News in Brief 30 January (PM)

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

Emergency repairs have begun on the heavily-damaged main water supply for Syria's capital city, Damascus, according to the UN.

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters on Monday that a local agreement had been reportedly reached to stop the fighting around Wadi Barada, close to the capital, where the main spring for Damascus is located.

The Syrian minister of water resources announced that samples were being tested and the damage was "considerable" according to the initial analysis.

Fighting began around Wadi Barada in late December, cutting off running water for around 5.5 million people in and around the capital.

Here's Stéphane Dujarric.

"The UN stands ready to support the Syrian water authorities and the Red Crescent to ensure the swift repair of the infrastructure. During the water cut-off, the UN provided trucked water to a number of neighbourhoods in Damascus and surrounding areas as well as to 101 schools benefiting 94,000 children, as well as providing other technical support to the water authorities. "

Needs of refugees "have never been greater": UNICEF

The needs of refugees around the world "have never been greater" said the UN Children's Fund UNICEF on Monday, while calling on the United States to continue its "long and proud tradition" of protecting children fleeing war.

The UNICEF statement follows on from an Executive Order signed in the White House on Friday which puts the entire US refugee programme on hold for 120 days.

UNICEF said that 28 million children worldwide had been uprooted by conflict and "they need our help", adding that the agency would continue to work with governments and partners around the world "from Syria to Yemen to South Sudan" to help vulnerable youngsters.

The agency hoped that the US would continue to help vulnerable child refugees and that "recent measures will prove to be temporary."

UN calls for Canadians "to come together" following mosque attack

Canadians are being asked "to come together" in the wake of an apparent terrorist attack on a mosque in Quebec at the weekend.

The UN condemned the attack, which left six people dead and five others whose condition is described as "critical".

Here's Stéphane Dujarric again.

"We trust that Canada and Canadians, who have shown such leadership in promoting diversity and tolerance, will come together to reject any attempts to sow division based on religion. And we of course send our condolences to the people, to the families of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to those who were wounded."

"Brutal murder" of rights' lawyer in Myanmar condemned by UN expert

What's been described as the "brutal murder" of a prominent Muslim lawyer and constitutional expert has been condemned by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the country.

Ko Ni was shot and killed outside the airport in the capital Yangon on Sunday, where he'd been part of a government-led delegation attending an interfaith study tour in Indonesia.

He was the legal adviser to the National League for Democracy, the governing party of Myanmar led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

The UN rights expert, Yanghee Lee said that "this appeared to be another shocking example of a reprisal against those speaking out on behalf of the rights of others."

Ms Lee said she had met Mr Ni on all her visits to Myanmar, including just over a week ago, and called on the government to openly condemn his killing and carry out a "proper, effective impartial investigation".

She said the murder was a "tremendous loss to human rights defenders and for Myanmar."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 3’03″

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