News in Brief 1 February 2017 (PM)

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A young displaced Ukrainian boy finds shelter from the cold in a tent in Slovyansk. His family hope to move to Kyiv after leaving the conflict-torn town of Debaltseve. Photo: UNHCR/B. Kinashchuk (file photo)

Ukrainian children face life-threatening cold as fighting escalates

Around 17,000 Ukrainians, including 2,500 children, are being forced to live in freezing conditions following days of intense fighting in the Donetsk region, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

At least 10schools have closed in and around the town of Avdiivka due to the violence between Government and separatist rebel forces, which has caused extensive damage to electricity and water supplies.

Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF's Representative in Ukraine, called for the agency and partners to be given safe access to carry out immediate repairs.

"Not only are the lives of thousands of children on all sides of the conflict at risk" she said, but homes are becoming "dangerously cold and health conditions deteriorating as we speak," she added.

The water supply to other towns in the Donetsk region has also stopped after power was cut to the local water treatment plant on 29 January.

It supplies clean water to approximately 400,000 people and there's a possibility that the supply to households could stop altogether, said UNICEF.

Global flows of foreign direct investment fall 13 per cent

Global flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) fell 13 per cent during last year, indicating that global economic growth remains sluggish.

That's according to the latest data from the UN Trade and Development organization, UNCTAD's Global Investment Trends Monitor.

FDI fell to an estimated US$1.52 trillion, and world trade volumes overall showed "anemic" gains.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said that the sharp drop-off in manufacturing investment projects was of particular concern, since it plays such an important role in generating "badly needed productivity improvements" in developing economies.

European economies suffered a 29 per cent fall, compared with modest growth in North America, and a sizeable increase in Australia and Japan.

Significant decreases in Asia and Latin America meant that developing economies suffered a 20 per cent decrease.

New app aims to improve protection for children forced to flee

A new app developed by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and partners, aims to significantly increase protection for children fleeing from violence or conflict.

The open-source app, known as Primero, helps the secure collection and storage of data for children in settings such as refugee or IDP camps.

Social workers should find it of particular use, said UNICEF, as children are often given multiple paper-based identity papers when they find refuge, making it hard for them to access basic services.

It's hoped Primero will cut through the bureaucracy and store data easily on laptop computers or in a cloud setting.

Primero will be used in humanitarian settings in Lebanon, Jordan and Kenya and will then be rolled out more widely.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’29″

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