News in Brief 3 March 2017 (PM)

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Worsening drought conditions have left hundreds of thousands of Somalis facing severe food and water shortages. Photo: OCHA Somalia (file)

US$24 million appeal launched for Somalia by Migration Agency

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has launched a US$24.6 million appeal to help more than one million Somalis suffering the effects of drought.

Humanitarian agencies are reporting worrying similarities between the current food crisis and the 2011 famine in Somalia, in which more than a quarter of a million died.

IOM said a "massive increase" in help is urgently needed to stave off famine, adding that they were scaling up lifesaving interventions throughout the country.

More details from UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

"IOM says that an increasing number of Somalis are being forced to relocate in search of food and water. Without assistance, many will face malnutrition, as well as increased risk of disease and even death."

South Sudan's political leaders are ignoring "desperate need": UN mission chief

The political leadership of the world's youngest country, South Sudan, is failing to alleviate its own citizens "desperate" humanitarian plight.

That's the view of the head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission there (UNMISS), David Shearer, who said that the UN and other humanitarian agencies are being "repeatedly refused access" to those in need, by local authorities.

Famine was officially declared in parts of the country last week, and around 100,000 face starvation unless supplies can be delivered.

A displacement and economic crisis has been fomented by years of civil conflict and the failure to stick to the terms of a UN-brokered peace agreement.

More from Stéphane Dujarric again.

"Mr. Shearer deplored that it is the most vulnerable in society who are most affected by this shocking situation. He said he was alarmed at how little a response to the plight of these people has been heard from their leaders. Mr. Shearer added that those affected by the humanitarian crisis deserve protection but the constant fighting shows they are getting none."

UN expert welcomes conviction of man who ordered murder of Albino woman

A UN human rights expert has welcomed the conviction of a South African man who ordered the killing and dismemberment of an Albino woman as part of a witchcraft ritual.

The 20-year-old victim was kidnapped in August 2015 and after being murdered, her body parts were collected to be used in medicinal form, for clients of the man described as a "traditional healer" and the mastermind behind the attack.

The UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, said that "too often, only middlemen and hired hands are arrested or prosecuted."

She said the High Court sentence of life imprisonment for the 65-year-old man sent an important signal that those orchestrating attacks against albinos were not above the law.

Albinism is a congenital disorder characterized by the absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes.

"Such cases are fundamental to understanding patterns and root causes of the ongoing attacks against persons with albinism," said Ms. Ero.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2'38″

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