News in Brief 17 August 2017 (AM)

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Hundreds are reported dead with many more missing after mudslides and floods tore through several communities in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photo: UNICEF 2017

UNICEF responding to Sierra Leone landslide tragedy

Teams from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) are on the ground in Sierra Leone supporting displaced families affected by flooding and landslides which have killed several hundred people, including at least 109 children.

The death toll is expected to rise, with more than 600 people, many of them children, still unaccounted for, the agency said in a statement on Thursday.

The disaster struck on Monday and UNICEF has been providing safe drinking water and sanitation in addition to delivering medicines, tents, gloves and other supplies.

The UN agency is also working with the country's health ministry and partners in efforts to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases.

UNICEF reports that many water sources have been contaminated, while water supply networks have been damaged.


UN refugee chief appeals for more support for Sudan

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is calling for more support for Sudan, which has had a long tradition of hosting people fleeing conflict.

Filippo Grandi made the appeal during his first official visit to the country, which concluded on Thursday.

Sudan has taken in scores of refugees fleeing fighting in South Sudan.

The UN refugee chief said the refugees are allowed to work and to move around, in addition to receiving what he described as "generous support" from host communities.

During a visit to a camp in East Darfur that is home to more than 5,000 South Sudanese refugees, he praised the solidarity of the local people hosting them.

Mr Grandi said this "exceptional generosity needed to be acknowledged and supported."

He also urged the international community to do more to end the conflict in South Sudan which has created what he said is "the world's fastest-growing forced displacement tragedy."


Fortified rice reduces anaemia among poor women in Bangladesh: WFP

Consuming fortified rice can significantly reduce anaemia and zinc deficiencies among the poorest women in Bangladesh, according to a new UN-backed study.

Anaemia is a health condition resulting from a lack of red blood cells, thus causing fatigue, dizziness and other symptoms.

The study found that the prevalence of anaemia dropped by nearly five percent among participants who ate the fortified rice, which contains six essential vitamins and minerals, including iron.

Meanwhile, zinc deficiency was reduced by six per cent.

Furthermore, the study found that providing fortified rice alongside training programmes and cash investments can contribute to women's empowerment.

The study was conducted on behalf of the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

The women in the study are participants in the government's Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) programme, which reaches more than one million poor women and their families.

WFP Representative in Bangladesh Christa Räder described the findings as "very promising."

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 2’56″



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