News in Brief 26 October 2017 (AM)

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On screen, second from left: Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria, briefing the Security Council via video link. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Terrorism "on the defensive" but Syria's "moment of truth" has arrived

Following the defeat of Daesh extremist forces in the Syrian cities of Raqqa and around Deir-ez-Zour, "terrorism is on the defensive", but far from defeated.

That's the warning from UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, briefing the Security Council on Thursday, who also announced that a fresh round of intra-Syrian talks will begin again in Geneva on 28 November.

Victory celebrations in Raqqa sent the "wrong signal", said the veteran UN negotiator, and although many areas of Syria have seen a de-escalation of violence, shelling and airstrikes continue.

He said humanitarian access for the UN and partners to deliver life-saving aid remained a major problem, and it was vital to establish a real nationwide ceasefire.

He said fresh talks in Geneva needed a new "focus and realism", and he appealed for the Security Council to give more support to the process.

"Terrorism is on the defensive but it will not be defeated by military means alone. De-escalation arrangements are being seriously sometimes challenged, but they are working. After Raqqa, after Deir-ez-Zour I used to say, and you probably will remember, there will be a moment of truth. Now is the moment of truth."

And in the Eastern Ghouta region of Syria, close to the capital, Damascus, the World Food Programme (WFP) says it's extremely worried about reports indicating that humanitarian aid is desperately needed by thousands of civilians trapped by government forces.

Access to the besieged area has been cut off completely since September, and so far this year, only 70,000 out of a population of nearly 400,000 have been reached.

More details on the appeal for aid, from WFP officer in the region, Abeer Etefa.

"These requests show us extreme cases of hunger and malnutrition among children and among a lot of the families who still live in this area. It has been extremely difficult to access East Ghouta in Rural Damascus, and actually access has decreased drastically this year if you compare it to the previous year which has left behind tens-of-thousands of families cut off from assistance."

Africa needs 11 million more skilled education and health workers: UNICEF

A booming population in Africa means that more than 11 million extra skilled education and health workers will be needed in the decade ahead, said the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday.

The UNICEF report on child demographics in Africa identifies three key issues for investment, namely healthcare, education and the protection and empowerment of women and girls.

Africa's child population is projected to increase by 170 million up to 2030.

As a result, around 5.6 million new health workers and nearly six million new teachers will be needed to meet minimum international standards and targets, said UNICEF.

"Investing in health, protection and education must become an absolute priority for Africa between now and 2030," said Leila Pakkala, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.

New migration policies needed"framed within reality": UN migration envoy

Countries need to agree on a new global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration that is "framed within reality", the UN Special Representative for International Migration said on Thursday.

Louise Arbour was addressing the African Regional Meeting on the compact, hosted by the UN regional economic commission, ECA, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

She stressed that the global compact, now under development, is a unique opportunity to fix many misunderstandings about migration and to set up a realistic roadmap.

"In today's world, most States are at once countries of origin, transit and destination, and  there is more commonality of interest than may first appear on the surface," she said.

As an example, Ms Arbour said that half of all African migrants moved to another neighbouring country within the continent.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 3’29″

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