News in Brief 09 August 2017 (AM)

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Peacekeepers with the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) consult a map as they drive through vast desert areas in Smara, Western Sahara. UN Photo/Martine Perret

WFP welcomes US$1 million contribution to support Western Sahara refugees

The World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a US$1 million contribution from the United States to support vulnerable refugees from Western Sahara, stranded in Algeria.

For more than 40 years, refugees from the decades-long conflict over the region between Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement, have been living in harsh conditions in southwestern Algeria.

WFP said that it would use the funds to provide staple food items for thousands of families.

WFP Representative in Algeria, Romain Sirois, said that the assistance to Sahrawi refugees was "indispensable as they depend almost entirely on their monthly rations to secure their families food needs."

The US is a key partner, having provided more than US$19 million in food aid since 2013.

WFP has been supporting refugees from Western Sahara in Algeria since 1986.

 

"Violent deaths" of 6 Red Cross workers in CAR condemned

UN partner, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (IFRC), said on Wednesday that it was "shocked and saddened by the violent deaths" of six volunteer workers in the Central African Republic (CAR) earlier this week.

They had been taking part in a crisis meeting at a health facility in Mbomou prefecture, and the circumstances that led up to the killings are not yet clear.

A statement from IFRC said that reports indicate that civilians and medical staff may also have been killed.

It's the third such attack in CAR to claim the lives of Red Cross personnel this year.

Nine UN peacekeepers have also been killed in the same south-eastern area of CAR since the start of the year, where violence and inter-ethnic tensions have risen sharply.

Antoine Mbao-Bogo, President of the Central African Red Cross, said staff were "appalled by the news," and he called on all armed parties and groups to "take steps to spare the civilian population and to respect all humanitarian workers."

 

Mass graves in Mali under investigation by UN Mission

The discovery of mass graves in Mali has sparked a major investigation by the UN Mission in the country, MINUSMA, which is also looking into 67 allegations of serious human rights abuses.

MINUSMA said the investigation was centred on the Kidal region of northern Mali, where violent clashes between armed groups has intensified in recent weeks, threatening to derail the UN-brokered 2015 peace agreement.

The mission's Human Rights Director, Guillaume Ngefa, said that fact-finding teams had confirmed 34 cases of serious human rights abuses by parties to the agreement.

He said the facts surrounding the grim discovery of mass graves were still to be determined.

"We concluded that there have been two individual graves found, in addition to two mass graves. The challenge that we have is to determine, you know, the way that those people have been executed or killed. We don't know how many bodies are in those mass graves and individual graves. And then also who are to be responsible."

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’45″

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