News in Brief 31 March 2017 (AM)

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Construction workers in the West Bank settlement of Ariel. Such Israeli settlements have expanded in recent years. Photo: Annie Slemrod/IRIN (file)

UN chief disappointed over plan for new Israeli settlement in West Bank

The UN Secretary-General has expressed "disappointment and alarm" over Israel's decision to build a new settlement in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The country's government on Thursday approved the construction of the first new settlement in the West Bank in two decades.

The UN chief condemns all unilateral actions which threaten peace and undermine the two-state solution, according to a statement issued on Friday by his spokesman.

"Settlement activities are illegal under international law and present an obstacle to peace," it continued.

UN rights chief speaks out against Sudan leader's visit to Jordan

UN Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein is reminding countries of their duty to abide by international treaties.

His comments follow Sudan President Omar al-Bashir's visit to the Arab League Summit in Jordan this week.

The Sudanese leader is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges that include crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, in connection with the conflict in Darfur.

Jordan is among 124 countries that are party to the 2002 treaty which established the court, known as the Rome Statute.

"All states must abide by their treaty obligations," the UN rights chief said in a statement issued on Friday.

"In that context, I very much regret that Jordan, a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, received the President of Sudan, against whom an arrest warrant has been issued," the statement continued.

Zeid said: "By doing so, it is failing the ICC and weakening the global struggle against impunity, and for justice.”

WHO seeking US$20 million for South Sudan famine response

The World Health Organization (WHO) is scaling up its activities to reduce preventable deaths and diseases in famine-affected areas of South Sudan.

WHO says health is an essential part of famine response as malnourished people are more likely to be impacted by disease outbreaks.

The situation is particularly critical for children, lactating or pregnant women, and people with underlying medical conditions as their weakened immune systems make them more susceptible to killer diseases such as measles, malaria and pneumonia.

WHO has more than 350 team members in South Sudan and is in the midst of deploying additional staff to the country to work in areas such as coordination, disease surveillance and information management.

The agency is seeking US$20.1 million in funding to support its activities there, but has so far received just over US$2 million.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2’45″

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