News in Brief 16 May 2017 (PM)

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An aerial photograph of the area on the outskirts of Timbuktu, Mali. Photo: MINUSMA/Marco Dormino

Peacekeepers under fire again in Mali

UN Peacekeepers with the MINUMSA stabilization mission have come under fire again in their camp in Timbuktu, according to reports on Tuesday.

Four blue helmets and three members of the Malian armed forces were injured when eight shells were reportedly fired in the direction of the airport, close to the UN compound.

A peacekeeper was killed after the camp was attacked on 3 May, and nine injured.

Extremist fighters occupied northern Mali in 2012, but were pushed back the following year.

Here's UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

"The UN Mission condemns the attack and denounces the increasing violence in regions of Northern Mali. The mission also calls on all signatories of the peace agreement to increase their efforts towards the implementation of the agreement, which is the only way to achieve stability in the country".

The UN Peacekeeping chief, Jean-Pierre Lacroix is continuing his first visit to Mali and paid a visit to the Liberian contingent who came under attack in 3 May.

He paid tribute to the fallen peacekeeper and conveyed his solidarity with all civilian and uniformed staff and thanked them for their dedicated service.

Humanitarian assistance to 300,000 affected by fighting around Raqqa

Around 300,000 people living around the terrorist-held Syrian city of Raqqa have now received humanitarian assistance, following the on-going military operations there.

The northern city is the de facto capital of ISIL, or Daesh, and UN agencies together with local partners have been distributing mainly food and health supplies to those in need since March.

A coalition of forces, some backed by the United States, is reported to be planning an assault to retake the city after gaining territory in recent months.

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters on Tuesday at UN Headquarters that the organization could not "independently verify" the existence of a crematorium where thousands are said to have been incinerated, on the grounds of the Syrian government-run Sednaya prison.

He said the government had systematically rejected UN requests to visit detention centres.

"However, various UN entities have regularly documented and reported on human rights violations in Syria, including torture in the context of detention.

We are extremely concerned that thousands of civilians continue to be held in Government [Government-run] detention facilities and have grounds to believe that they are systematically subjected to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment including torture and sexual violence."

Murder of award-winning investigative journalist in Mexico condemned

The murder of yet another investigative journalist in Mexico has been condemned by the Director-General of the UN cultural organization, UNESCO.

Irina Bokova urged the government to investigate the killing of Javier Arturo Valdez Cárdenas, who was the founder of the weekly Riodoce publication, and a recipient of the Committee to Protect Journalists' International Press Freedom Award, for reports on crime and drug trafficking.

The UNESCO chief said his violent death was a reminder of the dangerous conditions in which many journalists have to work, and that it undermined the right to freedom of expression.

The head of the UN Human Rights Office in the country, Jan Jarab, said the security situation for journalists and human rights defenders had become "a nightmare with no end in sight".

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’55″

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