News in Brief 21 September 2017 (PM)

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Newborn in Aktau city, Mangystau oblast, Kazakhstan. Photo: UNICEF/UN044581/Kim

Invest more in policies that support childhood development: UNICEF

Governments and the private sector are being urged to support three basic national policies which benefit early childhood development.

The call has been made by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) which said only 15 countries worldwide have these policies in place.

The measures include providing families with two years of free pre-primary education; offering paid breastfeeding breaks during the first six months of a child's life; as well as six months of paid maternity leave and four weeks of paid paternal leave.

The UNICEF report launched on Thursday showed that Cuba, France, Portugal, Russia and Sweden are the only countries which have all three policies in place.

Furthermore, 85 million of the world's children are growing up in 32 countries which have not implemented any of the policies.

UNICEF said "surprisingly," 40 per cent of them can be found in just two countries: Bangladesh and the United States.

Conflicts, weather events affecting hunger reduction: FAO

Despite growing global food production, ongoing conflicts and climate-related shocks are hampering progress towards reducing hunger.

That's the assessment of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Thursday which published the latest edition of its Crop Prospects and Food Situation report on Thursday.

FAO says conflict "continues to intensely impact agriculture and food security" in eight countries: the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, northern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Meanwhile, droughts in places such as southern Ethiopia, hurricanes in the Caribbean and floods in West Africa are also likely to affect food production.

However, the UN agency estimates global cereal production will reach a record level in 2017, at more than 2.6 million tonnes, mainly due to gains in Argentina and Brazil.

Praise for "milestone" CAR action on ending child recruitment

The Central African Republic (CAR) has been praised by a senior UN official for taking steps to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers.

The country has signed an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child which covers the involvement of children in conflict.

Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, has commended the decision, calling it a "milestone" for the CAR.

In a statement issued on Thursday, she encouraged the government "to pursue its actions to protect the boys and girls of CAR, prevent any further recruitment and use by parties to conflict and adopt legislation criminalizing the recruitment and use of children."

The signing took place during the current session of the UN General Assembly in New York, and comes just months after the CAR President pledged to strengthen child protection through adopting legislation that would prohibit the recruitment and use of children.

The CAR is the 167th country to ratify the optional protocol, which the General Assembly adopted in May 2000.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 3’15″

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