News in Brief 24 March 2017 (PM)

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Secretary-General António Guterres (seated left) with Peter Thomson (right), President of the seventy-first session of the General Assembly. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Descendants of slaves have "made their mark" in every field: UN chief

The descendants of slaves have "made their mark" in "every field of human endeavour" said the UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Friday.

He was speaking on Friday during a commemoration event at UN Headquarters in New York, marking the International Day of Remembrance of the victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which falls each 25 March.

Saying that "this dark chapter of human history" must never be forgotten, the UN chief added that the "legacy of slavery resounds down the ages".

He said the world had yet to overcome racism and that many countries and families still suffer the economic and emotional scars of slavery's forced migration.

This year's theme, "Recognizing the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent", highlights the extraordinary achievements of the African diaspora he added.

"We see those contributions in every field of human endeavour. The descendants of slaves have made their mark as inventors, economists and jurists; as authors and scholars; as artists and athletes; as politicians and civil rights leaders."

"Profound concern" for heavy loss of life in Mosul fighting

The UN has expressed "profound concern" for the high number of civilian deaths and injuries reported in a densely-populated area of Mosul, where Iraqi government forces are battling to wrest the western part of the city from ISIL terrorists.

The extremist group occupied Iraq's second city in mid-2014, and Iraqi forces together with allies, have liberated the east of the city, and many parts of the west.

Initial reports suggest there are hundreds of casualties among civilians living in the Al Aghawat Al Jadida area of western Mosul.

More details from UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq.

"Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said that we are stunned by this terrible loss of life and wish to express our deepest condolences to the many families who have reportedly been impacted by this tragedy. She said that all parties to the conflict are obliged to do everything possible to protect civilians. This means that combatants cannot use people as human shields and cannot imperil lives through indiscriminate use of firepower."

 Aid convoy reaches Wadi Barada area near Damascus for first time

An aid convoy of UN and International Red Cross (ICRC) and Syrian Arab Red Crescent vehicles has managed to reach the Wadi Barada area close to the capital Damascus for the first time.

The convoy has been able to deliver various aid items to around 24,500 people in need.

It follows several attempts to reach the area over the past few months that failed due to what the UN's Farhan Haq described as "administrative and security hurdles."

"The UN continues to call for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to all in need in Syria, particularly those in hard-to-reach and besieged areas. The UN is deeply concerned for the safety and protection of civilians following reports of fierce fighting in the north-eastern governorate of Hama over the last few days, as well as those in eastern Ghouta."

Lucy Dean, United Nations.

Duration: 2’47″

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