoring running water to around 5.5 million people living in and around the Syrian capital, Damascus.

The UN welcomed the news on Friday that technical teams had finally been able to enter the city's main water source in Wadi Barada to carry out damage assessment.

The area has been off-limits due to fighting between government and opposition forces which began in late December.

An emergency plan to meet around a third of the city's water needs will remain in effect until the infrastructure can be full restored.

Here's UN spokesperson, Eri Kaneko.

"The UN team is following up with the water authority and the Red Crescent, and stands ready to enter the area and provide additional support to ensure the swift repair of the water infrastructure.  The UN calls on all parties to ensure unrestricted and sustained access in order to restore the provision of water, which is essential for the survival and well-being of the civilian population."

 

G77 countries key for sustainable development and peacebuilding: UN chief

The so-called Group of 77 countries (G77) will be key partners of the United Nations this year, especially when it comes to sustainable development and peacebuilding, the UN chief said on Friday.

António Guterres was addressing the meeting at UN Headquarters marking the handover of chairmanship of the group from Thailand to Ecuador.

The G77 is the UN's biggest intergovernmental group, representing the interests of the developing South.

Mr Guterres said that the Agenda 2030 based around the 17 Sustainable Development Goals was a "top priority" and he said he was looking forward to working closely with the G77 on implementing a new "peacebuilding agenda that targets the root causes of crises and instability."

 

UN following tension in Gaza over power supplies "with great concern"

Angry protests in the Gaza Strip over reduced power supplies are being followed closely by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process "with great concern".

Nickolay Mladenov called for the "full respect of the right to freedom of expression, peaceful protest and assembly" in the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory.

Thousands took to the streets on Thursday demanding an end to power cuts which have left most residents with just a few hours of electricity per day, during winter.

According to news reports, security officers fired in the air and dispersed the crowd, fearing that the headquarters of the electricity company would be stormed.

Mr Mladenov called on "all responsible authorities" to cooperate and solve the electricity crisis as soon as possible.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’17″

 

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