News in Brief 16 October 2017 (PM)

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Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré (file)

Take "coordinated steps" to prevent violence over Kirkuk, urges UN chief

The Iraqi government and Kurdish authorities need to take "coordinated steps" to prevent violence across the governorate of Kirkuk, said the UN chief António Guterres on Monday.

According to news reports, Iraqi troops took control of the city of Kirkuk and surrounding oil fields, ousting Kurdish troops who had been in charge of the region for three years after defending it from ISIL extremists.

The Kurds of northern Iraq voted heavily in favour of independence from Baghdad in a referendum carried out last month.

UN humanitarian agencies said that military activity in northern Iraq had displaced "thousands of families" since Sunday evening.

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said the Secretary-General was following developments closely.

"He calls on the parties to jointly manage the situation and resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution of Iraq…Aid workers are mobilising and stressing the need for access to all those in need of help. They are also calling on the parties to ensure that civilians are protected and can leave the area if they choose to do so."

Middle East coordinator urges implementation of intra-Palestinian agreement

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process has called for the "timely and effective implementation" of steps agreed to ease Gaza's humanitarian crisis under last week's intra-Palestinian agreement.

Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov met Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to discuss the way ahead on Monday.

The deal to unite the two factions puts an end to 10 years of division that has been a factor in deteriorating conditions for hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, agreed to return border crossings with Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, which is run by Fatah in the West Bank, by 1 November.

More details from Stéphane Dujarric again.

"The timely and effective implementation of this provision and concrete steps to alleviate the humanitarian crisis will be critical to effectively empower the Palestinian Government in Gaza. The UN will continue working with the Palestinian leadership, Egypt and the region in support of this process, which is critical for reaching a negotiated two-state solution and sustainable peace."

ILO: new strategies needed to fund small businesses

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play a crucial role in creating jobs, but they often don't get enough outside funding.

That's according to the latest report, World Employment and Social Outlook 2017, released by the International Labour Organization (ILO) on Monday.

ILO looked at the data and found that a cut of 10 per cent less capital from bank loans meant that SMEs were likely to pay 1.3 per cent less in wages; have 2.7 per cent lower labour productivity; and incur higher labour costs.

Deborah Greenfield, ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy, urges more fresh initiatives to finance SMEs.

Policy-makers need to consider strategies that would help SMEs access new ways of fund-raising she said, "including bank loans for their working capital, which can have strong benefits for both workers and employers."

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’52″

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