News in Brief 21 April 2017 (PM)

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Risking their lives to reach Europe from North Africa, a boatload of people, some of them likely in need of international protection, are rescued in the Mediterranean Sea by the Italian Navy. Photo: UNHCR/A. D'Amato

More than 150 child deaths already this year on Africa-Italy route

More than 150 children have died crossing the Central Mediterranean from North Africa to Italy so far this year, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates.

However, the agency believes that the true number of casualties is higher, given that many of the children are unaccompanied and their deaths often go unreported.

Here's UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

"Since the start of the year, nearly 37,000 refugees and migrants, 13 per cent of whom are children, have reached Italy by sea via the Central Mediterranean – an increase of 42 per cent when compared to the same time period in 2016."

In addition, at least 849 people have been lost at sea along the route since January.

Live-saving food supplies reach people in drought-stricken Somalia

Live-saving food supplies have been air-lifted by the UN food agency, WFP, to drought-stricken Somalia for the most vulnerable people, particularly children.

Many of them are displaced from their homes and have no access to food or cooking facilities, the agency says.

A cargo aircraft flew from Dubai to Mogadishu on Friday, carrying 47 metric tons of high energy biscuits to assist 31,000 people for three days, including critical supplies of medicine donated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The biscuits are ideally used in emergency situations as they are rich in minerals and vitamins and do not require preparation.

As the drought intensifies, particularly in parts of south and north-eastern Somalia, severe food insecurity has spread.

Half of the population, including 330,000 acutely malnourished children, are in need of urgent assistance.

South-East Asia countries adopt strategy on autism

Countries in the South-East Asia region have agreed to work together to accelerate efforts to enable people with autism and neurodevelopmental disorders to lead a productive life, according to the UN health agency, WHO.

The "Thimphu Declaration", named after the city which hosted the three-day international conference to discuss the issue, was adopted in Bhutan on Friday.

The Declaration calls for integrating the needs of people living with these conditions and their families into national health and socioeconomic development plans.

Most children with autism and neurodevelopmental disorders in low-and-middle income countries are stigmatized, isolated in society and lack support services, says WHO.

The Declaration also stresses the need to remove these challenges that individuals and their families face.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 2’41″

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UN Radio Daily News Programme
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