News in Brief 17 July 2017 (AM)

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Child being vaccinated in Vanuatu. File Photo: UNICEF New Zealand

More than 12 million babies worldwide were not vaccinated in 2016

More than 12 million babies worldwide, nearly one in ten, did not receive any vaccinations in 2016, the UN says.

Every year, the World Health Organization and the UN Children's Fund UNICEF jointly produce national immunization coverage estimates for each of the 194 WHO Member States.

Infants who missed their first dose of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP)-containing vaccine are at serious risk of catching these potentially fatal diseases, the UN agencies warn.

Immunization currently prevents between 2 to 3 million deaths every year, from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and measles.

Most of the children who remain un-immunized are the same ones missed by national health systems, says Dr Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, the Director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at WHO.

Health services must "reach the unreached" in order to raise the bar on global immunization coverage, he urges.

Human cost of Afghan war "far too high" says UN official

The human cost of the war in Afghanistan is "far too high", the head of the UN mission there has said, citing the loss of life, destruction and immense suffering of the civilian population.

Tadamichi Yamamoto made the remarks following the release of a mid-year report by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The report found that a total of 1,662 civilians died between 1 January and 30 June – an increase of two per cent on the same period last year.

Forty per cent of all civilian casualties during the six-month period were killed or injured by anti-government forces using improvised explosive devices or IEDs, such as suicide bombs or pressure-plate devices.

The figures also show a rise in the number of women and children killed and injured, reversing a decline documented in 2016.

The report makes a series of recommendations, including calling on the anti-government forces to stop targeting civilians and to enforce directives from the leadership of the Taliban extremist group, calling for an end to such attacks.

YouTube star Lilly Singh named UN Goodwill Ambassador

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has appointed Indian-origin Canadian YouTube star and actress Lilly Singh as its newest Goodwill Ambassador.

In this role, Ms. Singh, known by her digital alias Superwoman, will use her unique cyber presence to engage children and young people and empower them to speak out about the challenges they face.

At a special event in New Delhi, Ms Singh said she will use her voice to support UNICEF's mission of reaching every child.

Yasmin Haque, UNICEF’s Representative in India, says Ms Singh is a role model to so many people, especially girls.

More than 50 per cent of India’s population are below the age of 25 and India is already the second largest market for YouTube, Facebook, and many other video platforms.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 3’13″

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