News in Brief 7 July 2017 (AM) – Geneva

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António Guterres speaking to journalists at the end of the Conference on Cyprus in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

UN chief "deeply sorry" as Cyprus deal proves elusive

UN chief António Guterres has said he is "deeply sorry" that talks aimed at reuniting Cyprus have ended without an agreement, at the end of several days of intensive negotiations in Switzerland.

Here he is speaking to journalists in the early hours of Friday morning:

"I am deeply sorry to inform you that despite a very strong commitment and engagement from the delegations and the different parties, the Greek and Turkish Cypriot delegations, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom and the EU as an observer, and of course the UN team, the Conference on Cyprus was closed without an agreement being reached."

The Mediterranean island has been split for more than 40 years and one of the main issues of the latest round of talks was the continued presence of Turkish troops.

In the closing press conference in Crans-Montana, Mr Guterres said it was still possible that "other initiatives" could yield results for the long-standing conflict.

And he said that the United Nations would still be available to facilitate the process.

Turkish hunger strike rights defenders "so weak"

Two Turkish rights activists who have been on hunger strike since March should be released immediately, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said on Friday.

The appeal is for Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Ozakça, a university lecturer and schoolteacher.

Both refused food in protest against their arbitrary dismissal after last year's purges of public sector workers, following a failed coup.

UN human rights office spokesperson Liz Throssell told journalists in Geneva that they were now so weak their movement "has been severely affected".

Ms Throssell also expressed concern that eight Turkish rights activists and two international experts in the country have been arrested, and are reportedly at "significant risk of torture".

"We are gravely concerned about all arbitrary arrests and detentions of human rights defenders in Turkey. In the context of the state of emergency, the Government seems to have criminalized the legitimate exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and freedom of opinion and expression, using emergency decrees that fail to meet international human rights standards."

The latest arrests happened on Wednesday while the rights defenders were taking part in a training workshop near Istanbul.

The development comes a month after the head of Amnesty International Turkey, Taner Kiliç, was arrested, along with 22 other lawyers.

"Little chance" of El Nino weather phenomenon before end of year

There's "little chance" of the El Nino climate phenomenon developing before the end of the year but extreme weather events are continuing around the globe, UN experts said on Friday.

El Nino happens when warmer sea-surface temperatures combine with hotter air, but only one of these conditions has been met, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Even without El Nino however, many parts of the world have seen out-of-the-ordinary climatic emergencies in recent weeks.

Here's Clare Nullis from the UN weather agency WMO:

"Large parts of China have seen very, very heavy rainfall, there's key tributaries of the Yangtze river have been on maximum flood alert, very widespread damage and considerable economic losses…Australia on the other hand, Australia had the second- driest June on record, so not enough rain there."

According to WMO, June was the second-hottest on record after June 2016, extending a period of exceptional global warmth that began two years ago.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3'35"

 

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