News in Brief 28 March 2017 (PM)

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Peacekeepers serving with the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) on patrol. UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti (file)

International concern over unrest in Kasaï provinces in DRC

Four international organizations have expressed deep concern over what they described as the "grave situation" in the Kasaï provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The partners have condemned the recent killing of 40 police officers by a militia there, labelling it a "despicable act."

The comments by the United Nations alongside the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and the global organization of French-speaking countries, La Francophonie came in a joint statement issued on Tuesday.

They said levels of violence, as well as reports of human rights violations in some parts of the DRC, "require an urgent response from the country's political leaders."

They also urged the defence and security forces to exercise restraint in efforts to restore order in the Kasaï provinces, and encouraged the continuation of dialogue between the Government and the Kamuina Nsapu militia.

Meanwhile, peacekeepers at the UN mission in the country, MONUSCO, have found remains which are being examined to determine if they belong to the members of a UN expert group who have been missing since 12 March.

Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan were on assignment in the Kasai Central region when they disappeared, together with four Congolese nationals.

Farhan Haq is the UN Deputy Spokesperson:

"We cannot at this moment confirm that they are the bodies of the experts. We hope to be able to provide more information on this soon. In any case, we will provide all verified information first to our colleagues' families and to the authorities of Sweden, the United States, Chile and the DRC."

Interagency convoy delivers aid to Syrian village

Food and emergency items have been delivered to 25,000 people in an area of rural Damascus in Syria, the United Nations has reported.

The joint convoy by the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent arrived in Bludan on Tuesday: the first time the area has been reached since June 2016.

Once again, here's UN Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq :

"There is also a UN-Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy delivering assistance for 84,000 people in Talbiseh, in Homs, a location that was last reached on 5 February. We continue to call for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to all those in need in Syria, particularly the close to five million people in hard-to-reach and besieged areas."

WHO supporting Europe as measles cases climb

Measles outbreaks across Europe are threatening progress towards eliminating the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

Over 500 cases were reported in January, according to WHO's office for the region.

The majority were found in seven of the 14 European countries where measles is endemic, and preliminary information indicates the number of new infections is climbing.

The largest outbreaks are occurring in Romania and Italy.

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. It remains one of the leading killers of small children, despite the availability of a safe and cost-effective vaccine.

WHO is helping national authorities in at-risk countries to implement measures, including immunizing people at heightened risk of infection.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 3’26″

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UN Radio Daily News Programme
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