News in Brief 20 February 2016 (PM)

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Children look over the wall on the roof of their house at clouds of smoke from oil wells which were set on fire by ISIL when they fled Qayyarah, a town south of Mosul. (file) Photo: UNICEF/Mackenzie

Aid agencies in Iraq brace for impact of western Mosul military campaign

In the western part of the Iraqi city of Mosul, food and fuel supplies are dwindling, markets and shops have closed, running water is scarce and electricity is either intermittent or cut off in many neighbourhoods.

That's according to recent surveys by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, in the country.

Iraq's second city was captured by ISIL, or Daesh, extremists in mid-2014.

And with military operations to retake western Mosul beginning, aid organizations are warning that tens of thousands of families are at extreme risk.

Farhan Haq, the UN Deputy Spokesperson, has more.

"Few, if any commercial supplies have reached Mosul during the past three months after the main road to Syria was cut off. Informants report that nearly half of all food shops have closed. Humanitarian agencies are rushing to prepare for the humanitarian impact of the military campaign. Emergency sites are being constructed south of the city and stocks of life-saving supplies are being pre-positioned for the 250,000 to 400,000 civilians who may flee."

The western part of the city is still under Daesh control, with 750,000 civilians trapped there.

Lise Grande, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said that the situation is distressing.

UN human rights chief calls for immediate halt to DRC killings

The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is being urged to take immediate steps to halt widespread human rights violations, including apparent summary executions by the country's armed forces.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein made the call on Monday, following reports of a deterioration of the security situation in Kasai and Lomami provinces.

Horrific video footage emerged over the weekend apparently showing Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or FARDC, soldiers shooting repeatedly and without warning at men and women, who reportedly belonged to the Kamiuna Nsapu militia, in Muenza Nsapu village.

The alleged troops fired at point-blank range at unarmed victims as they lay bleeding on the ground.

The UN peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, said it was not in a position to verify the origin and authenticity of the video.

However, the DRC Government spokesperson and Minister of Communication Lambert Mende stated that FARDC officers are under judicial investigation for their behaviour during recent fighting in the village.

The UN High Commissioner Zeid called for an independent, impartial and transparent investigation to be launched to shed light on what happened and to ensure those responsible are held fully accountable.

Duration: 2’37”

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