News in Brief 25 October 2017 (AM)

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A person walks amid destroyed buildings and rubble in Tabqa city, Raqqa governorate, Syria. Photo: UNICEF/Souleiman

WHO strengthens health services in Raqqa, Syria

The UN health agency, WHO, and its partners continue to strengthen efforts to provide health care services for thousands of people in newly accessible areas of Raqqa governorate in Syria.

This week WHO delivered some five tonnes of medicines and medical supplies to a hospital in the region through support from the United Kingdom, the European Union and Norway.

The hospital is located near Raqqa city which was recently liberated from the control of the extremist group ISIL, also known as Daesh.

More than 13,500 people are still living in the city, according to WHO, and health access remains limited.

The UN agency said that together with the local health authorities and other partners, it is scaling up life-saving services "for thousands of people who have been deprived of essential health care."

New Zealand supports UNDP projects in Iraq areas freed from ISIL

A US$1 million contribution from New Zealand will help finance public infrastructure repairs and other initiatives in areas of Iraq that have been freed from the grip of the terrorist group, ISIL.

The funding, announced on Wednesday by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), will also be used to provide grants to small businesses and support short-term employment through public works schemes, among other projects.

UNDP Resident Representative for Iraq, Lise Grande, thanked the New Zealand government for the contribution to its Funding Facility for Stabilization.

Established two years ago, it has completed or implemented more than 1,200 projects across 23 locations.

Ms Grande stated that the scale of destruction in the western part of the city of Mosul, is the worst in the country.

She said the city's electricity, water and sewage systems all need to be rehabilitated, while many schools and hospitals are either damaged or completely destroyed.

Furthermore, she said "tens of thousands of people need jobs".

Human rights experts call for restraint ahead of Kenya vote

Three UN human rights experts are calling for restraint ahead of the presidential election in Kenya.

Citizens in the East African nation return to the polls on Thursday following a vote in August which was annulled by the Supreme Court.

In a statement issued on the eve of the election, the UN Special Rapporteurs, who were appointed by the Human Rights Council, expressed alarm over recent reports of threats, intimidation, inflammatory statements and mob violence.

They said the situation "poses a grave risk to people's rights and freedoms and must be urgently addressed."

The rapporteurs are experts on the situation of human rights defenders, the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and in the area of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

They called on all political parties and their followers to show restraint and to prioritise constructive dialogue.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 3'09"

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