News in Brief 15 December 2017 – Geneva (AM)

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A child carries his younger sister on his back. Both children are living on the street in Aweil, South Sudan. UNICEF/Rich

South Sudan's violence is a tragedy for children: UNICEF

Fighting in South Sudan now entering its fifth year has severely affected more than one in two children there, the UN said on Friday.

A disturbing new report from UN Children's Fund UNICEF shows how more than one million youngsters are acutely malnourished and 2.4 million have been forced from their homes.

The recruitment of children by armed groups has also resumed after a lull in 2015 and there are now an estimated 19,000 child soldiers in the world's youngest country, UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac told journalists in Geneva:

"The tragedy of South Sudan affects more than half the child population. Children are victims of malnutrition, disease, violence, the loss of schooling… More than one million children are acutely malnourished and among them more than approximately 280,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition."

Fighting began in the world's youngest country in December 2013 between President Salva Kiir and his deputy, Riek Machar.

It has devastated the economy and caused hyperinflation which has resulted in a massive hike in the price of basic foodstuffs.

The violence has also made South Sudan one of the world's most dangerous places to deliver humanitarian supplies, with 25 aid workers killed so far this year.

Iraq faces call to end mass executions

Iraq should stop all executions in the country, some of which have been carried out en masse, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Friday.

The appeal follows the mass execution this week of 38 men in a prison in the southern Iraqi city of Nassiriya, and the hanging of 42 detainees on a single day in September.

Those put to death on Thursday faced terrorism charges, according to Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the UN human rights office:

"They need to halt all executions, they need to establish this moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Generally, under international human rights law, the death penalty may only be imposed if at all for the most serious crimes and UN human rights experts have interpreted that as being restricted to murder and other forms of intentional killing."

Ms Throssell said that an estimated 106 men have been put to death so far this year in Iraq, where until recently ISIL militants held sway in major northern cities, including Mosul.

Shelling of civilians condemned in Iraq's Salah-al-Din

Staying with Iraq, thousands of people have fled violence in Salah al-Din governorate after residential areas were reportedly targeted by shelling.

The alert from UN human rights office OHCHR follows increasing tensions in the city of Tuz Khurmatu that followed September's independence referendum in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

In recent weeks, clashes have broken out between Kurdish Security Forces – also known as the Peshmerga – and Turkmen Popular Mobilization Units, or PMUs, which support the Iraqi military.

This fighting has resulted in an unconfirmed number of deaths and OHCHR has called on Iraq to protect civilians in Tuz Khurmatu – a city where the population is a mix of Turkoman, Kurd and Arab communities.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 3'09"



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