News in Brief 1 March 2017 (PM)

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

"Major milestone" as arms handover verification begins in Colombia

In what's been described as a "major milestone", the UN Mission in Colombia began the official verification process of the laying down of arms by FARC rebels on Wednesday.

It's another major step on the road to conclusively ending more than 50 years of armed struggle between FARC-EP guerrillas and government forces.

The verification process is central to the Mission's mandate and involves identifying and registering all the weapons handed in at 26 zones where FARC members are currently located.

Here's UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

"Despite the logistical challenges, the Mission welcomes the parties' decision to initiate without further delay the weapons laydown process. The Mission currently has the 450 women and men observers necessary to identify and register all weapons present in the camps in the 26 zones where the FARC-EP members will be transitioning to civilian life."

Food deliveries reach thousands across famine areas of South Sudan

Close to 200,000 people across South Sudan have received life-saving food deliveries the UN said on Wednesday, a week after famine was declared in some parts of the country.

Around 100,000 face starvation and a further one million are on the brink of famine, according to the UN Humanitarian Affairs office.

Years of civil war since the world's youngest country celebrated independence in 2011 have destabilized the economy and fuelled a refugee and displacement crisis.

More details from Stéphane Dujarric again.

"The UN and partners have delivered food to nearly 114,000 people across four locations in Mayendit county and to nearly 25,500 people in two locations in Koch county. Right now, three mobile response teams are deployed across Leer county to deliver food to nearly 48,500 people, and further food distributions are planned in Koch and Panyiajar in the days ahead. At the same time as food assistance has been scaling up, teams have been deployed to six key areas to implement vital nutrition, health, water, sanitation and hygiene, and child protection interventions."

Armed group continues offensive on Bambari in DRC, in defiance of UN 

An armed rebel coalition group known as the FPRC is continuing its attempted advance on the town of Bambari in the Central African Republic, "in clear violation" of a protective line established by peacekeepers from the UN Mission in CAR, MINUSCA.

The mission has a mandate to use force if necessary to stop the fighters and protect civilians in the town from attack.

"Verified information" was received on Wednesday that the FPRC has been distributing weapons to youths in Ippy, east of Bambari, in defiance of the UN line.

MINUSCA urged coalition commanders to withdraw from Ippy "without delay" and reiterated its appeal for rival armed groups to cease hostilities, and commit to peaceful negotiations.

The mission stressed commanders would be held responsible for any violence against civilians or UN peacekeepers.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’46

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