News in Brief 23 March 2017 (PM)

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A MINUSCA patrol in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR). Photo: MINUSCA

Heavy fighting in south eastern CAR: UN mission

Heavy fighting in the Central African Republic (CAR) has broken out between two rival armed groups, the UN mission in the country, MINUSCA, reported on Thursday.

The FPRC, the Popular Front for the Renaissance in the Central African Republic, and the UPC, the Union for Peace in CAR, are vying for control in the Ouaka, Hautte-Jotto and Mbouma prefectures.

Around 400,000 people in the landlocked nation have been displaced since renewed and largely sectarian conflict began in 2013, and 2.2 million are in need.

Here’s the UN Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq.

"The Mission conducted an aerial reconnaissance flight over Nzako and the surrounding areas, but was not able to locate the presence of armed elements. UN peacekeepers also conducted a patrol from Bria to Bakouma earlier today, after being unable to access the town earlier in the week following the deliberate destruction of a bridge. The UN Mission denounces the actions of armed groups which continue to cause instability in the country."

75 per cent of Imatong State population has gone, UN in South Sudan told

Around three-quarters of the population of Imatong State, in South Sudan, have been forced to leave their homes in search of food.

That was the stark statistic delivered to the head of the UN Mission there, UNMISS, David Shearer, by community leaders on Thursday, during a fact-finding visit.

Talking to residents in the town of Torit, Mr Shearer heard that fighting between government and opposition forces had compounded other problems such as a lack of fuel and armed robberies, meaning subsistence farmers could not grow crops and get food to market.

The escalation in fighting since last July across the world's newest nation has led to an unresolved political crisis, and famine in some areas.

Here's Farhan Haq again.

"Mr Shearer said that UN peacekeepers are mounting patrols in the state and are doing what they can to provide security and build confidence so farmers can return to their land. However, he said, unless all warring factions lay down their arms, peace will not be possible and the people of South Sudan will continue to suffer."

"Deep regret" expressed over record Afghan deaths: Human Rights Council

The UN Human Rights Office, OHCHR, has expressed "a deep sense of regret" at having to report a record-number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan during 2016.

Deputy High Commissioner Kate Gilmore told the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday it was the highest level of civilian casualties since 2009; totalling 10,533.

She said there had been 80 attacks against, or affecting, hospitals and health workers, as well as increasing attacks against places of worship and religious leaders.

The continuing prevalence of violence against women is also of the "utmost concern," she added.

She said the Afghan government had taken several important steps, however, to uphold international human rights law and adopt a new civilian casualty mitigation policy, together with mechanisms to address violence against journalists.

Lucy Dean, United Nations.

Duration: 2’44″

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