News in Brief 19 June 2017 (AM)

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UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon Almellehan skips rope with students at the School of Peace at a internally displaced peoples site in the Lake Region, Chad. She visited the conflict-affected region in April 2017. UNICEF/Sokhin

First ever official refugee named Ambassador for UNICEF

A 19-year-old Syrian has become the first official refugee to be appointed as an Ambassador for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Muzoon Almellehan becomes the newest and youngest Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, on the eve of World Refugee Day.

She received support from UNICEF while living in the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan.

She has sent a powerful video message to refugees, saying that although they may feel like everything is "dark and hopeless" there is "light ahead."

"I want to encourage you not to give up on your hopes and dreams for the future. Do everything that you can to stay in school, because an education will help you build that future. With knowledge, we grow stronger."

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth said that "her story of bravery and fortitude inspires us all."

Ms Almellehan recently travelled with UNICEF to Chad, where nearly three times as many girls as boys of primary school age in conflict areas, are missing out on school.

Restoration of US travel restrictions with Cuba big "step backwards": WTO

The decision by the US government to restore travel restrictions with Cuba represents "a step backwards and a strong attack on the freedom of travel."

That's according to the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Taleb Rifai said that the decision announced by President Donald Trump would only have a limited impact on Cuba's developing tourist industry, but it would "substantially affect the US economy and American jobs."

He added that many US companies would miss out on the "immense potential" of Cuban tourism.

In 2016, Cuban had more than 4 million international visitors, representing a growth of more than one million over the past five years.

UN chief "shocked and horrified" by loss of life caused by fires in Portugal

The UN Secretary-General said on Sunday he was "shocked and horrified" by the fires in central Portugal which, according to news reports, have left 62 people dead.

The forest fires in the Pedrógão Grande region, also spread into two other central regions over the weekend, and many died inside their cars attempting to flee the flames.

UN chief António Guterres, a former Portuguese Prime Minister, said he had expressed his deep sadness and condolences to the government and people of the country, in a phone call with President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

He commended the government, firefighters, emergency responders and civil society organizations who are "sparing no efforts" to battle the fires still burning on Monday, and help those in need.

Mr Guterres added that the UN stood ready to help in any way possible.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2'20"

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