News in Brief 19 January 2017 (AM)

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Syrian refugee children looking out from their new home in the small town of Gänserndorf, Austria. They are on a resettlement program for Syrian refugees, in cooperation with UNHCR. Photo: UNHCR/Mark Henley (file)

New strategy launched to respond to refugee and migrant crisis in Europe

UN agencies and their partners have launched a new strategy and appeal to help respond to the situation of refugees and migrants in Europe in 2017.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) made the announcement on Thursday.

The Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan aims to enhance and reinforce Governments' efforts to ensure safe access to asylum and the protection of refugees and migrants.

The plan also seeks to support long-term solutions and to manage migration in an orderly and dignified manner.

Emphasis will be placed on addressing the specific needs of refugee and migrant children as well as those of women and girls.

Over the past two years, Europe's response to the arrival of over 1.3 million refugees and migrants on its soil has been faced with many challenges, the Director of UNHCR's Europe Bureau, Vincent Cochetel, said.

The plan comes with a US $691 million price tag.

Wastewater "eyed" as an option to address water scarcity

Municipal liquid waste, also known as wastewater, is "being eyed" as an option to address water scarcity in agriculture, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says.

The agency is calling on people to stop treating wastewater like garbage and to manage it as a resource instead.

If used correctly, FAO says, wastewater can be used to grow crops either directly through irrigation or indirectly by recharging aquifers or underground layers of rocks saturated with water.

But doing so requires diligent management of health risks through adequate treatment or appropriate use, the agency warns.

An increasing number of countries like the US, Mexico, Egypt and Jordan have been exploring the possibilities as they wrestle with mounting water scarcity, a senior officer with FAO's Land and Water Division says.

In California, wastewater is sanitized and blended with groundwater to support large-scale production.

This latest trend in the use of wastewater in agricultural production will be the focus of discussions by a group of experts taking place in Berlin during the annual Global Forum for Food and Agriculture.

Saudi Arabia's poverty reduction programmes to enhance gender equality

The Government of Saudi Arabia has created poverty reduction programmes aimed at improving the rights of women and the poor, a UN independent expert has said.

Philip Alston, the UN's Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, recently concluded a visit to Saudi Arabia, a country that has been criticized internationally for its record on women's rights.

The Vision 2030 program will emphasize the need to encourage more women's participation in the labour market, which will drive the cultural changes needed to enable women to become both more economically productive and more independent.

Most Saudis believe that the country is free of poverty but the reality is that there are very poor areas in both the large cities and remote rural areas, Mr Alston said.

Duration: 2’58″

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