News in Brief 25 October 2017 (PM)

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Secretary-General António Guterres meets with internally displaced persons in Bangassou, Central African Republic. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

UN chief appeals for solidarity with CAR

The international community has been urged by the UN Secretary-General to show solidarity with the Central African Republic (CAR) in order to rebuild the country and reduce the suffering of its people.

António Guterres made the appeal while speaking to reporters in the capital, Bangui, following a meeting with President Faustin Archange Touadera on Wednesday.

A UN mission has been in the CAR since 2013, following clashes between Christian and Muslim communities.

Armed groups control much of the country, and around 600,000 civilians are internally-displaced, according to UN figures released last month.

Mr Guterres called for international engagement with the country saying because there is an opportunity to build a new Central African Republic that is peaceful, secure and prosperous.

UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq has more details about his visit, including a meeting with displaced people in Bangassou, located in the south-east.

"The Secretary-General listened as a 14-year old Muslim girl named Fatimah expressed her community's situation and concerns, as well as their wish for reconciliation. In speaking to the assembled crowd, the Secretary-General expressed his personal solidarity with the people of Bangassou and urged them to work for reconciliation. He underscored that is would not be easy. The Secretary-General excoriated politicians who use religion to divide communities that often worship the same God, all be it with a different name. He also urged religious leaders to live up to their responsibilities."

Lack of direct sea connections affecting trade, market access: UN body

Direct maritime connections between countries that are trade partners could reduce trade costs by nearly 10 per cent, according to a new UN report.

The study by UN trade body UNCTAD finds that more than 80 per cent of these partners—such as Brazil and Nigeria, for example—do not have a direct sea connection.

UNCTAD calls this situation "low shipping connectivity" and says it continues to undermine access by smaller and weaker economies to global markets.

The agency says many landlocked developing countries and small island developing states have been affected, given their access to fewer, less frequent, less reliable and more expensive transport connections.

UNCTAD recommends that shipping services—whether national, regional or international – "should be interconnected to the extent possible."

However, many countries protect domestic shipping services from foreign competition, which can lead to "unnecessary inefficiencies" and a loss of maritime trade, according to the agency.

Humanitarians concerned about civilians in besieged Syrian area

Children in the besieged Syrian enclave of East Ghouta are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, UN humanitarian agencies said on Wednesday, expressing concern over the situation of civilians there.

The last UN convoy reached the area on 23 September, they reported, bringing assistance for 25,000 people in three besieged towns.

The Syrian conflict is now in its seventh year and more than 13 million people in the country require humanitarian assistance.

The UN continues to call on all parties to the conflict to ensure aid workers have sustained and unhindered access to those in need.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 3'28"

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