News in Brief 21 March 2017 (PM)

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Hervé Ladsous (left), outgoing Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, during his visit to South Sudan with his successor, Jean-Pierre Lacroix (right). UN Photo/Isaac Billy

"Political solution" is only solution to South Sudan crisis

A "political solution" is the only solution to the conflict and humanitarian crisis that has befallen the world's youngest nation, South Sudan.

That's according to the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, at the end of a fact-finding mission to the country, where nearly two million are displaced, and five million suffer severe food insecurity.

He said the UN was "sparing no effort" to speed up the deployment of 4,000 extra troops who will make up the Regional Protection Force, mandated by the Security Council.

The first peacekeepers from Rwanda, Nepal and Bangladesh, will begin arriving in a few weeks' time.

"It is very clear that there can be no solution but a political solution. And I said so to the President today. He himself has offered a national dialogue, which I think is something that deserves close following up, in the knowledge that it cannot be a substitute for the political solution."

Mr Ladsous said that President Salva Kiir had agreed with his assessment.

Nowruz holiday "has meaning for the whole world": UN chief

The holiday of Nowruz, celebrated across Central Asia and beyond on Tuesday, "has meaning for the whole world", the UN Secretary-General said in a statement marking the day.

António Guterres said that the celebration and feast of renewal was a "reminder of all that we have in common – and the richness of our diversity."

The feast marks the Iranian New Year, and translates literally as "new day".

It has been celebrated for thousands of years, and quoting the poet Nasir-I Khusraw – especially appropriate since it is also World Poetry Day – the UN chief said the "aged world is young again" and it was "a time to learn about each other and the world."

Bombing of civilian area in southwestern Baghdad condemned by UN 

A terrorist bomb attack which took place in the al-Amil district of the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Monday has been strongly condemned by the UN Special Representative there.

Dozens were killed or wounded when a car bomb exploded in a market, according to reports.

Ján Kubiš expressed his condolences to the families of the dead and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

Here's UN Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq.

"He said that this cowardly crime adds to Daesh's atrocious record of targeting civilians in a futile campaign intended to inflict as many casualties as possible to cause pain on the people, just as the terrorists are being routed on the battlefront."

Tributes paid to "one of a kind" Ambassador Vitaly Churkin

Tributes were paid at UN Headquarters on Tuesday to Russia's former Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin, who was hailed by Secretary-General António Guterres as an "outstanding diplomat."

Ambassador Churkin died suddenly in New York on 20 February, having spent more than 40 years in the Russian Diplomatic Service, including more than a decade as the country's top diplomat at the UN.

The UN chief said he managed to serve both his country, and the cause of internationalism, with distinction.

"Truly and simultaneously a patriot and an internationalist. Ambassador Churkin was truly one of a kind, an outstanding diplomat, a man of many talents and interests and a human being, whose friendship touched many of us in this hall today."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’59″

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