News in Brief 24 April 2017 (AM)

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A child suffering from acute malnutrition being screened by a doctor, in Bani Al-Harith, Sana'a, Yemen. Photo: UNICEF.


20 million people could starve to death in the next six months: FAO

Urgent action is needed to save the lives of people facing famine in northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, the Directory-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on Monday.

José Graziano da Silva made the remarks at the opening of the UN agency's Council, or executive body.

"If nothing is done, some 20 million people could starve to death in the next six months," the Director-General said in his opening address.

Famine not only kills people, but also contributes to social instability perpetuates a cycle of poverty and aid dependency that endures for decades, he added.

During the week-long session of the Council, members will hear a briefing on the extent of the hunger crises and the steps needed to prevent a catastrophe.

Torture and mistreatment of Afghan detainees persists, UN warns

The UN special envoy in Afghanistan has expressed serious concern over the continuing torture and mistreatment of detainees in the country.

Tadamichi Yamamoto issued a statement on Monday, following the release of a report by the UN Mission in the country, UNAMA, and the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR).

The detainees are mainly alleged members of the Taliban and other anti-Government groups or individuals suspected of conflict-related crimes, says OHCHR.

From 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2016, UN investigators conducted 469 interviews with detainees in 62 detention facilities across Afghanistan.

The facilities are run by the National Directorate of Security, the national police, the local police and the national army.

More than a third of the interviewees gave credible accounts of being subjected to torture or ill-treatment.

Of 85 child detainees interviewed, 38 gave credible accounts of being subjected to torture or ill-treatment while in the custody of the Afghan security forces.

The UN report also says that the Afghan Government has committed to fully eliminating the practice.

Torture is prohibited and criminalized under Afghanistan's Constitution and laws, and under international law.

More ambulances deployed for casualties from west Mosul: WHO

More ambulances are being deployed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to help treat civilian casualties fleeing west Mosul, as Iraqi government forces continue to battle ISIL militants for control of the city.

Since the beginning of the offensive last October, more than 1900 trauma cases have received treatment in hospitals in Ninewa, and nearby areas.

Government and coalition forces are fighting street by street to liberate the densely-populated western part of Mosul, after western areas were retaken at the end of January.

WHO said on Monday that "ensuring timely referrals and transport from the front lines" to field hospitals and treatment areas, was "critical to sparing civilian lives."

WHO, with assistance from the World Food Programme (WFP), has airlifted an extra 15 fully-equipped ambulances into Iraq, to reduce travelling time and improve the response for patients escaping west Mosul.

This new shipment brings to 30, the number of ambulances delivered to the Ninewa Directorate of Health in the past two weeks, said WHO.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 3’08″

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