News in Brief 2 May 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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A young boy suffering from cholera rests in a cholera treatment center in Garbaharey, Somalia. Photo: UNICEF/Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin

Malnourished Somali children numbers up 50 per cent: UNICEF

More than 1.4 million Somali children are at risk of being malnourished, a 50 per cent spike since the beginning of the year, UN Children's Fund UNICEF has warned.

Amid a deadly cocktail of drought, disease and displacement, the agency says that the country's people need much more help than they are getting, if lives are to be saved.

UNICEF says that more than 56,000 severely malnourished children have been treated so far in 2017.

That's almost 90 per cent more than in the same period last year and significant, since severely malnourished children are nine times more likely to die from cholera and measles, which are spreading.

In addition to drought, ongoing insecurity linked to militants in parts of the country is also hampering the relief effort.

UNICEF's Marixie Mercado told journalists in Geneva about having to take a helicopter and armoured personnel carriers in order to access rural communities in south-west Somalia:

"This is a town we hadn't been able to get to physically in six years, so we went there to assess needs. We had to travel by chopper, and while we were there we had to travel by APC, and at one point we had minesweepers in front of us just securing the path for us. Somalia's extremely…it's aa super complicated complex environment and it has an impact on every aspect of our humanitarian operation."

Latest UN data indicates that nearly three million people now face a food crisis inside Somalia.

In 2011, famine there claimed nearly 260,000 lives; more than half were children.

To date, UNICEF has received just over half of its US $ 148 million appeal for the country.

Syria Envoy prepared to do "anything he can" for ceasefire

No date has yet been set for a new round of Intra-Syrian talks in Geneva but UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura is prepared to do "anything he can" to support parallel ceasefire negotiations in Kazakhstan, his office said on Tuesday.

Spokesperson for the Special Envoy, Michael Contet, confirmed to journalists that the top negotiator has gone to the country's capital, Astana, where he will meet representatives of Russia, Turkey and Iran.

The three countries agreed to guarantee a pause in fighting in Syria at the end of last year but an escalation in recent weeks and months has had a heavy impact on civilians, Mr Contet said:

"The reason why the Special Envoy is going is he's looking forward to encouraging a positive outcome to the high-level meeting and he will do anything he can do to support such an outcome. The expected result he would like to see out of this meeting would include a reaffirmation of the ceasefire that was announced on 29 December last year and a de-escalation in the violence on the ground that obviously would be felt by Syrians."

The UN Special Envoy has consistently welcomed the Astana initiative as a useful way to advance Intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, where the last round ended in March.

It is hoped, his office said, that there will continue to be progress on the question of detainees.

That issue is one of several so-called confidence-building measures that form part of the discussions between the UN and warring parties in the more than six-year Syria conflict.

Sustainable initiative launches at SDG Studio Geneva

And finally, if you've ever wondered what sustainable development is all about, then why not take a look at the work of the new SDG Studio Geneva.

Based at United Nations headquarters in the Swiss city, the studio helps to show how the UN and its partners have contributed to one or more of the 17 global goals.

To date, invitees have included a midwife from Malawi and the President of Chile.

They discuss everything from tackling poverty to promoting gender equality and protecting the planet.

The initiative has been led by UN Office at Geneva Director-General Michael Møller, who says the studio is a place for experts to share their stories and inspire others to action.

Mr Møller personally interviewed Deputy United Nations Secretary-General Amina Mohammed on the Sustainable Development Goals; you can see their encounter by going online to the dedicated YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/SDGStudio.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’39″

 

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