News in Brief 20 April 2016 (PM)

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A view of a UN helicopter in Tindouf, Algeria. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

UN takes steps to reduce costs and use of aircraft: Guterres

An initiative has been launched to reduce the cost and use of United Nations' aircraft provided by Member States, the Secretary-General announced through his Spokesman on Thursday.

The Organization currently deploys 58 airplanes and 157 helicopters in 12 peacekeeping missions and 6 special political missions.

The annual cost of these aircraft was close to $US 750 million in 2015 and 2016.

These assets provide essential logistics and military capabilities, António Guterres acknowledged, but given their significant cost, he asked heads of field missions to review their use, and seek alternative and more cost-effective solutions.

He also ordered them to limit the movement of passengers to critical mandated tasks "with immediate effect".

Flight schedules also need to be more "finely tuned" to allow for reduced fleets he said.

The Secretary-General recalled, however, that the organization must fulfil the mandates of its various field missions, and that safety must remain paramount.

Yemen: UN authorizes US $50 million for food

The Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, has authorized the release of US$50 million from the 2017 Yemen Humanitarian Fund, the UN Spokesman has said.

The money will ensure access to food for the most vulnerable, who are suffering from food insecurity and malnutrition.

Shelter, food, water and other items to cover health and sanitation needs, will not only go to the most vulnerable internally displaced people, but also to returnees and host communities.

The conflict in Yemen between government and rebel forces which escalated in 2015, is driving a serious humanitarian crisis, with 6.8 million on the brink of famine.

UN urges South Sudan government to facilitate access to combat areas

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has received reports of fighting between government and opposition forces around Atar and Owachi in the Upper Nile region.

A UN patrol to Kodok town on Wednesday, also in Upper Nile, observed that the town was deserted.

In Eastern Equatoria, a UN patrol to the town of Pugee, met with civilians, who reported that Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers looted houses and Government offices, as well as a health facility during recent military operations in the area.

Meanwhile, in Marreng in Jonglei, the SPLA prevented UN peacekeepers from going on patrol and forced them to return to base after unsuccessful negotiations.

UNMISS, once again, calls on the Government to facilitate full access, as obligated by the Status of Forces Agreement, so it can carry out its mandate, including the protection of civilians.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 2’53″

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