News in Brief 21 August 2017 (AM)

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Emergency services on their way to the scene of a deadly mud slide in Freetown. Photo: UNICEF 2017

WHO working to prevent spread of diseases in the wake of Sierra Leone tragedy

Preventing the spread of disease in Sierra Leone, where mudslides and flooding have killed hundreds of people, is "vital," the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

The UN agency is working closely with the government to halt the potential spread of infectious diseases such as malaria and cholera.

It is estimated that around 500 people died as a result of flooding and mudslides around the capital, Freetown, last Monday.

Scores are still missing.

Together with its partners, WHO is ensuring that the injured and displaced receive ongoing healthcare as well as psychosocial support.

WHO explained that residents in the affected areas are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of pre-existing infectious diseases such as malaria, typhoid and cholera as their water and sanitation facilities have been damaged.

People are being urged to take precautions to help prevent any outbreaks, such as washing their hands, only drinking water that has been properly boiled or treated, and using latrines.

Cholera response kits, which include tools to test for the disease, are also being distributed in at-risk areas.

UN expert calls for action on El Salvador gang violence

Authorities in El Salvador must do more to help and protect citizens fleeing gang violence.

The recommendation has been made by a UN human rights expert on the issue of displacement who concluded a five-day visit to the Central American country last week.

Special Rapporter Cecilia Jimenez-Damary described the situation of people there who have been forced to flee their homes due to the high level of gang-related violence as "a hidden tragedy."

She also highlighted the need for statistics, though estimates suggest thousands have been affected.

The UN expert said gangs "dominate" areas and citizens through threats, intimidation and a culture of violence where killing is commonplace and extortion is widespread.

"The problem is more significant and widespread than the Government is currently accepting," she said in a statement, adding that "the Government needs to acknowledge the full extent of internal displacement and act to tackle it and the gang violence which is driving it."

UK funding to WFP supports Sudan displaced

Funding from the United Kingdom will help the World Food Programme (WFP) to feed nearly 370,000 displaced people in Sudan.

The UN agency announced the £4.5 million contribution, or roughly US$5.8 million, on Monday.

WFP will use the money to provide cash-based transfers and vouchers to displaced people so that they can purchase food and other essential items from local contracted suppliers.

Some 288,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in North and West Darfur states, as well as nearly 81,000 others at a camp in South Darfur state, are set to benefit.

WFP aims to support more than four million vulnerable people in Sudan this year, who include IDPs, refugees, those affected by climate change and host communities.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 3’01″

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