News in Brief 30 October 2017 (PM)

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Secretary-General António Guterres (centre) addresses the Security Council meeting on the Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

"Innovative" action needed in support of the Sahel: UN chief

Failing to act in support of countries across the Sahel region and to tackle "the root causes of instability" could have serious consequences, the UN chief said on Monday.

Secretary-General António Guterres was briefing the Security Council which is looking at ways of shoring up the so-called G5 Sahel force, set up by Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

The French-backed force will eventually consist of around 5,000 troops and is designed to operate alongside UN peacekeepers to counter the threat of violent extremism across the region.

The UN chief said "time was against us" and that the creation of the force, announced in July, demonstrated the will of the G5 countries to cooperate and take on the threat together.

More details on the Secretary-General's briefing, from UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

“We have the opportunity to support them and to reverse the course of events, he said. He said the strong political will of the G5 Sahel, as well as material and operational support are critical. However, he added that while security cooperation is essential, only a multidimensional response will put an end to instability in the region. Together, he said, we need to strengthen our action on governance, development and resilience."

According to news reports, the United States on Monday pledged up to US$60 million to help support the G5 force counter-terrorism efforts.

 

Up to 250,000 children in DRC's Kasai region "could starve" says WFP chief

Up to 250,000 children could starve in the violence-wracked Kasais region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said the head of the World Food Programme (WFP) on Monday.

David Beasley spoke to reporters after finishing a four-day mission to the central African country, warning that around 3.2 million people in the Kasais were severely food insecure, with thousands displaced by fighting between armed groups.

WFP is ramping up emergency aid to the area, planning to reach around 500,000 of the most vulnerable by the end of the year.

Only one per cent of the US$135 million required to fund WFP's operation into next year has been secured from international donations.

Mr Beasley said that much of the civilian population depends on subsistence farming, with competition for land often lying at the root of violent clashes.

Displaced families just wanted to go home, he said, and for many who had done so, the lingering threat of violence was preventing them from working the fields.

He said he'd met too many women and children "whose lives had been reduced to a desperate struggle for survival".

"If we address it effectively I do believe by ending the conflict there immediately, addressing the hunger needs – what should be on a short-term basis – this area will stabilize and it will save lives and save millions of very precious dollars."

 

UN Mission in Iraq condemns killing of journalist and intimidation of Kurds

The UN Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) condemned the killing of a journalist in Kirkuk on Monday, as well as an attack on a journalist in Erbil the day before.

The Mission also spoke out against intimidation and violence carried out against members of the Parliament of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and political offices in the Kurdistan Region.

Following a Kurdish referendum vote last month, deemed unconstitutional by authorities in Baghdad, the Iraqi army took back control of oil fields and territory around Kirkuk.

More details on UNAMI's statement, from Stéphane Dujarric again.

"The mission said that it appreciates the appeal by the Kurdistan Regional Government and Kurdistan Region Security Council for calm, as well as the Iraqi Government's calls for de-escalation and compliance with the law. UNAMI also takes note of the Iraq federal authorities' decision to ban some broadcasts in the Kurdistan Region, adding that, at times of crisis, a free media becomes even more essential to safeguard the public interest and protect democracy …Aid workers are closely monitoring the situation after the Government of Iraq unilaterally declared a temporary suspension of military operations over the weekend."

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 3'34"

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