News in Brief 21 February 2017 (PM)

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An 11-month-old child having his arm cirmeasured at a health centre at the Banki IDP camp in Borno state, northeast Nigeria. Photo: UNICEF/Esiebo

Famine looms in Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan and Somalia: UNICEF

Close to 1.4 million children are at "imminent risk of death" from severe acute malnutrition this year as famine looms in Yemen and in three African countries, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has warned.

In northeast Nigeria, the number of children with severe acute malnutrition is expected to reach 450,000 in the conflict-affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobi, the agency says.

Meanwhile, famine has just been declared in parts of South Sudan's Unity State where 20,000 children live.

Drought conditions in Somalia are also threatening an already fragile population battered by years of conflict.

Here's Lou Dobbs of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

"In Somalia, the drought has displaced more than 135,000 people since November 2016, when the short rainy season began. The current rainy season has been very dry. Swift and substantial action and adequate funding are becoming urgently needed to avoid famine in Somalia and a repeat of 2011, when more than 250,000 people died, more than half of them aged under five years."

No civilian casualty reports from western Mosul so far: UN

The UN has not yet received any reports of civilian casualties resulting from the bombing of western Mosul by Iraqi government forces to dislodge ISIL extremists from the city.

Initial reports also indicate that the humanitarian impact of the military push remains limited, UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said.

Security forces have been operating mainly in sparsely populated areas outside of western Mosul, where civilians have already fled, he noted.

"A significant increase in trauma casualties is expected when military operations advance to the densely populated urban neighbourhoods, and displacement of civilians is expected to increase. Between 750,000 and 800,000 civilians are expected to remain in western Mosul."

With the new military operations under way in Mosul, UNHCR is getting ready to shelter those who could be displaced by the renewed fighting.

65,000 child soldiers freed since signing of landmark Paris accords

At least 65,000 child soldiers have been released by their captors since the signing of the Paris Commitments to end the use of children in conflict 10 years ago, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has confirmed.

The Paris Commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups, and the Paris Principles and guidelines on children associated with those groups, were adopted in February 2007.

UN estimates show that in the past decade, more than 20,000 children were released in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, nearly 9,000 in the Central African Republic, and over 1,600 children in Chad.

However, countries like Yemen, South Sudan and Nigeria continue to recruit child soldiers.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2’56”

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