News in Brief 07 August 2017 (PM)

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Ghassan Salamé, Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), being interviewed by  May Yaacoub in late July. Photo: UN News/Mustafa Al Gamal.

"Window of opportunity" for Libya to emerge from crisis: UN envoy

There is a "window of opportunity" for Libya to emerge from conflict and economic collapse but a political agreement is vital, said the newly-appointed Special Representative for the country, Ghassan Salamé, speaking on Monday.

He visited the capital Tripoli over the weekend and spoke to journalists after meeting with Libyan leaders.

Here's UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

"While he had no illusions regarding the difficulties and challenges ahead, he was optimistic that Libya could emerge from this crisis. However, he warned that [time] was very important and that every day without a political agreement had negative security, economic and social consequences for all Libyans."

Meanwhile, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Maria Ribeiro, expressed concern over reports of severe shortages of basic necessities, including life-saving medical supplies, in and around the coastal city of Derna, in eastern Libya, due to fighting.

"No time to lose" in getting humanitarian, political response right in DRC

There is "no time to lose" in taking action to fight hunger, rights abuses and political instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

That's the warning from UN relief chief, Stephen O'Brien, briefing on the humanitarian situation in DRC and the Central African Republic (CAR) on Monday, at UN Headquarters.

He said seven million civilians in DRC need help just to survive, and he highlighted the shortfall in funding available not only for emergency aid, but also budget cuts to the UN Mission in the country, MONUSCO.

"We simply have no time to lose. Inaction in the DRC will have dramatic consequences for the Congolese people, but also for the stability of the region. I urge you each to act now, to stop a critical situation from worsening further. We owe the millions of women, men, girls and boys of the DRC a humanitarian and a political response that is commensurate to their plight, and their will to survive."

Mr O'Brien recently saw conditions on the ground for himself in DRC, as well as CAR, where he said the environment was "equally challenging."

Preparations underway for civilians caught up in latest offensive against Daesh

Humanitarian agencies are preparing to provide emergency relief to civilians in need, who are likely to be caught up in the latest military offensive against the terrorist group Daesh, or ISIL, in Iraq.

Tal Afar, located around 60 kilometres west of Mosul, is one of the few cities in Iraq still under the militants' control, and government-led forces are on the verge of beginning their campaign to retake it.

The city is strategically located between the former Daesh strongholds of Mosul, and Raqqa, in Syria, which is in the process of being retaken by a US-led coalition.

Tal Afar used to have around 250,000 residents, but that number has fallen significantly due to the fighting.

Here's UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric again.

"Some 10,000 people are believed to remain trapped in the city, with another 50,000 living in surrounding areas. Aid workers are preparing to provide water, hygiene and sanitation assistance; ready-to-eat meals; and emergency medical care. Supplies such as food, health kits and shelter materials have been prepositioned, with 50,000 people anticipated to be uprooted in the coming week."

Matt Wells, United Nations.

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