News in Brief 19 April 2016 (PM)

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A mobile team of national health care workers performing systematic screening of population for human sleeping sickness in Bodo village, Chad. (file) Photo: WHO

Millions pledged to combat Neglected Tropical Diseases

More than US$800 million has been pledged to combat Neglected Tropical Diseases such as river blindness, sleeping sickness and elephantiasis.

The announcement was made during a meeting in Geneva on Wednesday organized by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The commitments include a four-year pledge totalling US$335 million made by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as US$42 million for an initiative to eradicate guinea worm.

Dr Magda Robalo is the Director of the Disease Prevention and Control (DPC) Cluster in the WHO Regional Office for Africa.

"We hope that the financial resources that have been pledged this morning reach the populations in need. But we also hope that the countries themselves will mobilize domestic resources to match or even to surpass the pledges that were made today. We hope that ownership from the countries will become reality: not just in terms of defining the policies but to be able to fund their own programmes so that they become sustainable. But the better sustainability that we can have is to do away with these diseases, and we hope to be able to eliminate them, eradicate them and send them to the books of history so that they no longer create suffering and debilitate our populations.

UN chief reports on progress in wake of South Sudan violence probe

"Significant work" has been undertaken by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) following a probe into violence in the capital, Juba, last July and the mission's response, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has written to the Security Council outlining progress made by UNMISS and the Secretariat in implementing the recommendations of the independent special investigation.

It was headed by retired Major-General Patrick Cammaert, who returned to South Sudan last month to assess progress.

Stéphane Dujarric is spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General:

"On the basis of the conclusions of the assessment, in his letter, the Secretary-General observes that significant work has been undertaken over the last five months to enhance the ability of UNMISS to protect civilians, better plan and prepare its response to crisis situations and increase staff safety and security. Of particular note is the establishment of a weapons-free zone around the Protection of Civilians sites and the UN House in Juba, which has contributed to a significant drop in reported crime and violence, including sexual and gender-based violence. Peacekeepers are also conducting patrols within the area throughout the day and night, as well as cordon-and-search operations within the Protection of Civilians sites to try to disrupt arms trafficking."

Iraq: Rising river levels impact aid delivery in Mosul

Rising water levels of the Tigris River in Iraq this week have affected aid distributions to people displaced by the fighting in the city of Mosul, the UN said on Wednesday.

Two key bridges in the Mosul area were made impassable as a result, preventing people from relocating to camps and emergency sites on the eastern bank of the river.

One of the bridges reopened to traffic on Tuesday.

Humanitarians expect the water levels will remain high for a few more days and that the second bridge will be repaired shortly.

Overall, nearly 500,000 people have been displaced in Mosul where the Iraqi military is combating ISIL forces for control of the northern city.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 3’36″

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