News in Brief 24 April 2017 (PM)

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Displaced children and adults in Syria are seen in a vehicle after fleeing from ISIL-controlled areas in rural Raqqa to Ain Issa, the main staging point for displaced families, some 50 kilometres north of Raqqa city. (file) Photo: UNICEF/Delil Soulaiman

Concerns mount for "safety and protection" of 400,000 in Raqqa, Syria

Concerns are mounting for the "safety and protection" of more than 400,000 civilians living inside the city of Raqqa, in Syria, which has been the de facto capital of the ISIL terrorist group since 2014.

The UN said on Monday that in past weeks, civilians have been exposed to "daily fighting and airstrikes" leading to an uptick in deaths and injuries, as well as damage to schools, hospitals and markets.

A force backed by the United States, of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters have advanced close to Raqqa, as part of an overall campaign to drive ISIL, or Daesh, from its urban stronghold.

Here's UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric:

"Yesterday, airstrikes on Atabaqa city reportedly killed eight people including five children and damaged two schools. On 22 April, dozens of people were reportedly killed and injured in airstrikes on an IDP camp near Albardah village, 20 km west of Raqqa. Some 39,000 newly displaced people fled to the Jib Al-Shaair makeshift camp in Ar-Raqqa governorate where 4 out of 5 people are staying in the open air without appropriate shelter. The UN has also received reports of the deaths of several children due to lack of medical care at the Jib Al-Shaair and Al-Karma camps. "

OSCE monitor likely killed in landmine explosion: UN extends condolences

A monitor working for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Ukraine, has died "due to a possible landmine explosion" the UN Spokesperson said on Monday.

Stéphane Dujarric said the world body extended its condolences to the family of the man, who news reports say was a citizen of the United States, working for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, whose vehicle reportedly struck a landmine inside rebel-held territory in the Luhansk region.

The UN Spokesperson said that the UN fully supported the effort of the OSCE in eastern Ukraine – which is an unarmed, civilian mission which has been deployed for just over three years – and reiterated that parties to the conflict should "do their utmost to ensure the safety and security" of mission personnel.

According to reports, the Ukrainian government has launched an investigation into the death.

Government forces have been fighting separatist rebels in the east of the country since 2014, affecting up to four million civilians caught up in fighting, together with chronic food and fuel shortages.

UNESCO chief calls on authorities to investigate death of Russian journalist

The Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has called on Russian authorities to investigate the attack that led to the death of the journalist Nikolay Andrushchenko.

The 73-year-old co-founder and editor of the newspaper Novy Petersburg, was hospitalized in early March following a beating by unknown assailants.

He died on 19 April.

UNESCO chief Irina Bokova, said that she condemned the attack and said an investigation was essential into this "act of violence, which is a blow to freedom of expression."

She called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’49″

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