News in Brief 2 February 2017 (AM)

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Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS). UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

4 dead following attack on UN monitoring team near Nigeria-Cameroon border

Four people have been killed during an attack by unknown assailants on a UN monitoring team, close to the border between Nigeria and Cameroon.

One independent contractor, three Nigerian nationals, and a Cameroonian died, and others were injured, when the team came under fire on Tuesday.

The Security Council issued a statement condemning the attack "in the strongest terms" and expressed their deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

They paid tribute to all UN employees who risk their lives in the field.

The statement called on the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon to swiftly investigate the attacks, and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Security Council members reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms constitutes one of the "gravest threats to international peace and security".

"We must be ready for the long haul" on Zika: WHO chief

One year on from declaring the Zika virus outbreak a public health emergency, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that she made the right call.

Margaret Chan, in a comment piece for WHO, said that her decision to declare the spread of the disease an emergency was not reached lightly, and involved consultations with 18 international experts.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus which is linked to birth defects, and can be sexually transmitted.

So far, 48 countries and territories in the Americas have reported more than 532,000 cases of Zika, including just over 175,000 confirmed cases, according to the Pan American Health Organization, or PAHO.

By the end of last year, 22 countries across the continent had reported 2,500 cases of congenital syndrome associated with Zika.

Ms Chan said that the disease had been dismissed as an "obscure medical curiosity" before the major outbreak last year.

In terms of prevention she added that "some innovative approaches to mosquito control are being piloted in a number of countries, with promising results. "

Forty so-called candidate vaccines are in the pipeline, she said.

Cereal prices continue to rise, in spite of improved supplies

Global cereal prices are continuing to rise, despite an abundant supply, according to the latest Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Price Index.

Prices overall rose just over 16 per cent, compared with January last year, and increased two per cent compared with last month.

Cereals rose 3.4 per cent from December, and are on course to reach an all-time record level by the end of the growing season this year, said FAO.

Sugar prices surged by nearly ten per cent, driven by the expectation that supply would tighten in the sugar-producing countries of Brazil, India and Thailand.

The FAO index tracks international prices for five major commodity groups, and while 2016 marked the fifth consecutive year of falling prices overall, January marked its sixth monthly increase in a row.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2'39"

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