News in brief 27 April (AM)

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Samar Khel camp, near Jalalabad, where Afghans displaced by war have taken shelter Photo: Bilal Sarwary/IRIN

More than 2,000 Afghan civilians killed or injured in first quarter of 2017

A total of 2,181 Afghan civilians were killed or injured in the first quarter of this year, according to the latest data from the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

That represents a four per cent decrease compared with 2016, but the head of UNAMA Tadamichi Yamamoto, said that increasing numbers of women and children were "bearing the brunt" of the conflict, between government troops and terrorist forces such as the Taliban.

"With the so-called fighting season imminent" the UNAMA chief said "I appeal to all parties to take every measure possible to prevent unnecessary and unacceptable harm" to civilians.

The capital Kabul and surrounding areas, suffered the highest casualty rate, due to several high profile suicide attacks in the first three months of year.

Ground engagements continued to cause the most harm overall, followed by Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs.

UNAMA said the decrease in casualties compared with last year, was due to fewer direct clashes between government and anti-government forces.

Services "grinding to a halt" in Gaza due to fuel shortages

"Basic services are grinding to a halt" in the Gaza Strip, said the UN on Thursday, following a dispute over funding for the Palestinian territory's power supply.

The UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, Robert Piper, expressed concern over the deteriorating energy situation, and called for "swift action from Israeli and Palestinian authorities" to protect "basic, critical services."

He warned that there are now power outages for 20 hours each day.

The Gaza Ministry of Health reported that fuel to power backup generators at seven out of 13 hospitals, is expected to run out within three days, and the Gaza Power Plant shut down after running out of fuel reserves, on 16 April.

Mr Piper said the UN Humanitarian Fund for the Occupied Palestinian Territory had approved the release of US$500,000 on Thursday, to buy emergency fuel in order to keep hospitals and other medical facilities going.

UN welcomes opening of third humanitarian corridor for South Sudan

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, has welcomed the decision by the government there to open a third humanitarian corridor to deliver aid to famine-struck South Sudan.

Marta Ruedas said that the route from El Obeid in central Sudan, to Aweil, in the South's Bahr el Ghazal state, would allow the World Food Programme (WFP) to deliver an extra 7,000 metric tonnes of food to support around 540,000 people in need.

The first convoy is due to leave next week.

South Sudan is in a state of humanitarian and political crisis following years of fighting between rival forces that's displaced more than two million, and left tens of thousands dead.

More than 70,000 metric tonnes of food have been delivered this year to the country from Sudan, and Ms Ruedas said that delivering aid across the border was "often the fastest and most efficient way."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’37″

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