News in Brief 27 February 2017 (PM)

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Zahir Tanin, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), briefs the Security Council. Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

"Inconsistent progress" in Kosovo: UN mission chief

There has been "inconsistent progress" in recent months over talks to diffuse tensions regarding Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

That's according to Zahir Tanin, the head of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

He told UN Security Council members on Monday that there had been "heightened tensions" in recent months between the Serbian government in Belgrade, and the Kosovan capital, Pristina.

Mr Tanin noted that in early February, the two sides "finally met" face-to-face under the auspices of the European Union calling it an "essential step" to work together on settling their differences.

"There is no alternative to dialogue. The international prescriptions set forth to Pristina and Belgrade are categorical imperatives: non-confrontation, resolving issues through dialogue and placing the objective improvement of the lives of people ahead of more limited and parochial calculations."

"Extreme concern" for 400,000 besieged in eastern Ghoutah, Syria

The UN remains extremely concerned for the safety and protection of more than 400,000 Syrian civilians who continue to be besieged in the eastern Ghoutah region .

The rebel-held area is close to the capital, Damascus, and became partially besieged by Syrian government troops in 2013.

Reports suggest that an estimated 10,000 opposition fighters remain in the area.

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said the last UN inter-agency mission to the heavily-populated area had been in October last year, and civilians had limited access to critical aid.

"The intense fighting in and around eastern Ghoutah has been reported over the past week, resulting in death and injury to civilians, and affecting civilian infrastructure, including damage to medical facilities, and schools closures in several districts."

UN Mission in CAR intervenes to stop advance of fighters on Bambari

Peacekeepers from the UN Mission MINUSCA in the Central African Republic (CAR) intervened on Sunday in order to stop the advance of a heavily-armed group of fighters just north of Bambari.

MINUSCA announced earlier this month that it would use force if necessary in line with its mandate, to prevent rival militias from threatening civilian lives in the area.

Around 40 fighters from the Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de Centrafrique (FPRC) coalition were headed off by MINUSCA troops.

Here's Stéphane Dujarric again.

"Three members of the FPRC were apprehended by the UN Mission. The Central African Republic's judicial authorities will proceed to interrogate them regarding their presence around the city, with support of the UN Mission. Seven members of the coalition were also wounded during the operation and one died.

The UN Mission once again calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities and reiterates its determination to use all means authorised by the Security Council to prevent fighting in Bambari."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2'37"

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