News in Brief 05 April 2017 (PM)

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Secretary-General António Guterres at the Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region together with Federica Mogherini High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. UN Photo/ Christophe Verhellen

"War crimes are going on in Syria" UN chief warns

War crimes are going on in Syria, and international humanitarian law continues to be violated frequently, the UN Secretary-General has warned.

António Guterres made the remarks to participants at the Brussels Conference on support to Syrians and the region.

As conflict lines shift, he said, there may be a perception that the situation has eased, which is completely false.

Eri Kaneko, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General has more.

"Recent months have been some of the worst yet. Hundreds of civilians have been killed and injured as fighting goes on. The Secretary-General said that the Brussels Conference must represent a moment of truth, when the international community takes decisive steps to increase its support for the victims of the Syria conflict, and for the neighbouring countries that are providing a safe haven for millions of refugees."

Also speaking in Brussels today, the Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, noted the pattern that every time there is a conference or meeting that can give some perception of hope about the future of Syria, there is a temptation by some, through horrific acts, to "kidnap" the event with a fresh outrage.

Security Council hears briefing on alleged chemical weapons attack in Idlib

The alleged chemical attack in Syria's Khan Shaykhun in southern rural Idleb, if confirmed, would be the largest single chemical weapons attack in Syria since 2013.

That's what Kim Won-soo, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs told members of the Security Council in his Wednesday briefing on the incident.

The UN found "clear and convincing evidence" that sarin gas was used on 21 August that year in the Ghouta area on the outskirts of Damascus in which hundreds of people were reportedly killed.

UN in South Sudan appeals for access to Pajok to reach civilians caught in fighting

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has been blocked from accessing Pajok in Eastern Equatoria by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).

The Mission has received reports of fighting between SPLA troops and opposition fighters there and is trying to follow-up on reports of civilians killed in the area.

Here's Eri Kaneko of the UN Spokesperson's office again.

"This morning, the UN Mission's patrol was stopped at a checkpoint 7 km outside Torit and was prevented from proceeding further. The patrol remains at the checkpoint and is continuing to negotiate access. UNMISS is concerned by these reports and calls on the government to immediately allow the Mission access to Pajok, as obligated by the Status of Forces Agreement, so it can fully implement its mandate, including to protect civilians and report on human rights violations."

The majority of residents of Pajok are from the minority Acholi ethnic group.

The Special Adviser to the UN for the prevention of genocide warned last November that there was a "strong risk of violence escalating along ethnic lines, with the potential for genocide".

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 2’55”

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