News in Brief 17 October 2017 (PM)

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Manuel Elias (file)

UN chief urges unity on International Day to eradicate poverty

People worldwide are being urged to unite and stamp out poverty.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres made the appeal in a video message issued on Tuesday, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

Mr Guterres said it was an occasion to stand in solidarity with the 800 million globally who are living in poverty.

Many more are being threatened by other challenges such as unemployment, inequality, conflict and the effects of climate change, he added.

However, the UN chief said there has been remarkable progress made in eradicating poverty since 1990.

He described the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, agreed by world leaders two years ago, as "our plan to take a different course."

The development plan includes objectives aimed at securing a healthy planet and building peaceful, inclusive societies.

"Its pledge to leave no one behind will require innovative approaches, partnerships and solutions, and that means addressing the root causes of poverty in order to eradicate it entirely. It means listening to the views and guidance of people living in poverty and acting together with them. Let us join hands to stop poverty altogether in dignity."

UN political chief meets with Myanmar officials on Rohingya exodus

The head of the UN's Department of Political Affairs has met with senior officials in Myanmar to discuss the situation in Rakhine State and the plight of hundreds of thousands of people seeking refuge in nearby Bangladesh.

Jeffrey Feltman concluded a five-day mission to the country on Tuesday, which included meetings with Aung San Suu Kyi, and the chief of the army.

More than half a million Rohingya Muslims have fled violence in northern Rakhine State since late August, following attacks on security positions and subsequent military action.

Mr Feltman reiterated the UN Secretary-General's call that aid workers be given full and unhindered access to the state, and that refugees be allowed voluntary, safe and dignified return to their place of origin.

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric has more details on the political chief's visit.

"In northern Rakhine State, Mr. Feltman saw dozens of burned and destroyed villages by air and visited several communities affected by the recent violence. He also visited internally displaced persons' camps outside Sittwe, that were set up in 2012. He saw how, in addition to the documented endemic discrimination against the Rohingya population, socio-economic challenges adversely affect all communities in Rakhine State.”

Syria: UN stands ready to support Raqqa

The United Nations stands ready to support civilians in Syria's Raqqa city which has finally been liberated from the terrorist group, ISIL, according to news reports, following a four-month-long battle.

A US-backed coalition of Syrian Arab and Kurdish fighters announced on Tuesday that it had captured the northern city, which had been held by the extremists for three years.

Here's UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric again.

"We are aware of reports that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have taken full control of Raqqa city, with the last remaining civilians evacuated in the past few days. The UN, however, is not in a position to verify first-hand the situation in the city due to lack of access, but we have received reports that much of the city has been damaged or destroyed due to the fighting. We are closely monitoring the situation and stand by to deliver life-saving assistance to those in need as soon as access is granted and security conditions permit it."

Zimbabwe school wins UN-backed sustainable development prize

A school in an arid area of Zimbabwe that has been transformed into an "oasis" featuring a rehabilitated forest, fruit trees, edible garden and livestock, has been awarded a UN-backed sustainable development prize.

The Sihlengeni Primary School was announced the winner on Tuesday of the 2017 UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) thanks to its longstanding permaculture project.

Permaculture is a form of agriculture that seeks to integrate human activity with natural surroundings in order to create highly efficient self-sustaining ecosystems, according to UNESCO, the UN's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Students, teachers and parents at the school plant exotic and indigenous trees, grass, millet and maize.

They have also implemented measures to mitigate land degradation and deforestation, in addition to rehabilitating a forest and raising chickens and pigs.

Some of the food produced is used to feed infants while the rest is sold locally.

Natalie Hutchison, United Nations.

Duration: 4’16″

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