News in Brief 18 October 2017 (AM)

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Miroslav Jenča, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas (file)

Intra-Palestinian agreement critical for "a sustainable peace"

The agreement between the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is "critical" for a lasting peace agreement between Palestine and Israel.

That's the view of Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Miroslav Jenča, briefing the Security Council on Wednesday.

The militant leadership of Hamas forced Fatah out of Gaza in 2007, and the reunification deal brokered last week in Cairo would allow the Palestinian Authority to regain control of border crossings.

He said the agreement was essential for a negotiated peace with Israel.

"The agreement is an important step towards achieving the goal of Palestinian unity, under a single, democratic Palestinian national authority…The United Nations will continue working with the Palestinian leadership and the region, in support of this process, which is critical for reaching a negotiated two state solution, and a sustainable peace."

Mr Jenča added that conditions for Gaza's two million residents were deteriorating, with electricity only available for a few hours a day and vital services barely functioning.

With raw sewage pumping into the Mediterranean on a daily basis due to lack of treatment facilities, he described Gaza as an "unfolding environmental disaster that has no regard for borders."

Around 2 million Yemeni children out of school due to conflict: UNICEF

An estimated two million children in Yemen are unable to go to school, while three-quarters of teachers there have not been paid in nearly a year.

That's according to Geert Cappelaere, Middle East Regional Director for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

In a statement on Wednesday, he said that following two-and-a-half years of intense fighting between Houthi rebels and government forces, violence had forced one out of every 10 schools to close.

As of July, "1,600 schools have been partially or totally destroyed, and 170 have been used for military purposes, or as shelter for displaced families," added the UNICEF official.

He said the beginning of the school year had been postponed several times last month, and textbooks and other essential learning materials were in short supply.

"The salary crisis has pushed teachers to extreme measures, just to survive," said Mr Cappelaere.

"Too much suffering" in Bangladesh, with "too little support": Migration chief

The more than 500,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled over the Myanmar border into Bangladesh are suffering "too much" and with "too little support", said the head of the UN migration agency (IOM) on Wednesday.

At the end of a day-long tour of makeshift settlements in the Cox's Bazar region, Migration Director William Lacy Swing said that the world had "rarely witnessed a refugee crisis of such speed".

Since late August, Rohingyas have been fleeing violence at the hands of Myanmar forces that the UN human rights chief described as bearing all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing.

Mr Swing said that on Wednesday, a further 1,500 refugees were crossing into Bangladesh amidst heavy monsoon rains, and an estimated 15,000 more were stranded at the border.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’46″

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