News in Brief 19 May 2017 – (PM)

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UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has invited government and opposition delegations speaks in Geneva. Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Syria talks end on schedule in Geneva, to resume in June

Talks to help resolve the Syrian conflict have ended on schedule in Geneva, where UN negotiator Staffan de Mistura said he was satisfied that some progress had been made, and that there had been "less rhetoric".

Speaking to journalists after his meetings with delegations from the Syrian government and opposition, as well as Russian and American representatives, the UN Special Envoy said that he would look to hold further talks "some time in June".

Mr de Mistura underlined that the purpose of this short round of discussions was to address "constitutional and legal issues" which could provide a "strong, legal and constitutional basis" for any future negotiated political process.

The mechanism for this was a series of high-level meetings in Geneva – which the Special Envoy explained were meant to complement the existing, UN-led Intra-Syrian talks.

But only the Syrian people – and not the UN – would be in charge of writing their own constitution, he insisted:

"We are not planning or aiming through this to draft a new constitution for Syria, this has to be done by the Syrians. We are rather trying, and we intend to pursue trying to lay the ground for the Syrians to do exactly that, in the context of an overall political solution that is in the context as you know, of Resolution 2254."

As well as a new constitution for Syria, the UN-led process remains focused on three other main issues: free and fair elections, combating terrorism and governance.

There hadn't been enough time to address all four subjects this time, Staffan de Mistura said, but the intention was to do so in future meetings.

Global attacks on health care "alarming": WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) released new figures on attacks on healthcare facilities on Friday.

The data shows that attacks on healthcare centres, workers and ambulances continue with "alarming frequency" the agency says.

There were 302 such attacks across 20 countries in 2016.

Eighty-eight attacks were reported in the first quarter of this year alone.

The attacks are affecting healthcare service delivery and depriving people of urgently needed care, WHO adds.

30,000 Somali refugees leaving "deteriorating situation" in Yemen

Some 30,600 Somali refugees have returned to their country to escape the deteriorating humanitarian situation and ongoing conflict in Yemen, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has confirmed.

An increasing number of them are approaching UNHCR in Yemen for assistance to support their return.

They are citing safety and security concerns and limited access to services in the host country.

Farhan Haq is the deputy UN Spokesperson.

"This year, UNHCR has assisted some 10,000 Somali refugees who have made the choice to return. The assistance includes documentation, travel and transportation and financial support in Yemen to facilitate the journey, as well as assistance upon arrival in Somalia. The agency said it will also continue to provide support to the more than 250,000 refugees who remain in Yemen."

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 3’17″

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