News in Brief 31 March 2017 (PM)

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An overloaded boat of refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe as seen from the deck of the Italian Coastguard ship, the San Giorgio, during a Mediterranean patrol in 2014. Photo UNHCR/Alfredo D'Amato

UNHCR relieved shipwreck victims now safe

More than 100 victims of a shipwreck in the Mediterranean Sea this week were later rescued by an aid group, a spokesperson from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.

UNHCR had previously reported that 146 people may have died or gone missing when their vessel began taking on water shortly after heading from the Libyan coast on Monday.

An agency team had met twice with a teenage boy who was believed to be the sole survivor.

He was found unconscious and in deep shock, according to the agency, and eventually recalled that 147 passengers were onboard the vessel.

Spokesperson Cécile Pouilly said UNHCR later learned that a German NGO had rescued 140 people who had been on the ship and who had recognized the young man from a photo.

"I think it's a welcome development and we are extremely relieved to know that these 140 people were now safe. It has been confirmed that one person has been found dead and we fear there are still some people missing from that shipwreck; between four and six people."

Aid delivered to besieged and hard-to-reach areas in Syria

An inter-agency humanitarian convoy has delivered food and emergency items to 6,000 people in a besieged area in Syria, the UN has reported.

The convoy arrived in Khan Elshih on Thursday.

The town, which is located in Rural Damascus, was last reached in mid-December.

Meanwhile, another convoy from the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent has delivered assistance to more than 107,000 needy people in Rastan in Homs.

The Syrian crisis is now in its seventh year.

The UN continues to call for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to millions of people across the country.

UN climate change body looks forward to working with USA

The UN's climate chief has taken note of recent announcements by the United States regarding energy and the environment, the global body said on Friday.

This week, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order to review a clean power plan aimed at reducing carbon emissions from power plants and increasing renewable energy production.

It was introduced in 2015 by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Patricia Espinosa, head of the UN climate change secretariat, UNFCCC, said it was important to note that the precise impact on global climate action remains unclear at this moment and perhaps will only become clear over time.

Farhan Haq is the UN Deputy Spokesman:

"She said that she has made it clear from the outset that, following the change in the US administration, the UNFCCC Secretariat works with all Parties to advance climate action and take forward the Paris Climate Change Agreement. She noted that the new US administration is and remains a Party to the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement, and that UNFCCC looks forward to welcoming and working with its delegations to the sessions planned for 2017."

UN rights chief urges Venezuela to maintain separation of powers 

Venezuela is being urged to reconsider the decision to allow the Supreme Court to take over the National Assembly.

The appeal was made by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.

Preserving the separation of powers is essential for democracy to function, he said in a statement issued on Friday.

Venezuela's Supreme Court seized power from the National Assembly, which was controlled by the opposition, via a ruling issued on Wednesday.

It also stated that the President should take whatever measures he deemed necessary to avoid what was termed "a state of commotion."

Zeid said Venezuelan citizens have the right to participate in public affairs through their freely chosen representatives.

Duly-elected members of parliament should also be able to exercise the powers given to them by the Constitution, he added.

Lucy Dean, United Nations.

Duration: 3’33”

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