News in Brief 2 February 2017 (PM)

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A mission planning team during its first regional visit in the country. Photo: UN Mission in Colombia (file)

More than 6,000 FARC fighters heading to camps for civilian transition

More than 6,000 members of the FARC rebel group in Colombia are gathering in UN-monitored zones in order to begin the transition to civilian life.

Some men and women made the journey at the weekend using 36 different routes, in 14 different areas of the country, marking a major step in the country's transition to lasting peace following more than 50 years of conflict.

On Wednesday, more than 200 marched to the so-called Transit Point of Normalization in Pondores, in northern Colombia.

That's where the separation of forces will take place, which will be verified by the UN.

Once FARC members are together in the camps they will have to register all arms and weapons, as the first step towards full disarmament.

Here's UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

"Some armaments—such as gunpowder, grenades and anti-personnel mines—will be destroyed in site. Ultimately, the UN Mission in Colombia will remove all weapons from the camps. More than 6,300 FARC-EP members began moving towards sites over Colombia last week – one of the largest logistics operations in the country."

Attack on hotel in Idleb city injures Syrian Arab Red Crescent chief

The president of the Idlib branch of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, SARC, has been injured during an attack affecting the Carlton Hotel in the war-torn city.

The UN said it was deeply concerned by what was reportedly an air strike, which damaged the administration offices of the branch; a key hub for the aid organization.

Idlib is held by opposition fighters, and airstrikes on behalf of the government, have intensified in the area since the beginning of the year, say reports.

Here's Stéphane Dujarric again:

"We call on all parties to cease attacks that impact humanitarian workers and humanitarian offices. All humanitarian organizations in Syria — working only to assist people in need — must be protected. We further call on all parties to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure from the effects of hostilities and refrain [from] using of explosive weapons in populated areas."

Meanwhile water supplies for the capital, Damascus, have been restored to 60 per cent of the population following repairs to the source which was damaged during fighting last month.

Around 5.5 million people in and around the capital have had no running water since late December.

92,000 displaced from Rakhine State since attacks on police outpost

At least 92,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Myanmar's Rakhine State in the north of the country since October, according to the UN Humanitarian Affairs Office, OCHA.

National government forces began a counter-insurgency campaign, following attacks on police outposts near the border with Bangladesh on 9 October, in which nine police personnel were killed.

Around 69,000 people have fled to Bangladesh, said UN agencies in the country, but the UN has been unable to verify reports of mass killings and serious human rights violations in Rakhine State due to government restrictions on access.

A majority of those displaced are Muslims who identify themselves as part of the Rohingya minority.

After a three-month interruption in humanitarian aid deliveries from the UN, the government has begun to allow some aid through, distributed by national staff.

The UN is calling on the government to relax travel restrictions to northern Rakhine to allow more aid to be distributed.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2'49"

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