News in Brief 8 February 2017 (PM)

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Child carrying his rifle in northwest Central African Republic. Photo: UNICEF/ Pierre Holtz

Over 100,000 children released from armed forces and groups: UN

More than 100,000 children have been released from the ranks of state forces and armed groups thanks to the efforts of Governments, the UN and civil society partners.

That's what Maria Luiza Viotti, the Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General, told delegates at a commemoration event on Wednesday marking the 20th anniversary of the children and armed conflict mandate.

She delivered a message to those in attendance from UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

"The mandate has helped make a tangible difference to the lives of boys and girls in many countries thanks to the efforts of Governments, the UN and civil society partners, more than 100,000 children have been released from the ranks of armed forces and armed groups and given support to reintegrate into society. Dialogue on the protection of children with concrete deliverables has also been established with parties to conflict, including non-State actors."

However, the "persistence of multiple and grave conflicts" continues to place children at grave risk, said Ms Viotti.

The number of children killed and maimed in the context of armed conflict and deprived of their liberty remains unacceptable, she added.

Syrians in besieged Madaya town exposed to violence, extreme cold

The UN has expressed "deep concern" about the situation of some 40,000 Syrians in the besieged town of Madaya, who remain subjected to violence and extreme cold.

They also lack access to the basic essentials of life.

Here's UN Spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric.

"We have received unverified reports of a least two people in Madaya having died in recent days, one due to kidney failure and another who was shot by a sniper. The UN is ready to provide humanitarian assistance to the besieged areas of Madaya, Zabadani, Foah, and Kafraya, as soon as access is granted by the parties. [An] UN inter-agency convoy to the Four Towns was last sent in on 28 November of last year."

Parties are being asked to facilitate access "immediately" and to allow people in urgent need of medical evacuation to receive the care they need, Mr Dujarric said.

The UN continues to call for "sustained, unhindered, unconditional access" to all people in other besieged and hard-to-reach areas across Syria.

Concern for Iraqi civilians trapped in Daesh-controlled western Mosul

Aid workers in Iraq have expressed concern for the estimated 750,000 to 800,000 civilians in Daesh-controlled western Mosul, the UN reports.

West Mosul has been cut off from its previous supply routes, including the highway from Mosul into Syria, since last November.

The town has now been encircled by military forces for 77 days.

Conditions for civilians in the area are deteriorating.

The UN said assessments indicated shortages of food, oil for heating and cooking, medical supplies, and a lack of dried milk for infants.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 2’32″

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