News in Brief 07 December 2017 (AM)

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CAPTION: Matthew Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, address the Security Council. Photo: UN/Manuel Elias

Famine conditions "likely" to return in parts of South Sudan next year

Famine conditions which were reversed this year in South Sudan, are "likely" to return next year if conflict continues, the UN relief chief told Security Council members on Thursday.

Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Lowcock said almost two thirds of South Sudanese were still in need of humanitarian aid, following nearly five years of brutal in-fighting between rival factions.

Mr. Lowcock said that 1.25 million civilians were in the "emergency phase" of chronic food insecurity; almost twice the number compared to last year.

"In early 2018, half of the population will be reliant on emergency food.

The next lean season beginning in March is likely to see famine conditions in several locations across the country."

Briefing members on efforts to end the fighting between the President and troops loyal to his former Vice-President, UN Peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said intense clashes had continued in recent weeks, displacing thousands.

He said the UN was fully behind the IGAD regional forum of African States' effort, to broker peace, together with peace talks on a national level.

"We believe that both the High-Level Revitalization Forum and the National Dialogue can address the spiraling crisis, if well coordinated. But fighting cannot continue in tandem with efforts to craft a durable peace. The two are simply incompatible. We must not allow tactics we have seen before to frustrate a change in course."

Ukraine appeal asks for $187 million on behalf of 2.3 million in need

The UN and partners launched an appeal on Thursday for $187 million on behalf of around 2.3 million conflict-weary Ukrainians.

Neal Walker, UN Resident Coordinator for Ukraine, launched the appeal in Geneva as part of the country's Humanitarian Response Plan for 2018.

He said as the conflict between Government forces and Russian-backed separatists in the east enters its fourth year, civilians were being forced to make "impossible choices" between food, medicine, shelter and heating, or their child's education.

Millions are at daily risk of shelling and intense fighting, he said, with around 3.4 million requiring humanitarian assistance and protection.

"From my perspective, the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine is worse than it's ever been since the onset of this conflict in 2014.  What you face is a reality of a harsh winter climate, people have been worn down by years of conflict, and there's nowhere for them to go and there's no support in the international community. We have got less than 30 per cent of funding for the 2017 appeal."

Abuse by those in power "absolutely intolerable": Victims' Rights Advocate

Sexual abuse and exploitation by UN or other personnel in peacekeeping missions is "absolutely intolerable" and victims' needs must be paramount.

That's the strong view of the UN Victims' Rights Advocate on the issue, Jane Connors, speaking on Thursday at a press conference held together with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

She described meeting one young woman who suffered disturbing abuse at the hands of somebody who she described as being affiliated with the UN, during her listening tour around the war-torn country.

She said it would be unfair to talk about the specifics of conversations she had had with victims of abuse, describing her role as hearing "what their aspirations are, and to hear if there are gaps" in terms of "going forward".

Ms. Connors said she was not an investigator but an official who "accompanies" victims, putting their interests at the centre.

"My view is this conduct is not inevitable. It is something that emerges out of imbalance in power relations. Those who engage in the conduct are in a position of power and those who are subject to it are in a position of vulnerability."

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 3'30"

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